The Magazine (1946)
I had taken three days special leave (in late 1946) without pay, before I signed off from the PMG, to make enquiries about a small newsagency that I had seen advertised in the Perth papers. It appeared to offer what I had sometimes thought about owning and it could give me a chance to maintain my interests in stamp dealing. The business was well-known as “The Magazine” and was run by Miss Laura O’Hara of the J P O’Hara family. It fitted the bill for what I had in my mind and I paid a deposit of 100 pounds ($200), with the balance of 850 pounds ($1700) due at close of business on Monday 2 December 1946.
That was the easy part. Now I had to find the rest of the money. We had a small working capital so I went to the bank recommended by the chap advising Laura, an elderly lady, and put my case. As an ex-serviceman I was well-received by the Union Bank manager, a Mr Atkinson. I took my RAAF discharge papers and my PMG service certificate along and a letter of guarantee from my Mum and Dad. The bank gave me an overdraft of 1000 pounds ($2000) and gave me a cheque book, my first ever. All my business in Perth completed, I made my last call at the Public Service Office where I filled in my resignation papers. Frank Blackwell, an old friend from the telegraph section days, was the clerk who gave me the papers to complete. I’m not sure that he thought I was doing the right thing. I listened to him but I had made sure that I was committed to the new career and tied up in the paperwork before resigning. I believed that I was on the right track. I had been staying with Joan’s mum and dad at 21 Victoria Square but it was now back to Kalgoorlie to pack up, say goodbyes, and head for Perth. I was going to miss the goldfields but the spirit of challenge that was with most of us when we joined up was still with me as I trod a new path along life’s way. Where would it take me and the family?
I remember reading a book in which the author stated his view about life. His theory was that our life pattern was already laid out for us, everything that was going to happen to us could be unrolled like a Dead Sea scroll. We could only see one part at a time as we moved along the path to tomorrow, and that was the current part of our life now being lived. Finally we would come to the last day and the inevitable stop sign, and step off the path for ever. Impossible? Plausible? Fantasy? Reality? Who knows? Scientists? Today they scan the Universe, unlocking its secrets. Already it is being predicted that space technology will reveal the history of the Universe back to the creation millions of years ago. Maybe we could cure the common cold with the money?
We arrived back in Perth on Monday 25 November and headed straight for 21 Victoria Square where we were to stay with Joan’s parents till we got settled. We had busy days ahead of us to get organised before taking over “The Magazine” a week later. The main stock suppliers, such as WA Newspapers and Gordon and Gotch, had to be seen to arrange the usual 30 day trade terms and their trading conditions for the paper and magazine returns. Some firms were paid COD which was usual then. At the start the cigarette and sweet firms were paid by cash. The rent was 19/6 ($1.95) per week and at that time was possibly fixed by law. I had to see the landlords, Zimpel’s Ltd, and confirm the tenancy. No problem.
My tenancy was protected, as an ex-serviceman, by the “War Moratorium Act”. I had not thought about the benefit of the Act when I first started talking about the shop with Laura O’Hara. I did not find out till I paid the balance due on the day before my taking over when I read the sale agreement. A vital section read as follows “It is clearly understood that I will make my own arrangements for the continuation of the tenancy”. I could easily have struck a landlord who could have turfed me out in any rebuilding program. However in Zimpel’s Ltd I struck the best landlords one could have wished for. We became good friends with the staff and with the Directors, especially Aub Cuzens and Don Morrison, over the next twenty years during which there were two major rebuilding programs, the first in July/August 1956.
The coincidence of Joan’s first visit to the shop before we took over was her realisation that it was the same place where she had worked for Laura O’Hara at the time she was 14/15 when going to Perth College. She had worked there part-time in the afternoons and on Saturdays. It turned out that Laura knew Joan’s parents and her grandparents, the McKenzies. When Joan was younger, Laura had stayed with the families on the farm at Hines Hill. We spent two days with Laura while she made us familiar with the shop and the stock, and her ways. I remember her saying to me, “Just sit here behind this counter and don’t let the customers see you till they are ready to buy something”.
With her O’Hara family background Laura had many customers who were well-known and she had her own way of dealing with them. It was a time when cigarettes and tobacco were rationed so when some customers came in and asked for a packet she would seem not to hear them, and would say, “Have you taken home to your wife the latest copy of Vogue magazine”? A customer pause and then, “No I haven’t. Can I get one now?”. The priciest magazine in the shop but there was a packet of Craven A’s or Ardath after all. If it was not the “Vogue” it was The Illustrated London News, Punch or The Sphere. Saleswomanship (salespersonship)? Not our way.
The sale agreement detailed the stock total as 100 pounds ($200) and the fittings and cash register at 50 pounds. The goodwill sum was 800 pounds ($1600). Mr Coombs, the W.A. Trustees accountant, witnessed our signatures. He remained a good customer of ours for many years till he retired. An important part of the agreement was that the sale was on a walk-in, walk-out, basis; the usual thing in those days with simple agreements which freed the seller from any problems that arose after the take-over. I mention that because of one or two findings after the handing over on the late afternoon of Monday 2 December 1946 and our tidying up the shop and moving the fittings around to our liking a few days later.
The shop was 10 x 12 feet (3 x 4 metres) with the door opening to St Georges Tce. It was situated on the north side of the Terrace near Foy and Gibsons, at No 158 and between Pastoral House (formerly George Wills & Co) at 156 and Goldsborough Mort at 164. It was where Centerways now is. On the opposite side were Perth Technical College and W.A. Trustees.
Next door to us at No 160 was a fruit shop which also served cool drinks and confectionery. It was run by Mick Hartzmichael and his wife, Maria, who lived in a small house at 162 (or 160A), with their small son, Spiro. Behind the shops Zimpels had their main furniture factory, which butted onto the firm’s Hay Street shop. The laneway between us and Pastoral House serviced the store and the factory. The door of the shop was unusual being made in two parts just like a racing stable door. The next winter I found out that it was sometimes useful to have the bottom half partly shut to keep out the winter rains when the south-westers were blowing strongly. There was no front verandah shelter from the elements.
Our first day in business was the Tuesday so we were up early and excited as we had breakfast. No transport problem as we just made our way past the Bishop’s Palace and then caught the tram in Hay Street down to William Street. We were there about 8 o’clock and opened up our bundle of morning papers and were on our way to a “fortune”. That never happened but we did have a lot of fun and a wealth of experience come our way in the next 20 years at 158. I have to recount that the first day we took 4 pounds ($8) but soon it improved and on the Friday we took 13 pounds ($26). By the end of the next week we had improved on that and never looked back.
On the first weekend we did our own stocktake to see what we did have and for that we had the help of our friend, Bert Cutten. He was the secretary/accountant for the well-known St Georges Tce real estate firm, Hodd Cuthbertson North. Bert had been in the RAAF with me and was my best man at the wedding back in May. We were checking items onto his stocktake sheets when he stopped for a moment, and held up one of those round tins (50?) of Players cigarettes and said, “I’ll give you ten bob for this tin, Doug”. My reply was to the effect that if he offered 10/- ($1 ) then it was no deal. He gave the tin to me and I took off the lid to find it full of silver coins. It was the telephone money contributed by customers using her phone. No red/gold phones in those days.
