Saturday, September 07, 2013

My Barmaid Friend Pt 1

I worked for a short time in hotel. It was called the Forresters Arms and it was in the suburb of Oakleigh. I think it has another name now. My fellow staff were great. I enjoyed the company of all them. I was only a casual employee. When the pub tills were short, I was sacked. My fellow workers said they would support me in a challenge, but I was young and silly and did not bother and frankly, I was over working there. I went on to work at a Brighton hotel, and the lads and ladesses with their posh ways quickly got under my skin and I lasted only a couple of days. I then went on to work at Babes Disco at the Chevron Hotel in St Kilda Road. I lasted a couple of nights there and there ended my bar tending career.

But at the Forresters Arms, I chummed up with an older single woman who had a teenage son. It is only in retrospect that I realise how gorgeous her son Des was and in spite of his mother's rather odd living circumstances, he was a perfectly normal kid of his age, only a couple of years my junior.

I'll call her Ollie, to protect her privacy. My god, she must be nearly dead by now. I was eighteen and she was forty plus.

Ah, I had nearly forgotten this but she was my ballroom dancing partner too at some place in Bentleigh. Star Ballroom, that was the name, but we also went to dances at Hawthorn Town Hall and St Kilda Town Hall. Sometimes after dancing, we would go to a pub in Burwood Road, Hawthorn. Her boyfriend often drank there. What was his name? Nope, can't remember. I think the pub was called The Glenferrie.

Come to Queensland and meet my sister, she asked. Ok......Flying was unthinkably expensive then. We drove in her car, an old Holden station wagon. The night before we left, it blew a welsh plug and I recall we found a service station in High Street Prahran where the welsh plug was replaced. Try finding a someone in High Street Prahran now who could replace a welsh plug. In fact, you don't hear of welsh plugs anymore.

I kissed my grandmother goodbye and off we went. There was some road flooding in NSW and back then even though I was a skilled driver with all the confidence in the world, the car wallowed and dived about the road. Many cars had come to grief and could be seen in the paddocks as we passed by. Somehow I kept the pace up and remained on the road. I couldn't do it now.

We must have stayed somewhere along the way. Gundagia. We stayed in a cheap motel. I saw the Dog on the Tuckerbox for the first time. Dubbo. Stayed there too. I just can't remember the details now. No, it was one or the other. Dubbo, I am sure. Quite a nice motel, not so cheap and very new. Oh how my memory fails me.

Ollie had a friend in Towoomba. He had been an ambulance driver in Melbourne. He and his wife put us up for the night and gave us a Towoomba garden tour the next day.There was a terrible flood disaster there a couple of years ago and I felt some personal connection as I knew the locations. The escarpment was amazing.

Finally we were on the outskirts of Brisbane but the car's alternator died. It was repaired in Ipswitch, but it was not budgeted for. I called my grandmother and asked her to wire us some money. She did and in non tech days, I cannot imagine how that worked.

There is now a blank about where we stayed. I just don't remember, but somehow one evening we drove up a hill in Brisbane to a beautiful park overlooking Brisbane. I remember now, Mount Cootha. We must have stayed somewhere in Brisbane, but I can't remember. We drove to the Gold Coast and I swam in the sea. I had never experienced warm water in the ocean before and it was a curious thing. We went further north. I remember the Sunshine Coast, the beautiful Glasshouse Mountains and the gorgeous town of Nambour. But I was starting to feel a bit hot and sweaty. It went way downhill from there.

Part 2 another day.


  1. A bit like the bold and the beautiful, you've left us lurched on a cliffhanger.

  2. I can comment again, you lovely little Highriser you.

    Now does this mean you were almost straight once upon a time?

  3. I vaguely remember hearing about welsh plugs but have no idea what they are. My dad always seemed to have trouble with something called tappets.
    In non-tech days money was wired via telegram through the postal system, I remember my dad sending me money once for a bond to secure a rental home, a telegram arrived, we went to the post office with ID and collected the money.

  4. Victor, a cliffhanger to inevitable disappointment.

    Jah Teh, it does not mean I was straight. I am really not happy with this way to comment, sorry, but I will have to revert.

    River, rattling tappets that needed adjusting. Engines are so much better now. Thinking about the money transfer, I think it was bank to bank.

    Fen, what a loaded single word.

  5. oh lord, my friend's boyfriend (now husband) lived in Oakleigh in the last 90s and his loc was TFA. I never went but I heard many a good story. xx

  6. M, I just remembered something. Concrete workers used to drink there. Their pockets would be full of cement dust. What happens when cement dust from pockets mixes with a beer sodden carpet? By standards then, it wasn't a bad pub and I don't remember any fights.

  7. Anonymous9:33 pm

    What a wonderful road story...

  8. Thanks Christine. I had the confidence back then that comes from extreme naivety.

  9. I loved this. I'm a Melburnite so love reading people's memories about places I know. I also well remember road trips to Queensland as a kid and the obligatory stop at Gundagai.
    I worked in pubs when young too, and loved it at the time; in restrospect it was appalling!

  10. I will be waiting to hear what happened in part 2.

  11. Thanks Jackie. My memories of pub work are like yours.

    Merle, it isn't that exciting.


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