- Redex Trial -
About 1954 - Standing, cold, by the road
in the early hours of the morning watching cars in the Redex Trial
go past as adults cheered, blew whistles and made noises with a ratchet
- Sewerage Dozer - About 1959 - The men doing the
installation of the Kingaroy sewerage system used a small dozer to
backfill the trench after the massive trench digger passed through our back yards.
The machinery was always left in whatever yard they finished in at "knockoff
This particular day it was left in OUR backyard.
In my wisdom at that age, I saw the small dozer in front of a mound of red
Kingaroy soil and thought it was a great "toy" dozer.
Mum was inside, I was outside, it looked very inviting to my small boy mind, so,
I climbed onto it,
turned the key and it drove up the mound of dirt to my shock and horror. Luckily
it didn't start. I gather, thinking back, that it must have been parked "in
gear" and that the starter motor wound it up the hill.
Of course I wasn't popular at
all and mum had to explain to the men the next day why it was sitting half way
up the mound!
- The Scissors man
- About 1955 - He arrived irregularly
with his "sugar bag" and asked mum if she wanted her scissors sharpened.
- The Ice Cream man
- About 1954 - With his 3 wheeled bike with a green bag on the front,
containing "hot ice" to keep the ice cream frozen. In the bag were small buckets of vanilla ice cream
for sale. Small pine spoons were given out with each bucket.
- The Ice man and our
Ice Chest - About 1953 - Watching dad carry ice blocks
inside with a special tool that held the block, then making it fit in the Ice
Milkman - Around 1953 to 1960 - The "safe,
warm and fuzzy"
feeling after being awoken at 2 am by the Milkman ( I think his name was
Kev Livingstone ) and watching the shadows on the wall from his
lights and hearing the clinking noises as he delivered the glass milk bottles,
knowing no one would be outside, likely to "get me" while he was running between
houses. Listening to him going from house to house, with the noises of the
bottles and then the motor, getting less and less noisy, until he drove too far
away to hear them. Then dozing off until I heard him coming up the street behind
us. Trying to stay awake to hear him deliver to that street
but instead, drifting off into a peaceful sleep.
- My first bike -
On my 8th birthday - 1957 - Found for me by Dad. It
had no mudguards, sharp steel pedals, no brakes, continuous connection to the hub from
the pedals and was freshly painted by dad.
I was so proud he had done the best
he could for me, as even at that age I realized we were classed as a "poor"
family, therefore there was no chance of being given a "new" bike for my
birthday. Being pushed along on it till I gained my balance. Falling off but
getting up again and trying again. It was
too tall for me and I still have the scars from crashing on it and grazing my
elbows and knees when I fell onto the sharp gravel surface which was
Toomey Street in that era, but I loved it because
dad found it for me.
- Model Electric Train -
Christmas 1958 - Dad/Santa gave us a second hand Triang electric train set.
We spent many hours building
"pretend" towns and running the rails through them. I even built a track out in
the yard with bridges made from the wood, used for the stove, supplied by
& Shire. I had water running under the bridges from water supplied by the garden hose.
- Building sawmills
- About 1960 - with Don Knopke, using tiny
3 volt motors, with sprockets/cogs from old clocks as saws, for Club Day
at Primary School.
The power from the Triang transformer supplying the train, also ran on tiny copper wires,
"power lines", supported on "paddle
pop sticks", to street lights, which were torch bulbs.
The "power lines" were powered through
various switches which turned the motors and lights on and off.
Meanwhile, the train ran around the sawmill.
- The Rawleigh man
- "Mr Albury" - During the 1950's - delivering his potions kept in his special briefcase
that he would open to show mum what was available.
Making "propellers" - During the mid 1950's
- Running around the house with what we knew as a "propeller", in my hand. We made the
propeller from cardboard from
Kellogg's Corn Flakes packets. Once we had shaped the propeller to catch the wind, we found the centre and pushed a sewing pin through it.
In those days clothes pegs were, what I think were called, "dolly pegs". There was a pattern
on the top of the peg that allowed us to find the centre. The pin was pushed
through the cardboard propeller and into the centre of the peg, firmly enough to stay in place as we ran around the house,
while watching the colours produced as the propeller spun.
Using different areas of the Corn Flakes packet, or some other
coloured cardboard packet mum had, changed the colours produced.
- Pouring water down spider holes and enticing them to come out by poking grass stalks down the hole. (Poor spiders!)
- Finding Trapdoor Spiders and tipping the trapdoor open while imagining the spider would jump out and get us.
- Burning the grass that grew along the fence line around our yard. (
Something that is a definite no-no these days of Political Correctness )
- Being told by dad that we were to have a special photo taken of the family, getting dressed up, mum arranging a spot in the lounge room for the photo, waiting for "the man" to arrive to take the photo, which never happened, and then dad arriving home late after we had gone to bed, drunk and arguing with mum.
- Waiting many times on the verandah for dad to arrive home to take us to "the pictures", only to have to get undressed and go to bed and try to sleep, knowing soon I'd hear that familiar sound of the front gate squeaking,
dad stumbling up the front steps
drunk and the bashing on the front door, before starting arguing with mum until he
fell sleep in the lounge chair an hour or so later.