That was one bonus of the walk-in, walk-out clause. The other was when we moved the fittings around and put the counter nearer the front of the shop while we cleaned up. The floor was covered in one shilling (10c) and two shilling (20c) pieces. I had noticed that she often placed small amounts on the side of her till just near the west wall and put them somewhere later. We worked out that she had been knocking the silver off on to the floor when she was using the till or just reaching across it for something. The coins had all fallen down where they could not be recovered by her till the counter was moved. Another bonus from W.I.W.O.
A card of ten English pipes (Barlings?) were hanging on one wall and stayed there for our first days till a chap came in and asked me if the pipes were for sale. When I said they were he told me that he had tried to buy one before but Laura kept telling him they were “not for sale”. She had them right through the war when they became hard to get. Anyway, I made a friend when I gave him his choice at the marked price. He was from Pastoral House.
In the early post-war days Forrest Place was the hub of the city with the GPO and the Commonwealth Bank the big attractions along with Boans, Moore’s, and the railway station. St Georges Terrace was the Collins Street of Perth and anybody who was anybody could be seen walking along there on most days of the week. Architects and builders, bankers and insurers, lawyers and judges, doctors and dentists, Premiers and MPs, would stroll along the Terrace at a leisurely pace nodding to acquaintances or stopping to have a chat with someone. One of the best known figures in the Terrace was the Lieutenant-Governor Sir James (Jimmy) Mitchell. Sir James was a former Premier (1919-24, 1930-33) and appointed as Governor of Western Australia in 1948. In those days he would set out from Government House heading west up the Terrace exchanging greetings with passers-by, or lifting his bowler hat to a lady or two, or stopping to pat a small boy on the head. He lived till he was 85 so it seems that his walks among the people were good for him.
We were at the other end of the age scale to Jimmy Mitchell being 27 and 22 and still at the parents-to-be stage for our expected baby was not due for two months. Joan was still able to come to the shop on most days but it was manageable by one person except for the necessary breaks. My brother Cecil and one or two special friends were often dropping in and they kept an eye on the shop if l had to make a quick trip around the back. Once the Air Force chaps found that I was in business they would drop in for a chat, and do a bit of business. Many placed their special ration coupon tobacco orders with me and that helped build up the trade. Later on members of the Air Force Association would come in to the shop and pay their annual dues, which were then collected by Frank Purser, the Association secretary for many years.
The Magazine (1947)
We enjoyed the Xmas break after the rush of taking over the shop and making a few changes in a hurry, but we were keen to get back to business. Once the holidays were over the trade “reps” started to come in to make themselves and their firms known to us. Down through the years we were to make new friendships that would last for years, some right down to today.
One of the first was Arthur Burke from Cadbury’s Chocolates. What a splendid chap he was. Somewhat older than us he had time for a joke or two before and after we looked at the confectionery lines in the sample case. It was summer and air conditioning was still a novelty so chocolates were not high on anybody’s buying orders.
Other “reps” we came to know well included Harold Crofts, the man from MacRobertson’s. He was later made the W.A. General Manager. As a schoolboy Harold had lived near to us at East Cannington, in Railway Parade near the church on the corner of William Street. We went to the wooden church on Sundays. It was later dismantled and rebuilt further west in the Parade to make way for a garage. We had lived on our trotting horse property on the SE corner of Seven Oaks Street and William Street opposite the present Beckenham station. Later it became the Waverley Drive-in. We left in 1932.
Bill Waddingham was the Nestle’s traveller and I knew him from pre-war Kalgoorlie when his office and store were in McKenzie’s Building on the corner of Maritana and Hannan Streets. Like other representatives he did his best to be cheery at all times. Some “reps” carried heavy sample cases all day on their city round, come rain, hail or shine, freezing cold or summer heat. I still see Bill occasionally for he lives not far from us. He bought a home unit in the Sir Zelman Cowan complex in Cresswell Street, Dianella, though not of the Jewish faith. The Plaistowes man was Bill Kingsbury, a friend from Kalgoorlie days before the war. We talked about chocolates and football. Bill had returned to West Perth after his AIF service overseas so plenty to talk about.
One fancy goods traveller was Dan Salamon from P Falk & Co around in Murray Street, near Faulding’s. Everything from Aspros and Bex to toothbrushes and toothpicks. We would buy many everyday items for home use from Dan’s cases. Many “reps” handled cigarettes and tobacco but these were usually the new brands that came on sale after the war, such as Gallaher’s, Pall Mall, and Kensitas. Locally Michelides made Luxor, London Court, and later, President. Craven A and Turf were first choices with Capstan and Ardath next but sometimes smokers settled for State Express 555’s, or bought tobacco. Our main suppliers were E S Lazarus and W D & HO Wills. We had quotas for “smokes”, except for the special rations for ex-servicemen. Everybody else had to take “pot-luck”.
Les Carey from the King Street stationers E S Wigg & Sons called on us with a briefcase of samples covering a range of pencils, pens, envelopes and other writing materials. Over the years we became good friends with Les who was prominent in the volunteer fire brigade affairs such as I wrote about in my 1919-1946 Part 1 life-story volume. His boss was Joe Jordan who came in for a chat now and then in later years when we came to know each other well.
One of my ex-Air Force mates, Jim Carroll, dropped in whenever he was up from Bunbury and through him I met Alec Barrass who worked for the West Australian. Alec served in the Middle East as a RAAF pilot and earned a Military Medal, unusual for an airman, for his daring exploits against enemy troops after escaping with his crew from a crash-landing in the desert. Alec came from Victoria where he played baseball and cricket for Fitzroy, and for the RAAF in England. He was a top all-rounder and may have made a test team but for the war. Through Alec Barrass I met the cricketers Alec and Eric Bedser in the shop when they came out from England for the 1950/51 Tests, and later with him Bob Simpson.
Over the next few months (early 1947) our newsagency made progress as we came to know many Terrace regulars from all walks of life. The people working in places like Goldsborough Mort, Pastoral House, and the nearby Foy’s department store started to boost our figures up. On the south side of the Terrace the Perth Technical School opposite provided new customers all the time as we started to stock items that the staff and students bought often. The office buildings on that side were W.A. Trustees, Royal Insurance, West Australian (Newspaper House), St. Georges House, and Elder’s on the corner of William Street. I sensed that the “locals” appreciated the “new look” of the shop.
One of the regulations that had irked some people during the war was the restriction on the printing of special greeting cards for Christmas and other occasions. The forms for Xmas and other congratulations disappeared from some telegraph offices till after the war, as supplies ran out. Our wedding day telegrams on 11 May 1946 were on standard forms as were our 1947 messages of congratulations when Margaret Lynnette arrived in February. Telegrams were much more used than cards for such special events.
We had now made provision for a card rack in our shop and this would have been Perth’s first display unit of this style. It had always been the practice in the main city stores to show their wares on request for a specific occasion card. The cards were in shoe boxes labelled Birthdays, Wedding, Congratulations, and so on. It was a whole new field opening up for us and also for Perth. Our first supplier was E S Wigg & Sons in King Street, and later, across the street from Wigg’s, Alex Cowan’s next to Grayson’s the auctioneers. We already knew Les Carey and Frank Harman from Wigg’s, and soon met Roy Reid and Doug Watkins(?) from Cowan’s. The card albums we ordered from were mainly those of the British firm Lonsdale and Bartholomew. Both firms stocked nice sets of writing paper and envelopes in gift boxes and we added these to our stock shelves. We found a fascination in buying and selling nice presents along with an attractive greeting card. We were later to become very well known retailers in the greeting card trade.
