BITS OF DAVID'S LIFE


When my forebears died their history and the history of those who preceded them went as well which was of no consequence at the time.

It is only now I think, "I wish some-one had written it all down" because it is only the older who appreciate older things and for the younger, life is forever. So this is, I won't say the story of my life, but snippets of information which you may like to know about in the future and will be too late to ask when we are dead.

A lot of the early history such as the family tree for our name is in a book called "Goodearls" which was prepared by Ken Goodearl (in England) and Don Goodearl (in America) - I suggest this be retained.

PATERNAL GRANDPARENTS

My paternal grandfather was George Herbert, a very portly but kindly, English gentleman who was sent out from England to sell furniture. I always loved "Grampie". He was a teetotaller, but inveterate smoker of pipes and cigars, never bet but he made a heap on share investments and was a most astute and caring businessman. I can remember him at his home working on mysterious books holding his pen in a peculiar fashion - the index finger over the top of the pen which was tucked in between the index and second finger.

He kept very exact records of business transactions from when the business first started and was well liked and respected by his quite considerable staff at one stage. But the staff beat him at one point when he tried to introduce piece work (which never really is satisfactory). Production of tents sky-rocketed for a while so did wages, until it was discovered that completed tents were being smuggled upstairs only to be hurled downstairs again at a different point to be included in the production count. That was the only piecework scheme ever introduced was terminated very quickly.

He made one bad mistake that of buying into a company in Melbourne - Goodearl Shaw Pty. Ltd, making bedding. Geoff Shaw was an associate through his church and this prompted the association. Though I never really knew "Mr Shaw" (as he was), I never particularly liked the man as I considered him a ditherer. My father used to say to my mother "You'll see what will happen, we will be left carrying the baby" and he was right. Ralph Huthnance and myself went down to Melbourne perhaps 20 or more years later to auction off all the equipment we could to help pay debts.

I never knew my grandmother as she died in Singapore before I was born. Annie Diment (her maiden name) arrived in Australia on the "Iberia" in November 1885. She was a parlourmaid (a girl of perhaps "low birth"). They were married in 1886 Grampie having arrived here in about 1884 - he came out first class and is listed on the manifest as "gentleman". How they got together is another story of which I know nothing.

Another mystery is Grampie's brother, Richard, who worked with him in the business, came out a year later. He came out steerage class (there's none lower) and is listed on the manifest as "labourer"! There is a big difference.

MATERNAL GRANDPARENTS

My maternal grandfather was John Sinclair Alexander who worked in some type of managerial position with Burns Philp (island traders). My mother used to talk about how she went to Sir James Burns' house (who was the founder of the company) on some occasions so he must have been in some sort of senior position. Burns Philp was a large company who had their offices in a multi-storey building in Bridge Street, Sydney, a very wide street with palm trees down the centre where all the horse drawn Hansom Cabs used to park awaiting fares. He was a part time major of artillery in the military reserves. I never knew him but according to Mum he was tall of military bearing with a small beard. He was, I think, a very firm disciplinarian and Mum could remember going to North Head to see him when he was in camp.

The following paragraph was written about Burns by A. B. (Banjo) Paterson.
“A thin and austere Scotsman of the son-of-the-manse type, few people would have taken him for what he was -- an outstanding financial genius. The great O'Sullivan might toss millions about with the abandon of an elephant throwing hay; but James Burns risked his company's money, and his own, in ventures which required a lot of pluck and foresight. They were merchants, ship-owners, island traders, and graziers; putting the firm's money behind settlers away up on the Queensland rivers where they were liable to be scuppered by blacks at any time; financing storekeepers in little one-pub towns, where these storekeepers found grubstakes for prospectors and miners; sending their vessels to the islands where no boat's crew dared land unless the bow-man had a loaded rifle; running small steamers to places where there were no wharves, and the boat just tied up alongside the bank. Anywhere that there was a risk to be run and money to be made you would see the flag of James Burns. If he had been dealing in diamonds instead of copra and bananas, he might have been another Cecil Rhodes.”

My maternal Grandmother, lived with us in Roseville for what seemed a long time until bowel cancer took her off. Her maiden name was Janet McLaughlin and I have no records or recollections regarding their courtship. Mum never seemed to hit it off very well with her - I think it was because she was a bit over-bearing though she always seemed pleasant enough to me. She had a funny habit when feeding Merran with porridge, of opening her mouth as the spoon went towards Merran then closing it and chewing almost in time with Merran.

John Sinclair was brilliant with woodwork and I recall seeing some of the intricate work that he did. He had boxes with delicate brass inlays etc., and one of these works was so admired by Sir James Burns that he gave it to him much to the latter's delight. A chest of drawers with a "secret" hinged top which Richard now has is another sample of his handiwork. Of course there were no such items of equipment such as routers to aid in this work. All simply was done with chisels and saws and the amount of patience the man must have had is to be admired.

