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Earl Douglas (Doug) Cash

I was born on 15 July 1919 at Gladstone, Manitoba, Canada. My father, born in Corydon, Wayne County, Iowa in the US, was a naturalised Canadian and my mother was English, born at Hoddlesden, Darwen, Blackburn, in Lancashire, England. Dad’s family were in the lumber business in Fort Francis, Ontario, and Mum’s dad was a pipe and pottery manufacturer. 

Our final place of residence in Canada was Vancouver and it was from there that we headed for Australia in 1923, when I was four years old. Our ship, the “RMS Niagara”, stopped at Honolulu and Suva and family photos from these places are still looked at from time to time.

We lived in and around Sydney for five years and then moved to Adelaide where Dad took over the local office for Eureka/Maytag vacuum cleaners and washing machines. We made the trip via Melbourne, Mt Gambier, and the Coorong in a 1927 single-door Ford T sedan. With two adults and four children plus baggage and other sundries we had a good load but the tin lizzie never faltered over rough roads, mud heaps and sand-drifts.

Early in 1930 we moved to Melbourne for a few months before moving on to WA. Late that November we boarded the M.V. Westralia with three of our trotting horses, which had been racing in Melbourne, and headed for Fremantle. We settled in East Cannington opposite the present Beckenham station and built our own training track. I was now 11 and old enough to look after and drive the horses in training as well as to and from the Perth and Fremantle tracks on race nights. We won our share of races including cups. 

School year 1931 saw me enrolled at Perth Boys School till June 1933 when we went to bush to a farm at Muchea till early 1934. This was to give Mum and Dad a break from two years of hard work in the pastry cook business at their Royalty Tearooms shop in Hay Street, a few doors east of Charlie Carter’s.

Back in Perth I went job seeking along with hundreds of other boys and in a “no dole” situation. I soon was a messenger boy with Charlie McAlinden’s advertising display agency and stayed there till I became a telegraph messenger in the Postmaster-General’s Department just after my 15th birthday. By examination result I was made permanent early in 1935 and moved ‘upstairs’ where I stayed till I took up an appointment as Postal Assistant at Coolgardie, then transferred to Norseman and later to Kalgoorlie.

I served in the AMF for three months late in 1940 and then joined the RAAF. My glasses kept me on the ground but I still managed flights in many varieties of aircraft over the next five years during which I served at Geraldton and Pearce, later in New Guinea and then alongside the Americans at our Fighter Director Post on Manus Island. My last tropical posting was to Northern Command HQ at Madang. I was finally demobbed in Perth in April 1946. 

Joan and I were married in Perth on 11 May 11 1946. We have two daughters and 7 grandchildren (and now in 2022 many great-grandchildren). We went to Kalgoorlie and I resumed work with the PMG. Later in the year the Department wanted to send me to Leonora which closely resembled “the end of the Earth” and a snap decision to resign saw us in business in Perth by December. We were in the newsagency and greeting card business at 156 St Georges Terrace for the next 20 years. Our landlords, Zimpels Ltd, treated us very well over those years which saw three redevelopments on the site in our stay there from 1946 to 1966.

In 1948 I became politically active in the Liberal Party and in 1958 was endorsed as the Liberal candidate for Stirling in the Federal Parliament. The seat was firmly held by Labor but the final count showed that I had won by 200 votes. In 1961 the result reversed and I lost by 195 votes in a bigger poll.

In 1964/65/66 I completed a Bachelor of Arts Degree (Politics) at University of WA. Earlier in ‘66 we had sold our business to give me more time to study and take my exams. In 1967 we opened a new card and gift shop in the Boans complex at Morley, in the heart of the WA State marginal seat of Mirrabooka, for which I was the Liberal candidate. I won by 500 in 1968 and lost by 500 in 1971. The axioms, that the second election is harder to win than the first, and marginal seats should be avoided if you have long-range plans for politics, seemed to be proven. However, on with the new.

From 1971-1974 I did research and speech work for Sir David Brand and later Sir Charles Court in their terms as Leader of the Opposition. When Sir Charles became Premier in 1974 the Public Service took over that work. After the elections Joan and I took off for a world trip, Europe and Scandinavia, Russia, Canada and the US.

In 1975 (now 56) I studied at WAIT (now Curtin University) and completed the Graduate Diploma in Librarianship. Every move you make changes your life, and certainly this study course did. When attached to my BA the Diploma brought me an appointment as Special Collections Librarian at the Community College (later merged into the Charles Darwin University) in Darwin where my task was to establish a Northern Territory Historical Collection which was a prerequisite for the introduction of a NT History unit. Over the next two years a strong collection of early newspapers, maps, books and photographs was built up from local and interstate sources. When the NT was granted self-government I switched over to the new NT Department of Law with the responsibility for establishing a large law library in Darwin and smaller ones at Alice Springs and other towns where magistrate’s courts were held. I retired from the Department in December 1982. We went to Darwin for a six months try out, liked the weather and the place, and stayed nearly 7 years. We worked, bowled, fished and barbecued to our heart’s content and wouldn’t have missed it for the world. On our return to Perth I retired from Rotary and joined up with Probus where we now have met old and new friends and are enjoying the many outings we all share together.

The West Australian, Doug Cash Obituary, February 2002