Tuesday, April 1, 2014

TELLING IT ON TUESDAY (Part 15) 1953-1954

I am now a married woman and I have settled down to a life with my husband, a life which brings with it so many changes.

Prior to our wedding we had looked for somewhere to live when we came back from Yanchep.  We had little money so there was no thought of building a house.  We had sold the block we were buying (paying it off actually) as we needed the money and it was in an area that had not yet been developed and was still only bush.  We found a house at 15 Blake Street in North Perth with two rooms to rent and the share of conveniences.  The house was owned by a Polish gentleman who had recently lost his wife, Brocha, to cancer and towards the end of her life he had built an upstairs room on the back of the house where she could see sweeping views of the surrounding suburbs as well as the city of Perth itself.   We had the downstairs room as our kitchen/eating area and upstairs was a bedroom/sitting room.  We of course shared the bathroom and also the outdoor washhouse (they call them laundries these days) but no washing machine.  Just a copper, two troughs with a large wringer in between.  Ah, those were the good old days.

David Wylozny was a really great bloke.   He owned the fish and chip shop a few doors down Blake Street as well as being involved in other ventures.  I remember one day heading for the bathroom and finding him doing his ironing. I stopped to chat to him and noticed he had unusual way of damping down his clothes.  I don't think there were such things as steam irons back then.  He would take a mouthful of water and spray it on to the clothing through his teeth.  I remarked on it and he said that was how it was done in the 'old country'.  I always think it is wonderful the things you can learn about people from other places.

We had not been living in Blake Street very long when David told us he was planning to be married and we would have to find somewhere else to live.  I forget the name of his future wife to be but she was a very lovely Australian lady and I believe they would be very happy together but am sad to say David died in 1971 when he was only 58 but at least they would have had 18 years together.  Incidentally I checked on Google Earth and 15 Blake Street still stands and doesn't look much different now but the old Knutsford hotel a few doors down has been demolished and that was a big landmark in that part of North Perth frequented by many of Aub's family from time to time.  I regret not being able to 'steal' the photo of the house in Blake Street, but I couldn't.

It was while living in Blake Street that I received the saddest news of my young life.  My mum and dad were going to separate.  I think I had been aware, while still living at home, that things were not perfect and with mum devoting so much of her to time to the Women's Service Guilds I think dad felt somewhat neglected.  If mum happened to be helping me when I was dressmaking etc., dad would come in with one of his shirts to say it needed a button replacing.  It would probably only be an old shirt he wore in the garden but although he never raised his voice he must have been feeling 'left out'.  They had not gone out together for many years but dad still had his lawn bowls which he played a few times a week.  It obviously was mum's idea that they should separate as I feel she just wanted to get on with the second phase of her life and poor dad was no longer necessary.  Dad would tell the neighbours that his wife was not home very much and of course that was very true.  Mum had been a good and faithful 'housewife' since their marriage when she was 20 and it's possible the twelve and a half years difference in their ages may also have had something to do with this latest development.  I won't go into any more about this here but perhaps later in my life story I may devote one post to just how this separation affected not only my life but that of my mum and dad in particular.

While this was all going on of course Aub had returned to work.  He had done an apprenticeship as a cabinet maker and I must say he was a very fine craftsman and knew his trade very well.  When we moved into Blake Street we had enough funds to buy a broom, dustpan and brush and a few provisions until Aub's first pay.  I was fortunate that a friend, Margaret Dean, had held a pantry tea for me a week before the wedding and we therefore had plenty of tea, sugar, etc., to last us for several weeks. 

 I had never done much in the way of cooking but think I managed quite well and of course had to find out what Aub preferred to eat.  He wasn't an easy person to cook for as he had lots of likes and dislikes but we got there eventually without many mishaps.  I think eventually I was able to dish up quite a good dinner.

Another minor incident occurred shortly after our marriage.  My friend Wilma was to marry Jim and I had an invite to her kitchen tea.  When I told Aub about the invitation he asked when it was we would be going.  I told him it was a girls' only do and he declared that I shouldn't be going anywhere without him and why would I want to.  I truly found this a bit hard to believe but jealousy had reared its head yet again.  I went to the kitchen tea and had a great time and decided that although we were now married, I still would have a life of my own.  We of course both went to Wilma and Jim's in a Nedlands church and I have photos so will share one with you.  It was a lovely wedding and Wilma looked so beautiful.  I realise you don't know these people but they were so much a part of my life for such a long time and I so enjoy remembering them.

We eventually found 2 rooms (plus share) in a very nice house in Queens Cresent, Mount Lawley owned by a Mrs Jo Herbert where she lived with her son Barry.  Her husband had a farm in the country and he apparently preferred country life while Jo preferred being in the suburbs.  This time there was a washing machine to use which certainly made life somewhat easier.  If I remember correctly it was a large Simpson machine with a wringer that you swung around to where you wanted it so you could wring your clothes into one trough, rinse them and then swing the wringer between the two troughs so the drier clothes would fall into a basket in the other trough ready to be hung on the line and no, there were no clothes driers back then either.  
 For the life of me I can't remember the number of that house in Queen's Crescent.  I've looked on Google Earth and gone up and down the street but there are so many trees it's difficult to find a house that even reminds me of the one we lived in.

It was decided I should look for a job and I found one at W. O.Johnston and Co, a meat processing firm in Beaufort Street, just a short tram ride from where we were living.  There was  also had a butcher's shop on the premises from where I bought really excellent meat, at a discount of course.    