PARENTS

I believe that my father, George Richard, was a bit of a larrikin but a very well liked and sincere sort of chap. He died of peritonitis from a ruptured gall bladder or appendix (not sure which) at the age of 41, which was a tragedy. His last words leaving work in Kent Street, Sydney on Friday was "I will see you" raising his thumb in the air in a rude gesture. He died that weekend in a hospital in Pittwater Road, Brookvale - I can just remember visiting a chap in bed in an oldish stone building. Another recollection is sharing a bath with him at Roseville - he died when I was four so I must have been very young when that happened. He used to smoke Camel cigarettes and liked the odd ale - but never at home! I think a thoroughly "good bloke" and Mum never really got over his death. I even remember her in tears when I was perhaps 20.

I have no idea how my mother and father first met - probably at the Methodist Church in Hill Street, Roseville. But as Mum lived at 9 Clanville Road and my father at 6 Roslyn Avenue, both addresses close together and Roseville being a very small place in the mid 1920's, it may have just been by chance. My father always maintained he was going to marry the girl who lived closest to home - and he did!

My parents had their wedding reception at a house called "Rawhiti" on the corner of Clanville Road & Rawhiti Street. The house is now demolished to make way for the home units now occupying the site. Don't ask me why that location in particular. After they married they moved into 9 Clanville Road, which is a house (still standing) that her father John Alexander had built.

Mum's childhood was spent in a house on the corner of Cecil & Henry Streets, Gordon, one or two doors up from Ravenswood College which is where she attended school. That house now forms a part of the college. The yard was quite large and her brother, Harold, was very keen on telephones - the forerunners of radio communications I suppose. He had lines running everywhere and I remember Mum saying, that the maid they had was quite demented at times when a phone rang and she couldn't tell whether it was the stables, the workshop, the front bedroom or where ever. Harold also worked at Burns Philp and spent some years living in Fiji where that company had a sizeable operation. He married Beryl and had identical boy twins, Ian & Graham.

DEE WHY HOLIDAYS

One of the highlights of the year was our annual holiday in Dee Why and we used to spend two months with our mother, Grampie and Aunts Mab & Cal (Mable & Clarice) at 4 Monash Parade, swimming and playing on the beach. The house was in an ideal position being the second property up from the stairs to the swimming pool and perhaps 100 metres from the beach and fronting on to a large green "park" area where cars used to come and picnic for the day at weekends. An early morning dip in the surf - I never remember Grampie swimming, in fact I doubt if he could swim at all, so it was a case of let the breakers break over you.

Merran & I learnt to swim one year down there. Mum organised a lifesaver who was a beautiful swimmer and could have doubled for Tarzan. I don't recall how much later, but after practise with different chaps I met on the beach I became quite a passable body surfer. Surf-o-planes (inflatable rubber rafts) were reasonably popular but a bit passé for chaps like me who could body surf! Surfboards were used in Hawaii but unseen here, however later emerged surf-skis which were type of a "boat shaped surfboard" propelled by paddles. The interior was hollow and had to be drained from time to time.

The house had an unusual turret with a "ladder" going to a second floor where the maid that the Aunts employed used to sleep. Sometime after they dispensed with a maid, Merran and I were given a game of Monopoly which we fell in love with. We used to set this game up on the bed and have games that literally never finished borrowing money from the bank at five percent interest and similar till one player just completely ran out of property, cash and patience. That is where I probably got my anti-borrowing traits from - having been broke so often at Monopoly!

Mum, Grandpa and the Aunts used to play bridge of an evening that rather intrigued me being an hugely adult game. After much asking, I was shown how to play 500 which was a good starter for Auction Bridge. Knowing nothing of the conventions used in Contract Bridge, I was not a bridge player at all but would be able to handle myself in the play of Auction. We played a lot of both these games down there but I don't think Merran was ever very interested.

When the war came Dee Why and all our beaches became forests of barbed wire entanglements, which ruined a lot of fun we used to have. The only good part was that a large gun was set up just outside the back gate of "Lulworth" (the name of the house) which fascinated this small boy and he spent a lot of time annoying the soldiers. The government would not allow you to keep a house empty during the war, so "Lulworth" had to be rented for the duration of the war only to be sold after the conflict to the tenants.

LEURA HOLIDAYS

Before my father died he lent some chap (I don't know whom) money which he was unable to repay. To settle the debt the chap gave my father this house (shack) called "Cosy Nook" in Clydebank Road way out the backblocks of Leura. It was terribly basic - no electricity, no water, no bathroom, no toilet - just a large dining room and two bedrooms, but we used to love it! The light came from kerosene lamps, the water from two tanks and the bathroom was a large tub on the floor of the dining room and potties were for toilet at night.

