This weeks blog is all about occupations, some of it is a bit raw, but if this is to be a life story, then raw it will be. So I’ll begin with my first ever place of employment when I left school in 1971, at Locke’s Furnishers, Marine Terrace, Geraldton.
I’d left school in the November 1971 and just after New Year of 1972, we received our exam results. I had completed my junior year in 1970, however I went back to boarding school at Stella Maris College, and studied a Fourth Year Commercial course which included typing, shorthand and book-keeping. I gained two Diploma’s in Typing and Shorthand! Oh how I wish I could remember my shorthand now. It would be so handy to take notes at meetings. I had a go at accounting, but it just wasn’t for me. Included in this course were the usual run of the mill English and Maths, oh and Scripture. Can’t forget Scripture, that was very important!!
Soon after receiving those results in January, Mum saw an advert in the local paper, the Geraldton Guardian, for a junior receptionist at Lockes Furniture store. I can’t remember the details of applying, but I imagine I would have written them a letter and sent copies of my references, which back then was a character reference from my Dad’s cousin, Wilf Woodcock and this one below from one of the nun’s at school, Sister Patricia.
The day of my interview, mum drove me to Geraldton. It was about an hours drive from our farm at Mumby just north of Northampton. I remember being very nervous as I had to be tested on my shorthand and typing skills. It must have been ok as I got the job ahead of 5 others who applied. I started work the following week, but we had to find some accommodation first.
The accommodation turned out to be a nightmare. The first place that I stayed at was with Mrs Boddington, in DuBoulay Street, near the wheat silos and wharf, so it was a little bit of a walk into town. I didn’t have my license then, so I walked, then another boarder at the house gave me a lift. Mrs Boddington loved a drink or three and there was no food in the fridge, so on my first day at work, Mrs Osmond, the senior office lady, sent me to a cafe just nearby to have some breakfast. I only stayed at that place for a week as it was so bad, and after telling mum and dad what was wrong, they quickly applied to find somewhere else for me to live.
A couple in James Street were looking for a boarder to stay with them. Rodney and Maureen Warren had a young baby, Alanna, however as Rodney was away a lot, they wanted company for Maureen. That worked out quite well and I stayed there for a year or so.
I met Bob while I was working at Lockes and soon after our engagment, I went and worked for an Insurance Assessor. Once we were married and our first baby was on the way, I finished work.
Helen was about 1 year old when I took on a cleaning job at the Auto Motel on the Brand Highway. A friend of a friend baby sat her for me, however one day when I returned to pick Helen up, she had taken her first steps. I gave up that day time job quick smart. Melissa came along soon after, followed by Peter 3 years later, so it was a few years before I went back to work again.
My next jobs were in the evening, so Bob could be home to mind the kids. First I went waitressing at the Highway Motel and then at Wright’s Fish n Chip shop opposite the railway station. Once Peter had started school, I started back full time at the Geraldton Newspapers, typesetting the local Geraldton Guardian. It was an early start, but I was home not long after the kids got home from school, it worked quite well, but soon the hours became too much, working full-time, sometimes on a weekend to get the paper out on time and bringing up three children. So a part-time job was the only way to go. I tried my hand at being a Sales Rep before gaining a much better job and hours at Myer Geraldton, first as a stock recorder. Yes, that was in the days before computers. There were 4 or 5 of us that would work part-time and each had several departments to count. I had the linen, sports, electrical and menswear. Then I was offered more hours and some Saturday work as a receptionist. I’ll never forget the day there was smoke coming from one of the storage areas near the curtain department. Everyone from the building was evacuated, but the ‘boss’ insisted that I stay upstairs to man the telephone!! I did for a little while, then decided that wasn’t going to be the best place to stay if the building went up in flames, so putting my job on the line, I defied orders!!! All turned out well in the end. Luckily!
Soon after this episode, Myer were going through some changes and became Harris Scarfe, so it seemed about now was a good time to look for something else.
As we know, when the time is right, something will work out. A job came up at the Geraldton Dental Centre in Shenton Street and I worked as a receptionist for Jeff Wheat, Steve Lawley and Barry Porter. About 3 years into that job, the dentists split their partnership and went their separate ways. I became Barry Porter’s receptionist for another 7 years at his new business on Durlacher Street with his wife, Cindy, a dietitian.
As time went on, it seemed like a change was due. I was always looking for a challenge, so I applied for and got a job working for Westnet Internet Services which was being run out of Mitchell & Brown. The internet was in its infancy and my job was to help clients link up to the internet and do the accounts. Back in those days, the internet was a dial-up service using your telephone lines. How many times I helped people get online, talking them through the settings they needed to connect their phone. Many didn’t realise they needed to plug their phone line into the modem, which was in those days, in the computer and yes, their phone line would be engaged while they surfed the net!
How things have changed. Working in that kind of job made me realise just how rude and obnoxious the public can be. I remember one person who shall remain nameless, came in this day, thumping on my desk demanding that we get him back online as he was loosing money by the minute. He did not seem to understand that it was out of my control, a contractor on a land development had cut through the phone cables and all the lines were down. It needed the Telecom servicemen (as Telstra was called in those days) to fix the break in the line. Oh boy! I remember being in tears many times, but my boss was so nice and helped me through the bad times. There came a time though, that enough was enough and I left, heading back to be a receptionist one day a week at Barry Porter’s dental surgery.
The hours just weren’t enough, even though I was making a little money as a consultant with Creative Memories scrapbooking, I was needing more hours to make ends meet. I tried working from home, taking in typing but that didn’t work out, so when a position came up to be the coordinator of the Volunteer Services at Centacare, I took that on for nearly 2 years. Once again, I needed more of a challenge, I have to be kept busy and not look for something to do, so eventually I applied for and got a receptionist position at the Geraldton Chiropractic Centre on Johnson Street. I was there for 7 years before taking an early retirement and now volunteer as a tour guide of the HMAS Sydney II memorial and the Old Gaol, which was once a convict depot. I also do the data entry of donations to the Chapman Valley museum at Nanson and currently working on a project to honour the fallen soldiers in WW1 from the area.
Life is so busy now. But isn’t that what they all say, how did we ever have time to work?