A I think I was telling someone else of the fact that it has only just become known, I think Gary knows now about the town hall being the telecommunications headquarters of General Macarthur.
Q Yes, you mentioned that.
A For at least three months of the war with Japan. I mean the war had already been going on in Europe, but it was here that the Japanese were getting pretty close to Australia.
Q Was that well known around the area the time or it wasn't?
A No. It sort of only came to light in the last year or so. The telecommunications in those days was probably nothing more or less (Morse Code). They set it up there in the town hall and after the army I suppose left the air raid wardens took it on and they were stationed there and one of my neighbours, the daughter, Vera Lugton, she was one of the wardens. They used to have to ring her to come on duty but they had to ring on own phone because we were the only one with a phone in the street or nearby even. Between the Lugton’s house was a tennis court, our tennis court, and we had to run across the tennis court, go through a slit in the fence and yell out to Vera "You're wanted down at the town hall". So we had a prior knowledge of what might have been happening.
Q You were the first ones to know in the street?
A We were the first ones to know. But then later Vera she married Bert Bradley and she was expecting. Well it was still blackouts at night. The cars had covers over the headlights with a slit in the middle and so it was very difficult to drive. We had the one car in the street I think and so Vera became pregnant and then it was expected that she had to get to hospital. My dad had to drive the car and Bert, the husband, had to lean out the left hand passenger window to see the kerb. So they got into a hospital in the city somewhere. Don't ask me which hospital but this was quite something to produce a baby in a blackout.
Q In a complete blackout, yes.
A The petrol situation, we were rationed for the petrol and we only had a little Vauxhall. That's the first car we ever had. We had enough petrol to go to Woodstock up the track here. Do you know Woodstock up the other end of Plenty Road and High Street, nearly up to Whittlesea one way and we could go up there and back again once a month and that would be the end of our petrol ration. But the thing was that it was all paddocks all the way up, the whole way but it's a blue stone plain and there was lots of stones. The farmers up there - you probably still see some of the stone walls. They just lifted the stones from the paddocks and piled them into walls. We used to pick up stones every time we went up there and back and our garden is full of stones. I mean big boulders like that round the edge of the garden and they're all bluestone ones from garden beds up towards Woodstock. Yes. That was a memory that sort of stuck. I remember the 1940, early 1940, we went up on a Sunday and came back and when we got back home my mother had a stroke and on a Sunday night to get help, well, you didn't have triple 000 in those days. No, she had a stroke. She died about six or seven months later. That was imprinted on my mind that there was a blackout and we'd been up there and back and had that happened.
Q How often were the blackouts?
A Every night.
Q Every single night?
A Every night, yes. No, there was hardly any lights around at all. You had to have curtains on your windows. If someone left there curtain open and light shone out the air raid warden patrolling would be in and tell you to pull the blind or else.
Q So that's a part of what they did, made sure everyone was blacked out?
A Yes. I mean the war didn't get close to Melbourne. We actually found the name of a ship that was shipwrecked off Victoria that got washed up into Port Phillip Bay. My grandfather picked it up on the beach at Altona. Yes. But there was the miniature submarines in Sydney harbour and over in Broome and that part there, Darwin and so on. But Macarthur's headquarters moved up to Brisbane and so we were sort of left lamenting down this end. It was certainly all sorts of things happened. We'd go to the theatre and things like that in the city at night. I can't remember, I don't think we - no, it wouldn't be by car, I think we must have had to come home by train. Dad worked in at the government offices in the city and we had cousins from Broken Hill. One was in the air force and he'd just got married and so his wife came to live with us and he went to train down at Point Cook. So he'd come in from Point Cook. My dad would come from the city. Lorna, the cousin and I, we'd come in from Preston and we'd have a meal somewhere. Don't ask me where. I think it might have been the Cherry Tree or something in Collins Street. Then we'd wait outside her Majesty's Theatre in Little Bourke Street and the doors would open and we'd all run up there to the top, to the “gods” as they called. You didn't book a seat you booked tickets.
