Mister President

I was president of the Canowindra Services and Citizens Club (try saying that after a few schooners) for almost 10 years.  During my term the club prospered and grew. I originally was the treasurer before being elected president. The club had very modest beginnings with Gordon Rue the first president and Arthur
Sargent secretary manager. Arthur used to go to the Royal Hotel and fill a small keg with draught beer which was then dispensed to patrons at the club.

The club had a very small poker machine.(one).

You had to purchase tokens at the bar and these were then inserted into the machine. Arthur was Secretary Manager of the club under these difficult conditions The club eventually acquired a Silver Jubilee 20 cent machine when poker machine were legalised. It made thousands of dollars for the club. Eventually Arthur became addicted and the committee decided he had to go. He used to have all night parties with his mates after the club had closed. One conscientious committeeman took it upon himself to “raid” these after hours parties. We had a very conscientious committee.

I remember several nights on duty after the club was broken into and the strong room damaged. Committeemen were rostered on an all-night vigil to guard the club while repairs were made. One committeeman was rostered on each night to clear the poker machines. weigh the proceeds and sign off. Arthur’s successor as Secretary Manager was Ken Callinan – a former Colonel in the Army. Not a very warm and engaging person. Luckily we had a good backup staff in Jack Simpson, “Red” Hetterick and Robert Grant with Albert {“Treaky”) Trindall as the cleaner. During my term the club instigated a very generous superannuation scheme which helped us to attract and retain good staff and as a means of sharing the club’s prosperity with those who made the club so popular. They were all very good for public relations.

I will never forget the look of consternation on Jack Simpson’s face when I used to say when the club was packed to the rafters: I think we will send one around. President’s shout”. I always insisted on paying for my own drinks during these episodes. Why the club was so successful was because we kept a tight rein on the poker machine revenue. Each trading night a committeeman would clear the machines and then weigh the money. This was surprisingly accurate with the actual count by the bank next day.

I even invented a “Poker machine Auditor”, This gadget when attached to the machine would count the number of times the handle was pulled and also count the number of coins that went into the “cop box”.I eventually sold it to a Maniladra businessman for a tidy sum. During my term we built and opened the renovated club and the magnificent Canowindra community centre comprising a large auditorium, Nangar meeting room, shire library and RSL room. (all air conditioned and later the hall and meeting room also) all the envy of much larger towns.

It was all built courtesy of a loan by the Boree Shire Council, (our local government body ) and paid off by the club with the council having title to the project. I remember who owned it created quite a debate with me saying it did not matter who owned it as long as we had exclusive use of it to which the council agreed.  Our local councilors Athol Brown and Charlie |McCarron lent their great support. I used to travel to Boree Shire meetings with Athol and Charlie so I had their “ëar” on this and other matters to the extent they used to call me the 13th councillor (Boree had 12 Councillors).

To his great credit the late Arthur Kinsella (my successor as President) negotiated the return of title to the building to the club. I don’t know how he did it but he did.

I remember we had sought approval for the building to contain the wording:

“Ä Community project with the names of  Boree Shire Council L.M. Stapleton, president; Canowindra councillors R.A. Brown and C.Mcarron;  Canowindra RSL, R.T. Scoble President; and the
Canowindra Services and Citizens Club, K.W. Whalan President.”

Shire president Max Stapleton insisted that the plaque contain only the name of Boree Shire Council, with the result that no names appeared on the plaque and the idea was abandoned for a plaque commemorating the building of the project. The centre was officially opened by the NSW Governor Sir Eric Woodward  and Lady Woodward who were guests at a Vice Regal ball which was a great success.  I remember the very good looking Aide-de-Camp accompanied the Royal Couple home and then came back to the Ball. I remember asking Lady Woodward to dance and Sir Eric asking my wife to dance in return.

Sir Eric said : “I haven’t danced  for years.”

Lady Woodward was a very good dancer  and after a spirited dance which we greatly enjoyed we stopped to talk to one of the town’s socialites who promptly blew a cloud of her smoke from a long cigarette holder over Lady Woodward.  I could have killed the woman on the spot. She was not supposed to be smoking in the hall in the first place.

Lady Woodward commented on my knees knocking as I was making my speech at the opening of the hall

“I have never seen that before,” she said.

