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Reid Family

The Reid Family Shopkeeper Newsagent Post Master

In 1931 this photo was stitched together from two earlier photos. The photo of the children was taken in 1931 but that of George and Effie was taken before Effie died in 1929 aged 26. George wanted the children to see the family that might have been and so remember their mother.

The material for the Reid Family has been supplied by Rona Arndt and Coral Rance.

Having lived in the Chermside, Kedron, Aspley area for only sixty years does not make the Reids a pioneer family, but over those years they noticed all sorts of changes in Chermside.

Father: George Barrett Reid (1889-1958) was a grandson of Rev John Reid.
Mother: Effie Collins (1900-1928) was a grand daughter of Ebert Family line of Pine Rivers.
Married: May 1923
Coral Reid now Rance, 22 Sydney Street, Kedron born 28 January 1924
Rona Reid now Arndt, 5 Rangeview Street, Aspley born 28 August 1925
Barrett Reid, Melbourne, deceased 6 August 1995 born 8 December 1926

Both parents came from people who contributed to the history of Australia. George's grandfather the Rev John Reid founded the Mariner's Presbyterian Church, then called the Church of Scotland, at The Rocks, Sydney. His wife founded the first "Ragged School" in Sydney. His great uncle was Sir George Reid, Premier of N.S.W., then Prime Minister of Australia, then Australian High Commissioner to England and finally a Member of the House of Commons. Another great uncle started the Melbourne Steamship Company; another was the first person to overland cattle from Townsville to Darwin. Grandfather, William Fergusson Reid, was the first published poet in Queensland with his poem called "The Bells".

Effie their mother, who died 1928, was descended from the Eberts who settled in the Petrie area and farmed. They planted grape vines brought from Germany, felled timber, became builders and contributed to a growing area; the children grew up proud to belong to the Reid and Ebert families.

St Lucia to Chermside

This photo taken in about 1925 and shows Effie, George and Coral in front of their shop at Eagle Junction near the train station. George owned several shops there including a Circulating Library.

Previously George and Effie had a business in Eagle Junction but lived in St Lucia. When they moved to Chermside Carol was 11/9, Rona 10/2 and Barry 8/10. George had to pay housekeepers for years, some of which were not very nice so they did not last long but Mrs Fletcher was with them for about seven years. George was a square peg in a round hole; he loved to write but did not have any energy left over each day to do that. He came to Chermside because having a store with residence attached he could be the father he wanted us to have.

Rona writes that her father was "Always there if we need him. We were very lucky. He made sure we had a loving secure childhood. Until we could read ourselves he would read to us at night. He read Arthur Mee's One Thousand Horses to us. We grew up with Joan of Arc, Grace Darling, Florence Nightingale and many others; we had a privileged childhood."

Coral was the oldest of the children so that when their mother died at the age of 29 she had to assume the role of mother to the younger children. Consequently she had to leave school earlier than she would have otherwise. The other two children were able to complete their secondary education and go on to Tertiary.

Reid's Shop, Gympie Road

George Reid and Una Fletcher in the grocery section of the shop. The customer stood on this side of the counter and the assistant got the goods from the shelves. Magazines are displayed in front of the counter, papers would be there also. Sweets were in the cabinet on the right and advertisments were all around. Chocolates, cigarettes, Aspro, etc. were all represented.

The block of land between Hall Street and Kuran Street, then called Duff Street, with Gympie Road passing by, consisted of the Police Station, Granny Gunston's house, Reid's Store and residence, Argo's Cycle Shop and residence. Across the road was the Dawn Theatre and Jackson's shop and residence. Almost all these buildings have disappeared and that is called progress, but it's sad to see places of your childhood become just a memory.

Reid's shop was a combined Grocery Store, Fruit and Vegetables, Post Office, Newsagency and Milk Bar on Gympie Road, Chermside which he purchased from Mr Jeffs in 1936.

The young people of the district made Reid's Store the meeting place after school and at weekends. The malted milks at 4d each laced with ice cream was high on the list of attractions as was the latest "bike" on display in Argo's window next door; everybody rode bikes. Ice cream cones were 1d and 3d each, butter 1/4d a lb, sugar 4d a lb, Nestles penny chocolate, Clinkers 4 a penny and liquorice straps, long and soft, were 2 a penny. In those days one penny bought many delightful sweets.

Reid's shop acted as a de facto chemist selling patent medicines as the nearest Chemist was Carol's Chemist Shop in Lutwyche or Windsor. Reid sold Clement's Tonic, Sloane's Ointment, Bex powders, cough medicines, castor oil, etc.
(Photo depression line up)
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Coral recalls that every second Thursday was pay day for the men working on Relief Work, which was a form of work for the dole. They would gather at the Police Station on Gympie Road near the corner of Kuran Street to receive their earnings. George would put out a notice showing the price of necessities such as bread, flour, sugar, milk, etc so that the relief workers could buy what they needed. Two popular, meaning cheap, items were Bread @ 2 loaves for 8 pence or 4 pence per loaf and Potatoes @ 7 lbs for 6 pence

One day a young girl came into the shop and asked the price of skim milk. When she was told she went around the other grocery stores of Early's, Fisher's and Hacker's and priced skim milk again. Then she returned to Reid's and bought it there because it was a halfpenny cheaper. Time did not mean much to the young girl but the little money she had did. A halfpenny was a halfpenny in the days when farthings were still in use.