Q First in best dressed was it?
A Absolutely. If you got the front row that was something up in the gods. But, no, the Gilbert & Sullivan Company got stranded here from England and they couldn't get home and so we had every Gilbert & Sullivan theatrical performance that could be possible. We went through the whole gamut of Gilbert & Sullivan. We all knew them off by heart but every week we'd go to another one. The leading lady, Viola Wilson, she married the head of the theatrical company that ran Melbourne's theatres, the Tate brothers. She married him and became Lady Viola Tate, yes. That was very exciting, yes. Of course the Vienna Boys Choir was also stranded here and sang in the choir at St Patricks Cathedral.
Q Yes, that's right.
A They were looked after by St Pats Cathedral people. That was one where they contributed to the musical life of Melbourne.
Q Yes, I do remember hearing about that, the Vienna Boys Choir, but I didn't know about Gilbert & Sullivan.
A Yes, that was at Her Majesty's and at around at the Tivoli. We had the Tivoli as well. As well as that if you were in the city at lunch time I was studying at RMIT which was Melbourne Technical College in those days and somewhere around the city there'd be a truck drawn up and on the back of it there'd be what we'd call a spruiker, a man trying to get you to invest in war bonds or something. Yes, but you'd have some entertainment. Someone would do something. An act on the back of a truck.
Q You'd get them in?
A Yes, we had a lot of fun and games then you might say. The night the World War II started I was actually in Flinders Street, a building in Flinders Street, where the Young Australia League, YAL, was having a dance. I can't remember if I ever had a partner but no matter. But apparently it came through that there was imminent war and my parents came in to collect me. They drove in in the blackout to collect me and that was the start of things. The end of the war was, I can remember Flinders Street Station, the corner around there, everybody going wild. The beginning and the end sort of stand out as events that you remember.
Q Yes, of course.
A You don't necessarily remember a lot of things that happened in between.
Q In between, but the big events. Do you remember sort of the feeling of other people around the time the war was declared where there was a real sort of fear that it was - - -
A Yes, yes. Straight away the young men joined up and so we were left with no men. When the Americans came in 1942 they were stationed in huts in the zoo area in Royal Park. They were up at the ‘animal farm’ according to the Americans, it was the zoo. They took all the girls of course, yes. When Aussie troops came back there were fights. But then there was one, Leonski and he got on to some of the young women and murdered them. There's a book. I've got a book on that. If you were at the university or one of the colleges and things like that it was scary to go out at night because it was so near the American camp you might say.
Q So they were considered a bit scary because of that?
A Yes, yes. No, he had everybody terrified. It was about three or four women that were certainly murdered and then the trial had to take place here and it was the IOR building, opposite the gaol on this side was Emily McPherson College of Domestic Economy. I was studying there as well as at RMIT and we used to spend the day looking out the window to see the American police cars arrive, and the prison van with Leonski in it. I mean the old jail was next door was where he was held. That was an interesting thing. And we're all looking out the window. So that was an interesting experience that just sort of stuck in your memory.
Q Yes, that's interesting because you kind of think now that when the American soldiers were here they considered like exciting and that sort of thing?
A Yes. Beautiful uniforms compared with our boys. But, no, they were very generous with handing out things. They had money to buy, sweets and stockings and we were on a sweet ration more or less. I went over to England in 1948 and it was still rationing over there. We got one bar of chocolate a month. We had one egg a month. If the egg was rotten that was the end of it but, no, we didn't have it as severely here as when I went to England well after the war in 1948.
Q Did you do much to get around the rationing like sort of barter and exchange and that sort of thing with each other?
A Well my dad married in 1922 but the property with a tennis court and that was from about 1914 and even from when he was about 18 he had been growing vegetables and flowers because the grandparents lived in Spring Street. Great grandparents to me. They had a flower farm and so there were flowers and so on. They used to take them to outside the cemeteries, various shops and markets, , but there was always vegetables being grown. I mean I still grow vegetables. We've kept growing vegetables since 1914. So we had loganberries and fruit trees and we did all our own preserving in Vacola bottles and made tomato sauce. So as a child you were trained in doing that which you still do. I mean since then the Luly family have never bought a jar of jam. You always made your own jam and you still do. I mean it is just one of these things that it is instilled into you I think.
