Thursday, February 02, 2017

My life in floor polishers

I was four years old when we moved to the dairy farm in the early 1960s as Australia was undergoing a credit squeeze. The squeeze meant people could not borrow money to build their own homes, so my builder father became under employed. With the help of Mother's father, he bought a dairy farm and it was successful enough. Give my daughter anything she wants was the only interest Grandfather charged. Can you see why Mother might be like she is? Of course, come divorce, all that was forgotten and Grandfather was repaid from the farm settlement, which ultimately went back to Mother, who made short work of the money. To be a little fair, a good bit of it was spent on bringing up brothers and sister and Step Father was a bit of a business dreamer and lost some of the money. Of course when oldest son wanted money for a deposit for his first house, sorry son, the money is tied up. I begged and borrowed more, and got my start and lived in penury for a number of years.

Shortly before that happened, Father built his in laws a rather good cream brick veneer on North Road, South Oakleigh. Who would have known that North Road would become a truck container route.

Grandma gave her daughter, Mother, her old three brush Electrolux floor polisher and bought a new two brush Hoover that was light but quite uncontrollable, as I remember it. Photo by Gugue @ Flickr.


Photo by Austin Russell @ Pinterest.


While the three brush model became too heavy for Grandma, the two brush Hoover had Grandma dancing around the kitchen as she tried to control its direction of travel. Left to its own devices it would have gone crazy like a high pressure water hose when released from your grip. The process with floor polishers was sprinkle the liquid polish on the floors and spread it with the brushes. Then clip on the felt pads to remove the polish, and then buff the floor with lambswool clip ons.

When I moved into R's Elwood flat in 1979, I came with some items, one being by then my late grandmother's floor polisher. It certainly brought up his bathroom terrazzo floor to a gleaming shine but age had not dimmed its enthusiasm for madly skating around the floor.

I don't know what happened to the polisher, but something of it remains to this day.

Now you may think I am changing the subject, but no, it will come together.

I bought some new work boots. Australian made Rossi boots (Adelaide family Rossiter) last about ten years and are amazingly good value at about $80 at the big green shed hardware shop.

My last pair had not really worn out but had developed a hole in the bend crease on top of the boot. I had also badly scarred them.  I had only ever used liquid polish on them. One thing we forgot to take with us when we visited Canada and New York was liquid shoe polish, and oh, how we were ripped off for that at a shop at the Port Authority in New York. And, it was not very good polish either.

So, I have new boots, and I decided to I will go back to the old ways of polishing them with Kiwi Nugget, and then buffing them. But where to buy a brush? Woolworths at QV had a suitable brush for taking polish off, at $10, and I bought it and then found in an el cheapo Asian shop a brush for applying the polish. I should have bitten the bullet and bought two expensive brushes at Woolworths.

I had so forgotten about the twist thing to open the shoe polish tin. I need newspaper to protect the floor when cleaning shoes, but we don't have newspapers. I found a newspaper in the recycling room, but by the time I got around to polishing my boots, the paper had gone back downstairs in the recycling.

I sat on my lav seat in my ensuite and polished my new boots and my casual shoes. The cheap put on polish brush flicked loose shoe polished laden fibres onto my floor. Messy. The expensive take off polish brush did well though, but my shoes needed a final buffing to give them a good glow.

We have a shoe cleaning box that also contains a stock of  new sponges and scourers. In the very bottom of the box I found something to buff my shoes up nicely. That would be the lambswool floor polisher clip ons from my grandmother's Hoover floor polisher and the pair of them would be over 50 years old.


Oh yes, the result with the boots, instead of having a flashy shine, now have a warm dull glow, so satisfying. R was doubtful that we had to polish our school shoes every night of school, but we did.

33 comments:

  1. My dad ran a " hoover" shop just after the war....it made him as a buisness man

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    1. John, too early to be involved in the Hoover scandal. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoover_free_flights_promotion

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  2. I wanted to see the before and after photos of the polished shoes.

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    1. Maire, the boots were brand new so the difference was not dramatic and I don't think it would show terribly well in a photo.

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  3. I have an Uncle and Aunt who had a diary. They had about 30 to 40 Holstein cows they milk.
    Coffee is on

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    1. Dora, I know we have Holsteins here, and I think they are quite a good breed but I am not sure if they are milk or meat.

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  4. oh yes 'School shoe inspection'. we had it.
    I use Dubbin because it protects the leather and has no colour of it's own so can be used on everything.
    Bravo on that 50-y-o lambswool thingy. How groovy to still have the space-age polisher it belongs to. Keep up the good work.

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    1. R talks about Dubbin from his youth. They were rather stylish machines, yes. Btw, I received an email today researching where he lived from '36 to '53, the former South Yarra Arms. You pointing out that it was once the New Bridge Hotel drew his attention. Quite interesting.

