RAYMOND HENRY BECKLEY
Interview at his home in Myers St, East Geelong on 15 June 2005.
My great grandfather and his brother landed in Geelong in 1837. Within a week they had separated and never saw each other again.
The Beckleys settled at Drysdale. My father Reuben Beckley was born in January 1900.
He married Doris Margaret Martin whose family had come from Wales. Doris’s mother was Mary Barr. The Martin family were wine makers out past Waurn Ponds and at Bannockburn.
Reuben and Lois’s eldest child was Lois, born in 1920. She married Les Rayner.
I was born in 1924.
Joyce was born on 21 November 1931. Joyce married Neil Potter who died in Sydney of a heart attack at the age of 60.
Max was born in 1937. He married Lois Wells. Max died at the age of 67 of a massive heart attack in 2004. Max survived a truck crash in NSW. A farmer pulled him from his blazing truck. He was badly burned but survived.
Dossie (Doris Margaret) was born in 1940. Dossie married Don Swan. They live in Highton.
Reuben was working for JC Taylor on a new building in Hamilton but after that things went quiet in the building trade as the Great Depression worsened and he was made redundant and couldn’t get a job.
Reub was at Richardson’s Market in Geelong one day and that gave him the idea that he could become a fruit and veggie hawker. He converted an old Dodge car into a van.
He was married and living in Autumn St, Geelong West at the time. He extended his range to North Shore and said to Mum that with Fords there the area would go ahead. He bought one of the 15 odd State Bank Californian bungalows in Donnelly Avenue. These houses had been built with cobble stones. I was six at the time so this was in 1930.
Dad expanded from fruit and vegetables into firewood and briquettes. The Beckley truck created a track from their house in Donnelly Avenue across the paddock to the North Shore railway crossing. It went past Kelly’s in the middle of the paddock and Barnett’s.
The only paved streets were Donnelly Ave and Sparks Road. Wendover Avenue and Foster Street were formed but not paved.
I went to North Shore State School. The head masters were Walker, Mason and Hall.
There were three teachers in three rooms and four rows of desks in each room. There were over 100 kids. One teacher had the bubs and Grades 1 & 2, the second teacher Grades 3 & 4 and the Head Master had Grades 5, 6, 7 & 8.
Some of the pupils were Basil Anderson, Alan Mitchell, the Moroney brothers, Colville (they had a box making business) Jack, Norma and Keith Burns, Ivan and Gwen Evans, and Basil Gamble. I enjoyed my time at school.
I was Dad’s “right arm”. I am proud to say that I never had an argument with my father. Reub had fixed ideas about what he wanted to do but I accepted that what Dad said was what had to be done. I helped to load the truck each evening and after school I wouldn’t go home but head off in the direction where I knew Dad would be delivering on that particular day.
We got our firewood from blocks Dad owned at Anakie. We chopped the trees down and cut them into lengths with a cross-cut saw and then took them home to cut into shorter lengths with an electric circular saw.
Reub got his locally grown fruit and veggies from Richardson’s Market (on the corner of Little Malop and Myer Streets). He sourced the interstate fruit such as bananas from Felix Costa at the top of Moorabool Street.
A bloke from North Geelong delivered ice. Teddy Fairbrother delivered milk. Bread came from Hutchison and Tamplin in North Geelong. Their bakery backed onto the railway line. Arthur Tamplin delivered around their area. He sold pies and cakes too.
Reub was the first president of the North Shore Football Club and filled that role for 15 years. Fergie Hamilton senior was also involved. He lived on Melbourne Road in the house next to Walpole’s shop. His son Fergie is still living there. The Cahirs were also involved. There were about six sons. Bob Cahir was on the committee. He lived in Wendover Avenue. Pat Cahir lived in Donnelly Avenue. Vinny lived on the south-east corner of Donnelly Avenue and Plume Street. Dinny Cahir was a roamer. I once met him in Port Augusta when I was delivering a load of car bodies there. Roy Green lived in Plume Avenue next door to the Swanstons. Alan Potter lived in Struhan Avenue.
To transport the football team to away matches we put a tarp over the back of the truck and put planks over banana boxes for the players to sit on. Home games were played on the land owned by Youngs behind the Corio Shire Hotel. The old cow shed behind the pub was their change room. They sometimes had functions there. I remembered coming home from the Palais on Saturday nights and we’d get off there if the club was having a pie night. One night Andy Doyle was marching around the oval playing the bagpipes with all the drunks following in a line behind him.
The first dances I can recall in North Shore were held in the Sons of Temperance hall in North Shore Road opposite Fords.
Dad loved music. He couldn’t read a note but he’d listen to a tune on the wireless and before long could pick it out on the piano. He also played the piano accordion and the banjo. Tom Byers was a saxophonist and I played the drums. Joyce also played the piano.
After the war the footy club moved to the oval in the west and built new change rooms there with 6” x 1” planks that Dad managed to get from the Wheat Authority.
I became the President of the Cricket Club in the 1940s. I was one of the steering committee to get the first kindergarten going. We ran a popular girl contest to raise funds. One of the women on the committee suggested that more than one kindergarten was needed so we applied for additional grant money and got it.
Ernie Harris was employed at Ford in their transport division and one day he phoned Dad and asked, “What are you doing with those trucks of yours?”
“There’s two of them doing nothing at the moment.”
“Well send them down here and I’ll give you a job carting crates from the wharf.” That’s how it started. Well we bought another truck and then a semi-trailer. Eventually we had about 20 trucks and about another 20 subcontracted just carrying for Ford.
Dad was a Corio Shire councilor for 10 1/2 years. He pressured council to develop Windsor Park. When John Holland finished developing the Norlane Housing Commission estates I approached them to ask what they were going to do with their “igloo” – their distinctively shaped administration building. “If you can shift it, you can have it,” they said. We wanted to convert it to a youth club. So we brought over our truck and crane and moved it to Windsor Park. The Council came to the party and laid a floor.
Dad died at the age of 62. I was urged to nominate for the vacant seat and was elected to replace Dad in Hovell Ward and served for 19 ½ years.
Interviewed by Bryan Power