Tuesday, June 24, 2014

TELLING IT ON TUESDAY (Part 23 ... 1968-1973)

In September, 1967  Phil and I were married, had a lovely honeymoon and then helped Steven celebrate his 10th birthday on our return home.

It is now 1968 and we have settled down as a family with Steven still at the Claremont Demonstration School and Karen now attending Iona College.  She looked so smart in her uniform:

I am still working at Thomas and Co in Cottesloe and Phil is with Metters in Subiaco and we are  renting the house in Claremont for $20/week which is eating into our resources but right now we have no choice than to stay put.  This is Karen (aged 12) in the back garden at Claremont holding (or strangling) Charlie Brown.  He did survive her gentle ministrations, but we lost him later when he was hit by a car on the busy road.  A sad loss as he was a beautiful little cat, almost dog-like as you could take him out in the car without a lead and he wouldn't stray.

While Phil and I were chatting one day he revealed he had always been disappointed that he'd not had a better education when a boy in England.  He had passed his 11+ with flying colours but his parents couldn't afford for him to go to Grammar School.  Instead he attended a Technical School in Coventry where he had to do a commercial course including shorthand and typing (which he hated) and commercial studies.  WW2 also caused a great shortage of teachers and his English teacher preferred the Bronte sister and similar authors which just wasn't a young chap's cup of tea at all.

I asked why he'd not done more study when he was older but it seems his first wife wasn't interested and in no way encouraged him to further his education.  I suggested he sit for the Mature Age Matriculation which he did toward the end of 1967.  He only read a few books from the local library as it was too late to get any tuition and he passed Leaving English without a problem but failed by a few marks his History exam.  Unfortunately it was nearly all Australian history and having only been in Australia for 7 years his knowledge was somewhat limited.

The following year I encouraged him to seek some tuition, which he did and when he sat for the exams in 1968 he had no trouble in getting high enough marks to attend the University of Western Australia as a part-time mature student.  There were no fees then, but of course there were still very expensive books to buy and students had to be members of the Student Guild whether they wanted to participate or not.   Phil spent quite a lot of time in the library at the university so he didn't have to buy every book on the list which saved us some money.  He had to choose subjects where lecrures and tutorials were available to fit in with his full time job. More about this in a later chapter.

We did manage to scrape up enough to to for a holiday to Carnarvon (910 km north of Perth) so off we set with the little Anglia loaded to the gunwales (no, I know it wasn't a ship but I thought that sounded rather good).  How we managed to fit a huge tent, 4 lots of bedding plus 4 scamp stretchers, a table and 4 chairs and a stove and cooking utensils in that poor little car I have no idea but somehow we did.  There was also enough clothing for 4 people of course.  We had to balance where we sat as if I sat in the back with one of the children Phil would find the front wheels weren't making good contact with the ground so he lost steerage.   This is a picture of our big tent with Steven and a friend he made at the camping area standing in front of it:

Phil was dissatisfied with his office job at Metters so he decided to look for a better job.  There is one advertised at W.A. Rope and Twine in Mosman Park (only 2 suburbs from Claremont) so he applies, has an interview and the job is his.  He will be paymaster, cost clerk and export/import clerk and this the type of work he really enjoys. A short while after he began working there he was told that the house next door to the factory is becoming vacant and we could rent it for $6/week if Phil is willing to open the factory at 7am each weekday morning and ensure it is locked and secure of an evening.
This is the W.A.Rope and Twine as it was then.  It has since been demolished as the whole area has been cleared for housing (and a very large retirement village as well).

Little discussion was needed as the saving of *$14/week would be fantastic and we knew the couple of duties required wouldn't impact on our life at all as we were up by 7am each morning and would always be available late afternoon/early evening to check the security.   At the end of 1968, with the help of a friend, we moved our furniture and possessions into 1 Boundary Road, Mosman Park.  It was a weatherboard and iron house with 3 large bedrooms, a large living room and a kitchen large enough for a table and chairs.  It was a very basic house but we were really comfortable living there. 

This was Phil at the front of the house just after we had moved in and you can see the large paddock next door in both photos.  Behind the house was the 'rope walk' which was a quarter of a mile long and where the very heavy ropes were made.   In modern times where it is now all built up there is a small street actually called The Rope Walk.  I feel it is rather splendid that the firm is remembered in that was as for many years it was a prominent part of Mosman Park.

