Joyce: We did have a little bus travelling from Hughesdale to
Wattletree Road, a little bus. A six seater and you got in the back of it.
A step and you got in the back way. They'd be hanging all over it, on
the step on the outside to get a ride home. That was the only transport
around then. And on a hot night when we were young- we had ice chests
still- up on the corner of Alma Street and Waverley Road, all of a sudden
you would hear a little bell ringing and the ice-cream man would be there.
He'd have his cylinders there, a couple. The canvas was a pretty little
covering over it, he'd ring like mad and we'd run out with a billy or
something like that to get it filled up with ice-cream on a hot night.
That was a treat.
So this was when you were a child or had children?
Joyce: Yes, when we were children. Then when my children, we had where the garage is, they had a confectionery shop there and they sold ice-blocks. Oh! Lovely ones. It was two pennies, I think, for an icy one. Then you could have one with cream in half and half and half and that was threepence I think.
Clive: Well my Mum was most unusual. It was wool and needle work.
My mum was self taught and she became quite famous. She used to design her own
needlework. In those days, girls got their boxes before they got married which was a
big camphor box and they put everything they wanted into it. She used to design her
own needlework which was in competition to anybody else and she used to get orders
from around the world, well not around the world but around Australia.
Clive: Because if you came in with a cup, saucer and plate, she would design supper cloths, serviettes and place mats exclusively for you.
It sounds great
Clive: It was terribly important back in those days. After the war I didn't know what to do with myself, when I came home. My Dad was on his own. She died during the war. For something to do because I didn't want to go back to where I'd been, I was always interested in drawing and I started up again. I couldn't keep up with it (as a needle worker). So I was a manufacturer, a designer, a wholesaler, a retailer - I was everything all in one but I didn't know if I was making any money or not because I wasn't trained in business.
I painted stain glass windows before the war which was probably most unusual when I left school, for about five years from 1936 to about 1941 when I went into the Army. I've got what they call an Opus Sectile- that's a mosaic in St John's Toorak. It's on the wall. I've got photographs of it. I was nineteen at the time. It was something I painted on my own. It's got an heraldic symbol down the bottom.
Clive: There was another thing when I was a kid. You've probably heard of
Hubert Opperman, the great bike rider.
Clive: He was as famous as Bradman in his day. He was a figure that people could relate to. Well, he rode Malvern Star bikes which my Mum was next to. Malvern Star shop was still around pre-war. I can see it plainly. He used to ride in the Malvern Cricket Ground with a chap called Fatty Lamb. The two of them used to race, round the Malvern Cricket Ground. They put Hessian right round the ground so you couldn't see in. It was a big, big deal. It was like Bathurst car racing at the time.
Clive: People came from everywhere. There would be very few people who would know that because that was when I was a kid. He was well in his nineties when he died not so very long ago. As a kid, he was as famous as Bradman. Everyone knew Oppy.
Even now his name is still very well known
Clive: I met him a couple of times. He actually started in the Malvern Post Office which we could see from our shop which was just down Llaneast Street. He was a messenger boy. My Dad used to often say, "I picked him up off the ground." He'd fallen over off the bike. I met Oppy at a Sportsman's Night that we were running through Rotary and he came in a bit late and I happened to be standing there and we talked for about a quarter of an hour. I said to him, "My Dad used to tell me the story of how he picked you up as a messenger boy." He said "I was falling off all the time". I kept falling off a bike." Any rate I sent him a whole lot of photographs and he sent me back a they were photographs he didn't have of Malvern. He was, I think, the High Commissioner of Malta, at one stage. He sent me back "Oppygram" that he had when he was in.
Alan: The horse-drawn era was quite fascinating. My grandmother would entirely
manure her garden with horse manure. There was always a Chinese vegetable man would come around,
as well. The brewery, the beer to the hotels, was always delivered by horses. So, you know, there
were always horses around. And the milkman. The milk was all delivered by horses. As a young boy,
one of the things that you'd do was get pally with the milkman and hop up on his cart, the milk
cart. His horses knew the route so well, the milkman never had to direct them. Go to the route and
they knew it. When there was a tempting bush, sometimes they'd deviate to eat the bush. And traffic!
I remember we used to play football and cricket on the road and you'd have a good match and only
rarely would you be interrupted with a car coming. Now, of course, you wouldn't contemplate it.
Traffic's a big thing, of course. We didn't have a refrigerator. We had an ice chest. Have you
heard of ice chests? And the big innovation I remember was when they put a pipe in it so that the
ice could drain out under the house and you didn't actually have to empty the tray. That was a big
A big change.
Alan: We had coppers to do the washing in. There were no washing machines. Coppers had to be boiled so you only changed your underwear once a week, in those days. Today we change it daily, if not more. In those days, the done thing for everybody was socks and underwear you changed once a week. That was normal because it was hard to get the washing done. Monday was washing day because you could burn off in those days. Incinerators and burn the leaves. So the rule was you didn't do it on a Monday so the washing didn't get smoked. We had two postal deliveries a day. The postman used to whistle when the mail came. I remember all that very vividly. Yes.
Alan: I remember the soldiers and the military people on the trams could
go for a penny, same as a child. That was a reduced fare for servicemen. I remember seeing
Americans for the first time. Also, we saw black Americans, which was a big shock because we
had never seen anybody of a different colour before, ever. Also, planes flying over was new.
One night, we went to the country and every town would have a plane spotting roster for people
to identify any aircraft going overhead. Locally, there was both the militia and the air raid
wardens. Have you ever seen that TV series 'Dad's Army'?
Alan: Well, it was just like that. It was terribly funny, but the air raid wardens we used to notice more than the others, but every so often they'd have a practice in a street, and they'd all put their helmets on and have their gas masks in their packs. They had arm bands on to say they were air raid wardens. I remember they'd block off the street and have some little harmless fire cracker thing in the middle. They'd let it off and it would smoke and go bang gently. Then they'd rush into people's gardens and get buckets of water and pour endless buckets of water over this poor little fire cracker.
Used to amuse us tremendously but all these men would take it so seriously. It really was quite funny. So air raid wardens we'd notice. There was militia. People would go off one night a week and practice being soldiers one night a week, or something. Also, you had big signs up on your street. 'This is a war saving street". People had to buy war saving certificates. It was a form of saving for the war effort. But these big signs on the street saying "This is a war saving street". Also our windows, we had to black out our windows. It was quite interesting. So there was very much a feeling of war, but to me it was exciting. I didn't think of it as something serious. I was a little boy and soldiers and all that was quite exciting. Because I was born into it, I didn't notice the shortages as much as… but I do remember being taken to the first Royal Melbourne Show after the war and how wonderful it was to have the Show again. Then the disappointment that you didn't get all the big samples that you used to get.
You used to get a lot of free samples and one of the family biscuit tins were tins that had been given pre-war at the Show. So I remember all these new products and things that we were able to have that we'd never had during the war. I hadn't realized it because I was just a little boy.
Did you have to have air raid practice at school?
Yes. Yes, we did, and there were air raid shelters. In fact, next to us there was a big one. Neighbours had put one in and I used to love playing in it. They were great places to play in. You know, go down the steps to a lovely big underground cavern. So yes, all the schools had them and we had to have air raid practice. It was exciting we thought it was fun.