Q At that age, yes.
A Yes. No, I can't remember what the rationing was. I am not well up on that. I can't remember those sort of things but I knew we always had enough food. In England, with the rationing after the war I'd wake up in the middle of the night and feel hungry and luckily I had parcels of food and I'd open a tin of meat and then just eat it straight off. I mean the body needed it. Anyway there is probably some things that I have written down somewhere in here. I wrote some things here that might - that was pre war 39 when I went up to Queensland. I think I wrote something. No, that's the whole story of the trip to Queensland. I know there is somewhere in here that's got a bit about war time. It was all about the history of Emily Mac and RMIT. Next door with the Old Melbourne Jail that was where Ned Kelly got hung. We used to know a bit about what went in the jail there.
Q No wonder you wanted to look out the window?
A Here is this one. The war years. Now, that's of interest. Somewhat of a blur though. Some events stand out in one's memory. The invasion of Poland and possibly declaration of war had my parents so worried that they drove into the city to collect me from the Young Australia Dance, well, I told you that.
Q Did they sort of think the war was on then, you were sort of in danger?
A It was just a panic you might say. What, would people riot or would people gather and how would she get home on the transport and things like that. That was about cousin Bill coming and they stayed at our place. They actually had their honeymoon there. On their honeymoon we'd take them down to Lorne or Wilsons Promontory. That was when we'd save up the petrol. On the trays of trucks. That was for war bonds campaigns and one rushed down the stairs at Emily Mac and off to see what was happening down the city at lunchtime. Melbourne was invaded by American servicemen in the camp up next to the zoo. Yes, the MCG, they were in there too. They had them bedded down in the MCG.
Q Right, the American soldiers in the MCG?
A Yes. That was called pneumonia alley. Quite appropriate.
Q It would be quite windy I think.
A And the whole of Melbourne Hospital at Parkville, that was taken over by the Americans as a war hospital. A war hospital, there was casualties. It was built just before the war and before any Melbourne patients could go into it, it was taken over. That was it. They didn't get any - we didn't have a big hospital. It had been planned to cope with the city but didn't see that until after the war was over. Yes, anyway, the trial of the US Leonski. He was called the brownout strangler.
Q The brownout strangler, yes.
A You've got it?
Q I had heard of him, yes
A Yes, that's it. He was held in the city watch house which was just next door to us and we had a grandstand view of the coming and going. It kept us enthralled for weeks. Before Leonski - that was a book written by Ivan Chapman and Leonski was executed by hanging at Pentridge. He was buried at Springvale and the casket was transferred to Queensland and finally to the Schofield Barracks Honolulu in 1949. That was the whole thing. I must have put that down. There was all the things that went on in the theatre at Her Majesty's. Yes, that gives you some idea of what we saw. Yes, well, it started at least 1930 to end in 1942. I can still, even though I was only a child, I can remember the Duchess of Danzig. It was Dorothy Brunton, top hat and tails. I was only aged 6. All the things that happened.
Q They really were on all the time?
A Yes, yes. My parents loved the theatre and so we used to go to all of them.
Q Do you remember any of the other things that you used to do during that time?
A Well we played tennis.
Q Played a lot of tennis.
A No, we played tennis at weekends. Other than that you went to school. You studied and then I started teaching by 1944. One of the teachers joined up to the Red Cross. Occupational therapy and so and they were short and I hadn't even finished training and I got coopted to start teaching.
Q Whereabouts were you teaching?
A I was at PLC at East Melbourne which is pretty central but I still went part time at Emily Mac I think on a Saturday morning. I used to go to Preston Tech at night to finish off my studies but I was working before the end of the war and the studio where we worked at the school had a camouflage net there and every time you went past you did another loop in making camouflage nets.
Q Once you stopped for everyone to contribute to it.