- Spending Sunday mornings on the verandah in the warm sun in our pyjamas reading the "Sunday Comics" while dad was sober and fun to be with.
- Making "rivers" and "dams" under the house in the red dirt, then turning the front tap on full bore and watching the water run down the "rivers" and filling the "dams" which we made "roads" over and around to push our "Dinky" cars along.
- The ant nests that dad made in Honey bottles to watch them as they lived their lives.
- Climbing onto the tank stand, then onto the house roof, to look around the neighbourhood, much to mum's horror.
- Reading "Arthur Mee's Children's Encyclopaedia" that mum bought to help us learn,
even though dad gave her hell for buying them.
"Webster's Dictionary". Again she faced dad's wrath for buying it. For most of my young years those books were the only books in our house, other than books we were
given for going to
- DC3 - Watching the Ansett - ANA
DC3 fly over our house, heading towards the
airport. In later years, riding our bikes as fast as we could towards the
airport, after hearing the special "drone" of the DC3
in the distance, hoping we'd get there to see it "take off". The best we ever
did was to see it as it lifted off above the fence line of the airport. For
those who know Kingaroy, we had to ride
from Toomey Street
to the airport.
- Steam Train - 1953 to around 1960
- Travelling to Hervey Bay on the train, which then, was
a steam train. It ran through to Theebine, then onto Maryborough.
"Rail Motor" then ran to
Hervey Bay, past Scarness, which
was our destination, to Urangan.
We were forever
not to look out of the window of the steam train, as the coal dust would get in
our eyes from the smoke blowing back over the carriages. But did we take any
notice? Of course not, and ended up with coal dust in our eyes, which had a
- Eating Crab with Pop Colquhoun in the "Shelter Sheds" on the
Esplanade at Scarness. - Late 1950's - Pop would buy a couple of
crabs which were wrapped in newspaper and tied with string and we would sit
under the "shelter sheds" and eat the flesh as he read the daily paper.
- Projector - Late 1950's - Mum bought me a projector for my birthday
out of her hard earned "sewing money". I remember it
cost ₤4/10/- . We picked a "film strip"
from the "Toy Shop" which actually was about 5 frames of 35mm film that had to be
wound forward manually, one frame at a time. I can't remember the topic though.
To watch our "pictures" we would put a
white sheet up on the wall and point the projector at it. Those 5 frames of film
strip never bored us and were watched countless times. We always planned to buy
more film strips but it never did happen.
The Olympia Theatre
- Late 1950's - Going to the "pictures" at the Olympia Theatre on Saturday afternoon
- the "matinee". Sitting in the canvas bag seats, watching Movietone News and the likes of
Deadwood Dick, a cowboy serial.
At "interval" we would run
across the road, through
Townson & Heaslip showroom (a car
dealership of the time), then down the footpath to the Kookaburra Cafe
to buy Fruit Tingles lollies or Juicy Fruit
As we grew older we became more "sophisticated" and walked
around the Club
Hotel corner and up to the Paragon Cafe
which was owned by Jim Feros, where we had a
"malted milk" for 10d and a pie for 1/- . ( A recent (April 2008) article in the
local paper, The South Burnett Times, said
Jim Feros had died. He was in his mid 80's. )
- Bullen's Circus - Late 1950's - Circuses used to come to town and a "spruker"
would drive around the streets with a loudspeaker on top of a car, calling out the prices, the
time it started and where the tent was.
In those days the tent was put up in a paddock in Youngman Street
where Goodyear Tyre Service,
a street named Sawtell Street
and the Shell Service Station
One morning as we played in our front yard, we
heard the "spruker" as he drove past our house at the corner of
Toomey and Youngman Streets. We asked mum if we could go and of course we were told,
"no, I don't have any money!", which she didn't.
The neighbours kids were given the money by their parents but we had to try to
find our money.
The "spruker" had called out that it
would cost 6/- for children.
Because Soft Drink bottles had a 6d ( 5 cents)
deposit on them in those days, it was common for us to scour the
neighbourhood, including the Kingaroy Showgrounds,
which was the site of many events that sold refreshments, for bottles to "trade
in", to get money for things our parents couldn't
With 3 kids in our family, my
brother, my sister and myself, multiplied by 6/- each, that equalled
At 6d per bottle, that meant we needed
to find 36 bottles to add up to 18/-.
We searched all
morning, found them, dragged them back home in "sugar bags", washed and dried
them, then carried them in the "sugar bags" to Hall's Shop which was on
the corner across from the Kingaroy Swimming Pool
- about 3 blocks away.
The owner begrudgingly gave
us the 18/-.
By that time, it was nearly time to walk the 3 blocks to the circus. We washed
and dressed up and walked
with the neighbours kids to the paddock.
We looked around at the larger animals like Camels and Elephants as
they ambled around and saw the Lions and Tigers in their cages.
They opened the
ticket box and everyone lined up. We heard people complaining to the person in
the ticket box but didn't understand what was wrong until it was our turn to pay.