We used to go up there for years with Arch & Olive Hudson and John & Marion, their children (our third cousins). We used to run about the bush, make bows and arrows, did all the walks with Mum, Arch & Olive. One walk that particularly impressed me was down the Leura Cascades that used to be floodlit. I think the main attraction was that it was dark and we could stay up to do it.

"Cosy Nook" being so isolated, had a lot of intruders and in spite of being shuttered up, still suffered invasions. Not really any vandalism being done (we didn't have that then) but people after temporary shelter. Mum decided to get rid of the property and sold it for some "vast amount" to a woman who was a bit of a recluse and lived in a bus nearby.

The house was subsequently destroyed in a bushfire though the galvanised iron shed/toilet remains in 2002.

SCHOOL DAYS

We lived at 9 Clanville Road, Road, Roseville, so early school years were centred round that area. First kindergarten was at Roseville Park (bottom of Clanville Road), followed by another kindergarten at the scout hall in Roseville Avenue, followed by Roseville Preparatory School in Shirley Road, followed by Roseville Public School, followed by Barker College, Hornsby, where I finished up.

I could only claim to be a mediocre scholar - certainly not top of the "A" class stuff. I can remember that at Roseville Public School I seemed to get an early grasp of decimals and fractions in maths. Mr. Mowett (the teacher) was delighted and I was recommended for Artarmon Special School for brighter students - they must have been short that year! But Mum had me booked into Barker College so I went there and quite enjoyed the period. The Headmaster Bill Leslie, never appealed to me much, but I enjoyed cricket (captain at times) rugby (captain of the seconds) and Boy Scouts. They once had a cross-country race which was won by a mate of mine Brian Thompson and I came second. The only asset I had was certainly not being overweight but not well muscled so they thought I had cheated and ran the whole race again - this was for the whole school. Result, Brian Thompson first, Goodearl Second - this time they believed me. Come the Leaving Certificate year and the pupils got very keen on taking photographs of the school. "I'll develop them," said Goodearl sensing a bob to be made. Result was a heap of business and a failed Leaving Certificate.

As I was then 17 and no particular academic aspirations and a job to go to in Kent Street, I had the Christmas holidays and started work in February. I started at the bottom - oh yes - they had a job for Patterson, Laing & Bruce making deck chair canvases out of their own material. There were thousands of them and I had to do the eyeletting, 5 SP3's each end with a foot press - so such thing as a machine with an automatic feed! The job was extremely boring and I was on it for months.

GOODEARLS PTY LTD

Staff who I can remember were:- On the ground floor - wire mattress section Alf Smith and Bernie Grogan. On the first floor - canvas section - Joe Taylor (foreman), Colin Taylor, Allan Brooks, Maude Phillips, Brenda (someone), Dave Smith and Madge Tracey. Later came Maurie Goodin, Douglas Waugh, & Bob Brett (later Bretter Engineering). On the second floor - bedding section George Hill (foreman), George Carter, and there were other names I can can't recall. On the third floor - soft bedding filling with Les Smith. Les did the most menial job in the whole place who used to turn up for work in suit and homburg hat etc and change. He was previously the chief accountant of Tooth's Brewery but took to the booze. The office consisted of Ralph Huthnance and Gordon Bailey and Hazel Brookes.

I went through all jobs in the factory so when called upon I could fill-in in any spot except wire mattresses which were declining so quickly when I joined they only had a limited life.

Ralph Huthnance felt there was as opening in holland blinds so I was given the job of purchasing the materials and equipment and examining what was the best way of making them. It was a very interesting new departure and I was to do all the cutting for a few years with Lorraine Moise doing the sewing until I transferred to the office and Dave Smith moved up from a machinist in the canvas section.

It was very hard to get spring rollers in those days because all the best ones - Signet, Eclipse, & Hartshorn were imported and required me obtaining an import licence from the government which required a lot of doing. Later rollers were available of Australian manufacture but the quality was very questionable. Initially the holland fabric was bought from Murray Easton & Co (who seemed to have unlimited licence and access to materials) but later we were to buy direct from Lizard in England through their agents Wilfred Mills & Co.

MUSICAL INTERESTS

I have always had a great interest in music. I think Mum being a competent pianist, Aunt Cal an excellent organist who played in the Methodist (Uniting) Church in Roseville for years along with Grampie and Mab both choral singers gave me the musical background. Mab sang solo sometimes.

I learnt piano for years from Miss King in Hill Street, Roseville and each year all her pupils had afternoon tea then afterward we all sat in a circle till is was our turn to play our piece. It was rather terrifying but somehow we did it. My most ambitious item was Prelude in C sharp minor by Rachmaninoff which took a lot of rehearsing as the manuscript was just black with notes - there were so many notes that four sets of staves had to be used.