On the home front we were still living at 21 Victoria Square and with everybody one big happy family it suited us fine. Like most people we could not afford a car, now everybody wants one at 17. We just had to walk a few yards to get a tram to William Street and the Terrace, and a short walk up to the shop, just past Foy’s. The winter brought its problems for the Terrace was wet and windy for days in a row sometimes and it sure could get cold. We had a two-piece door and we would open the top half all the way and half close the other piece against the counter till the rain stopped. It all worked out alright for us and the customers who came in off the Terrace for a bit of shelter from the pouring rain. We had no over the door protection at all but that changed a few years later. On the sunny days everybody would stroll the Terrace and our turnover figures would be up for the week. We had so many of those small items that many customers need on the spur of the moment, sweets, aspirin, papers, smokes, lottery tickets, and directions for tourists and other visitors to the city.
September saw the start of the pre-Christmas activities when the greeting card agents came looking for orders. Charlie McAlinden, who gave me my first job back in 1934 was now in the agency business with cards and books. He was later the John Sands agent for Western Australia and for books like “The Dambusters” and “Reach For The Sky”, both by Paul Brickhill. We became good friends down through the years in which he later also ran the “Star Bookshop”, the newsagency on the corner of King and Hay Streets. Some years on he was to ask me if we wanted to buy that shop but I declined. That newsagency is still there.
We had another proposal through Alan Parlor the accountant at Gordon and Gotch, our main magazines suppliers. The shop was the newsagency on the east side of William Street just near Wellington Street. It was known as George’s Newsagency and was a good, steady business. It was there I used to sell the Daily News on that corner after school in 1932/33. It was a busy shop and G & Gotch were going to help me buy it but I decided to stay where we were. That shop closed its doors for the last time in 1990/91.
One of the problems of business was continued tenancy and with my landlords, Zimpel’s Ltd, I must say that in no time over the next 20 years did we have any lease problems with them. They treated us very well with their rebuilding programs by giving us a chance to put forward our own ideas for the new developments. They set fair rents for us to pay and they were happy to see us do well. Today’ s shopping centre operators could have learnt from them.
Our shop hours started off with 9-5 in mind but it soon became 8.30-5.30 as our business built up and we saw a need to be there when customers were about. It must be said that Perth then was a leisurely city for its people were still relaxing after the war. Whatever their part in the services or in a manpowered occupation or whatever, they were enjoying the freedom of it all. Old friends were turning up after shedding their uniforms or taking off their overalls to go back into an office or a shop, or back to their own business. Others were returning to educational studies, many under the rehabilitation programmes for ex-service personnel. Two of these would have been fellow telegraph messengers in my 1934 days who took on the right courses and both finished up Deputy Commissioners of Taxation here in WA. I took up my accountancy studies again but dropped them once the business was going well. At least they had taught me how to keep a proper set of books.
The Magazine (1948)
New Year’s Day 1948 was a reminder that we had been in business just over 12 months. Everything had gone pretty well. We were not making a lot of money but we had made a lot of new friends, and that was well worthwhile. My RAAF mates were dropping in to have a chat and our former public service colleagues, State (Joan) and Commonwealth (myself), found our shop a handy place for a chat and a purchase or two. Magazines, cards, sweets, papers and, for some, cigarettes. The public did not know as much about the ills of smoking as we are told today, and neither did shopkeepers. For most people it was just a habit that was hard to break, and you either did have a puff or you didn’t. No smoking for us, though.
Our shop was called “The Magazine” and was named from a newspaper competition originated by Laura O’Hara, the previous owner. There was no reason for us to make a change as it was well-known in the Terrace. No way to make us millionaires but friendly service and hard work kept us ahead in those early post-war days. Hard work in the sense that the hours were long and we came in on most holiday mornings. There was always the morning papers and a need to restock the shelves and clean up ready for the next. day. The accounts had to be done at home and that took time. Sometimes I used to think that if I put in the same hours selling electrical goods or other high value items my return could have been better.
No change was ever made because we had become settled in the newsagency where we had really friendly customers and everybody paid cash. No terms, no tick. Today people both rich and poor alike have credit cards. They shop in a world where goods are priced to pick up the credit company charges on the seller and the card buyer pays an interest rate which astounds me as it puts a 20% +++ on the cost of the goods on credit not paid for within a month. Today if you offer cash in certain stores you can get a discount that further widens the gap between a cash buy price and a credit card charge price. Shoppers should wake up.
The (1948 Melbourne) Cup over, the City settled down again and it was business as usual. Customers coming in to get the late Daily News and see the race finish pictures and tell us how they did in the sweeps. We had a radio in the shop and people used to drop in to check on sports results and cricket scores, or catch up on news items like the Holden car which hit the headlines when it was displayed around the end of November. Australian built, it was on the road for 750 pounds ($1500). A few days later the greatest cricket batsman ever, Don Bradman, hit up 123 runs in his innings at his testimonial match. We were supposed to know the latest scores and results in many sports and all the latest news. Perth was a nice friendly place for everybody, the war was over, there was a new future to face, and lots of smiles and goodwill to tackle it.
The Magazine (1949)
The Terrace was really the hub of the city, banks and insurance companies, doctors and lawyers, trustees and accountants, agents of many kinds, and the W.A. Newspapers. Many well-known people from families with links to the early history of our State were among the customers of “The Magazine”. The Duracks come to mind as I write. Mrs Sleeman, wife of Fremantle M.L.A. and a former Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, J.H. Sleeman, came in often. In 1948 Mrs Sleeman bought the house of Captain F Biddle, of Ord and High Streets, Fremantle, for 16,500 pounds. It was one of the biggest in Fremantle and had extensive lawns and gardens.
In our days in the small shop our radio brought in customers who wanted to know the latest cricket scores or raise queries on other sporting events locally or over East. I wonder if Johnny Watts remembers looking in when on the Terrace beat as a young policeman? We were expected to know everything. What’s the score? Where is? Did we reach the 100 today? All part of the service. Perth Technical College was on the southern side of the Terrace, opposite our shop and many of the pupils and teachers used to come over to our shop. I recall Mr Hollis, Deputy Head, from there and Ted Jones. Both would often stop for a little chat. Further west was Aubrey Melrose, the race driver and Austin man. Aub for short, he drove a little Austin 7 across the Nullabor before World War II. A great chap to talk to. Next to him was Bible House and the Bible Society. There Mr Ridden was always ready to provide information on the work of the Bible Society across the world. You could always chat for a few minutes.
Next door at 156 St Georges Terrace was Pastoral House and the office of the Pastoralists and Graziers Association. The man in charge there was Dick Shanahan and his Secretary was Sally Clune. They were customers for years. Sally was from the country and her brother was Kevin Clune who played football for Claremont. Dick played 80 games with South Fremantle and was the club Secretary for many years. We had many a chat about football, especially on Monday mornings during the season. West Perth for me. Many players from the different clubs were customers. They worked in offices along the Terrace. I remember David Imrie from East Fremantle coming in – one of tall stature – just got in the door. Bill Sutherland from Claremont was another tall and solid player. He worked in Goldsborough Mort with another friend, Jack Lloyd.