Looking further up the street you can see the wide open space between us and the next two houses.  It was a very quiet street to live in, especially on weekends until a car transport company moved in a few doors up and built a very large shed.  They would be loading and unloading cars sometimes during the night which could be annoying when we were trying to sleep.   Fortunately it didn't occur every night or more than once a night when it did happen.  On on occasion Phil did go out and ask politely if the driver could be a little quieter.  We then thought that sometimes they made a habit ofparking right outside our house during the night, rather than further up outside their own premises.  Probably our imagination but also perhaps not.  It did seem rather deliberate at times.

The Rope Works paid to have a side fence put in so we were then very nice and private.  This was me at my casual best, even barefoot.

Mum bought us carpet to go through the house (there's good old mum, again when needed).  It was a wool striped carpet (I wish you could still buy it today) ast we still have it in 3 rooms where we live now and it is 45 years old and still cleans up like new.  Those carpets were apparently made from remains on reels after plain carpets had been made and were very popular as they just didn't/don't show any wear.

There was one problem in this house which had to be dealt with immediately.  An old Italian chap who had worked at the Rope Works had lived in the house for a number of years and obviously hadn't used the laundry.  There was a lot of junk in it and we also discovered it was full of flying cockroaches (yes, those horrible brown types with the big wingspan).  Once we turned the house lights on of an evening these brutes would begin flying down the passage that ran from the front to the back door.  Fortunately the firm paid for a pest control firm to eradicate these horrible creepy things, much to the relief of all of us.

 We also think the Italian chap used to crush grapes in the bath as all the paint had worn off but as we would be having showers that didn't really worry us and it was really clean.  It was just so great to be saving money without the grumpy landlord we'd had at Claremont.  One of those people who was never happy with anything.  He was a tutor at UWA and fortunately Phil didn't have much to do with him while there.

This is Phil outside 1 Boundary Road in 1972.  We had both given up smoking in 1970 and here he is looking much healthier, with a little weight on, than in earlier photos.  You can see the bush across the road.  There are tunnels under that hill and a gun emplacement on top of it all dating to WW2.  The place has quite a history.  Phil incidentally still has that denim jacket.  They never wear out.  Our son and son-in-law bought identical jackets at about the same time and I know our son-in-law still has his.

This was me in 1973 coming in the front gate of Boundary Road.  I too had put on some weight but more because I now had a rather sedentary occupation, although I used to walk a lot at lunch time and also used to often walk home when Phil had to go to uni and couldn't pick me up from work.  This is a rather fuzzy photo but it does show the bush across the road quite well.

We lived in the Mosman Park house for five plus years and during that time Karen became engaged to Trevor followed by their marriage.  After the ceremony we went to Kings Park and here is the young couple with the city of Perth, as it was then, in the background:

and here they are with Steven, Phil and me.  Steven as a teenager decided he too would wear his hair long which was the trend at that time.   I had made Karen's outfit but had bought my own on this occasion. This was taken in front of the original floral clock in Kings Park:

The following year our first grandchild arrived and we were so happy that our little family was expanding and welcomed this baby with open arms.  Christie was a delightful baby with a quiet, peaceful nature and you just couldn't help but adore her.   This was her hospital photo.  Phil always said she looked like a worried Eskimo which was a family joke for quite some time afterwards.

Here we have a lovely baby with her beautiful mum.

and this picture I had to show as it is one of my favourites.  Both pics were taken on the front verandah at Mosman Park.

I have to brag again (I made the jumper in the first pic above and also the sun dress).   I had also made Karen a number of nighties and a dressing gown, and had done lots of knitting and sewing for the expected baby.  It's always so much fun becoming a grandmother for the first time and yet, in fact, each time the excitement is still there.

We are now down to just the three of us at home and it is time for Steven to go to high school.  He is supposed to go to Swanbourne High School but he is very nervous as all his school friends from Claremont Demonstration School will be going to Hollywood High School.  I mentioned way back how shy Steven was and even at high school age the thought of beginning at a school where he knew nobody was too much for him.   I took him to a psychologist who asked me if his father would also attend the next session.  I had previously taken Steven to a a psychologist when he was only about 7 who had wanted Aub to attend but Aub's reply was that he was not going to be told how to behave by some 'shrink'.  Fortunately Phil was of a different ilk all together and willingly went along and we discussed what could be done to help cure this dreadful shyness that Steven had.

