SHIRE OF CORIO ORAL HISTORY
The following story is reproduced in this website with the kind permission of the Geelong Heritage Centre
whose reference for this story is GRS 1437.
NAME OF INTERVIEWEE Mr George Izatt
AREA OF SHIRE COVERED IN STORY: NORTH SHORE
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: The end of the Second World War saw a gradual decline in the traditional milkman. In Mr Izatt's time there were over 50 milkmen operating in
the Geelong Area.
Q. Why did your family move to North Shore?
A. Well, my father was a tea blender for Robur tea; he was the head tea blender, getting 9/6d a week. Then he decided, his brother William and he, that they'd rent a farm at North Shore. They used to raise pigs and milk cows and so forth. My dad used to sell skimmed milk around the town for tuppence a quart, around North Geelong. Then he commenced a milk round. Later, his brother moved out to Marshall Town, and had a pig farm out there. We stopped at North Shore for, well I was born at North Shore, and I don't know how long we were there. I was twelve years old when we left there. I used to go to Cowie Creek school. We lived where Rylands Wire Works is at the moment, in a fourteen room house, and dad used to milk about thirty or forty cows. He had a milk round in North Geelong and West Geelong, selling milk for about four pence a quart. George Evans lived down at the bottom of the street. He was a Councillor and he used to supply the Geelong Hospital with milk. McGuinness's used to live farther down on the other side where the distillery is. They sold their farm when the old lady died. My father wanted to buy it, but they wouldn't sell it to him. Then the distillery bought it. They put a few houses there and then built the distillery. We had moved to North Geelong then.
Q. Why did your parents move to North Geelong?
A. Well dad was sick of milking cows and so forth, so he shifted into North Geelong and built a little dairy, and bought his milk off I.C. Jones, who used to live at Lovely Banks. He used to go over to meet the train at half past eight at night, bring the milk home and cool it, then deliver it the next day. My final year of school I missed getting my Merit Certificate, because I wouldn't do the algebra. They used to give us six sums and two algebra and you had to do four sums and one algebra. Well I did the six sums and didn't do any algebra, and I missed out on my Merit Certificate.
Q. What year were you in, when you sat for your Merit Certificate?
A. I was in the eighth grade, and a Merit Certificate is very similar to a H.S.C. certificate now, I think. Well I passed everything and then I got six cuts for not doing the algebra. I left school at fourteen and started working for old Felix Vigar, the grocer. He used to be at North Geelong, near the North Geelong School; he also had an old stone building up near Separation Street Bridge. I worked for Felix Vigar as an apprentice. When I was twenty one, during the depression, I got the sack, because he had two married men working for him. So I started off on a push bike selling milk. In the first morning I sold a gallon of milk.
Q. How much did you sell your milk for?
A. I used to buy the milk for ten pence a gallon and sold it for two shillings a gallon and six pence a quart, all around North Geelong. Well I had a few customers and I didn't take long to sell a gallon of milk. So I kept going, and I finished up having a milk round, with a flash cart and horse, doing fifty gallons a day. Eventually I sold out to Polar. Then I went to work for Polar for fifteen years. After that I worked for the Victoria Hotel and I finished up as Licensee there. So I've had a pretty good life. When I retired from the Hotel and I bought this house out in Breakwater. First I bought a house in Geelong up behind the Caledonian Hotel, where the butter factory used to be. Then this place was on the market for 1700 pounds, so I bought it and moved out here and I've been here since.
Q. Why did you move from North Geelong?
A. Dad was sick of dairy farming and he was getting old, so he bought the house in St. David Street. It used to be the North Geelong Police Station. He bought Number One St. David Street. He bought it off the policeman, Mr Stewart. Then the police station shifted down next door to my sister's place.
Q. Can you remember Osborne House?
A. Yes, I was at North Geelong when the submarines were there, when it was a naval base.
Q. Can you remember the kangaroos and deer that he had on the grounds?
A. Yes. The kangaroos used to get out sometimes and run around the streets. In one of the stables at Osborne House a joker named Harry Manyard hung himself, I think. The policeman then was Constable West Thrope, and he came into the barber shop, old barb prince we used to call him, well he came into the shop and he said, give us the strongest cigar you've got. I've got to go cut down a body and put him in a bag.