Pastoral House was the home of the Maison-Waltaire hairdressing Salon, with Gaston in charge there, with several assistants to help look after the ladies going to special events in the City. Edward Lumley’s Insurance Company had offices there and the main people there were Mr Lennox at the top of the ladder and Mick Beecher, Alf Riley, and Alec Roberts. Alec was ex-RAAF with me and came from Capel where the Roberts family had a horse stud.
Ajax Insurance was managed by Roy Kirkwood who we came to know well over the years. The Terrace of those days was alive most of the time. Only bad weather slowed it up. Foy and Gibson’s store (146-154) was next to Pastoral House, looking over to the W.A. Trustees and Royal Insurance, and W.A. Newspapers. All in the centre of the city’s commercial and professional heart. All with staffs using their heads, without computers, to do business and keep the wheels of progress going. Clerks without peer, (now we have no work for clerks – Computers do the work of 50+).
The Magazine (1950)
The Terrace traffic was well-catered for with parking on both sides and no meters. One-time you could angle park right outside “The Magazine” (our shop). With mainly smaller cars then, our customers could hop out, drop in and pick up their books, maybe their cigarette/tobacco rations if ex-service people, and be off. If they looked like the last customers for the day we were off. We had become used to the routine of bussing into town and back home to Belmont Avenue (where Belmont Forum Shopping Centre now stands) every day on a roundabout route, through Victoria Park till we hit Wright Street, and then Belmont Avenue.
Back to Belmont (after 1950 UK trip) with happy greetings all around and back to work. I had been away about six weeks. We went in to the shop on the Saturday morning and then home all weekend. Time to catch-up with all the news and enjoy family life with Joan and the children and the older members of the family. Questions here-Questions there. The week-end over I was back in the shop on Monday morning with business as usual. Friends and regular customers were dropping in on the way to work, ever ready to say a few words on the topics of the day, and commercial travellers were making their calls. I always found it difficult to tell them that we were right for the week, and we did our best to order something most times. They had a difficult job, except in cigarettes which were on quotas to us, and the supplies were automatic, especially for war veterans.
The 1950’s were not easy years and you had to work on new ideas for increasing your sales. Joan and I decided we would feature greeting cards which were regulated out of fashion in World War II in the interests of the economy. Special Occasion greeting telegrams had been partly restricted and we felt that now the public was ready for a new look at sending happy greetings to their friends and relatives. We re-arranged our small premises and Joan’s Dad helped put up a special ‘cards only’ rack on one wall. Later we were to open the first “Cards Only” shop in Perth. Today it is very different for there are card selling racks everywhere.
Our main suppliers of greeting cards in the early fifties were E.S. Wigg and Alex Cowan, both opposite each other in King Street. The cards usually ordered from Wigg’s were printed by the London printers, Lonsdale and Bartholomew, and were top grade selling at prices up to a shilling each. Joan and I can recall ordering some cards from Cowan’s (Manager Roy Reid) and the salesman, Doug ?, cautioning us, “These cards will have to sell at more than a 1/-”. We liked the designs and wording and expressed our confidence in selling them. Today nice card prices are 30/- ($3), 40/-($4) and much higher for special ones. Designs and wording have changed somewhat in recent times. Some modern cards are over the fence.
The lead up to Xmas 1950 was a steady business time for us and we were kept on the go as we made new customers and old friends from the War years kept dropping in. Our shop, “The Magazine”, was very handy for the office people who worked along the Terrace, and the staff and students of Perth Technical College across the road, and the bus passengers. There was angle parking in front as well. Customers were quick to take advantage of this. They whipped into the kerb and rushed in for a magazine, a lottery ticket, a card or maybe a packet of smokes, and then were away, leaving parking space free. Things were never dull in the Terrace. Ambulances and police cars rushing along this main roadway with bells ringing or sirens on caused heads to turn or pop out of upper level office windows to see what was happening. Anything for a quick break from the typewriter or the paperwork. No computers then to do the work of a multitude of clerks. Plenty of clerical jobs if you could add up columns of pounds, shillings and pence and quickly get the correct answers. Shop assistants had to be able to do just that.
The Xmas rush arrived after a gathering of pace in November and early December. Joan’s dad, Arthur Moore, and Joan and I, were glad to close the door on 23 December 1950 and head for home. We were glad to get our break, and more time with the family over the Xmas holidays, as we looked ahead to the New Year of 1951. Xmas Day on the Monday was a very happy one for everyone. There was Joan’s mother and father, Lucie and Arthur Moore, and her grandmother, Margaret. There were the children, Lynnette nearly four and Pamela just turned two. Joan was 26 and I was 31. Kids on the bed Xmas Day showing presents, opening more presents, and then everybody up and about to join the same excitement as could be found in most homes at Christmas. Boxing Day was a day off and we were back at the shop ready for business on Wednesday the 27th. Four work days then till New Year 1951. What changes lay ahead?
The Magazine (1951)
Many strangers to Perth seemed to make our shop one of their first points of contact. Most were from the United Kingdom but not all. I remember Joe Carberry coming in and having a chat about opportunities in Perth. He found what he wanted and dropped in every now and then to tell us what he was doing. The Carberry name became better-known in later years in dancing and also more recently in horse racing. A chap named Bob Purvis was an early customer and he was new to Perth. Radio and sound equipment were his interests and he was hoping to get a start here in Perth. I had an interest in such equipment and we watched his efforts in his new city with interest. Bob went from strength to strength in sound equipment becoming top in his field as “Purvisonic Sound”. Public Address Systems for special occasions such as the Royal Show were his speciality. He worked hard but died too early.
There were people who sought advice because I knew Perth well. Because of WWII there had been little structural change in the city buildings and most businesses and offices were still in their pre-war places. That was soon to change as people over East started to spread their wings and open offices in West Australia. As business in the City started to improve, professional people started to refurbish their premises or move to other buildings. Our shop “The Magazine” (now better known as Cash’s) at 158 St Georges Tce and the fruit shop/milk bar/house at 160/162 would surely be replaced with something better some day, and we had to keep that in our mind. We had a good relationship with the Zimpel’s management so did not worry about possible changes.
One of our regular customers was the late Frank Wise, a former Premier of WA (1945-1947). MLA for Gascoyne from 1933, he left Parliament in 1951 when he was appointed the Administrator of the Northern Territory. In 1956 Frank Wise resigned from the NT appointment and in the same year was re-elected to the WA Parliament as MLC for North Province. One late in life quote, “Once the curtain falls it’s time to leave the stage”.
In 1951 the Edgleys arrived in Perth. Mrs Edgley found our shop convenient to use so we saw her often in her early days in W.A. If I remember rightly the Edgleys took over the “Wheat Sheaf” tearooms on the North/West corner of King Street and St Georges Tce from the O’Maras. Eric Edgley and Clem had teamed together in show business as Edgley and Dawe. In 1952 they would take a lease of a run-down His Majesty’s and bring many top shows to Perth. Later, in the mid-fifties, the Edgleys made Russian contacts which brought some of the finest Soviet shows to Australian theatres.
