1950s - Growing Up in Chermside - Jennifer Blaikey (nee Goward)

My Memories of some of the People in Chermside

Jennifer Blakey (nee Goward) 19 March 2006
I was born in 1951 and my childhood memories of Chermside bring images of people who passed through all our lives on a daily basis - doctors, chemists, butchers, the barber, our neighbours, church friends and family. Because there were many 'old' families in this suburb, there are many people who intermingle in my memories. There are often several layers of families and extended families with whom I grew up in Chermside, and so at one time I would have been friends with a 'baby-boomer', their parents, their grandparents, and possibly great-grandparents.

My earliest memory of doctor's visits was to old Dr Parer, when he lived in his home beside the Chermside Methodist Church and held surgery in his home. Eventually, the house became the surgery and he and Mrs Parer moved to another home. When that happened, he and Dr Pozzi Snr expanded the practice and we got to know Dr John and Dr Stephen Pozzi. Dr Stephen had qualified as a vet first, and then trained as a human doctor, before coming into the practice. When the new two-storey surgery was built, one of the other doctors to come was Dr Scanlan.

The Sixties saw the arrival of Dr Anderson who opened his own surgery in premises on the city side of the Commonwealth Bank, and for a period of time Mrs Gertie Born from Western Ave, was his receptionist.

The chemist, Mr Ferguson, lived with his wife in Kingsmill Street, on the corner of Meemar Street. When he retired and sold his business, it was taken over by Mr Matthieu, who administered to us for what seemed like, forever.

The barber Mr Pradella and his family were another family whose home was attached to the business. The barber shop had its' door on Gympie Road, and their home front door was on Norman Drive. Mr Pradella seemed to be a mystery to me because he was not Australian, so therefore was 'an immigrant', as was Mr Nick who ran the milk bar beside The Dawn Picture Theatre and from the sixties onwards there was also Nick the Dry Cleaner. They were Aussies, just the same.

Of course, Mr Channer the butcher was as dinki-di as you could get, and the Argo's, the Hamilton's, and the Lemke's likewise.

And there was dear old Mrs White, the librarian, who tenderly looked after the small collection of books held in the School of Arts Hall. She was a good friend of my grandmother, Jessie Smith.

When the Methodist Church built their new Hall in Hamilton Road, one of the prime renters for lots of years was Waverley Hallakus - the ballet teacher. Her parents owned a fruit shop in Gympie Road. I was always a very dumpy kid, so I was never in a ballet class.

In 1927

In 1927, my maternal grandparents, Jessie and Herbert Smith, and children Elva, Dorothy and Ronald moved into Victor Drive, and very quickly made their spiritual home at the Methodist Church and that connection continues to this day with Mavis, the youngest child (my aunt born in 1930) still very involved in that congregation. My mother and father, Elva and Thomas Goward's involvement in the church meant church every Sunday for us kids, and Sunday School which had numbers of children up to 300 each Sunday. We were surrounded by like-minded families and a fond memory of those days was to watch Mr Alec Hamilton tune his double bass before church, and play with his colleagues in the orchestra; Mrs Bishop, Mrs Packer, Miss Joan Hamilton, Mrs Grace Wayper and others. Alec's daughter, Joan and his great-nieces Janet Brandon and Heather Whitson (nee Bishop nee Hamilton) continue that legacy today.

The church choir has been active since services first commenced in the Chermside area, and my grandmother did not take long to find her place in the choir along with Mrs Hamilton, Mrs Vellnagel, Mrs Bishop, Harris's by the number and the Born's.

The men of these families were strong business men in Chermside - Alec Hamilton owned the coach building and restoration business, 'Pop' Lemke had the butcher shop - and my Uncle Ron Smith was one of his apprentices. Jim Wayper owned Woodland Wood Works, Charlie Vellnagel had the blacksmith business out on Gympie Road, near Marchant Park. Many of the homes in Chermside would have been built by one of the Harris's, and the electrical work done by Ron Hastie or Norm Tune. Norm and Jean Tune's grandson Ben Tune is now a Wallaby Rugby player.

The Butt family was also part of our church family, and Mr Len Butt owned the jam factory out on Murphy Road. We had Sunday School picnics out there for many years, until the picnics were moved to Ridley Road at Aspley, to the home of Mr Allan Hume, who became the Australian Post-Master-General. The Roy Packer's of Graham Road, Aspley, owned Packer's tannery at Webster and Hamilton Roads, and moved it to Narangba. Sons Lindsay and Graham and their families still run the hide-processing business today.

These families were and still are strongly connected to Chermside/Kedron Uniting Church, and several sons found their vocation with the wider church, including Rev. Ronald Smith, Rev. Lewis Born, Rev. Gale Hall and Rev Geoff Bishop.

Into my 'baby-boomer' years from 1951 - 1972 came many new families, as they settled into growing suburbs and as fathers tried to find work after the war. Some were family - like the Dennings, the Watsons and the Taylors, whose son Geoff was to become the manager of the E.S. & A. Bank Chermside Branch very early in his banking career, others just good friends, like the Gardiner's, Wagner's, Manly's Alder's, Johnstone's, Walter's Condor's, and Elliott's. The Elliott's son, Roy became the manager of the Commonwealth Bank Chermside Branch for several years. Mr Micklesen used to catch 2 trams to get to work at the newly built Princess Alexandra Hospital. The Fawcett's lived in Hall Street, and Ernie was a typesetter for the Courier-Mail, and Ron Hastie had his own electrical business.