Q. That happened at Osborne House?
A. Yes that happened at Osborne House, Manyard used to live there as a caretaker.
Q. Can you remember Fords when it was getting built?
A. When Fords was being built I was driving the grocer cart around North Shore and I'd come home at night in the dark during winter time, and the fellows were all camped up the road and I used to be, I used to have the hell scared out of me, because I had all the money for the groceries in my bag. My brother Bill worked on Fords when they first started. Every brick had to be measured and they laid about one hundred bricks a day. He reckoned that was the best job he ever had. They had to measure every brick, and they all had to be perfect. If they weren't they were thrown away. That was for the front of Fords, the main part on the corner. It didn't matter about the rest much.
Q. How did you keep yourselves amused?
A. Football. It used to be over the railway line in Victoria Street. There was an old tin shed there that we used to change in and they (the opposition) used to change at the Oriental Hotel and some would change in the Fire Brigade and then go over to the football ground.
Q. Do you remember any of the factories around North Geelong?
A. Shell, I think was there, the Shell Oil Depot, then further down was the Vacuum Oil Company then the BP factory used to be on the hill on the way into town. The Gas works were all going in, in those days. I was a member of the Fire Brigade for five years, Secretary, Lieutenant and a fireman. Harry Scott was the Captain. I was also the Secretary of the football club for one year but I was a member for a few years. Then I was Vice President for about four or five years at the North Geelong Football Club.
Q. What did you and your brother and sister do for fun when you were young?
A. Bill and Bill Evans, that was Councillor Evans son, they broke every window in the freezing works with stones. They used to walk along the railway line and throw stones. There used to be log ponds out there and going to school, they used to go to the first North Geelong School behind the Ocean Child Hotel, and they used to walk across the logs in the log pond. The ships used to pull in and leave the logs and float them in under the railway line, into the log ponds. Children used to walk across them going to school. I finished up school at North Geelong, went to Cowie's Creek School with the Larkin's and O'Briens all that mob out there. We used to walk from Rylands Wire works, where our home was, straight across the paddocks, knocking down stooks and everything. There were no houses just paddocks. There was only our place, the McGuinness', Evans and another old place, Stanley's I think it was, right on the beach. We would walk through the wattle plantation straight across the paddock to school. There were no Shell homes, no nothing there then. The distillery wasn't even there then; it was opened after we moved to North Geelong. We used to go to Church at North Geelong and for picnics we'd go to the You Yangs. Once I fell down whilst we were there. I fell down the hill and broke my arm and old Charlie, he used to be manager of the Geelong freezing works, he fixed it up. He was the doctor at North Geelong - he wasn't a real doctor - but he used to be a first aid bloke. He fixed my arm up. There used to be an old lady, Mrs McPherson, she was, the mid‑wife for anybody that was having a baby around North Geelong and North Shore.
Q. Did you ever go on the ferry?
A. Yes, we used to go every year on the ferry over to Sorrento. When we got there we used to go over to the back beach and swim in the rock pools. On Friday nights we used to go to the Palais in Geelong. It used to cost six pence to get in. Then, we'd dance until eleven o'clock and run like hell down to catch the last tram home to North Geelong.
Q. Where did the trams run from:
A. They would come from Belmont and they used to stop at Ryrie Street and wait there until just a bit after eleven o'clock. The last tram used to go out as far as Victoria Street for a while then they started going all the way out to the Separation Street bridge.
Q. How did you get into town before the trams?
A. We used to drive a horse and cart, a jinker, into town to go to the pictures on a Saturday night at North Geelong. There used to be a picture hall there, just a tin hall that had pictures. We would ride in on a wagonette. When we went to school in the winter, we'd have our boots around our necks and our socks, to keep them dry. We carried them under our ponchos or oil skins. If we got wet we'd go over to the teacher's house to dry off in front of the fire. The teacher used to put all the girls stuff on one side and the boys on the other. Then when we were all dry and dressed again we would go back and start school again.
Q. How long were you at the Cowie Creek School for?
A. About five years then I went to North Geelong.
Q. Tell me about your family?
A. Grandfather Russell used to drive a bullock wagon from Sydney to Melbourne. On one trip a bullock gored him through the arm near his elbow. He was half way to Melbourne when it happened. He sat in a chair and the doctor sawed his arm off at the elbow. Then he packed it up with salt and flour, put a rag around it and then a bag to keep it covered. When he got to Melbourne gangrene had set in and so they sawed his arm off up near his shoulder. When he was eighty years old, he used to come down from Melbourne, and walk from Geelong out to North Shore to stay with us for a while.
Q. Where was he born?
A. I think he was born in Melbourne somewhere. He was brought up with aborigines; he used to play with them.
Q. What about his wife, what was her name?
A. Donahue, he married a Donahue and they had fourteen children. She was Irish and she came over to Australia as a lady's maid, met my grandfather and stayed.