Sir Eric and Lady Woodward took a great liking to the fact that we had twin boys. We took them down to the train to farewell Sir Eric and Lady Woodward who were delighted to see them. Andrew promptly went to sleep.

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Five deaths

I have experienced five deaths.  The first was my mother.  It was a very cold winter’s night in early August (about 2 a.m) when my mother with whom I had lived after my father had died about five years before called out “Kevin! Kevin!.” Evidently having a heart attack.

I called the ambulance (with whom I’d had a close relationship because of the newspaper).  and Allan Maker and I loaded mum into the ambulance.  I remember the little thin cotton blanket which must have  been cold  comfort for Mum on such a night.   Anyway I followed the ambulance to the hospital and Matron Pilkington was none too pleased at being called out in the middle of the night to unlock the drugs cabinet.  I will never forget the huge syringe filled with a pain killing drug (probably morphine).

Anyway she plunged this giant needle into mum’s chest and we took her to a bed ln  the female ward. Not long after mum called out and I said ” I’m here mum”.

Her last words were “Ï love Kevin”.

I  realised she  had gone as the resuscitator which had been helping her to breath stopped  working emitting a continuous hissing sound.

I kissed her on the cheek and said “Bye Bye Mum “.

Then there was this chilling experience: I turned and almost said  “What are you doing here ?”.

I felt Dad’s presence there. I will always believe he had come for Mum.

I related details of this experience to my sister Marie while we were having lunch at a restaurant in Kingcumber where she lived  during a visit there with my grandson Grant.

Her response was “You’re a liar. They didn’t have resuscitators in those days.”  Grant will probably remember the incident. Marie’s son Michael later apologised at her funeral  for the outburst.

The second near death experience was when my wife’s mother Linda (In Portuguese beautiful) Brassil was near death.  Mrs Brassil  (my mother -in- law) and I got on very well and we liked each other  a lot. I loved her.  She was a wonderful person who had raised three boys and five girls -in the latter years on her own after her husband, Joe, died. She loved our twin boys.

I remember her saying as I was leaving the Randwick Hospice to go home to Canowindra  (I had to get the paper out the next day) she said: ‘Oh I wish I could go over the Great Divide tonight”

I kissed her on the cheek in what was to be our last goodbye and said “For you:The best is yet to come”. She smiled and that was the last time I saw her.

Her wish was granted as she died that night.

I remember her jokingly saying about babies “Easy to put in; hard to get out!” .

Then there was the time I was visiting an old friend Doug Newton in Canowindra hospital. Doug was our Canowindra Star accountant who did all our tax returns etc. As I left to go he gripped my arm in a vice-like grip and said “Please don’t go”

I said: “I must”  as I reluctantly  broke his grip. The hardest thing I’ve ever done. He died that night

When I was in Canowindra I used to visit one of the Rue Girls now in her 90s  blind and deaf.  In her heyday Jessie Rue was an avid follower of politics reading everything she could and listening via her radio to Parliament and the news etc. I was very saddened  to see her deprived of these things. Old age can be very cruel. The Rue “Girls”  (Mary Jess and Mag) used to take Mum and I to Sunday Mass in Canowindra for many years. They were very loyal friends. I was sorry to hear of her death.

I was at home one evening when I took an unexpected call from an old friend Terry Brown then living with his daughter at The Entrance.  Terry used to be the Secretary Manager of the club (Canowindra Services and Citizens) of which I was president for almost 10 years. Terry and I got on very well and we liked each other.  He kept in touch after leaving to take up the Secretary Manager of a much larger club, Hornsby RSL.  Our club had prospered during his term and we were very sorry to see him go. Anyway after discussing the news he said he had rung to tell me I was the whitest man he had ever met.  He died several days later from emphysema.

Kevin Almighty

I taught Christian Scripture at various  Schools (Kiama High, Jamberoo, Minnamurra  and Kiama Public)  for about five years   and then mentoring with the government sponsored Planet Youth program which I enjoyed  immensely. The kids were great – interested, respectful , inquisitive and attentive.

I had to cope with questions like

“Who made God ?” and

“How do GAYS have sex?” and

“Is it alright to masturbate. ?”.

I managed to avoid these questions. as being outside my brief.

