Elizabeth Brown (nee Minns) 21 April 2009
Thank you Bryan for your "North Shore Topics". You have certainly put a lot of thought into it and brought back a lot of memories.
Bill Frost’s grandparents lived along Donnelly Avenue up past Parsons, and Drews lived next to Anderson/Pousties. I'm sure Bill Frost and Kellys lived in the middle of the paddock which would now be called Forster Street and the Kellys were elderly and drove a double seater car with a dickie seat on the rear. There wasn't a street there; they just drove their car along a rough track. I'm not certain but I think Frosts may have come across to live in Donnelly Avenue with their elderly parents later. Alex Smith and family lived up behind Youngs, off the North Shore Road, in the 40s. Also, there was a Roydon in the Mapleson family.
Yes, I remember the RAAF base. I attended the North Shore State School then and after school would walk across the railway line to see the planes being tested along the strip opposite the Harvester. When Mr. Anderson and Mr. Moody from Donnelly Avenue were on leave from the Army and dressed in their uniforms, we thought it all very exciting!! Being only about eight or nine years old we probably didn't realize the seriousness of the war. Most exciting too was the fact that during the afternoon the ladies would be preparing supper for a party that evening so we young ones would hang around and hopefully be invited to sample any of the food they were preparing!!.
Of course during the war food was rationed but I always seemed to know who baked and when!! Mrs. Beckley and the girls baked most Saturday afternoons and the family, having a wood yard, my excuse for being there was to help Dossie bring in the wood for the stove and the copper. One day I decided I wouldn't help so was promptly sent home. No cakes for me!! Max Beckley delivered wood around the area with his horse Bonnie pulling the cart. They sold fruit and vegetables too.
We lived in three different houses in North Shore (Norlane) before eventually settling in Baldwin Avenue, opposite Fords. Firstly we were near the corner of Melbourne Road and Sparks Road opposite old Mrs King who kept a cow fenced off in a small area behind her house. We then moved across Melbourne Road to near the corner of Donnelly Avenue where, later, Barclays lived, and where my sister Margaret was born.
Before coming to North Shore dad worked for McKays, a farm machinery manufacturer in Sunshine, Victoria, and went across to their Company in Canada working for two years. My brother Alan was born there in 1932. In 1938 dad invented "improvements in grain harvesting machines of the reaper thresher or header type" but I’m not sure of the outcome of it all.
He then worked for International Harvester Australia from 1939‑1969 as an Experimental Engineer. In 1956 he went across to their Head Office in Chicago, America, to bring back the new self-propelled wheat header to try out in our Australian conditions. He was very clever with farm machinery and invented, and later restored, many machines over the years. He often spoke at Agricultural Colleges and took machinery to Field Days in the country and to Melbourne Shows.
Alan did his apprenticeship with Murray and Rowe from Donnelly Avenue as a carpenter and later worked in the Plumber's Shop at Fords. His son, John, represented Australia in the Shot Put event during the 1986, 1990, and 1994 Commonwealth Games in Scotland, New Zealand and Canada. Unfortunately he didn't win any medals.
We all had fun in the 30s and 40s wandering around the paddocks. There were drovers with their sheep who would often give us their motherless lambs and, of course, they didn't live long as we couldn't keep the milk up to them!! Charlie Nash, on horseback, grazed his cattle in the paddocks between St.Georges Road and Sparks Road, often close to the school. I was always a bit scared of the cattle so I kept McFettridge's house along Sparks Road and some boxthorn hedges half away from there and the school in sight so that if any of the cattle chased me I had somewhere to run to!! Other students had similar ideas!!
We all had our little tracks across the paddocks. When living on the corner of Melbourne Road and Forster Street, where later Kirks lived, we had a narrow track across to the North Shore Railway Station, where, if we were walking to the North Shore beach on a very hot day, would call in at the Station and soak our towels in the fire buckets hanging on the fence, then continue on to the beach. The boys would swim out to a raft near the beach and have fun floating around, diving off it, at the same time watching out for sharks which often inhabited that area as the meat works weren't far away.
In Spruhan Avenue there was only the Baptist Church with a tennis court, and further along Faulkners, who lived on the corner of Plume Street. Quite a few people who weren't of that faith attended the Church and it was good for us young ones as we were able to form friendships and do things together. We went on Church picnics, camps, hikes out to the Geelong Grammar School lagoon, and played junior pennant tennis on Saturday mornings.
Earlier on the juniors played tennis for the North Shore Tennis Club, which, though being a small community, was able to form a senior team as well. Ruth Mapleson, Betty Thomas, myself (Elizabeth Minns), Bob Barclay, Noel Newman and Harold Cahir, represented the juniors. Ivan Brown, whose house in Donnelly Avenue had a back gate opening on to the tennis courts, gave us some coaching. At that time only the Cahirs and the Tennis Club were in Wendover Avenue and it was a gravel track often covered in water, as was the track across to the school where puddles were covered in ice during the winter. Rather than walk through the puddles to the tennis courts I would take my racquet down to Ford’s corner and practise hitting against one of their brick walls along North Shore Road. Luckily the roads weren't busy in those days. Imagine doing that these days!!
Sometimes I would go with Ruth and her grandmother, Nanna Anderson, who lived near Sparks Road, up to where she kept her cows near Cox Road, and help bring them in for milking and sit around watching them being milked. That was the nearest to living on a farm at that time!!
Deans also lived in the area near Maplesons. The Deans rode around in a horse and buggy as did another chap along St.Georges Road who we called “Pop" Davis. He lived in a little shack and often drove his horse and cart down to Ford's tip which was beside the Melbourne Road south of Fords in the gully.