A It was hanging there and if you had a moment or two you just did another row. I don't know how many we made but that was a part of one's job you might say or a part of life in war time and we didn't stop. Yes. We taught the young how to knit socks, 11, 12 year olds knitting socks on four needles. You can imagine. They'd go that way then they'd come back again instead of going all the way around so their mums had to fix it up at home and then they'd bring it to school and I had to fix it. I threatened to write a book ‘How not to knit socks’. As soon as the war was over we banned knitting socks.
Q I can imagine you would be thoroughly sick of it by then.
A We didn't do any more knitting of socks. Can I put that back in order? I don't think the pages are numbered but there is probably some more over here. War time rationing here we are, this gives you some idea. This was more material, yes, material. New garments from old. An old garment like that we'd make new. At Emily Mac we couldn't buy materials for dress making.
Q So they actually put out books showing you how to do it, how to recycle?
A Yes. Take it out the end there if you want to look further into that one but that was Betty Duncan, but it was a nice - look it's out of that old suit. She made a jacket and skirt. Yes, I made a few things. Can't remember now.
Q It is interesting how it has got like all the Churchill quotes and everything there so it was a real - you're doing this for - - -
Q Even a letter from John Curtin.
A John Curtin. But that was quite something to produce even in those days.
Q Yes, it is amazing. So it was put out by the government?
A I don't know. Does it say anything?
Q Issued by the Commonwealth Rationing Commission.
A Yes, there you are. But, no, they chose Emily Mac because it was doing that sort of thing and that they were making clothes out of old clothes and this was a suggestion that everybody ought to be doing it.
Q Everybody should be doing is, yes, that is amazing.
A Yes. I don't know what that is?
Q Some information on the ration cards. So obviously everyone was sort of pulled into the war effort.
Q You know, children, women.
A Yes, everybody had to do their stuff whether you were a teenager or otherwise. You got landed with it. This one is another entertainment that we had 1941 to 1943, Borovansky Ballet. Now he was a sort of a refugee from Russia, from the Russian Ballet. They got stranded around these parts of the world too and he started developing a ballet school. The origins of the Australian Ballet today. I mean this is where it started and at night some of us who were learning dress making and tailoring and that sort of thing would go into - well, I'd stay in the city and my dad would stay in the city. We'd have a meal and then we'd both, he'd come along too to this and we'd make - we'd measure and cut tutus for the ballerinas. I'd make them at home and that and then we'd take them in at night. Not every night but once a week or so and we had a measuring stick like that. Dad would help cut around the tutus. There was Laurel Martin, she went on for ages. Edna Booth and Dorothy Stevenson but they all went on to become ballerinas and ballet and Douglas [Ganley]. He was pianist and he was an Australian that went overseas and made his name over there, composing and conducting and so on. He started with just a simple group of people interested in ballet and they put on some shows. They eventually put one on at Her Majesty's having progressed to professional standard. Douglas, he accompanied on the piano but as well as that there was Norman Macgeorge and he was artist and he used to come in and sketch them. He was quite elderly at the time too. It was fascinating the people who were willing to come in, in the blackout, into the city. They finally went on a national tour in 1944 and they eventually included Sylphides and Capriccio and Graduation Ball and Petrushka and Sleeping Beauty and Giselle. Borovansky was the genius who saw the potential of the people and he died in 1959. His little company folded but the National Ballet was formed and it carried on and became the Australian Ballet.
Q So in a way the war time it was a flourishing of the arts community in Melbourne?
A Yes, yes, absolutely. No, that was 1939 when we had the first overseas art exhibition, the first introduction of Melbourne to impressionists' paintings. That was in the town hall, the Melbourne Town Hall.
Q In the Melbourne Town Hall,
A Yes. But that was 1939, it was prior to war time in a sense but at lest we did have that and it was modern art. One of the paintings in the recent Salvador Dali exhibition was one in that Melbourne exhibition.
Q So that was in 1939?
A Yes. It was the second time it's been out here. These are all reports and various things, a part of my life and I call it the life and times. All sorts of funny things happened.