On two occasions the group I had been teaching applauded – a most  uplifting experiences for me and hardly the reaction of there – under – protest conscripts as non believers would have  us believe

There was only one serious incident and that was when a senior student shouted at the scripture teacher giving the visual. “I’m gonna kill him”. I don’t know what brought this outburst on.  I confronted the offending student and told him (several) times to sit down which thank God he eventually did.  I genuinely felt for my own safety during this incident.  I eventually convinced the head scripture teacher not to call the police or report the incident to the  school Principal.The only other ïncident”was at Warrawong High during a mentoring session.  One of the volunteers (already an unmarried mother) was having a “Pass” session with one of the senior students until I objected to such behavior as being unacceptable.

At Kiama High  (the main place for our teaching) about 150 pupils would gather in the assembly hall for a visual  and talk before breaking into groups of about 15 with one of the 10 or so  volunteer teachers  Some of the teachers had trouble.  The kids could spot  a hypocrite right away and they  usually gave them a  hard  time.

We had Anglican. Uniting Catholic and Jehovah’s Witness and occasionally Baha’i volunteers. Kiama High used to put on quite a nice morning tea for visiting catechists.

Rome

My entry into, and departure from, Rome were equally interesting.  I had just arrived at Da Vinci Airport Rome from London on my way to the Holiday Inn Vatican City. A young Irish pair offered to pay half the taxi fare for the 15 mile  ride to Vatican City  and I agreed.  But when we got to our destination the pair hopped out quickly and  vanished into the depths of the hotel leaving me to pay the full fare for the taxi. So much for trust.

The next morning (Sunday) I went to Vatican City expecting to see great crowds of worshippers, But no. What greeted me  were great  hordes of tourists dressed in every conceivable way taking photos ,and generally behaving in what I thought was a thoroughly disrespectful way  There was no Masses being celebrated at the High Altar. (I found out later there was a mass in a side chapel),  I asked a delightful young Swiss guard where you could go on a tour of St Peters, The Sistine Chapel and other attractions of The Vatican.

He took me to a side office near the entrance to the Cathedral. There sat an enormous middle-aged cleric with a huge red sash around his enormous girth.  I showed him my letter from Cardinal Freeman of Australia; a letter from my Bishop and a letter from the Editor of the Catholic Weekly.  “Everrry think is clossed” said the mountain.

Evidently all the Vatican’s attractions were closed on Sundays.  So ended my long-awaited visit to the Vatican.  But I dud see the High Altar (someone was kind enough to take a photo of me in front of the Great Canopy which straddles the altar and throne and also The Pieta . I was most impressed with St Peters.

Everywhere you looked was a masterpiece of beauty.

My exit from Rome was interesting.  I left the Holiday Inn Vatican by and open top bus and on the way to the Train Station I had a close-up view of the Coliseum as the bus passed nearby.

At the Railway station I fronted up at the ticket window and told the attendant I wanted a single one way ticket to Paris. The attendant said the train was booked out and the only accommodation was a VIP club car.  I agreed to pay extra for the club car and was shown to a rather luxurious car at the very rear of the train. The car had an attendant who presented me with a cup of tea on arrival.

I remember looking out the window as the train left Rome.

I remember seeing the various stations we passed through including the town of Pisa (of Leaning Tower fame)- the last town before going under the railway tunnel of the  Alps. Upon arrival in Paris I had to catch the Metro Underground Railway to the American Express office. I was directed through this maze by a delightful young black man. My only regret was I did not have any change to give him a worthwhile tip. At the Grand Hotel I had a snack and met a Canadian couple who were going to Rome and needed some Lira.

I had ‘ma pocketful’ of the near worthless Lira.

So I said “You want some Lira? Well here, you can have this”, as I emptied my pockets.

I was due to fly to London later in the day as the American Express people suggested I take an open top bus tour of  Paris. We saw The Moulin Rouge nightclub in the distance as we went along the Arc De Triomphe, Joan of Arc statue and other attractions of this great city.  We saw the Notre Dame cathedral which is near the River Seine.  Before arriving at The Eiffel Tower where we stopped for a break.  It was a very hot day and I remember fronting up at the restaurant bar and ordering a large, cold, beer.

The arrogant young bar attendant took a large glass from the rack and squirted a mixture of froth and bubble into the glass from the beer gun. He plonked it down in front of me and said “There..”

I said to the great amusement of an elderly couple nearby:

“Do you know what Stick It means” because that is what you can do with it.”.

I eventually returned to the Grand Hotel and got the bus to the Charles De Gaulle airport for the return flight to London.

