Saturday, May 9, 2015


Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME" by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 228-230)

"I had applied to Sir Charles Court for a grant to pay the salary of a part-time secretary, and he game us $3,000 a year for the purpose  First of all we appointed a man but he was hopeless.  Then we gave the position to a young woman whose English and spelling was very poor.  She left us to take a position in a school library.  After that we were fortunate in securing voluntary office people to come in one or two days a week.  This arrangement still continues and has proved very satisfactory.

During the whole of this time I had worked in a voluntary capacity and had found it impossible to find anybody willing to take over from me without a salary.

Despite the fact that I had been assured of Federal Government help we were advised that the Acts had been changed and Beehive Industries did not fit into any of them.  We pointed out that we had the promise of Commonwealth funds in writing an that Sydney Beehive was still in receipt of Commonwealth aid, but to no avail.

Although still capable of carrying on I realised that as Manager, Secretary and Treasurer I was carrying a heavy load, and my 80th birthday was approaching.  It was therefore essential, for the sake of Beehive and myself, that we endeavour to obtain some money from the State Government to permit the employment of a manager.

The Premier, the Hon. Sir Charles Court, received a deputation comprised of the leading members of the Board, as the result of which a Treasury Office, Mr Clyde Adams, made an investigation into the aims and objects of the society, its management and financial position.  The outcome of this enquiry was the grant of $10,000 to pay the salary of a manager.   This was not on an annual basis, but we felt that further grants would be made.  Being a non-profit organisation what is earned by the efforts of the workers must be used for their benefit.

This is a much more recent photograph of workers in a Beehive workshop.  I think this is the one in East Perth.  I will tell the story later of being invited to the opening of Ruston House in Brewer Street in 1986, the year after mum's death:

The Board decided to advertise and we received a large number of applications.  Unfortunaately they were mostly from newcomers from overseas or the eastern states, with practically no knowledge of local conditions or business.  After sorting them into possibles and unsuitables we were left with only about half a dozen with the necessary business experience in Western Australia, and they were interviewed by senior members of the Board.

Two men were outstanding, and one of these, Mr Malcom Levinson, was offered the position.  He had been a business executive, a leader in Telephone Samaritans and the first Governor of Lions International Service Club.  In addition he had considerable educational qualifications.  He joined the staff on 1st April, 1977 and, after giving him a period to settle in, I eased myself out gradually and finally resigned in June, 1977,

The word got around about my birthday and Mr Levinson, unbeknown to me, organised a wonderful 80th birthday party on the 15th April in the cottage garden with staff present.  It was a very moving occasion for me, and I will always remember it.  Against all my rules I received a number of gifts from my friends, the workers, with whom I had always had the most happy associations.

Before handing over to Mr Levinson I confirmed the appointment of Mr Eric Folks as supervisor of the shop and heavy workshop; Mr Don Hay as Supervisor of the book section at the corner of Newcastle and Palmerston Streets and Mr Norm Meddes as Supervisor of 343 and 345 Newcastle Street.  Mr Bartholomeuzs continued as Cashier, as he had been for some years.  Sadly we have to report that "Bart" died suddenly at home at the time of his Golden Wedding Anniversary just before Christmas 1979, when all his family had gathered for the celebration.

I arranged for Supervisors to give daily reports of work to the new Works Manager, and our voluntary people to give one or two days a week as typist/telephonists.  Mr old colleague Muriel Haning, became one of the volunteers."

One more episode left to complete the Beehive story and then mum is off on her well earned holiday.  Do stay with us as even that trip proved to rather eventful.


  1. Nice to hear that a birthday party was organised for the human dynamo. She gave so much, but I love hearing that her hard work was recognised at the time.

  2. Hari OM
    Yes there is a real sense of 'rounding off' in this one... so glad that some one was found in whom your mother could have confidence in handing the reins! YAM xx

  3. I'm surprised that a girl whose English and spelling was poor managed to get a job in a school library. Perhaps the school thought working with books would help her with this.
    That photo shows a lovely spacious working environment.
    I think it was very lovely for the workers to give a party and gifts for your mum's birthday.
    A shame a voluntary manager couldn't be found, but getting a grant to pay for a manager was good.