My peers had the post-war opportunities our parents did not have and we 'boomed' through the '50's and '60's creating new classrooms at Chermside State School and Wavell Heights State School.
My brothers, Ronald and Lindsay, and I went to Chermside State School (my mum had gone there years and years earlier!!) and our Headmaster, Mr Haupt lived in the School House, which was where Aldi now stands.

In 1962

In 1962 the last Scholarship Examination in Grade 8 in primary schools was held. All grade 8 students in 1963 were still in primary school but did not do Scholarship. Then in 1964, they went to Grade 9 at high school, and I was in the first year of Grade 8's at High School that year as well. At Wavell High there were 10 classes of approx. 30 students each in Grade 8, plus all the new grade 9's. High School was very big, very scary, very foreign, and oh so many subjects to study. Kedron High School went through the same processes, and Aspley and Hendra also. In my Junior year, 1966, there were over 1500 students at Wavell.

I remember that first day when we were addressed by the Principal, Mr Tom Maher. He was a huge man with a huge voice. Our Senior Mistress was Miss Hunter who drove a green Volkswagen sedan. Boy, was she tough on us about uniforms - tidy stockings, gloves and hats on at all times out of school boundaries, no short hems on sports uniforms, matching sports bloomers, etc, etc, etc. I remember she was tough about the length of school skirts as well! She would make us kneel on a chair and if your hem didn't touch the seat, she sent you to the Domestic Science rooms to let the hem down AND then had to go back to her for a check-up. There were many teachers but I do remember some. I remember a little woman - Miss Hackett who taught Maths and English, Mrs Martin who taught English & Geography, Miss Dunn, a very tall angular woman, was the commercial teacher, Miss Dobson taught Geography and Mr Theile taught German. Mum and the other mothers manned the tuckshop and were always involved in our education.

My Saturday afternoons saw me become involved in Brownies. For many years, Mrs Boyle was our Brown Owl, and we met in Charlotte Street, in a spare part of the Woodland Wood Works sawmill yard, and did our badge craft in and around the creek. Eventually a Guide and Brownie Hut was built on council land in Lawley Street, Kedron in what is now Bradbury Park which runs from the netball courts in Rode Road beside the Chermside Bowls Club, all the way to Kitchener Road. We had all that bush in which to practice our bush craft, tracking, fire making and compass reading. One of our Guide Leaders was Mrs Avery, who lived up in Bromilow Street, just past Ron Rice's electrical shop.

Because the Smith family lived in Kidston Terrace, a lot of Saturdays were taken up playing tennis at the home of Mr and Mrs Dixon, in Norman Drive, but there was also a second tennis court in Thomas Street, beside Mr Hamilton's coach works, that was owned by the Foster's. As teenagers we played there as well.

High School opened up a whole world of possibilities that our parents never had, and in many cases could not fully comprehend. Many of my peers became university graduates in all walks of life - teaching, engineering, architecture and nursing. Many grew 'wings' and for the first time we saw a major exodus of young people going overseas - on working holidays; some even back-packed through India to get to England. Others got into the "Hippy" generation - bought a COMBI (shock horror) and opted for travelling around Australia. Others just opted out of the family home and into sharing FLATS!!

Those of us who did not do any of that - by the late '60's and early '70's were caught up in THE DRAFT - with boyfriends and brothers in the lottery that would see them in National Service for 2 years. My brother was called up in 1968 and my boyfriend in 1969. Both served twelve months in Vietnam.

Many of us girls born 1941 - 1955 were married by the time we were 21 and again the baby boomers created a need - this time for housing estates and so came Albany Creek, Chermside West, the Pie Estate on Webster Road, and on out Hamilton Road and Rode Road, into Everton Hills, Arana Hills, Ferny Hills and Ferny Grove, and the expansion goes on, and on, and on, even today.

At the same time the Chermside business strip streetscape was changing. Trams disappeared including the old number 72 (Chermside), as did the centre strip of rose gardens. The School of Arts was moved back to make way for a new Library. The old family businesses began to disappear and the shop-and-house-behind became all new strip shops, as Chermside grew to meet the growing demands of a huge population boom. The Drive-in Shopping Centre changed the face of Chermside forever, and now there are only glimpses of what used to be.

The Street Where I Used to Live

As for the street where I used to live, it too has changed. It fell into the Council planning area for flats and units, and so, from Hall Street to Hamilton Road, units outnumber single homes.