God

I am often asked why I believe in God.  I believe because it’s just plain logical  I remember on one occasion  we had all gathered at the Wollongong RSL Club to farewell one of the legal profession. I was talking to Magistrate Keith Dale and I said to him I did not want to stay out too late as I had to be up early the next day (Sunday) to go to Mass.

“You don’t believe in all that rubbish do you ?”. said Keith with great conviction.

I cannot remember what I replied. I would have replied that I did not believe in ALL  the baggage the Church has gathered  over the years. but the main principles remain true. Atheists would have us believe that this beautiful earth, universe and even mankind itself resulted from  a combination of gases and random events that all just fell together over millions (try billions) of years.

Its all too ideal and perfect a home for mankind for me to believe that.  It’s not even logical to believe there was no plan, no architect, no engineer, no scientist, no agriculturalist, no astronomer.

Its like saying that your beautiful new car sitting in the garage just appeared overnight in a puff of smoke.  If anybody said that they would be laughed out of the neighborhood  Its much more logical to assume that a higher power created and   engineered it all as a home for mankind.  A little closer to that inferno we call the sun and we would all fry. A little further away and we would all freeze. This massive rock hurtling through space at astronomical speed. tilts a little for summer and tilts the other way for winter. It is protected from massive radiation, collisions and extremes.

It truly is a masterpiece of engineering. Scientists are hoping to find life on other planets. My tip is they will find nothing to come even close  such is the beauty of the earth and mankind. Then we have mankind.  Able to love,hate, laugh, cry, smile, smirk and even frown. Most if not all of mankind’s problems arise from his  God-given  freewill. Man’s mini-humanity to man rivals anything God has done. Why did God allow his Son to be mocked, humiliated, spat on, and finally, crucified as a criminal by a motley mob of thugs ?

Only God could have endured such horrors against His beloved son .knowing full well  He had the power to zap them  You and I could not have done that without cracking.  HE had the power but chose not to use it because He could see the greater good the Crucifixion would eventually  produce.

In my church (Catholic) I often hear the saying: “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of”.

But don’t take my word for it.  Try it for yourself..  It certainly worked for me.

I have a rather interesting theory: When you die the soul leaves the body and enters the spirit world. Jesus once said “before Abraham was I am”  This statement  poses the question that God exists only in the present tense – no past. no future. God always was and always will be.

This means that when you enter the spirit world you are united with everyone who ever existed or who will exist. Hence the saying that God’s world had no beginning and has no end. God is everywhere  – just like gravity. hence the great belief of Arthur (What’s His Name) who wrote the word  “ETERNITY” all over the place in Sydney.

Murdoch

My years at Rupert Murdoch’s  NEWS LIMITED  were the happiest years of my life although a couple of the saddest moments awaited me. I never officially met Rupert,but I remember him as a very generous employer. At News Limited’s headquarters one Friday  I was waiting at the lift  when the doors opened and out stepped Rupert and the then Premier of NSW Neville Wran and Wran’s press secretary Brian Dale.

Wran had just concluded a  lucrative deal with Murdoch for the exclusive rights to the Pools or Lotto as it would become. Rupert was looking like the cat that had just swallowed the canary!  Wran and  Dale were obviously embarrassed at seeing me there. They did not speak or say Hello . I knew both of them and they knew me from previous meetings in the Labor Party.

The saddest moment was after Phil Quine had retired and  I was appointed Bureau Chief. We had the police radio on monitoring events when a message came across directing the Police, Ambulance and Fire  Brigade to an address in Thirroul.

“That’s Phil;s address”  said Margaret. Turned out that Phil had doused himself in lawnmower petrol and had died later in Wollongong hospital from horrific burns.

The second saddest moment was when we lost our long serving social writer Ethel Hayton O.B.E  I had done the submission for Ethel to to be awarded the OBE for services to the community and especially to Wollongong University which Ethel had nurtured from the turning of the fist sod.  She was a devoted Royalist and was delighted with her OBE. When she died, her friends (She had no family in Australia) wanted to display her in a downtown shop window. I objected in such strong terms that they eventually backed off.