At different times I fiddled with violin, drums, trombone and was playing the drums in a small ensemble at Lindfield Methodist Church. On one occasion we had a double bass (Lyn Bromley) to help with the Polka from Shcwander the Bagpipe Player and it sounded so good that I thought that would do me. Shortly after I went into town and bought a bass from Nicholson's in George Street and arranged to have lessons at the Conservatorium of Music, Macquarie Street. My teacher was an English gentleman (Charles Gray) who was "poached" from the Boyd Neal String Orchestra in London to play Principal Bass with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. He was a marvellous bass player who revolutionised the bass section of the orchestra. The previous professor was Louis Blitz (who taught dragonetti style bowing - hand beneath the bow) and Charles Gray altered the thinking to bottesini bowing - hand above the bow as with violins.

I used to go to the "Con" after work in Kent Street and really enjoyed my lessons. The "Con" orchestras conducted by Krasnik, and a Florent Hoegstoel afforded the chance of playing with some of Sydney's best musicians, many of whom were to distinguish themselves in later years. Don Hazlewoood (Concert Master of the SSO), Phyllis McDonald (violin virtuoso), Barry Tuckwell (French horn virtuoso), Ray Price (a bassist with SSO and leader of Port Jackson Jazz Band), John Painter (cello virtuoso).

The Director of the Conservatorium was Eugene Goosens who personally conducted us in such operas as Meistersingers, Marriage of Figaro, Pelisse & Melisanda. The pit that the orchestra had to perform in was appalling being badly lit, ventilated and cramped beyond belief - but we loved it.

I feel I became as reasonably competent bass player in that period and seemed to have no end of invitations to play with this or that group.

Ray Price was the man who first interested me in jazz as being a form of self-expression. Most numbers are on a 32 bar format but there is still scope for different chords, progressions and note values to play around with. There is one hell of a lot of stuff to learn for jazz which cannot be done in a month or two. To help me in this respect I went through counterpoint and harmony lessons at the "Con" - rather difficult subjects that Ray Price passed with honours starting nine months behind the rest of the year!

In 1950 I went to England with Ross Bell and Ken Willcock. Ross and I moved up to Oxford as Ken had gone onto Canada to try and join the Canadian Mounted Police. He had no hope being too scrawny! We chose Oxford so as Ross could work for the British Motor Corporation, or BMC where Ross really finished up his working life. I secured a job as a grocer in Headington but yearned to try my hand at music. First thing was to secure a bass, which I did from Boosey & Hawkes in London, then back to Oxford. To play in England one had to belong to a union, so I went to the local union office, joined and said I was open for business. As luck would have it, Oxford's leading group, "Ricky Derges and his Band", needed a bass player one night and I was hired. Apparently I made some sort of impression as I worked for Ricky at times six nights a week for 18 months. He was the making of any competence I might have had in bass music.

We used to play at the American Air force Bases in the Oxford area and most of the Oxford University College Balls which were huge affairs usually in their Great Halls with grand pianos etc. The group was, Ricky Derges (Trumpet), Freddie Shorter (Alto Sax), Dave Pinching (Baritone Sax), Stan Simms (Piano), Eric Bosom (Drums) and myself. Altogether, they were a very good band of professional musicians and by far the best group in Oxford. The colleges we played at are far as I can recall were Merton, Christ Church, Magdelen, Corpus Christi, Balliol, Braesnose, Jesus, New College, All Souls and there would be others I am unable to recall at the moment.

I kept up my musical interests until the late nights and a young family demanded otherwise as it was interfering with personal matters.

Back at Goodearls Pty. Ltd. Things were not going swimmingly. Profits were non-existent and the Manager, Ralph Huthnance, sought solace in booze. He used to disappear about 12.30 for lunch and that was it for the day as he had lost his incentive for work.

GOODEARL & BAILEY PTY LTD

Gordon Bailey and myself took over the business when it had reached its lowest ebb. The bedding department was closed as our production methods were too far behind the times and the plant disposed of - mainly as scrap metal. I recall there was a tufting machine for inserting tufts in soft filled bedding which weighed an enormous amount. This was broken up by a sledge hammer being the easiest way to get it out of the building!

We were occupying a four storey building in (406-412 Kent Street, Sydney) which was much too large for the operation. 408 and 412 were leased out by the family - 408 to O. Pendergast & Co (now Kinnears Ropes) and 412 to Advance Electric and the operation moved to 219 O'Riordan Street, Mascot. As the business built up we ran out of room (even after a major extension to 219) and when an old house on the corner of King & O'Riordan Street came up for sale, we bought. The house was used for storage of stock which the Botany Council did not like and told us to cease. We replied that it was only interim as we intended to demolish it a build a factory. This satisfied them but naturally the game was up and we were forced to keep our word so the house was demolished and a factory built.

At a later stage the property 217 which was between our other two blocks, became available and was purchased to give us a more saleable chunk of land. As we had no particular plans to develop same, it was leased out and remains so.


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