I quite often took dictation from Mr Fred Johnston (the big boss) who smoked cigars quite endlessly it seemed and he had a bad habit of chewing them while he was dictating which made it somewhat difficult to understand him, and then he would take the cigar out of his mouth and break off the chewed bit and toss it in the bin.  Yuk!  I can still see him doing it.

He would also get me to clean the glass on his huge desk and it was one of the men in the meat factory that told me to use methylated spirits (I think that's right) to give the glass a good shine and it worked very well.  Really shone.

My desk in the main office was on the other side of the wall of the main freezer and I've often wondered if that had anything to do with my developing what was then called fibrositis. It was so bad I couldn't get up out of a chair without help and the same with getting out of bed or even into either for that matter.  There was a dreadful polio epidemic at that time and the first thing Dr Wheeler did was to test me for polio which meant I had to sit on his examination table with my legs stretched out and touch my knees with my forehead.  When he saw I could do this (albeit rather painfully) he ruled out polio.  He gave me some painkillers and I had to rub ointment into my neck and shoulders.  This ailment lasted that long I had to give notice and regretfully leave my job at Johnstons.  Fortunately this ailment finally left me and I was able to carry on a normal life once again.

While living in Mount Lawley we bought our first car.  It was a 1928 Willys utility complete with running board.  It went very well but I can't remember that I ever drove it.  It had two huge headlights on the front tied on tightly with clothes line wire and they had been fitted with the type of lights you could dip.  Unfortunately someone had put one in upside down and a policeman stopped Aubrey one night and told him about this fault but fortunately took no action.  This is the wrong colour (our ute was green) but it would have looked very much like this; don't you just love the running board and the spoked wheels and no windows but just 'side curtains' you put in when required.

 I remember driving homeward one night up Beaufort Street when there was an awful noise and we slowed down somewhat.  When Aub stopped the car and got out to check he found that the tailshaft had fallen off.  We somehow got it fixed and managed to get home without further mishap.  Another time we had taken mum for a drive up to Toodyay (60 miles north-east from Perth) and we travelled on the old Red Hill road which was only gravel and had an extreme drop on one side.  Everything went extremely well and we had a great day out.  It was the next morning when Aub was checking the car over that he found that the wheel-nuts on a couple of the wheels were very loose, probably caused by the very rough road we'd been on.  Fortunately they didn't choose to come off while we were travelling, especially on that road with the big drop to the side.

Once I had recovered sufficiently from the fibrositis I began searching for another job.  I found one as secretary to the Secretary of the Teacher's Union (they were in a quite old building in Murray Street near Royal Perth Hospital and a hop, skip and jump from my old school Victoria Square (Mercedes).  At that time the union was working very had to have equal pay granted for female teachers and Mr Featherstone had the job of setting up a submission to that end and because the union had this belief I was paid the basic wage which at that time was about £12.0.0. a week.  In my other job I had probably been paid about £8.0.0. a week and I think Aub was probably not earning much more than £15.0.0.  a week at that time.  It was interesting work and Mr Featherstone was in his other life a preacher in the Congregational Church.  One of the jobs he had me do was type out a wedding service for a couple he was scheduled to marry.  One of them was a Catholic and the other a Jew and they had chosen the Congregational Church in which to be married.  It was a beautifully worded service and apparently the wedding went off very well.  I hoped that couple would be very happy.  It is so sad that there are such differences in religious views that forces people to choose to marry outside their chosen denomination or one has to change their religion to suit the other.  Whoops, I'd best not get on that soap box here.  This job was for a limited time but there was so much work to be done that it lasted six months and it was with much regret that I finally said goodbye to a wonderful boss and a great staff who had been so easy to work with.

The next job I had was a temporary one in a firm also in Murray Street.  One of the typists was off sick with measles or chicken pox so I filled in for her for a few weeks.  It was quite a nice office but, for the life of me, I have no idea what they did but I do remember the boyfriend of one of the girls played football for West Perth.

Late in 1954 I applied for and was successful in getting a job in the office at Browne's Dairy in Charles Street, North Perth and there I will leave this tale for now and resume  next week.

Sorry I had no real personal photos (except Wilma and Jim's wedding photo) to show but hopefully there will be more to come in future 'episodes'.  I've included a few fun photos to stop this post being too dull.  More photos to come when I have some worth showing.

I do hope this episode was not too long. My thoughts tend to race along and I go with them and don't go back editing too much so please bear with me and thank you if you do.


  1. Love that old truck...sort of the SUV of the day.

    1. I'd not thought of it like that but it got us from A to B without too much fuss.

  2. Our Austrian neighbour used to spray her ironing in just that way, and my German father told me that all his aunts had done it too.
    Another fascinating post Mimsie - and not a word too long. Thank you.

    1. Thanks EC. For some reason this post if now showing in my list of posts and I can't seem to make it appear there. This happened a few weeks back with another post. No idea what goes wrong.

  3. Another fascinating story of your life, I love reading about the different times and emotions you felt at the time. The separation of your Mum and Dad had to have been very hard I can grasp some pain still lingering in your writing.
    Spitting on your clothes while ironing is very different but if it works why not:)
    Thank you for sharing all this Mimsie. Hug B

    1. Thanks for your kind comments Buttons. Although I believe we shouldn't live in the past I still have regrets about mum and dad separating as they did so late in life. xx

  4. Hari OM
    Oh those old wash tubs! I can recall mother using one when we visited her parents on the farm - they only upgraded to a twintub electrical thing when they had the 'new house' built in 1964... miany a finger got mangled!! Great reminiscenses again Mimsie. YAM xx

    1. Thanks Yam for your comments. I fortunately didn't have any bad experiences with electric wringers but many years ago when Phil was a child in England his hand got caught in a mangle. Nasty experience for a young lad. xx