I had the honour of meeting the recently appointed Editor of the Sunday and Daily Telegraphs, Ita Buttrose when she visited Wollongong to address a meeting of Women. I escorted Ita – a delightful person to the luncheon  and put in a few words about the standard of our Bureau premises. I told her our little office in the A.M.P. building was a disgrace for one of Australia’s biggest and most prosperous companies and that I had told them so in Sydney.

I  suggested to the Editorial Manager Brian Hogben  that if they decided to keep it they should take the company’s name down. Brian Hogben agreed and asked me what other premises were available. As luck would have it the MLC Insurance had decided to chose their Wollongong office and the ground floor premises of their building was available for rent.  It was next door to our existing premises. I thought at the time that the premises might be a bit too elaborate for our Bureau but no.

They sent their property manager down and he executed the office plan and had installed an elaborate dark room for the photographers.The net result was a magnificent office complete with all our signs and executive desks and chairs The Lord Mayor Frank Arkell who hated The Mercury came and officially opened the Bureau.

Council gave us permission to erect our papers signs on the outside of the building facing one of Wollongong’s main streets. They were delighted in Sydney with the result,  The building had four parking places at the rear. I remember having a smirk  on my face when Janine Cullen wife of the Mercury*s editor (my former employer) came into the building on her way to work at the ABC whose premises on the top floor. I was sitting at my executive desk in my executive chair  and Ms Cullen could see me through the glass doors. She was waiting at the lift door surrounded by our Mirror Australian Telegraph signs.

Ha Ha Ho Ho!

I stayed at News for about 10 years  I met a lot of people including the lovely Princess Diana when she and Prince Charles visited Wollongong to open the Performing Arts Centre. I took the Voluntary redundancy scheme offered by Murdoch. He offered 4 weeks pay for each year of service giving me a huge cheque when added to long service and  six weeks annual leave. I paid off my mortgage, had an overseas holiday.

A fellow journalist who decided not to take redundancy  got nothing as they decided to close his bureau soon after the voluntary redundancy offer expired.

The Chief of News John Hartigan wrote a wonderfully long letter of commendation for my 80th birthday. He told me that Murdoch had regretted the redundancy offer at they lost a lot of quality journalists from the move.

Sacked (3) Richo

I was in Wollongong on a Friday to pick up my pay and keep in touch.  Mercury Managing Editor Ian Fell had invited me into his office to ask me if I would represent The Mercury at a meeting of Wollongong and Port Kembla businessmen as The Mercury was a member of their organisation (a sort of Chamber of Commerce). I agreed to go and represent The Mercury.

At the meeting the chairman in his annual report revealed that the Secretary had absconded with a considerable amount of the organisation’s money and the company car. This turn of events was most embarrassing for an organisation of businessmen. The chairman told me the meeting was confidential and not for publication. I reported all this back to Fell.

John Richardson the executive Editor of The Mercury was listening in to our conversation and he said to me

“That’s a bloody good yarn.  Write the story.”

I said “No way. It was  confidential information ”

Fell should have stepped in at this stage but being dominated by the bully Richardson, he  said nothing.

Richo said “Write the story”

“I said: “I refuse”.

Richo then said :”You’.re sacked “.

Fell said nothing.

Then Richo said:  “Anyway, Kevin you’re not a Mercury type”,

I replied: “That’s the greatest compliment I’ve ever been paid ,”

The journalists then held a union meeting and decided to go on strike.

Richo told them :I have a drawer full of copy I can bring the paper out without the help of the bloody journalists”.

So he took the copy down to the linotype operators.

Head lino operator, Kevin Mitchell with whom I had worked when he was at the Cowra Guardian said to Richo .

“You know what you can do with that don’t you ?”

And so The Mercury for the first time in  its more than 120 year history did not come out.

Fell nearly pooped himself and Richo agreed to re-instate me.

It was the lucrative Saturday edition of The Mercury and I’ve no doubt the  powers that be at John Fairfax in Sydney (proprietors of The Mercury) would not have been amused. Richo made life so intolerable ( I was not allowed to use the telephone) that I resigned.

I could have taken them to court but I chose not to, I still have the card signed by all of The Mercury staff wishing me well. Little did I know at the time that Richo had done me a great favor by sacking me as it not long after that I joined the Wollongong News Limited with whom I was very happy eventually becoming Bureau Chief when Phil Quine with whom I became a great friend resigned through ill health.