I remember on the top side, at the corner of Meemar Street was the brick/stucco home of Mr Ferguson the Chemist. He must have been rich, his house was different! Then there was the beautiful old high-set Queenslander, with the huge Moreton Bay Fig trees belonging to Mr & Mrs Hughie Hamilton. A young married couple built a modern high-set 3 bedroom home next door. They were Gwen and Ian Jackson, and their children Kay, Lynette and Brett, were like my little brothers and sisters. The over the road neighbours on the corner of Miller Street, were Mrs Molly McKay, her mum and 2 children. Molly lived in what was the original Jackson house, where Ian Jackson grew up. "Mrs. Mac" was different to anyone else I knew. She raised 2 children on her own AND she was an usherette at the old Carlton Theatrette in Queen Street in the city.

Across Miller Street, lived the Murphy's and for a while Dennis Murphy was a State Politician.
I was not allowed to wander too far from home and so did not have much contact with those living past Murphy's in the lower part of Kingsmill Street, on either side of the street, except for the Sheavills family, 2nd from the corner of Hamilton Road.

The lane halfway along Kingsmill Street had the Marsen's living in the corner house with their very large tabby cats, and then there was Mr and Mrs Les Murker. He was an ambulance officer, and when they moved the Hess family arrived. Fred Hess was a train engine driver all his working life and has only been retired a few years. They still live there.

Our home at No. 31 has now gone and a 6-pack set of units are on the site. I can vaguely remember our weatherboard house being black (painted with linseed oil), but more than once my dad painted it in future years with cream Dulux full gloss enamel, and green trims. He even created a letterbox in a house shape, with little glass windows and front door, just like our own house, and he would protect it vehemently on 'Cracker Night' by placing a bowl of water inside, just in case some 'lout' put a bunger in it.

Our other neighbours were the Foy family. Jack Foy had an enormous veggie patch along our shared side fence. When I was 7 or maybe 8, history has recorded that sadly Mr Foy argued with Mrs Foy one Monday morning and attacked her with an axe, killing her as she fell down the back steps.
Jack made a bit of minor legal history. He pleaded guilty, but could have pleaded diminished responsibility - he had a silver plate in his head due to WW1 injuries and suffered occasional epileptic fits. The Foy children went to live with relatives and we never saw them again.

The house was renovated inside and out and at the time was very modern with pastel coloured walls, over-painted with white paint applied with patterned rollers. About 1961 Norm and Val Munsie moved in with their little boys - Douglas and Allan, and then later Gail was born. Norm ran his ditch digging and dirt removal business from their home (he was possibly a plumber), and the boys grew into that business and run it today.

Don't remember much about the Jarvis family who lived next to them, but then there was the Beckmans. June, Cyril and Lex Beckman were one of our family's closest friends, and Mum and June kept contact even when the Beckman's moved away. Cyril was a carpenter and builder and he built the extension onto our house when the sewerage went through. Goodbye to the backyard loo!!

Mr & Mrs Cuthbert lived in the house on the corner of Hall Street and he always seemed old to me. Probably he was. He did grow nice roses though.

In Hall Street, Rev RP Pope and Mrs Pope

In Hall Street, Rev RP Pope and Mrs Pope were next, then the Mettassa's whose son Fonda, became a State rugby league representative. Then there were two small houses then a big house with a huge chook pen down to the creek. The shop on the corner of Hall St and Kingsmill Street, was full of all sorts of things, and you could always get a vanilla (or plain - "we have two choices") icecream cone. Mr and Mrs Eade lived next to the shop and their daughter Norma married Ernie Fawcett and built their home on the block next door. Norma was a trained hair dresser, and their front verandah became her salon and many of us through the years passed through their front door for a 'tidy up'. They had 3 girls, Lynette, Barbara and Wendy. Wendy became my life-long friend. The Petersen's were their neighbours.

Our backdoor neighbourhood was Charlotte Street and the Boyle's lived on the corner of the lane, and our mates were their children, John, Lynette, Howard, and Peter. Mr Boyle used the spare allotment next door for his timber business. Then there were the Gough's. Darcy Gough is an accomplished organist and is a regular at Chermside/Kedron Uniting Church. Their neighbours were the Woods family and tucked up in the bend of Charlotte Street was built a meeting hall for the Brethren church. Miss Dorothy Lowe and her father lived next and then the McCleary family home was beside the creek.

We grew up with kids who have made 'a name for themselves'. There was another Petersen family in the suburb who moved to Redcliffe when their son Colin was in primary school. He was to became "Smiley" in the movie of that name. He later became a drummer for the BeeGee's. Noel Robinson from Kitchener Road is now a well-known Brisbane architect. One of my high school peers was Delvene Delaney, who found her niche in the new world of TV and was a regular on the Paul Hogan Show. She married 'Strop', Hogan's side-kick, and became Mrs John Cornell.

I can remember the Chermside Swimming Pool being built, and in our teenage years, many happy hours were spent down there. The post-war estate known as "Corrie Street" was over-taken by the baby boom as well, and as we grew up - "Corrie Street" had a reputation for gangs and became a "no-go" area for most of us. Yet, in hind-sight, we went to school with all those kids and their mums and dads struggled just as much as ours did to see us housed, fed and educated.

Our lives were criss-crossed by people from all walks of life and of all nationalities, of economic status, and of social standing, and as we get older we finally realise that they are a part of who we are today. My memories of my childhood are not always clear, but I am thankful for the ones I have, and for all those people who had a part in creating them.