Our customers varied, coming from messenger boys to junior clerks, accountants to company directors, people from all levels. Two regulars were Jack Blockley and Jim Jukes from the WA Electricity Department. Jim, an engineer, was the head man. Jack was 2 I.C.(?). I first knew Jack in Kalgoorlie where he was an administrator in the same field, and a well-performed high jumper in athletics. Our business was a small one and we had time to have a chat with the customers from time to time. Perth people leisurely walked along the Terrace in those days, some every lunchtime. Now they rush!
Another Kalgoorlie friend was Gerry Doogue who used to come in for a little chat. His wife Peggy would call in from time to time with their young daughter, Geraldine, who grew up to become an Australia-wide media celebrity over many years. The local radio station personalities were often seen on the Terrace. Such people as John Luke, Garry Meadows, and Lloyd Lawson were customers.
Back in Perth it was back to business. Joan was now able to get a break from the shop and so was her dad. Now (May 1951) we were living in Wembley it was easier to have visitors home. Belmont had been a bit too far for that. Most people did not have cars but were quite happy to travel on a good public transport in those days. The trolley bus service to stops near Holland Street was good. Two visitors to our new home, rented at 25 pounds monthly, were friendly customers from Goldsborough Mort’s, at 164 the Tce. One was Jack Lloyd and the other Bill Sutherland who played in the ruck for Claremont. Many a football discussion took place in our shop usually on Fridays and Mondays. Anyway out they came one night for a chat and we sat them down on the lounge and let the topic turn to football. I had set up the new Pyrox tape recorder behind the lounge and the microphone in a bunch of flowers where we had tested such a position. Away they went with the men, four of us, airing our views on the local games that lay ahead. We all raised our voices to chip in and after 10 minutes I went to the back of the lounge and stopped the tape. It was then rewound and played back. They were hearing their own voices for the first time and were they surprised. The replays startled them. “I never knew my voice was like that” and so on. Tapes are now everywhere.
Selling W.A. State Lottery tickets was part of our business, but occasionally I would buy a couple elsewhere. On my way back from calling on a card supplier in Hay Street east I stopped at the Savoy Hotel kiosk to buy a ticket in draw 644. The top ticket was No 48483 but I ignored it. I only had 2/6 in change in my pocket and with it I bought the “full-hand” ticket No 48484. Needless to say 48483 won First Prize of 3000 pounds. 1 off was 15 pounds. It was 15/10/1951. I still have a photo of that ticket. One day passing through Harris Scarfe & Sandovers I stopped to talk to Lou Daily, Subiaco and State ruckman, and at the same time bought a local raffle ticket, missed the first prize of a yacht, and was second again. This prize was a nice winter coat. Joan was happy.
Xmas was now not far away and we were ordering our Xmas cards and special items to help keep the turnover up. The Terrace was getting busier as changes started to take place in the buildings. The economy had improved and more people were working. Clerks and office boys were in demand as these jobs were basic to business. There was always a place for an eager youngster if they showed a keenness for this or that job. They wanted to be given a start and a chance to show their worth. Many well-known men in those early years, like the fifties, started as office boys. Most went on to use their brains to improve themselves and became company chiefs in many different fields. At the same time they learnt something about the real world and were not averse to taking on any job in the first place, and improving their position from there. Not now. Too many want a job near the top or they will go on the dole.
We had good relations with our suppliers, particularly Gordon and Gotch, our magazine suppliers. They also were well-stocked with stationery supplies. Alan Parlor was the accountant who thought that we might like to expand into a bigger newsagency, which was soon to be available. It was the shop on the east side of William Street and 2 doors up from Wellington Street. I knew it well for it was there in 1932/33 when I used to sell the Daily News on the Royal Hotel corner opposite the markets after school. Customers came from West Australian Farmers and other big companies west of the the hotel corner. I had cheery relations with my regular paper buyers to such an extent that the Daily News distribution office manager moved me over to the opposite corner near George’s News. There I increased sales for that corner till I left PBS school. George’s News was a much busier and bigger shop than our Terrace one but after Joan and I discussed it we decided to stay at 158. We were assured that we would be fitted into any development plans proposed by our landlords, Zimpels, and so it turned out.
The Magazine (1952)
In 1952 the first Paul Rigby cartoon appeared in the Daily News. What a success he was. As his fame grew, the readers would turn to the back page first. Paul and the columnist, Kirwan Ward, became friends and we used to have a quick chat when they came into our shop. We were the first shop to display Valentine’s Day cards all over the shop. They were hanging from the ceiling, everywhere. Paul could have taken note of them, the wording and the designs, year by year. What a surprise to us on 14 February 1958 on turning to the back page. There was his Valentine’s Day cartoon.
There was ‘our’ small front counter with the caricatured owner?? gazing out the doorway at the buildings across the road. There were Valentine cards in every vacant space and on the walls, all with messages: “I love U”, “Be My Valentine”, “U R the 1 4 me”. There were many others. Today some cards go too far. Censored! In 1960 I made Kirwan Ward’s column for helping Olympian Trevor Bickle get a new vaulting pole imported and in 1980 for telling Kirwan a story about seeing in Tokyo “My Fair Lady” in Japanese.
Valentine’s Day over, only a few cards left, it was business as usual. Magazines delivered regularly by Gordon & Gotch and other suppliers, with regular customer orders having names put on them. Commercial travellers calling in to take orders or have a short chat about business in the City before continuing their rounds. Harold Crofts from MacRobertsons, Bill Kingsbury from Plaistowes, Arthur Burke from Cadbury’s, Bob Gibson from Gibson’s Sweets, and the many others working hard to get business throughout the City. Bill Palmer from Gordon and Gotch stationery would drop in now and then. Les Carey handled office supplies orders for E.S. Wigg. Neil Herring representing Murray Views black and white postcards. All these men were part of an ever-expanding city and all our friends.
The Magazine (1953)
I was glad to be back in Perth and back home with the family at Prospect Place. Joan and her dad had kept the shop going while Joan also attended to the family needs, along with her mother. Looking after the shop was one thing but looking after the family was the most important. Soon after my return we realised that the Zimpels directors were giving more attention to a redevelopment project for their Terrace frontage area. We were assured we were O.K. Later in 1956 the deed was done and three shops were built. For the present it was business as usual and we set about getting on with Xmas 1953. Cards, gifts, whatever in demand we supplied. With supplies of almost anything within walking distance of the shop, or quickly delivered to us, we had a busy pre-Xmas period. The Xmas break gave us time to have a breather from the rush and time to get back on an even keel after a topsy/turvy year.
The Magazine (1954)
While we were in the small Terrace shop at 158, most of Australia had the pleasure and excitement of seeing Queen Elizabeth II on her Royal Visit in February/March 1954. Traffic plans for handling our 31 March crowds included lining the Terrace with barricades. People could sit alongside them while others stood behind them. I kept eyes on the till, customers buying this or that while they waited. Joan had put a chair out front so our children could see the Queen. She was quietly sitting there waiting when something went wrong with the barricade. A piece of piping came loose and dropped on her head. St. John’s ambulance men were on the job at once. One look and into the ambulance and off to Royal Perth. On investigation it turned out that someone delivering goods on our side of the Terrace had moved a part of the barricade and put it back wrongly. Down it came when crowd pressure became stronger as people fussed about trying to get better positions for viewing the parade. Bad luck for Joan. She had a headache for a few days. Missing seeing the Queen was a big disappointment for her. The Royal Tour ended when the Royal Yacht “Gothic” sailed next day from Fremantle for the UK. A big event for Perth in those days.