Sacked Carl Egan(2)

My second sacking was at the hands of the Westons of Kiama Independent fame. John Weston had purchased a great outdated press from the Nowra paper owned by Carl Egan and Co with whom he became friendly.They (Egan and two of his henchmen) used to visit  Kiama while the paper was being published 4 pages at a time on the Heidelberg machine. John’s purchase of the Nowra Mafia’s monster was almost a mirror image of Jack Sullivan, from the Cowra Guardian,  buying the Mosman Daily monstrosity.

Anyway The Mafia must have decided to install one of their own, Peter Attwater, in the job as Editor of the Kiama Independent and John Weston went along with the idea.They were prepared to throw me and my five  school age children out on the street!

I remember telling my friend, real estate agent Geoff Wilson, that Attwater had threatened to move into our house with his wife and child. Geoff commented: “That should be interesting”

There was no consultation; no inkling that the Westons were dissatisfied with me or my work.

I remember saying to Marj Weston when being shown the “new” press and the new building to house it that it was like using a sledge hammer to crack a walnut.  That comment did not endear me to the Westons. There was a suggestion that I had written an article in direst contravention of an instruction from Marj Weston.  This I deny. I did not, nor would I have. The only article I wrote and had published was one supporting Gough Whitlam’s campaign saying ” It’s Time.”

It certainly was time as anyone with half a brain knew.  The alternative was  Billy McMahon – him of the big ears and squeaky voice.  Someone once said he looked like a Volkswagen  with the doors open. I wrote a similar article  condemning Whitlam when he sacked his ministers and had the country in turmoil.

Anyway, after the sacking  we stood our ground and eventually moved into a rather spacious house in the pick position of Kiama Pheasant Point- thanks to the efforts of the late Geoff Wilson.

Geoff and I had  become friends as we were both in Kiama Lions club and had been charter members of the Club. After leaving the Independent,(as with all of my sackings I fell on my feet thanks to the power of  prayer but that’s another story which I will  tell you later in the series) I was offered a job as Southern Area Roundsman with the Illawarra Mercury (A Grade) working from home and visiting Wollongong each Friday to keep in touch and pick up my pay. I would type copy out and send it up on the train to Wollongong.

Attwater moved in  but his triumph was short lived. The move cost him his marriage as it was not long after that his wife left him and took their only child with her. A similar fate awaited John Weston whose wife also left. I found the Westons  did  not mind the Independent being Independent as long it was Independent in a biased way.

I remember my wife Frances saying on reading Attwater’s first edition that  it was the “new reign”  While in between jobs I was probably the highest paid journalist on the South Coast as I  worked for the Mirror, ABC and Herald as a casual  I even went back and edited the Independent when they were stuck because of something or other.

I remember John French a well known Kiama businessman and developer saying I was his favorite Editor.

The Kiama Independent eventually became a free paper losing all of its sale price and becoming almost a replica of its sister paper The Lake Times which Attwater and the Westons established after I left.  Both have since been sold to the John B Fairfax owned Rural Press which now owns most (if not all) of the NSW Country Press.

Sackings ( part 1)

I’ve been sacked three times in my journastical career. I will tell you about them in three episodes

The first was after my great friend Bob Sullivan died in strange circumstances and his brother Jack returned to Cowra to take over the family business, The Cowra Guardian which owned the Canowindra Star Jack built and half completed a building which is still there looking as though its been cut in half. The new building was.to house the monstrosity of a press  he had bought from the Mosman Daily- This clapped out old relic was a disaster requiring a continuous flame under the metal pot.

Jack could never take advice. The Press room boys gave him the nickname “Cockless”  because he did not have the usual male bulge.  I think he had delusions of grandeur. You could not talk to or discuss anything with Jack.

It was “my way or the highway with him.”

Well,  it was the highway for me as he terminated my lease of The Canowindra Star thinking to amalgamate it with the Cowra Guardian. He had great arrogance and knew little or nothing about newspapers.  The people of Canowindra would not have a bar of their paper closing so they started up their own paper The Canowindra News with one of my ex-paper boys, the late Peter Heaslip in charge.

It is still going to-day. On the  Friday I received notice of termination of my lease,

Lo and behold in Saturday’s Herald was an advert for Editor of the Kiama Independent  I applied for and got the job!

( I am convinced some one up there was looking after me).