Q Do you remember at all, one of the other ladies we interviewed mentioned during war time sort of business owned by German families, some of them were boycotted and that sort of thing?
Q Do you remember anything like that?
A No, not so much about it. But my grandmother told me the story about the first world war and because her name was Dora Henkel and she was over in Kalgoolie, at the time, and the Red Cross ladies used to sit there tearing up sheets and rolling up bandages and they ignored her. She wouldn't go with them anymore. She just stayed home and rolled bandages but, no, the Henkls had come out here from Germany way back. One came out as a chef to the duke or something, English duke. But before she married to Henkel he became a goldsmith and made cups, Melbourne cups, all sorts of things but her maiden name was Khon, K-h-o-n, and that wasn't German at all it was Heligoland when it was British and the Danes took it over and then the Germans eventually they bombed the whole thing and there is nothing left. It's an island in the middle of the north sea but she was a Khon. I was up in Wangaratta a couple of years ago. I was at a luncheon and you have your name on and the maiden name and and here this lady she had Khon underneath and I said "That's an unusual name. My grandmother was a Khon". She said, "I didn't have any relations". I said "Did your father tell you that he had links with Heligoland". She said "Yes". I said, "My grandmother and your father were brothers and sisters and we're now cousins". That blew her. She is still alive. I still visit her if I go up there. That was about how I finished my teacher's certificate at night school An urgent call, come and teach. It was still war time.
Q Was it partly with the shortage of men?
A Yes, that was as well, yes, definitely and even the women joined up. A friend of mine was in the air force. I was asked to come straight back and start teaching more or less the next year. What a decision to make. I still had a commitment. I had a senior technical scholarship and that had two years to run and it included industrial experience and that in war time that meant that I would have to go to Coburg just near the railway station. What's the street there, Murray Road into Coburg there. That I'd have to go over there and work at the commonwealth clothing factory and make uniforms. I said I was more patriotic to my old school than I was to the army and so I backed out. My dad helped me pay my way out of that scholarship.
Q Were scholarships a common way people went on to further education?
A I don't know. I was the only person I think at PLC who'd ever got a technical scholarship. Most of them went on to universities and they all became doctors or nurses or something like that. Muggins me, no, didn't want any of that.
Q Was it sort of paid by the government so you'd contribute to sort of doing something for the army?
A Yes, you had to be a part of it in case you would go to a technical school. If it was a boy he'd have to carpentry and things like that sort of work. Some sort of career that would supply teachers for the technical schools. But with wartime and me with having done Emily Mac, I did both an art course and a sort of dressing making half course, both together at RMIT and Emily Mac at once. I used to go from one to the other. So the only alternative for anyone who had done dressmaking and tailoring was to go into the army making uniforms. Yes, anyway I decided no so paid my way out of it.
Q Paid your way of it.
A But as you see you had to teach in wartime conditions because half the school were evacuated up to the country. A number of girls - well there weren't any boarders from the country that would send their children to a city until things settled down and everything moved north. Yes, that was just about entertainment. That was a part of life. Goossens Orchestral Concerts and the Boyd Neel Orchestra and Music for Millions. You had to have something to keep your mind of it. I think that's all I brought down with me. You can see what it goes on to, 48, 50, that was when I was in England. It was just my life you might say. All the things that happened and I've continued them on. I don't know how many volumes I've got now. I think I'm up to number 14 or something like that.
Q It is certainly a well documented life.
A Well it shows all my interests and things like that, yes.
Q That's terrific. I wish more people did it.