Unemployed men lining up for Relief Work during the Great Depression. These men were employed on public works and paid a minimum wage so that they had some income. (Courtesy of John Oxley Library)

Reid's Shop Part 2

Reid's Shop and Post Office in Chermside about the early 1940s. The Post Office function shows up clearly with the notice, phone boxes and post box. The black Ford V8 belonged to Wes Cooper who taught at Chermside State School. The traffic parking mix is interesting and typical of the time; one car, one motor bike and three bicycles. Also most people walked to and from the shop carrying shopping bags.

George delivered papers twice daily and sold them from the shop. He worked very long hours, arising at 5.00 am in the morning to fold the newspapers for delivery and finished at 9.00 pm at night six days a week. He was one of the few people in Chermside who owned a car and he used it to deliver the papers, six days each week. He had a very constant job and could not afford to get sick or take time off.

Barrie Reid had a paper run and Rona delivered papers to the Garden Settlement when residents first moved in, and for this they were paid 3 pence a dozen. Rona saved up until she could buy a second hand bike from Argo's Bicycle Shop next door to the Post Office. Mr Argo painted it red, her favourite colour at the time and wrote Rona on the cross bars. Her next purchase was a treadle sewing machine as she was making her own clothes when she was fifteen.

On Sundays he would open the shop for a short time to sell the Sunday Mail and the Truth newspapers. He would not put the Truth on the counter but kept it under the counter. He said he did not want any young folk reading it as it was full of scandal.

Reid's shop was a central place in Chermside during the 1930s and 1940s because the suburb was still very small and many people went to Reid's - Groceries, Post Office, Banking, Newsagent, Milk Bar and de facto Chemist Shop selling patent medicines. It was a clearing house for local news or gossip so George called the girls the "Editors of the Stickybeak Gazette."

Around Christmastime there would be water melons on the floor of the shop. The local lads would wait until George was very busy serving customers and they would proceed to roll one out with their feet to their mates outside. These same lads would hide in the bush next door to the Dawn Theatre and put a parcel on the road with a piece of string tied to it. They waited until a car came along and when the car stopped they would haul the parcel into the bushes and then run for their lives.

George had the first concrete footpath in Chermside laid down in front of the shop: that was a talking point for sometime. He was in the Progress Association and was President many times. When the Chamber of Commerce was formed he joined and was president at the time the banks were moving into Chermside in the early 1950s. In his way he contributed to the progress of Chermside.

He employed many local residents in the business; Mrs Quinlan, Mrs Fletcher, Marion Hennery, Joyce Kemp, Pearl Voyle and many paper boys. In the post office there was Coral, Gloria Black, Betty Shackleford, Dallas Smith and Noel Kennorke

Across the road from Reid's Store was the Dawn Theatre. It seemed everyone went to the Dawn on Saturday night except Rona but as Coral was older she was allowed to go with her girl friend, Doreen Smeeton. Coral and Rona had to help George serve in the shop at interval where they sold a large quantity of malted milks, ice creams, drinks and sweets in a very short time.

Reid's Post Office

The Post Office staff in 1948/9 Josephine Barr (Clerk), Knox Campbell (Telegram Boy), Beresford Arndt (Post Master from August 1949), Sandy Robinson (Assistant). George was not directly involved in the Post Office by that time.

The Post Office, Newsagency and Store became very busy when the Army Camp was opened up in Sparkes' Paddock. It could have been then that George leased the store to people named Bryant and he concentrated on the Post Office for many years with Coral as his assistant.

The shop was sold after George died in 1958 while the Post Office was retained.

The Post Office section of the business provided many of the services of the modern counterpart such as paying Old Age Pensions, later Child Endowment and War Pensions and acted as a Commonwealth Bank Agent but it did not have computers or other electronic devices. The postman did his rounds on a push bike not a motor bike; he sweated in the summertime and got drenched in the wet. A sort of email, called a Telegram was used to send urgent messages for which the customer paid by the word; great care was taken to ensure that the minimum number of words was used. Money orders could also be sent by telegram. When telegrams arrived at the Post Office they were sent out by the Telegram Boy on his pushbike.

Coral continued to work in the Post Office until she married Bertram Rance whom she met when he was a soldier camped at Chermside in World War II; Bert saw service in the Middle East and New Guinea

George handed the Post Office management to his son in law, Beresford Arndt, Rona's husband, in August 1949 and the agency continued to operate until the new purpose built Post Office opened on the western side of Gympie Road in July 1962. The staff were transferred to other post offfices in the district.