So with our five  wonderful children in tow  we moved to Kiama  The 5  children enrolled at the Kiama Catholic school who were delighted with the increase in the school’s numbers. My wife Frances got a teaching job at the Kiama Primary School. We had squeezed  into the two bedroom house which went with the job.  Ironically  it was the same house which a couple of years earlier had failed to impress.

The Westons had advertised for  A Managing Editor for the Independent after the death of the proprietor Bert Weston. I got that job too but upon inspection of the very ordinary house we decided not to take it.

Prior to going to Kiama I had several weeks in Narromine relieving Cliff Whitelock as editor of the Narromine News. Cliff was going on an overseas trip – his first holiday for many years.

Meanwhile The Cowra Guardian under Jack Sullivan was a disaster. Jack had appointed a Manager, Accountant with himself as Editor. In addition  he had two senior journalists.  He had moved the office from the main steet frontage into his new building in a Cowra sidestreet resulting in a loss of exposure, sales and advertising. The Guardian started to lose money and it was eventually sold to Rural Press (John D. Fairfax).Jack returned to his little radio news magazine job in Sydney and died a few years later unwept, unhonoured and unsung. May he Rest in Peace.

The White House

After several years living and raising four of our five children in the residence above the bottle shop we decided to move.

The Boree Shire Council had decided to borrow a large sum of money for a Housing Scheme.  I applied for a loan under the scheme as the Star was doing well. I bought the best building block in the best part of Canowindra  ( Cnr of Rodd and Charlotte Sts).

Then as an owner-builder and with the Council loan, I started work on our new house, A former Methodist Minister then living on a farm he had bought in Canowindra was a qualified builder.  

He did all the carpentry work; some young men from Cowra laid out the plan and dug the foundations, all under the watchful eye (Thank God) of the council’s building inspector, Bert Rowe. I remember going to Sydney and at the factory  loading the Stegbar window frames into the station wagon and bringing them to Canowindra. I did the same with all the bathroom equipment and electrical gear obtained from Metters. I got it all at wholesale rates as I knew the Managing Director of Metters, Fred Spring, who was married to a distant cousin of mine. Anyway we got the thing built – a magnificent house at minimal cost.

It had a solar unit for water heating on the roof.  I remember the most we paid for electricity off peak was just under $2!

The Concrete blocks came from Rocla at St Marys in Sydney. Rocla had agreed to get a contractor to lay the bricks. However this team proved to be lazy and incompetent and I had to sack them.  Another team proved to be excellent tradesmen. The Reverent Gentleman pitched the roof and installed the windows. Tilers came in and did the slate-style roof. Painters and plumbers and tilers did the rest.

The whole result was a magnificent Spanish-style  bungalow with bay windows etc. I was lucky to get the tradesmen I did. Anyway we eventually moved in and our youngest child Susan was amongst the first residents. The house was called Gwydir after the Whalan house at Oberon. Susan never experienced the rigors of life in the bottle shop residence. A Boree Shire Councillor,(Vic |Nash) told me later the Council was very pleased with its housing scheme as not one borrower had defaulted.

The house later hosted the After Ordination party for my nephew Rev Father Charles Rue. after he had decided to join the Columbian Fathers. His Ordination was attended by our cousin Arthur McCloskey who was acting NSW Police Commissioner at the time.

Arthur arrived in a Police Nash Rambler car driven by a young constable in full uniform with Arthur and his wife sitting in the back seat.  They booked into the Canowindra Hotel. After the party in the wee small, hours, Arthur and his wife went back to the hotel. The hotel licensee had told Arthur to come around to the back door if he was late Arthur finished up banging on the front door, waking everyone up: “I’m not taking my wife through the back door, of any pub!” yelled Arthur who continued his door-banging tantrum until the Publican came down and let him in through the front door.

Young Arthur came to live with us when his parents died and my mother reared him. My mother used to call him Artie so I continued on the practice. I remember Arthur used to pivot around on one leg when called “’Artie” which he evidently disapproved of.

When we moved to Kiama we sold the White House and Rodney Bowd, a local contractor, finished up with it. We visit him whenever we’re in Canowindra and he has great pleasure in showing us and our visitors over “our” house.

Rodney – a delightful young bloke – has converted the front family room and kitchen into a double bed family room with ensuite and bay window and moved -the kitchen and family room over the courtyard.- a great improvement on the original concept – to make the house an even grander home.

Anecdotes, Yarns, Old News and New Memories

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