Looking back we had moved into 524 Fitgerald Street, I had begun my first job which I was really enjoying, I had discovered yachting and gone out with my first boyfriend, Gary Arnold.
Mum, Dad and I were very happy living in this rented house in North Perth but unfortunately inflation suddenly hit Australia and with dad not yet being eligible for the age pension Mum decided she could not manage running the house on the £3 a week he was giving her. He said he had retired and didn't intend going back to work and that was that. When you consider he was only 62 at that time and in quite good health I myself felt it was a bit hard on mum but dad was born in the Victorian era and although he was a wonderful father, and a good husband, his word was quite often law. I was contributing part of my salary and, although I had had a raise to £2.8.0d a week within my first fortnight, I still had to pay bus fares, buy lunches and clothes as well as other necessities so doubt I was giving mum much more than 15/-d a week (that is fifteen shillings for those that don't understand sterling currency).
Mum began checking the job vacancies in the paper and discovered that the Women's Service Guild were looking for an honorary secretary. Mum applied and was interviewed by the President of the Guild, Mrs Rischbieth, who decided mum was just the person the Guilds were looking for. Mum began as a part-time secretary at an honorarium of £3 per week. This is Bessie Rischbieth as I remember her. She and mum became great friends and did a lot of work to assist in the advancement of women and protection of children, amongst other things. It is quite worthwhile popping Bessie's name into Google and reading about her fantastic life. I have a copy of Mrs Rischbieth's book "March of Australian Women" and when she autographed it for me in 1964 she wrote "Margaret belongs to the younger generation of women to whom we look to continue the work" - Bessie M. Rishbieth - 1964. I am not sure I have lived up to her standards, or even those of my mother, but I have done my best.
Prior to this mum had been doing voluntary work with the Red Cross at Royal Perth Hospital which she had thoroughly enjoyed. This is mum leaving the house in 1950. She always looked so lovely and especially so when she was dressed up to go out. She would have been 52 at this time:
Dad in the meantime had joined the North Perth Bowling Club and began playing lawn bowls. To me he always looked very handsome in his bowling creams which he wore when playing tournament bowls. On 'at home' days he just wore grey trousers and a white or cream shirt. If I remember rightly he invariably wore braces. I am 99% sure this picture was taken of him in the back garden just after we moved into 524 Fitgerald Street in 1947. He was have been about 62 at that time. Dad was 5'11" and always stood very straight as though he had been in the army, although of course he hadn't, as previously explained.
The insurance assessing business where I was a stenographer was growing in leaps and bounds and we had a wonderful staff of 3 men (the boss and two assessors) and 6 females: Greta, Peg, Wilma, Val, June and myself. We were always very busy but the work was so interesting and there was never a dull moment. At that time both Perth Girls and Perth Boys (two of Perth's high schools) were situated in James Street opposite our office) and thinking back I can't help remarking on how well behaved the young people were in those days. There was a delicatessen next to our office where we bought our morning tea and lunch when needed and the high school kids also went there to buy food. I can't remember one incident when any of them played up and I worked there for three and a half years.
Romance once again returned to my life when Gary begged me to go out with him again. It was yachting season once more and on reminiscing I often wonder if it was my liking of Gary or my love of yachting that allowed me to say 'yes'. That sounds mean but do remember I was only 16 and not all that well versed about 'love affairs'. The wives and girlfriends of the yachties would often go out in a large boat to follow the races and on weekends we would sail down the Swan River from Perth to Peppermint Grove where we would pull the yacht up onto the beach and sit and enjoy our lunch and probably go for a swim as well. I even once skippered Columbine" on ladies day but unfortunately we didn't get a place. I did rather enjoy it though and remember it quite well.
The ANA Yacht Club had by now organised the first regatta at Mandurah for the Easter break in 1948 and it turned out to be very popular with the holiday makers as well as with the yachties themselves. When they weren't racing we would sail under the traffic bridge and right down into the Mandurah Estuary proper. It made for a wonderful day out and we all had a fabulous time. This would have been taken probably at the mouth of the Serpentine river where it enters the estuary when we have stopped to have a rest and possibly lunch and a cool drink. Here is Thelma Fisher (who was the girlfriend (later the wife) of John Webster), Gary and myself. I always had the feeling that Thelma was a bit keen on Gary at that time but he didn't seem to return the feeling one little bit. Just not his type perhaps and John was 'potty' about Thelma and I was always pleased when she eventually accepted his proposal or marriage and they became engaged (they are still together and have recently built a new home to replace the one they had been living in for about 55 years.)
Way back then we had little money to splash around and quite often our 'entertainment' would be to catch a bus into Perth and go window shopping. Some of the Perth shops had wonderful displays of every conceivable thing (I am not sure if they do these days as I've not been into the city for 5 of 10 years). If we didn't do that we'd quite often just 'go for a walk' around the nearby suburbs. I think that helped to keep us very fit. I would usually also walk home from work which was a distance of about 3km and mostly uphill. I always loved to walk and my biggest disappointment these days is that I am unable to do so for more than a short distance. Such a simple pleasure now denied me. Ah well, that's life I guess but I have wonderful memories when it was something we did for pleasure.
Once again my romance with Gary faltered. When we would be window shopping in the city he would begin to talk about furniture and house furnishings etc and, although by then I was 16, any thoughts of being that serious or thinking about settling down were far from my mind. I was sorry to say goodbye to him but this time I made him realise it was final. We still remained friends and quite often when going to a ball he and his current girlfriend would be part of our group. I do remember my first husband (Aubrey) and myself visiting Gary and his new wife Jean in the home the had just built in Applecross but I am not sure that we had much contact with them after that. Nobody had a home telephone in those days (or very few young people did) so unless you leaved fairly close to each other you lost contact easily.
I was saddened when several years ago Aubrey told me that (through John Webster) he had learned that Gary had had both his legs amputated due to diabetes. Gary eventually passed away in 2007 at the age of 76. I felt so sad that a man who had always been very active had his life end in that way.
RIP Gary Arnold. You were my first 'love' and I remember you still.