'FUNDS FOR THE WORK OF THE GUILDS
These were raised annually at the Perth Royal Agricultural Show where the Guilds operated a very large refreshments kiosk.
My first impression of the kiosk was that of an enormous shed with iron roof and walls and a cement floor. The latter was convenient as it could be hosed down each night. There were shutters front and back which lifted to enable long counters to be utilised for the sale of snack food, cool drinks etc.
One side of the kiosk was furnished with sinks, large wood stoves, cupboards for food storage pie warmers etc. A long partition divided these from the restaurant itself, which was covered with very long trestle tables and forms. On busy Show days hundreds of meals were served there.
Prior to the opening of the Show stacks of plates, cups and saucers, cutlery, saucepans etc had to be carefully washed, having been stored in cupboards from the previous year, and willing members of the Guilds turned p with aprons ready for the fray. It was a happy time and there was a daily roster of helpers. When the kiosk was in operation washers-up were employed to ensure a regular supply of clean china and utensils. It was the duty of the washers-up to throw out any cups or plates which became chipped or cracked, as the Health Inspector always made regular checks to be sure there was no risk to the health of customers.
Trays full of fresh pastry were always ready to go with the meat or fruit. Some of the large wholesalers from whom we dealt, generously donated cooked hams, corned beef, fruit cake etc., which they sent along with the ordered goods. Cooked pies and pasties were ordered each day and, towards the end of my service with the Guilds, Peters sent along their men to keep the pie warmers full, and ensure that a plentiful supply of their goods was on hand. This made our task easier and more efficient.
When I first became State Secretary I had no idea that I would be expected to organise the Show Kiosk but, probably due to experience in our shop at Swanbourne, it did not prove too difficult and, as I got on very well with Guild members, I received the fullest co-operation.
We mostly employed cooks, but there were times when they let us down and we had to take over and do the job. I remember one such occasion! We decided to have our own meat pies baked in the kiosk over night, and one man cook spent the day mixing up hug mounds of pasty ready for a second man to bake into pies that night, starting at 5 p.m. We were doing well and our home made pies were a great draw card but one evening the night cook did not turn up, so about six of us had to start rolling out the dough and cooking the pies. We managed to cook about sixty dozen pies and how our arms ached with all the rolling!
We suspected that some of the workers were purloining food to take home and, looking around after our night's hard work baking pies, you can imagine our fury when we found some of our precious pies hidden away apparently to be taken home. The person who hid them no doubt received quite a shock to find them gone. That was our last attempt to serve home made pies, and we were glad to buy from the manufacturers for the remainder of that and future Shows.
At night, when the rush was over, we made jellies and custard in buckets; set milk for cream, and made plans for the next day, so that it was often 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. before we finished
Mr Eric Kastner, the husband of one of our members brought us in a bottle of port and told us to have a little when we went to bed to help us to sleep. We had not been sleeping well, probably being overtired, and we therefore decided to try it and, whether it did the job or not or whether sheer exhaustion was the reason, we did manage to have a few hours sleep. We were worried about the bottle as the Guilds are strictly teetotal. The first morning it was carefully hidden but the second day somebody put it on a nearby window ledge, meaning to shift it later. Towards evening we noticed hte bottle still on the window ledge in full view, but nobody had mentioned seeing it, They perhaps thought it was vinegar.
Each night a gang of men was employed in the grounds picking up rubbish and generally cleaning up for the nxt day. Some of them came into the kiosk when we were working late and we gave them a cup of tea or coffee and some sandwiches or whatever we had left over. One of them was a little sawn off fellow about 4'6" high, and he said he wouldn't mind marrying me as I was a good girl! As you can imagine, the story was spread about by my colleagues and did not lose in the telling, so I was congratulated on having received a proposal from one of the customers! It created a great deal of fun!
After a while we turned the kiosk into a cafeteria which proved much quicker as well as better for us and the customers, the latter being able to select their own food.
The end of the Show each year found us completely exhausted, and one of the hardest jobs was clearing up and putting everything away ready for the next year. Any stocks of food over were sold cheaply to helpers on the last day or taken up to headquarters. There was never a great deal over and most of us couldn't bear the sight of it. "
This is quite a long story about the Show so I will continue it in Part 2. I must keep the continuity going as mum 'wrote it' even though it does jump from one year to another quite often. Hopefully you can still follow it OK.