New suits and long trips: How we navigated the Great Depression

By | April 17, 2020

, Sir Arthur Fadden right through his time as federal treasurer.Credit:Age archive

The Depression years most commonly introduced out the best possible in other folks. Our neighbours over the street saved us in eggs and others referred to as in to supply assist. We by no means went hungry. The baker’s cart delivered bread two times per week and I adopted the horse down the street to gather his poo in my billycart, which I bought for threepence a cartload.

All those reminiscences come flooding again when there’s communicate these days of Australia heading into every other despair, or no less than a serious recession.

Many of my buddies who have been born in the Depression years and are actually into their 80s labored arduous and skilled themselves, passing the ones ethics directly to their kids. They have been basically sole operators who trusted previous revel in and self belief in their very own talents to make a residing.

One such pal, Ron Carter, was once born in 1932 to deficient however loving oldsters who rented premises in the back of a store in North Melbourne. We met in December 1948 when we each were given jobs as copyboys on Melbourne’s Argus newspaper. Ron was once 16 and I used to be 15.

The noise in the journalists’ room on the 3rd flooring of the Argus development was once corresponding to a soccer fit at the ultimate siren. There was once shouting, giggling and the clacking of historic Remington, Underwood and Corona typewriters. The flooring was once carpeted wall-to-wall with discarded items of replica paper, each and every containing a sentence the creator didn’t like.

Ron Carter right through his Argus days in 1956.Credit:Age archive

Ron and I frequently questioned how we had received employment on this improbable setting, taking into consideration we had restricted training. Chief of workforce Brinsley Sheridan identified that The Argus had prior to now hired copyboys with college {qualifications} however that was once now not operating. He mischievously hinted that they are going to have thought to be a messenger’s function underneath their dignity.

Our weekly salary was once £1, 8 shillings and threepence. As our households had guided us thru the early Depression years, we determined we will have to pay our moms £1 per week for board.

After 18 months we got cadetships and our pay rose to about £6 per week. Ron selected to turn into a sports activities reporter. In 1950 the Olympic swimmer Judy Joy Davies joined the workforce and her tales about the 1948 Olympics in London captured the creativeness of Ron and his colleague Peter Banfield. Both determined they sought after to hide the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.

Ron stored for a ship shuttle to Europe, each journalists resigned and The Argus gave them accreditation and a price to hide the Games. As younger as they have been, they did a first class activity.

However at the finish of the Games Ron could not have the funds for the shuttle house. So he hitch-hiked round the Arctic Circle heading for London, the place he was hoping to land a role in Fleet Street.

He were given so far as Sweden when his cash ran out. The simplest activity there was once as a bushes cutter. The pay was once low and the language tricky however Ron continued.

Back house in The Argus journalists’ room we accrued cash to assist him. But Ron was once deep in the forests of Sweden and may now not be situated, even through his oldsters. It was once mid-1954 ahead of he may make his method to London and a ship shuttle house.

He was once rehired and coated the Melbourne Olympics, renewing touch with athletes he had made buddies with in Helsinki. The Argus folded the following January after 111 years in operation, with simplest two days’ understand given to 800 workers. The Age snapped Ron up and he coated every other six Olympic Games and seven Commonwealth Games for the paper. He was once its leader soccer creator for greater than twenty years.

Ron Carter stocks amusing with Dawn Fraser at the 1992 nationwide swimming trials in Canberra.Credit:Age archive

Sadly, I misplaced my mate in August 2018. But Ron’s tale is an inspiration to those that might in finding themselves wired right through this coronavirus tragedy and he would most certainly be offering this recommendation: “Never surrender hope, it doesn’t matter what the instances. Don’t lose sight of your ambition, paintings arduous and the rewards will ultimately come.”

In the mid-Nineteen Thirties my dad used to catch a bus to Middle Brighton station for a teach to the town and his workrooms. It was once a mile shuttle and the fare was once threepence.

For a length dad couldn’t have the funds for the fare, so he walked. The proprietor of the 3 buses that labored the course from Moorabbin to the Middle Brighton and Brighton Beach stations was once Bill McGeary. He famous my father’s absence and when he did go back, Bill instructed him that he, too, wanted a brand new swimsuit.

Bill’s son Geoff was once later to power the buses and from the ones small beginnings constructed the trade into one in every of Australia’s maximum a hit excursion operators, APT. Just praise for his father’s kindness to my dad.

How many inspirational tales like this are starting presently, amid the ones looking for a method to take care of the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic?

Jim Usher is a Melbourne journalist and creator.

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,, The Sydney Morning Herald

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