A I've since been around the world and upside down and all over the place since. To the ‘living library’ people I said ‘travel’. That's interesting because we had a group from Neighbourhood House come up, some students learning English and we had four or five of the ‘living books’ there. I kept asking "Where have you come from" and there was Argentina and India and China and Vietnam I think, and Iran. I said "Well, I've been to all those places". So I would say "Now which part of Argentina". I said. No, no, that's way down Terra Del Fuega… No, she hadn't been down there. I said "Well I have". I got on to Barriloche and her eyes popped out of her head. I said, "Yes, every shop sells chocolates" and to have someone who knew her town in the middle of the Patagonia going where ever it is that sold chocolate, she was amazed let alone that I had been on the same plane as Perron and his second wife or second girlfriend. The Indian one, yes, I had afternoon tea with Indira Ghandi. I didn't get on with the one from Iran, I thought that might be dicey because of the Shah of Persia's sister and the Shah of Persia got kicked out almost when I was there. No, they were quite interested to find someone who knew a bit about their countries.
Q How did you find the immediate sort of post war migration after the war with people coming in?
A They were all Italians, yes.
Q Did you find - - -
A People called them wogs or something like that. I'd been to Italy by 48. I went over to England for three years and I'd been in England so I had a link there in a sense. But, no, I've got Italian neighbours and Greek neighbours now and I get on well with them because I know their countries. Greek granny was one. She has since died but we had no language. I knew “thank you” in Greek but that was it. She didn't know any other. I didn't hear the chooks for some time so I thought well how do you have a conversation in Greek when you don't know the Greek word for chook? So I said, "Cock a doodle do" and she goes [wipes a finger across her neck!]. We used to have interesting conversations but it was all pantomime. You’d do that in Italy because you didn't have much language. Well, if you come from here you didn't have any language and - in 48 in Italy, on an Italian train you found out all about everybody in the carriage. Ten kids and so it went on and you just point to whether someone is married and that sort of thing. It was amazing what you could do. Europe was certainly interesting post war. I mean you were in German towns that had been completely bombed and still rubble everywhere. The youth hostel would be a huge concrete air raid shelter. In Greece, “do you know my brother in Sydney”, because they'd already started coming out here.
Q Coming out there then.
A They’d ask “Do you know my your cousin or brother in Sydney”. You'd have no hope of knowing.
Q Don't know how big it is.
A Or else they'd want to know how could they get here. “We'll you've got to go to the Australian embassy. I can't do anything for you here”. But all through the Middle East the Australians were very popular in the Middle East because of the soldiers. Yes, you only had to say “me Aussie” and you were all right. Yes, it was perfectly safe. Way out in the Syrian desert there'd be someone - they were anti Jewish and they'd want to know if you were Jewish or not more or less. You'd just say, No Australia, Aussie. Okay that's all right.
Q So obviously Australia was pretty well regarded?
A Yes. Well, they'd fought up along the coast, up the Lebanese coast and into Syria and so on and over to Jordan and all those places and Greece and so on. I remember in Greece or Cyprus, “oh Australians, the Australians they fight the English, they run away.:
Q So we were considered pretty tough?
A Yes. In Cyprus they were still blowing up planes although it was well after the war there was still anti sort of feelings around that part. I couldn't go into Israel. I had a second passport in case because they wouldn't accept anything with an Arab stamp in it. You needed a passport so you had a separate one. I picked it up in Burma, yes, on the way over. The only way out was to fly around Israel. Fly out to get to Egypt. The chap at Jerusalem, Jordan, the airport there, he got to know me. He was the director of the old airport and he used to sort of welcome me back because I'd off that way and come back and I'd gone down that way and come back and then I had to fly out again. Yes, I got well known at the airport. As I say you were still experiencing what they- you know what they had gone through. I mean when you saw the German, well Cologne and Frankfurt and those Hamburg. So if you met up with any out here you had something in common with them in a sense. You'd seen what they'd been through.
Q You'd seen what they come from?
A Yes. Yes, there was a German chap, he came out and he married a friend of mine. He was a nice chap. Now you're thankful you went then because you wouldn't go over to that part now I don't think. You'd hesitate. Well, certainly you wouldn't wander over, a female by herself.
Q That is true.