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    2. My son uses Dubbin, saves buying so many different coloured polishes for all his shoes.

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  5. oh I left out 'it would be'. How great it would be if you still had that polisher. There is probably one on a plinth under a spotlight at PowerThing Museum in Sydney.

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    1. Annie, Powerhouse Museum is brill. Some government tossers want to move it Parramatta, or some similar area.

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  6. You forgot one stage in that floor polishing, grab the nearest kid to wash the lino first and it was usually me, no wonder I had no kneecaps left and before you ask, yes, I did get my tit caught in the wringer fortunately my arm as well so now damage was done. My childhood duties explain my aversion to any house work.

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    1. JT, I was wondering about that, scratching at my memory. I am so relieved to know that your massive mammary remained pristine. While now a little aged, I am sure it is still a fine beast.

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  7. 'no damage', see I have the shakes just thinking about it.

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  8. I remember polishing my shoes, school shoes of course and later my work shoes and was surprised to find that others didn't, going around with dull and scuffed shoes.
    I also remember being 19, weighing about 5 pounds and having to control the big industrial buffer when cleaning the staff dining room at the hospital I worked in. I got the hang of it, but gouged a few table legs first.

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    1. 5 pounds, unlikely River. Those big industrial polishers must have been very heavy. Both the polishers we had were surrounded by rubber buggers, to prevent table leg damage.

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    2. Rubber buggers? I think I meant bumpers.

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    3. Yeah, more like 80+ pounds, about six stone I was, always a lightweight until i worked for Coles.

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  9. Some objects have powerful family symbolic value. I would have preferred the country real estate than a three brush Electrolux floor polisher. But hey... however we remember the parents and grandparents is good.

    I have my mother's and grandmother's books, about music, Russian history and other treasured topics.

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    1. Hels, I dream of one of my younger relatives taking an interest in family history or history, as you have done. It ain't gonna happen.

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  10. Shoe polish always well nearly made a mess.
    Interesting is farm life, lived it for 8 years when first married. Waking up to seeing sheep, cows, pigs and horses out the windows only down side was travelling to work each day a 1,000 mile in those days every two weeks.

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    1. Margaret, we spread newspaper on the floor when cleaning shoes. Was it one sheet of The Sun? I really can't remember. It would have been burnt in the incinerator, and you would well known the 44 gallon drum incinerator. That would be 100 miles per day you travelled, assuming that was a five day week. I guess I can conclude you went from far north to far south.

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    2. Yes 5 days a week and from a small country town/farm to Deloraine. Distance is a mystery sometimes in Tasmania.

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  11. I lent my floor polisher to someone, and now that I need it again I can't remember who!

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    1. Cro, I know who you are and you have commented before. Why did I not add you to my blog reader? A mistake I am sure and I have now. Harder to write your name on a polisher than a book.

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  12. Everything old is new again!

    Boy! It's a long time since I've polished shoes...but once upon a time we used to, that is for sure!

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    1. Lee, yes, as Anne, said, they were inspected at school, as were our fingernails. Not so once we went to High School.

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  13. Goodness that brought back memories Andrew, shoe polishing and all the gear you need to do it.. still have a shoe polishing box but haven't actually polished any shoes for years! If I'd just bought a Dyson in the first place I would have saved a fortune in vacuums 😀

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    1. Grace, we are very happy with our Dyson Animal, stick vacuum cleaner.

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  14. We certainly did have to polish our shoes for school.

    I still remember those miserable Sunday afternoon endings to a weekend which I spent polishing my army boots sufficiently so that the Sargent - an officious fellow schoolboy - could see his reflection in them on the Monday afternoon School Cadet Parades.

    Failure to present a reflection image would result in the ignominy of having to do it all over again for a non-Parade day when you were the only boy in an Army uniform amongst 1200 other boys wearing their usual school uniform.

    Looking back on it decades later I am bemused now by the fine line between 'discipline' and 'bullying'.

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    1. Victor, the question always arises in my mind, did that kind of much harsher discipline harm us, or improve us, or made no difference?

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  15. That brings back the memories. My mother had a two brush polisher and if I tried to use it, as a small child, it went wild and would bang into things. then the Kiwi protector too, as I was once a hiker, back in the 70's, and my boots would need care, and I'd get the Kiwi boot polish and put it on with a soft brush, let it dry and then buff it off with a stiffer brush. I used a chamois back and forth to buff the boots for the finish. To keep them from moving for the two handed buffing with the chamois cloth I had to put them on or have my brother stick his feet in them.

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    1. Strayer, you were a serious shoe cleaner, but all a memory now?

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