I pulled out the 18/- and proudly put it up above me on the ticket box shelf and
said, " 3 children please".
The person in the box counted the money and said, "Not enough!".
I was embarrassed as I thought we had miscounted or I had missed some change in
my pocket. I fumbled around looking for the missing money but found none.
I asked how much he had and he told me 18/-. I was confused and he said,
"you need 24/-, the price has gone up!"
had put the price up to 8/-.
The neighbours kids had "spending money"
as well as their ticket money, so used some of that to make up the difference.
I was very embarrassed as we were turned away. Two of us could have gone but it would have meant one
missed out and we didn't do that to each other, so we had to walk home very sad
and ashamed while the neighbours kids saw the circus.
One of those "lessons in life" when you are poor, I thought at the
time. The positive side was, we had 6/- each to use for something else.
- Making boats out of Crows Ash seed pods and "paddle pop" sticks with paper
from old "exercise books" for sails and floating them down the gutter after
Watching as they washed through the grate and disappeared into the
turbulence, then racing to the opposite side of the road and down the laneway to the point where
the drainpipe emptied into what was then just grassland and is now walkways and
We sat with eyes glued to the end of the pipe watching to see which "boat"
survived the trip through the drainpipe. Then rescuing it or them and running
back to the gutter in front of our house and putting it or them back into the
- Making "dams" in the gutter and
demolishing them quickly so we could watch the wave travel down the gutter.
- Making a flagpole
out of anything I could find and cutting up some of
mum's sewing "scraps" to make the "flag", then
tying the "flagpole" to the front fence and taking it down each day.
In those days, around 1955 - 1960 we were still "marching" into school to music
that was played during the Second World War after standing on "parade" pledging
allegiance to the Queen.
So, the "flag" was a big thing in my life then, even though I
had no real idea why we were flying it.
- Col Greenslade - Getting my "hair
cut" by Col - Reading "Comics"
while waiting to have it done. My favourite was "Sad Sack" - The
back of the comic books had prizes you could collect by sending coupons in.
Being from the USA, the coupons were useless to us but still I lusted after the
" Walkie Talkies" that were one of the prizes. I used to imagine the huge
number of things we could do with them in our neighbourhood. Sadly, by the time
Australians were allowed to buy and use "Walkie Talkies" we were "grown
up" and it was no longer "cool" to use them.
- Waking up early on Saturday mornings knowing I was free to do what I wanted
- Also that dad would be sober that night because he had to work at the races and drive home, therefore getting a peaceful sleep that night, after a fun day, as there would be no arguments.
- Chopping wood and stacking it
near the back steps. Sounds like hard work now
but we loved splitting the blocks dad brought home into sizes suitable for the
"stove" - as we had no "electric stove" - and carrying them up to
the house from the "backyard", then stacking it under the "backsteps" so mum
could use it as she needed it. ( A
Stove is a Range, Cooker etc
for those who use those terms )
- Seeing a local run into by a car on his way home
from work - Late 1950's - While playing in the gutter, I saw
Len McNee, a local painter, riding home from work.
He waved to me.
I went back to what I was doing, making "dams" in
A few seconds later I heard a sickening thud and looked up to see a
Volkswagen car with Len bouncing on the bonnet,
then onto the roof and finally rolling off the back and onto the street at the corner of
Avoca Street and Youngman Street, in what seemed like slow motion.
I felt sick as I saw him lying on the ground and the driver continued, swerving in an arc in the loose sand
until he came to a stop, then running back to help Len.
I stood frozen for minutes watching and wanting to vomit. Luckily Len survived.
- Sitting on the fence listening to mum and a friend talking about an accident
- Late 1950's -
At the corner of Markwell and
Youngman Street an old couple in a Model T Ford with a canopy top was hit by a Dalby Flour truck. Hearing how the driver said he didn't see them because the sun got in his eyes.
Going up to the corner and seeing blood on the road and the damaged car with the door hanging open.
- Eating Loquats - Late 1950's -
from a tree that grew over the roof of the outdoor "dunny" (toilet) at my
grandparent's place. We had to climb onto the fence, then drag ourselves up onto
the roof where we sat in the warm sun eating the perfect yellow flesh.
- Guy Fawkes Night
- Cracker Night - 1950's into 1960's -
Buying Double Bungers, Tuppeny Bungers,
Tom Thumbs, Jumping Jacks, Roman Candles,
Sky Rockets, Sparklers and various other "fireworks" and "letting them off"
on November 5th each year until the event was banned due to fires and
I can remember sitting on the verandah watching "sky rockets" streak into the
night sky in various parts of town. Sometimes one would crash to ground in our
yard, which we thought was extremely exciting as kids. Another memory in the
"fireworks" list is of a spinning wheel mounted on the fence called a
We also used to stuff a pair of Dad's old "overalls" with what we called "straw"
- pine needles that covered the ground under trees at Cheers Triangle at
the corner of Avoca and Youngman Street - and burn them as a
"pretend" Guy Fawkes.
When we were at Mum's parent's farm, the family built huge Bonfires and
"let off" crackers and "set off" Sky Rockets.