Saturday, February 21, 2015


The family were all living in Goderich Street and (Margaret) Peggy was attending Victoria Square College which was just over the road from the house.  Harry had become a Rawleighs dealer and with mum's help it was going well.  They had of necessity bought a car.

Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME" by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 94-96)

"With Peg growing up, the flat in Mr Bail's house became too small, and Harry found a place in Clive Street, West Perth, where we shared a house with an elderly pensioner.  I had to look after the house, except for Mrs Laird's private room, and the garden was also our responsibility.  By this time Peg was able to travel on the tram to school and was fairly reliable in traffic.  Len remained at his self-contained flatette at Bail's place and was still employed by Yellow Cabs, a reasonable occupation but with very little future.

At this time the Royal Australian Air Force advertised for a trained photographer, and I suggested to Len that he apply for the position.  He feared his maths may let him down, so Harry and I gave him a short refresher course one Sunday morning prior to the date of the interview.  Harry was in bed at the time with a touch of lumbago, and I remember the three of us grouped on the bed full of enthusiasm.  Harry was an expert on decimals and was delighted to act as a tutor."  (Dad may have been an expert on decimals (mum was with fractions) but to this date I've never yet got the hang of decimals!!)

"To cut a long story short, Len applied for the job and, and of 28 applicants, he was the one selected.  He was stationed at Pearce Aerodrome, and I feel sure that was the turning point of his life.  He was on the permanent Air Force staff." (This picture was taken at Pearce Aerodrome, possible on an Open Day prior to the commencement of WW2.  I wonder why Len is pulling that face?):

"Len had a very good baritone voice and, having been taught by one of the top men in Perth, Mr Leckie, he enjoyed his singing and blossomed into opera and musical comedy.  Had it been possible at that time he may have joined one of the choirs and perhaps even gone overseas.  We all enjoyed his singing and in later years I even managed to play most of his accompaniments." (One of the family's favourite occupations when they got together was having a sing song around the piano at either our place or Len and Jean's home).

"Len then became engaged to Jean Thompson, whom he met while working in the Brookton district, where the Thompson family were farmers.  Mr Thompson died and Mrs Thompson and her four daughters moved to Perth.  We met Jean earlier when Len brought her down to see us while we were still farming in Narrikup and Peg was small.  Jean visited us again from time to time when we moved to Perth.

We were living in Clive Street at the time of the wedding and I remember how difficult it was for me to buy a frock to wear.  As luck would have it a frock shop in West Perth had a sale and I secured one of their bargains for £2.00.  It was a little tight but they were able to let the seams out so that I could fit into it comfortably.  It was teal blue, a colour which suited me and I felt I did not disgrace the family.  Of course I didn't tell anyone the history of the dress and I felt quite smart as the mother of the groom."  (There was an article in a local newspaper describing the wedding and the clothes the bridal party wore plus those of the mother of the bride and of the groom).

"The wedding was a very pleasant family affair where I met Mrs Thompson and the other member of the family.  I had made Peg a pretty coat and hat from material sent from England, and she handed Jean a floral horseshoe on ribbon as she entered the church."  (This is the formal picture of Len and Jean after the wedding ceremony.  You can actually see the little horseshoe hanging on the ribbon).

"After a while we continued to gather a little more money and put it away for the future, while Harry became an established success as a Rawleigh dealer, and enjoyed contact with his regular customers.  Meanwhile, I kept the books and found new and more attractive ways of make up parcels for sale.

We then came up against the 1939/45 war, and men were being recruited for service overseas.  Once again the authorities sought Harry's assistance.  He was, of course, too old for active service, but he was asked to act as a night guard at the Gas Works in East Perth.  This was to be a temporary measure until such time as all essential services could be covered by the authorities.  Apparently records were available of both reliable and unreliable people in key positions, and every effort had to be made to prevent the latter from interfering with the war effort."  (This is an old picture of the gas works that dad had to guard in 1939.  Strangely enough on the local Channel 7 news today they were talking about developing a parcel of land in that area where there is also an old power house):

"Harry was provided with a revolver and had to parade around the Gas Works all night.  Fortunately no effort was made to damage this essential building, which was very close to the Swan River and I often wondered whether, had Harry found anybody without authority wandering about the place, if he would have attempted to shoot them or if they would have short him first, because I don't think he was at all familiar with a loaded revolver."  (I am sure he would have had some training on how to use the revolver,  but maybe not).

"However, he did that successfully for a while as war service and combined it with a certain amount of Rawleigh's business.  He was paid for the guard duty but I cannot remember how much he received.  As thing settled down the services took over at all vital points, and we were all very glad and relieved when Harry's help was no longer required.

Meantime I had discovered that sage was not obtainable in the shops, and had asked in the large stores if they would be interested in buying some.  There were quite keen and I sent Harry along to see them.  Rawleigh's sage was excellent. so we broke up the large packets into small plain parcels and sold them to some of the retail stores.  We made a very good profit on them and they sold readily.  Each time Harry sent an order to Rawleighs he included one for large quantities of sage, and the bank balance began to look very healthy."  (This would be the modern day version):

Things are going quite well for the little family now.  Next episode mum and mum begins doing the first of her social work.  Another move or two coming up as well.


  1. Hari OM
    Well done Len! What a smart couple. Sharp-eyed mum, on the lack of sage... rather appears that the entrepreneurial life was starting to pay off... onwards and upwards! YAM xx

    1. I know mum and and dad were thrilled to see Len succeed as he did.
      Mum was always pretty quick on the uptake and she did well with the sage.
      Their lives kept changing but mainly for the better. xx

  2. I love the wedding picture. I'm glad things are starting to improve for your folks.

    1. Thank you. I should have mentioned the wedding took place on 27 January, 1940. All seems so long ago now.

  3. Ah finally...some light at the end of the tunnel for them.

    1. After all they did for me it was great they were themselves getting some relief after all their hard work.

  4. A dress where the seams were able to be let out! You don't see that these days. Even hems now are so narrow they can't be let down.
    Teal sounds a lovely colour for a wedding. I had a horseshoe given to me at my wedding too!
    Good to hear things looking up for the family at last. I wonder why the sage was so popular, did people make a lot of sage and onion stuffing or was it used for tea? I drink sage tea from leaves picked in my garden.

    1. You are so right about the lack of seams or hems these days. Generosity was the name of the game back then.
      Horsehoes were really the go weren't they? Not sure if it is does so much these days though.
      I think sage would have been more for stuffing than anything as I doubt, back in 1940, if people were into herbal teas. I've tried various types and they're not for me I'm afraid.

  5. Another wonderful post Mimsie. I remember having a horseshoe at my wedding, and also a chimney sweep. I loved this tradition but don't hear about it these days.

    1. Thanks Denise.
      I think horseshoes were quite usual but chimney sweeps? It rings a bell but not sure why. Is it an English tradition perhaps? Will have to check it out.