Holidays - All of Two Days per Year

This 1927 Cheverolet was the car that George used to deliver papers and go on the bi-annual holidays. Not many people had a car in the pre-motor age, bicycles were very common and horse transport was common up until the 1950s.

The combination of three businesses was necessary in order to earn a living during those times as Chermside was still a relatively small place and times were hard and it required total attention as well as long hours.

However there were two days each year when George could shut up shop and take the family on very short holidays. These were the traditional public holidays of Good Friday and Christmas Day when he did not have to deliver the papers because no papers were printed on those days.

Prior to each of these days he would have the car serviced by Les Lee a mechanic located in Sparkes' Paddock (7th Brigade Park) and later on the corner of Latham Street and Gympie Road. Then on the day the family would pack up the car and head off early in the morning to Caloundra with the dog perched on the driver's side running board. The running board consisted of a steel shelf about 17 cm or 7 inches wide running along the side of the car to act as a sort of step to help people get into and out of the car. It was also handy to carry such things as parcels, spare tyres, children, dogs and bodyguards for important passengers.

They would arrive in Caloundra for lunch and have a swim. Then back in the car to be home by tea time about 5pm. Coral, or one of the children, used to stand on the left or passenger's side running board to direct George around the big bends on the old Petrie road. In those days the roads did not have very much in the way of safety fencing on bends and steep banks so one had to be very careful to keep on the correct side of the road and away from the drop. If Dad got too near the edge the child would yell out in a very loud voice "Look out Dad, don't go over the edge." The system worked and Dad never did go over the edge.

Rona's Memories of Chermside State School

This photo of the front entrance to Chermside State School was taken in the 1960s. With the exception of the traffic lights the rest of the photo is more or less what it looked like in the late 1930s when the Reid children were there.

We were enrolled at Chermside School in November 1935 when Mr Joe Rice was head master; he was also the proud conductor of the school choir which sang many times in the City Hall. Coral went into Grade V while Barry and I were in Grade IV and our teacher was Wes Hooper with whom I kept in touch until his death in 2002 when he was in his nineties. Wes Hooper started a Photo Club with 6 or 8 pupils; they all had Box Brownies (Kodak) cameras and went on excursions into the city and around Chermside. (Rona still has some of those photos.)

One day someone in the playground called out, "Rona picked Coral off the Barrier Reef." I thought at the time that was quite clever but no one would own up to that remark. Being "the new kids" at the school we were subjected to much teasing and the occasional "punch up". That produced a black eye for Barrie and a bleeding nose for me on one occasion.

Grade five was a different experience as we had a teacher who was a little man but big on punishment. His favourite way to punish was to hit us very hard on the side of our head. He did this by sneaking up behind the victim, then whack. Apart from getting ringing in the ears, the victim received a dreadful fright. Needless to say we did not last too long at Chermside School. Our father sent us to Windsor a much larger school where we were very happy. Coral seemed to weather the storm at Chermside and stayed until she left after grade seven.

Chermside school has some happy memories for me especially being part of the school choir which was a very good choir competing successful in the yearly eisteddfods. For sports we were coached by Mr Turton and we looked forward to sporting days with great expectations of winning our matches. I was made long stop in the Vigoro team because I was not much good at sports and I didn't last long as a team member. On the other hand I remember my sister Coral and Jean Harris were excellent players who excelled in all sports.

My best friend at Chermside School was Joy Muir. Both of us learned tap dancing from Sally Watson. We thought we were on the path to stardom. One of the highlights of our tapping career was to sing "Two Little Girls in Blue" while tapping away on the City Hall stage.

I became friends with Betty Shackleford, we are still friends and enjoy visiting and the sharing photos of our grandchildren; a friendship that has spanned over sixty years. In those days Chermside was surrounded with paddocks and trees and, after rain, mushrooms would pop up everywhere. We would race up to our favourite paddock (where Prince Charles Hospital now stands) but the Shackleford children Ruby, Doreen, Harry, Snowy (Roland) and Betty were always there before us. No matter how hard we tried they always arrived first, but we all enjoyed many tasty meals with mushrooms.

Change - Rona Remembers

The present section of Gympie Road where Reid's shop and Post Office once stood. The only shop remaining from those days is the Dry Cleaners which was Argo's bicycle shop which was next to Reid's shop. That site is occupied by the recessed building with the blue roof, Wattyl Paints.

World War II arrived and thousands of soldiers swelled the population of our quiet suburb. They were camped in Sparkes' Paddock before being shipped off to New Guinea. Many a day we would hear the stirring music of the bagpipes when they were camped at Chermside. We, Rona and Coral, recently (2002) celebrated our Golden Wedding Anniversary to our husbands both of whom served in World War II.

After the war Chermside changed from the sleepy little suburb with tall gum trees growing in the centre of Gympie Road, to the busy bustling suburb we know today. It has continued to grow as a large business area. The Gympie Road of my childhood with a few shops, now joins suburb after suburb with shops, car yards, hotels, cafes, etc right into the City.

Sadly the children of today don't have the freedom we enjoyed. When I think back to those early days, I cherish my memories.