Cowies Creek ran under Melbourne Road through the tip to the Corio Bay. Later Ford's tip was filled in, as was the undulating land opposite, I think they called it Seagull Paddock, where beforehand we would walk across the stones in that paddock over the Creek, falling in most of the time, to gather mushrooms and peep into another old shack nearby amongst the boxthorn hedges. Quite a few people lived that way years ago. When we lived along the Melbourne Road during the war, and just after, swaggies called in begging for food and a shed to sleep in for the night.
During the war air raid shelters were built on the corner of North Shore Road and Melbourne Road opposite what was then the Corio Shire Hotel, which was later demolished when the road became a four lane highway. The Norlane Hotel is now situated where the air raid shelters once were. For the older residents the Corio Shire Hotel was a good meeting place after work and Saturdays. Hotels were closed on Sundays. Often the men having had a few too many drinks, and riding their bikes home across the paddock near Hamiltons, would fall off. After they had had a rest and continued their ride home we would go across to see if they had left anything behind and often found some threepences which had fallen out of their pockets. We thought we were millionaires!!
When the Melbourne Road was a single highway we often roller skated along it and when we saw a car approaching in the distance would either get off the road, if we could, or crawl off if need be. I'm ashamed to admit but we would sit in a tree and put things, such as an old handbag, on a piece of string alongside the road and on the footpath and when a car or person stopped to pick it up would pull it away. I don't remember anyone stopping though. They probably knew it was kids playing tricks!!
For something to do the boys often rode their bikes and took billy carts up along Cox Road to the Monastery hill, which was quite steep, and have great fun racing each other down again. Those who had neither a bike nor a cart to race on would take a short cut and trudge through Pat Cuddihy's wheat fields just below Anakie Road. I don't think he would have been too happy with us.
On a weekend we would walk across more paddocks to the North Shore Football Club, which was up near Thompson's Road, and watch them play. When the team was playing away Mr. Beckley would set up trestles in the back of his truck and we would have fun trying to keep them upright. The Beckley, Chapman, Dean and Mapleson boys were good footballers, as were other boys, but I can't recall their names, it was so long ago!!
Mr. Beckley was a very prominent gentleman in the community in the 1940s and 50s. Apart from his Council duties and many other things, he had a dance band and played locally and when he played at Bacchus Marsh my mother would go with them and visit her parents. Her grandparents had the Border Inn Hotel which remained in the family for seventy three years. I remember visiting there when I was a child. My grandmother came from Tasmania and when she married my grandfather she wouldn't live at the hotel so he built a house nearby and started a building construction business and helped his mother at the hotel when necessary, his father having passed away earlier on. Quite a few of our relations still live in the Bacchus Marsh and Melton area. My mother and father (who had lived in Melton most of his life) when married, moved to Sunshine, where I was born. The grandmother of Brian (my future husband) had the Court House Hotel on the opposite side of the main street at the same time as our family had the Border Inn. Little did they realize that the two families would eventually come together!!
We didn't have many buses in and out of Geelong in the 40s, nor any bus shelters, so when we were awaiting for the school bus to take us to schools in Geelong, and it was raining, we would climb up behind a huge high advertising board on the corner of Melbourne Road and Donnelly Avenue and hold on tightly until the bus arrived!! A fire alarm was also nearby so upon hearing the bells ringing on the approaching North Geelong fire truck everyone rushed up to the corner to find out where the fire was and, if possible, follow along and watch them put it out.
In 1958 I married Brian Brown who was once a volunteer at the North Geelong Fire Station and later became a CFA Officer at the Geelong City Fire Station where we lived for many years in the accommodation provided in those days. Our two sons, Geoff and Michael, are now officers too, Geoff at the Corio Fire Station which is opposite Fords and built behind the old family home in Baldwin Avenue where, as young boys, they played in the surrounding paddocks. Most of those homes in that area have since been replaced with various businesses. Michael is stationed at the Geelong City Fire Station where he and Geoff were junior members and later senior volunteers.
When the family shifted down to Baldwin Avenue and the Migrant Hostel was built where what is now called The Boulevard, we would take a fold-up seat across and join in their film nights. Later I worked in the same office as some of those people at the Harvester.
When we were older and went into Geelong of an evening to the Palais or the theatre, and knew of someone who wasn't on the return journey, the bus driver would wait for ten minutes or more as often the theatres finished late. If one missed the bus it was expensive to catch a taxi home, and the tram only went as far as Pilkingtons in North Geelong which meant a long walk home in the dark or the rain. I think we only paid one fare home on the bus and instead of getting off the bus at Ford’s corner and walking a short distance home, would stay on the bus, go along North Shore Road, up along to St.Georges Road to Melbourne Road, where the bus turned left for the return trip back to Geelong, and, once again, the bus drivers were good to us and often dropped us off at our front gate if it was on the main route, especially if, once again, it was dark or raining. We all thought it was a nice long drive home.
Returning from Melbourne by train after a day out was another experience. We had to be careful as the train often overran the short North Shore Station platform and start off again before we could retrace our steps back to another carriage to get off, so we would jump down off the train beside the track, which was quite a jump sometimes, and someone would throw our parcels or cases down to us.
I went across to the Geelong Refinery when it first started up and the men, mostly Dutchmen from overseas, lived in huts on site while the plant was under construction. I worked in the Personnel Department, which was very interesting, and busy, when recruiting staff for the new plants as each one came on line.
So many things happened in the '50s and North Shore and Norlane expanded so much.
You have done quite a lot of research Bryan, as has Fergie Hamilton. You have both covered things more fully than I have and knew so much more than I did, but it has given me satisfaction as far as relating these things to my family which I probably would not have got around to doing otherwise!!