West Australian, Friday 2 April 1954, page 5 – Royal Visit. Source: Trove
One of our friends who used to drop in at 158 was Gerry Dougue of Lottery and later Lotto fame. I knew the Dougues in Kalgoorlie when Il was in the Post Office before World War II. His father was a policeman. Two of his brothers were Tom who worked in the PO and John who became an opera singer. Gerry’s wife, Peggy, and their daughter, Geraldine, used to drop in when the young girl was going to her junior College. A student becomes famous later.
Gerry used to have a shop similar to ours on the western side of Barrack Street just north of the Terrace corner. Small but busy. In later years Gerry moved to Murray Street where he became very well-known. In recent years we have met the people who bought that small shop of Gerry’s and due to our membership of a mixed Probus Club we are firm friends today, Fred and Gloria Aristei.
Keith Watson, a Public Accountant/Tax Consultant, was a regular customer at our shop and now and then had a few minutes to chat. He was a director of the Perth Building Society for forty years. Like myself he started his working life as a telegraph messenger. In the 1930’s he was a strong advocate for the secession of WA from the Commonwealth. A referendum was held in our State on 8 April 1933. The “Yes” leading 2-1 with 28,000 votes: Nos 14,000. The majority of voters had voted for W.A. to withdraw from the Commonwealth. On 24 May 1935, a (UK) House of Commons Joint Select Committee rejected the submission on the grounds that W.A. had no legal right to request legislation on the Australian Constitution, and the matter lapsed. Keith Watson was an MLC from 1940 to 1968.
The Magazine (1955)
It was somewhere around this time (early 1955) that I was offered by the “West Australian” the opportunity to service the immediate local area and the “bush” area with a small scattered settlers population living north of Swan Street and past what is now known as Nollamara. There was one condition and that was we build a newsagency where the shops are today near the corner of Swan and Flinders Street. We would then have had a paper round right to service all that area subject to servicing and building up as needed by the West. We thought it all over and pinning our faith on our future in the rebuilding plans of Zimpels, our landlords, we declined.
During 1955 we met young John Berryman from Melbourne. He had been sent to Perth by ‘Specialty Greeting Cards’ of Melbourne to look over the card trade in Perth. We became friendly with him and helped him where we could. He had planned an itinerary which would take him to Kalgoorlie before returning to Melbourne. When he found that I knew Kalgoorlie well he invited me to go with him to the goldfields. We discussed it and then off John and I went. His firm looked after the expenses including hiring a car and the hotel accommodation. I showed the goldfields to him when we went through Southern Cross and Coolgardie and then on to Kalgoorlie. Over two days he visited the various retailers of cards and when that was completed I took him out to the two-up at Brown Hill. He was surprised at the popularity of the game. I told him one story that is a classic. A taxi owner who liked to back heads or tails, drove out to the game, and walked home. Need I say more. Back in Perth, John rechecked his Perth city customers and returned to Melbourne. Following his visit to Perth he reported on his survey and soon was appointed Manager for Western Australia. He and his wife Elaine, and their family, moved into a nice house in Clarence Street, Osborne Park. It was handy to us at Yokine so we could visit. Later he moved up the promotion ladder and returned to Melbourne. We renewed friendships when we visited Victoria in later years.
Once more we were heading for September and Spring. The Terrace a delight for pedestrians enjoying the sunny days as they walked to and from their offices. Buses simply pulled in to the kerbside at convenient stops and you walked to your office or elsewhere. No really tall buildings, side by side, blocking off the sun as they do today. Six stories was “tall” in the mid-nineteen fifties.
Over later years the Terrace has turned into a cold and lifeless wind tunnel. People rushing everywhere and smiles hard to find. No messenger boys on bikes whistling or singing a line or two of a popular song. As people of all ages sit waiting for buses along the Terrace, a smile is rare to see. The sitters stare blankly into space waiting patiently for the bus of their destination. The heavy through traffic is a burden on streets like the Terrace and Barrack and William Streets and west Hay Street. A reversal of traffic flow in these two North/South streets may solve some problems.
The Magazine (1956)
Business was steady but we were limited by space and it began to filter through that Zimpels were now working on their rebuilding planning which involved moving their factory out to Subiaco(?). It is difficult today for people to realise that there were many small factories and workshops in and around Perth City. On the north side of the Palace Hotel was the galvanised iron/plumbers workshop. In Murray Street and Wellington Street there were quite a number. Queen and King Streets, and Milligan Street, were similar.
We now knew more about the redevelopment program of Zimpels which was planned for midyear 1956. The front shops would be left till the small furniture factory had been stripped of its machines and other fittings and equipment. These would go out to the new site, if not being replaced. Finally the shops would be pulled down.
The plans of the new project showed that three new shops would be built across the existing frontage: a chemist, a dry cleaner, and our newsagency. More about them after the event. The old buildings came down in August 1956. The 7 August West Australian gave the public a last look when it published a photograph of the shop taken from the upper floor of the Royal Assurance or WA Trustees building opposite.
Bill Fitzhardinge, of the architect family, had his office in one of those buildings, probably the Trustees and from that fourth floor office he had sketched the shops as he saw them from his window. We had become good friends, as we had with many of our customers whatever their job. His sketch was from earlier days than 1956 and one day he came over and gave us. It was his original drawing, which we still treasure.
It was business as usual as we looked at our temporary problems. What would we do? Where would we go? Help was offered to us in various ways. Our friendly commercial travellers were interested in possible alternatives. I was offered a temporary job at Gordon and Gotch till we were back in business, which was good of them. Other town newsagency businesses were brought to my notice as worthwhile taking over with support from the stock suppliers. One in particular was the Star Bookshop on the corner of Hay and King Streets. Charlie MacAlinden, my boss when I got my first job at MacAlinden’s Advertising Displays in 1934, offered us the “Star”. His wholesale books business was keeping him very busy. Over the years we sold many paperbacks. Many of these were supplied by him and they included “Reach For The Sky”, “The Dam Busters”, and the later sensational “Atlas Shrugged”. When I was selling copies of Ayn Rand’s paperback book and, having read it myself, I had no hesitation in saying to customers, “Buy it now. If you read it through (1018 pages) and do not like it, I will refund the 6/-”. Philosophers / Professionals and businessmen were the best buyers.
Buy the Star Bookshop? I thought it could well be pulled down as the city made progress. Well, I thanked him for thinking of me but declined. That shop is still in business at the time of writing this Cash family history in 1998. The site owned by a family trust?
The temporary solution to our problem came through John Ridden of Bible House. John was the secretary of the W.A. Bible Society and he and I had a chat from time to time about the Society. He gave us the chance to use a room on the western side of Bible House in St Georges Terrace. It was almost opposite our shop and a short way down the side of the Bible House building.
I was still doing my accounts job with the Producers Market so we managed to get along O.K. Business was fairly slow in our temporary premises so our income was cut back a fair bit but we managed. Living at the Yokine home of Lucie and Arthur Moore, Joan’s parents, saved the day for us. Fortunately the rebuilding was not a major project for in a few years the three shops were to be pulled down again for an arcade of shops joining on the Zimpels showrooms going through to Hay Street. Once we had found a new location we moved across on the 7 August 1956. Zimpels then went on with their demolition program. The mixed business next door had already gone and some demolition done there. Now we had a “home” we were off.