A No, I've been on a local bus out to Palmyra in the middle of the Syrian Desert and I became a buddy for everybody on the bus because I'd seen a suitcase coming down from the roof. They rescued it. Yes, after that I was a great buddy. No, if you had some link with their countries you were quite all right. We've got one Italian in my street, Sam, nobody likes him. He comes from Calabria. He picks up his rubbish and throws it over the fence into the Vietnamese place or something like that. So I said to the young Vietnamese boy "Johnny, is Sam still throwing his rubbish over?". "Yes" he says. "I pick up snails and throw them into his vegetable garden". So I thought well this is a passive war. I said "I'll save some for you". No, you have a link with them and that's something I think.
Q You think that would have been fairly rare for people to have travelled, travelled like that at that stage?
A Yes. Well, I went 1948, 1949, 1950, I was staying and teaching in England but went to Scandinavia and rode a bike across France and went over to Oberamagau. All of that sort of thing in Europe and then I took a whole year off in 56. In those days you could get an air ticket that took you around the world, one of the first. As long as you kept going in the one direction but you could do this. They didn't restrict you to stopping at two or three places and that's all. You just went up and down zig zag. Because the planes were not jets but prop planes, they could only go a certain distance and then they'd stop overnight. So you'd get a night, at least one night in a place for free and that was well worth it.
Q Plenty of stop overs?
A Yes. Yes, so you sort of stopped half way across to Tehran or something like that. That meant that you, as I say, you just kept going and it took a whole year.
Q I wish they had those plane tickets now?
A Yes. It was only a couple of hundred dollars too I think. It might have been more, I can't remember, but it might even be in here. In 1957 I had to get a car because the school moved out to Burwood. What did I get? I got a Fiat which was a Roman taxi. Unless I got an Italian who worked at the garage I had to tell them how to service it. Yes, it was a Roman taxi. Well that was the model you might say but I'd known them in Rome so it was only natural that you sort of went through - - -
Q So you were familiar with it, just all the mechanics weren't?
A Absolutely. Again, it was after wartime but in 48, 49, 48 I rode bicycles across France and they were still rationing there. Yes, we stopped at the side of the road and there was some sweet corn growing in the field, and we saw the Frenchman, the farmer come over. Well, the others they were better at French, they'd studied it a university. I used to draw everything. They asked him could they have some corn cobs and he wanted to know what they were for and we said to eat them and he said we make - it's our coffee. I suppose burn them or bake them or something but they used to grind it up and that was the way they made coffee for wartime. We said, no, we don't want any coffee thanks. So he went off and he came back with some plums. That was all right. We liked those. Then he went off again and he came back with his wife. We weren't to sure what that meant but, no, would we like instead of our tents - no, we didn't have tents on that part, would we like to stay the night and we said Yes, that would be wonderful to stay the night". He took us into the glasshouse he had and cleared the geraniums off the bench and said "Whoa" . We said we had our drapes which meant we had our flags but we were trying to say we had our sleeping bags. He still thought we were Austrian. There were still German helmets on posts along the road. He got an atlas and so we pointed to Australia. Oh, Australian and he started jumping like a kangaroo. We called in to somewhere else to stay the night and we had a bed, a double bed I think, for about three of us. They had big long bolster things like that as pillows so we put them in between each one when we wanted to know where La Toilet and they opened the back door and said "Whoa" out with the chooks.
A The rationing of the food, it was still very much wartime, yes. They were still suffering with rationing and with all sorts of things and they'd been invaded and damage to villages flattened and so on. No, you got a lot of stories from people over there and knew what they had gone through and you sort of thought, well god we were lucky here. It was touch and go in a sense the way the Japanese came down, one of the ‘living books’, he was in the occupation force in Japan after the war and he said they were still very much - the general people and public were still as if they were at war and wanted to continue more or less. One of them told him that Australia that was island number four or five, one or other, but they'd conquered all the others on the way down and we were the next island to conquer and they were still wanting to do it apparently.
Q It is pretty chilling.