Firstly I contacted the Education Department and we discussed the possibility of Steven perhaps attending Hollywood High.  I had a letter from the psychologist which I think helped and the Department agreed that Steven could go to Hollywood instead of Swanbourne.  We lived a short distance from a train station so Steven could catch the train which also stopped near the school.

The other thing we decided to do was to get Steven into the local Scouts.  Phil and I went and met the Scoutmaster and we explained about Steven's shyness.   The first night Phil drove to the hall to deliver Steven, the lad wouldn't get out of the car.   Phil gently hauled him out, put him over his shoulder, opened the door of the hall and said "Here I have another Scout for you".  He then put Steven down and hightailed it back to the car.   Funnily enough Steven loved being in the Scouts and made several friends there.   Steven said many years later that if it hadn't been for Phil he wouldn't have got on as well in life as he eventually did.

When I look back over the years I realise what a wonderful stepfather Phil was to my two children. He usually kept rather quiet and in the background, being aware they weren't his own children, but he was always there for them when needed.  They gave him stick on occasions but he took it in his stride as he understood it hadn't been easy for them when I remarried even though our previous home hadn't been a very happy one, especially for Karen and myself.

That, I am sure is quite enough for this installment.  We had settled down into a routine with both of us working, Phil at university and Steven at high school.  We miss having Karen at home but are always delighted when we are paid a visit.

*$14 a week saved may not seem to be very much in this day and age with wages soaring as they have.  When you consider that Australia's minimum wage from 1 July this year will be $33.326.80 per annum (about $641/week) then $14 would seem rather inconsequential.  Phil was probably at that time earning $80/week (less than $5,000 per year) and my salary would have been quite a lot less as there was no equal pay, at least not for office work. 


  1. $14 would have been about a quarter of my weekly salary back in 1967 so definitely nothing to be sneezed at. I could drive my car all week on $5 of gas, room and board was $10 a week. Prices have risen a tad haven't they lol?

    1. We often smile and wonder when we think how wages and prices has escalated since then.

  2. Hari OM
    Yes the monetary values have changed exponentially - but saving is saving and regardless of the amount, it matters!! This was lovely, happy reading Mimsie. YAM xx

    1. Thanks Yam. Life I think becomes rather more mundane for us from now on so perhaps not a lot of interest to write about but we'll see. xx

  3. Fourteen dollars a week was nothing to sneeze at back then. Our first apartment was $25 a week, fully furnished, and that cost included all utilities, too. Oh, and you have no ideas how tickled I am to hear that we're not the only ones in the world with some carpeting in the house that's more than forty years old. (I can't see the point in changing it just because it's "old"...)

    1. You are right about the carpet. If it's not worn and you are still happy with it then why change?
      To find carpet these days that lasts so well is far too expensive and way out of our price range.

  4. Memories! Brown suits with orange shirts for weddings must have been popular, my first wedding had the men in brown suits and orange shirts! my bridesmaids wore orange and my going away outfit was made from the left over fabrics from my white dress and their orange ones.
    And denim jackets! I had one and gave it to a thrift shop when I got too plump for it. I've often thought of getting another, but can't afford one now. I may have to go to a thrift shop and look for one.
    I love the amount of space you had around that new home, what fun for kids having all that room for playing!
    Karen's wedding outfit is very lovely, it's unusual to see a pants suit as a wedding outfit, but how practical is that idea! So easily worn afterwards, where a wedding dress would just hang in a cupboard or get packed away in a box.
    I remember that wool striped carpeting too. We didn't have it ourselves, but friends did, not wall to wall but a smaller piece, almost room sized and edged as a rug. They were in the army, same as us, and that striped rug moved about twenty houses before they eventually settled permanently.

    1. Actually I think Trevor's shirt was more a deep yellow but then who's arguing? Trends come and go don't they as with the long hair of the day on the men.
      It's amazing how denim jackets remain popular to this day and yes, I see ladies wear them as well. Phil finds his very handy if he is doing any pruning as it saves his arms being scratched.
      Karen's outfit was chosen for a reason but it worked out very well and looked great.

  5. Thank you for this lovely post with wonderful social history of Mosman Park! That area around the old rope factory has changed so much. It must have felt a bit like Carnarvon in those days there!!