We were farewelled by the West Australian of 7 August 1956 with a photograph and a paragraph in the following terms:
“This old landmark, No. 158 St. George’s Terrace is being demolished.
One of the few single storey buildings left in the Terrace, it has been dwarfed for years by its neighbours, Pastoral House and the Goldsborough Mort building, and the furniture factory at the back.
The last tenant will leave this week and the builders will begin a block of three new shops and the renovation of the buildings at the rear.
Each of the new shops will have a 15ft. frontage set back 7ft. from the footpath alignment.
The present right-of-way next to Pastoral House will be built over and a new right-of-way made on the west side of the block.
The firm which owns the building between St. George’s Terrace and Hay Street will use the present storeroom for display floors and move the storage and loading section further down towards the Terrace.”
The Magazine (1957)
Retail changes were taking place more frequently early in 1957 and one surprise were the jewellers, “Stewart Dawsons”, who were on the Southwest corner of Barrack and Hay Streets. The city regulars were quite surprised by window notices and advertisements in the “West” that read, “WE CLOSE FOREVER ON MAY 4TH 1957”. On the opposite corner was “Sharps” the Tobacconists. Ron Sharp was earlier in the same WWII RAAF Squadron as I was. That shop is still in the same business there today. Other pre-1900 Barrack Street buildings still stand. Our 1935 tearooms site at No 115 Barrack Street is still a shop.
Our new shop arrived December, 1957 and we were back in business. Our new newsagency shop was much bigger. It was one of three spread across the front of the Zimpels block. West of us next door at 160 St Georges Terrace, Cam Reddenbach’s (Redenbach?) Ad Astra Dry Cleaners. At 162 was John Knott’s Chemist Shop. We were still at No 158. We had to get the carpenters in to build our counters and other fittings and fixtures. Racks for cards and paperbacks had to be built and placed against the walls. None were fixed to the walls as we knew these shops were temporary.
There was a master plan for further expansion by Zimpels which would include joining Terrace shops with their Hay Street shop by an 8-shop arcade. The arcade was to be Zimpels Arcade later to become “Centerways”. We were soon settled in, greeting former customers and new ones. It was good for both Joan and me to be back on the job for we enjoyed meeting people. Suppliers’ reps were always welcomed. I took a short break once we had settled in and we had organised our staffing needs. Everything went along O.K. No real problems.
But back to business. New buildings meant more office space along the Terrace and more customers at the counter. We had a lot more space so fitted a long counter and larger greeting card racks. The ceiling height was high and our suppliers were soon providing ranges of their material advertising their companies’ products above our displays and racks of greeting cards, stationery, books, gifts, and sweets. The counter was the area for lottery tickets, magazines and papers.
We stocked gifts such as Parker Pen sets, propelling pencil sets, stationery, diaries, and a small range of office needs. The students and teachers from the Perth Technical College across the road came in every day for some last minute purchase before going to lectures. We soon built up our customer numbers day by day. Our radio was kept low tone and mainly for private use but we had time to give out the latest scores for the cricket and results of other major sports. Sporting personalities were often in to buy this or that and a quick chat about sport generally. Alan Mackley of cricket umpiring fame came in often as did Alec Barras, the former State cricketer. He was a great friend of Jim Carroll who I clerked for at the races on saturdays and holidays. They often lunched at Boans with some of the management people. The three of us were all ex-RAAF. Alec was a pilot and was awarded a Military Medal for bravery in the deserts of North Africa after his plane was shot down in enemy territory. He led his crew through enemy lines to safety, moving by night and damaging enemy supply dumps along the way. A couple of close shaves but all got through O.K. Cricketers, footballers, baseballers, racing people, business men, and university and college students, bank staff, and professional people from all vocations, were our customers. Happy days!!
New premises and 3 weeks to Xmas Day 1957. We were kept very busy right up to Xmas Eve and then Xmas Day (Wednesday) and Boxing Day off. We opened up again on the Friday, and Saturday morning. Back to normal on the Monday till New Year. At home the Xmas presents were wrapped and put around the tree or hidden away till the big day. Lynnette was 10 and Pam 9. Some larger gifts were big surprises. Many had been pre-wrapped but last minute purchases were still to be wrapped after the children went to bed. Xmas morning saw the children on our bed early to show us what they had found under the Xmas Tree. They gave us our presents from them, and then it was into the lounge to see what grandma and grandad had to open. And then it was Mum and Dad’s presents. Ribbons and fancy wrapping papers everywhere. A happy time was had by all, then breakfast. Later in the morning we were exchanging presents with our nearby neighbours families. Most had arrived in our part of Yokine at the same time. We were all good friends as were the children.
The Magazine (1958-1960)
I remember being at the shop on 8 August 8 when Herb Elliot set a new world record time of 3.58 for the mile at Dublin (Correction: 3:54.5 on 6 August). I chalked that information on our lotteries notice board and put it outside for public view. People stopped in their tracks and discussed Herb’s achievement. Two of the girls from the Maison Waltaire hairdressing salon in the next-door Pastoral House building, Gloria and Jan, were looking at the Herb Elliot news when the “West” photographer turned up. He asked them if he could take a photo while the girls re-read the news on the board. Two more girls, Christine and a friend, were recruited and the group were taken reading the Elliot news. Many passers-by stopped to read the board, exchange a few words with anyone handy, and then it was on their way. On the next day or so we all received a free glossy print photo from “The West”.
Our shop, known simply as Cash’s, was at 158 St Georges Terrace. At 160 was Ad Astra Dry Cleaners (Cam Reddenbach?) and at 162 was John Knott, the chemist. Our shops were between Pastoral House at 156 and the Goldsborough Mort building at 164. The staff in those two buildings made good use of the three businesses. I knew then that we would go through another “pulldown” within a couple of years to make way for a new arcade through Zimpels. Our position in the new building would be the same and we would have two entrances, one on the Terrace, and one into the arcade. No need to worry there. Zimpels management treated us very well.
1959 came and went. 1960 was to bring some business changes as the economic climate improved. Zimpels as our landlords kept us very well-informed on their plans for the future. Now a new proposal. New development plans had been drawn up by their architect, Max Bevilaqua. The three shops on the Terrace were to be pulled down on 26 April. The proposal was to have only two shops across the front and these separated by an arcade running up to Zimpels. The arcade was to have 8 shops. We would have our shop facing the Terrace. We were shop No 1 and our address still 158 St Georges Tce. The chemist fronted the Terrace as shop No 5, 162 St Georges Tce. No 160 was the arcade entrance part in the middle. Shops 2, 3, 4 ran up the eastern side and 6, 7, 8 ran up the western side. Suited us. Shop No 1 on the plans – Cash’s Newsagency / Cards / Sweets / Lotteries. No 2 Tearooms (G. Adair?). No 3 Florist. No 4 Butcher (Bob Wray). Shop No 5 Chemist (John Knott ). Shop 6 Ad Astra Dry Cleaners. Shop No 7 Jeweller (C Edwards?). Shop No 8 Sportsgoods 5 a week.