A New Zealand was the last one on the list, New Zealand, no, no, it was Tasmania. Tasmania was the place where the Americans wanted to come when Castro was acquiring missiles for Cuba so that was touch and go. They thought they were going to have a war and then they thought which is the furtherest place that they could go and they looked on the map and decided Tasmania. I don't know what else there is to tell you about life and what not. I'll tell you what we did have. In 1952 a German man who'd come out on the German ship. No, it wasn't a German ship but they sent out a whole lot of Germans here from England and that to be held here rather than prisoners over there or they were suspect civilians more or less and they were sent out here, a ship load of them. They were up at Tatura I think. One was Hirschfeld Mack and he'd been trained at the Bauhaus which is a very famous design school. He was in Tatura twiddling his thumbs more or less and Dr Darling from Geelong Grammar found out that he was from the Bauhaus and he got him out and brought him down to there and the whole of the art of teaching in Victoria changed. We had night classes for teachers with him and we had exhibitions with his student boys' work and the whole of the art education in Victoria led Australia absolutely.
Q It changed from then from about 52?
A Yes. But he was a German refugee in a sense but he was sent officially down here. Yes, so that was an interesting link with Germany. To have first hand because a lot of the Bauhaus people went over to America, various architects and that's how a lot of the modern buildings started in America. Really knew architecture and that was from the Bauhaus.
Q I knew a little bit about the architecture but, yes, I didn't realise the connection in Melbourne.
A That was through that so we were lucky in Victoria that we got first hand knowledge. No, it was fascinating. He'd give us exercises. A sheet of paper. Do something with it so you could stand a one pound weight on top of it that it would support. You had to construct it or do something so that it would stand up and take a pound weight. Well that makes you think.
Q It does.
A You had to think of a way of linking that paper around into a circle. Straw, drinking straws and corrugated cardboard was another one that you had to do something with. After you'd taught all day and this was at night. Certainly that made it different.
Q So you were learning that to take it into the school, yes?
A In the classroom, yes. Yes. We learnt to, well, recycle things. That was the start of recycling because you made things out of next to nothing, yes. I mean there was still in a sense some rationing in a sense. We didn't have all the things you can just go and buy now. No, certainly not. But you made things out of gum nuts or things like that. You'd have just boxes of all sorts of things like that you know and just make something.
Q Make something out of it?
A Yes. You even did pieces of felt. You'd put felt up like that and small pieces of felt and you'd put them on like that, that one would stick to the other and that would form a design. Yes, there was another one. You get a newspaper. The advertisement section, deaths and what not and you'd do a felt pen like around and follow the shapes and what not and then they'd show you a painting by Mondrian who was doing painting just of square and colours and you could see how you can do one yourself or you'd look along the corridor and see the windows and think, yes, that's sort of got it - you can make a pattern out of that. No, it was absolutely fascinating. Later it became crafts overseas. Craft Council and World's Craft Council and you met up with all sort of nationalities at those. Yes. The one in Mexico was fascinating. They had all these peasants sitting around under trees, tied to a tree and weaving and so on. Digging a hole and putting pots in them as a kiln, just a whole in the ground. You certainly learnt a lot with travel and so on and as I say it brings you into contact with the - yes, the other day, as I say the girl from Argentina, there was one from Russia. I said "I nearly got kicked out of Russia". Her eyes popped out. I said "Yes, I had an argument". Actually the woman in the hotel wouldn't accept me. No I didn't have a grey card. I said "Well, I've already paid in Australia for the night's accommodation". You must have a grey card. In the end she said she would get in touch with the foreign office. I said "right, I'm going off to the Kremlin". I spent three hours walking around the Kremlin. Came back. She told me I had three days/nights accommodation. All was well. So I gave her a pair of stockings. We were buddies after that.
Q Her stockings fixed everything.
Q In communist Russia.
A They didn't have any.
Q What year was that?
A 1976. I can't remember the dates on that one but never mind. It was probably about in the seventies I think.
Q In the seventies.
A In the seventies I did tour but, no, I had a link with a Russian girl the other day too.
Q You've been everywhere.
A Yes. I said "Well have you had any adventures here?". But she said too busy learning English, they didn't seem to have anything like that. I said "Well I hope you don't get kicked out of here".
Q We probably should wind it up I think.
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