Joan and I were pleased that an arcade had been planned. It had a permanence about it. We moved in on 28 November 1960 and opened for business on 5 December in time for the Xmas rush. It was a big step up from December 1946 when I resigned from the Post Office and we bought the small shop “The Magazine” from Laura O’Hara. Joan and her Dad and other helpers got things under way. I was in my Parliamentary office or out in the electorate most of the time. Office appointments, Xmas functions etc. almost, right up to the 24th. Xmas Day 1960 a family affair with local friends.
As I type here today I must say that in the matter of rentals and leases Zimpels were completely fair with us right up to our eventual retirement from the arcade in 1966 after 20 years there. The Managing Director was Aubrey Couzens. His board included Don Morrison, the well-known surfing champion; the Secretary John Horton; and young Bill Zimpel. Our relationship with them all – excellent.
A tearooms in the arcade warranted our patronage so we cut back our visits across the Terrace to the popular Lattice Tearooms. It fronted part of Newspaper House till the death of the owner in 1953. We knew the popular waitress there, Mavis Griffin, and were pleased when WA Newspapers leased to her space on the western side of “Newspaper Arcade”. Mavis retired in 1986 and died in 1999.
The Magazine (1961)
Living with Joan’s parents, Lucie and Arthur Moore, at Yokine was very helpful indeed. We usually opened our Terrace newsagency at 7.30 a.m. and Joan and I would drive in and park with Zimpel’s. I would help her get set and then go to my electoral office in the Commonwealth Bank buildings. Back in Yokine, Joan’s mum would get Lynne, now 12, and Pam, now 10, off to school. Arthur liked to garden and used to go to lawn bowls regularly. He got me interested in that. He was always ready to help out in our shop whenever needed, as were some of our friends. I was seldom there, of course, being out in the electorate or in Canberra. We were well aware that the fortunes of politics in a very marginal seat have no re-election guarantee. You try to be seen everywhere.
Back home to the West for the week-end in time to sign the papers for Zimpels assignment of tenancy of Shop 8 to us. Sporting Goods shop (No 8) did not fare as well as the others. The demand for sports goods was now being met by the big stores with sports personalities on their staff. The young chap in No 8 came to us and we agreed to take over the lease from 22 April 1961. A financial adjustment helped him out. We thought we could move our Mother’s Day Cards up to Shop No 8 and open the first “Cards Only” shop in Perth. The rent was $30 p.w. Zimpels readily approved the change, and leased us the premises from 22 April.
The card agents helped in many ways with stock and card racks. They wanted to see us well-stocked for this ‘Cards Only’ idea. All our other cards, Birthday / Wedding / Anniversary in the bottom shop. “Mothers Day Cards” Shop 8 – Signs – Radio – Very busy – Success. We were quick to learn from the Mother’s Day success in No 8. Up came Birthday, Get Well, Wedding, Anniversary, and other cards.
I had to keep my eye on the business side of life – re-election is never a sure thing and loss means back to business and on with the show. In very recent times I have seen two Liberals lose their seats by narrow margins. No easy road for them. No business to go back to and the theory that they will not be suited for the everyday job they might have had. Or their places were filled one or two elections back by new people still there. My motto was play it safe. Many customers and supply sources travellers were resident in Stirling and worked in the City. They liked to make contact hoping to catch me for a minute or two or leave a message. The arcade through Zimpels from Hay Street to St Georges Terrace was well used by the Terrace area workers and bus riders to the City. A talk with Joan and messages passed on. Door-knocking was still the order of the day. Rain, hail, or shine. Rain or hail you could see it out in the car while you checked over speech notes. Shine? Face brown as shoe polish and how! We now added to our staff two girls, Maureen Carter and her younger sister Margaret. They were from a working family and lived in Victoria Park. Good workers – no problems – I recall seeing several girls for a vacancy when we just had the Terrace shop. One girl replied to two general questions about school and home easily. I asked “Who sweeps the floor and does things like that at home?”. “Oh! My mother does all that”. Failed!! Someone had to do those jobs in shops, even the owner would get a broom in those days if needs be.
Meanwhile, “back at the ranch”, the shops were going well as the early Xmas Cards season got under way. Cards for friends and relatives overseas had to be displayed. We had the largest ranges and attracted the early buyers. Joan was kept very busy. When Zimpels saw we had a space problem they helped us out. Director Don Morrison offered us a large area inside their premises for our Xmas card display racks etc. We had no hesitation in accepting it. It was a lucky break. Business increased rapidly as the city came to know we had the best Xmas card range. We added to our staff to meet the demand. Some customers would get their cards and at the same time make a gift selection from Zimpels display areas and turn up to pay at our counter. No problem said Director Don, “Just take the money and give it to us later with details”. A business relationship that could hardly be equalled. Our card suppliers again co-operated with extra display racks. We were soon in full swing with the new set-up as we moved to October and the early rush started. We had three staff there most of the time and two down in the Terrace shop with Joan moving from one to another as needed. Myself out campaigning. Parliament was still sitting and in my years there I never missed a day’s attendance there. You had to be seen or heard.
The Magazine (1962)
Early in 1962 Zimpels suggested that we might like to have the Xmas Cards space used inside Zimpels on a permanent basis. It was about 30 x 40 feet. We quickly came to an agreement. During the Xmas arrangements the Zimpels management team has seen that our business and service attracted many people to walk through their furnishings / household items area. Watching from their mezzanine floor offices area they noticed that the people walked in from St Georges Terrace at one end and in from Hay Street and down to the Terrace. They gave us the go-ahead to have the plans done. We had to construct the glass fronts and framework. There was a South wall (the same wall as our “Chocolate Box” shop). There was a long westside wall with a mezzanine attached. For us it was the metal framing and the fixing, and the doors. Again the card suppliers helped out. We knew them well as friends and salesmen. We brought all our greeting cards up from the Terrace shop at the Terrace front of the Zimpels Arcade and the shop (No. 8). Our new premises inside Zimpels were numbered as Shop No 8A.
We were now able to turn Shop No 8 into “The Chocolate Box”. We “Air Conditioned” it. A necessity. That unit was still there in 1997. We still had some sweets in our Terrace-end newsagency. We were agents for WA Charities sweeps. 2/6 a ticket. Stationery items for office people and the Students at Perth Technical College. It was a good steady business which was built up by Joan and me. We started there 10th December 1946 when I left the Air Force. We had three rebuilds there up till our expansion into Zimpels. There is a small kiosk down at the Terrace end now. Not like the old days when our clientele included scholars, grads, doctors, dentists, bankers, Members of Parliament etc. ( including myself).
One of our friends was Tom Mayfield, the United States Consul. We would have a chat now and then about my father being born at Corydon in the U.S. State of Iowa. They were farmers and timber people. When four of the sons trekked towards the Rainy River border with Canada to work as loggers the parents went too. Tough days. My Dad used to tell me tales of the boys riding the logs in the course of their job. Back to Tom. He had a liking for a sweetshop good seller – banana-shaped yellow sweets. Always had to be fresh and soft. Tom and I used to talk about politics from time to time. He was later posted to Seoul, Korea, where he died suddenly in the mid-sixties. We went to South Korea later.
The Magazine (1966)
NOTE: Doug and Joan sold The Magazine / Cash’s Newsagency / Chocolate Box in early 1966 partly connected to Doug’s political ambitions. Farewell and best wishes letters were forthcoming from their various suppliers.