The Travels of Peter E. Sayers: Melbourne to Nandi

From time to time I’ll transcribe Peter E. Sayers’ travel diary:

Sunday 8th February 1959, Melbourne At 2.30 am (about) I took leave of Midge (80th time out) after spending the night before (Saturday 7th) at the Comedy seeing The Summer of the 17th Doll (4th season) and after at Scot’s supper dance with Hans & (Pam) and Barry & (Barbara). About 7.00 am Dad and Mum & I left in Armstrong for Goulburn. We had a cup of tea at H.P. Downs’ house at Benalla. We arrived Goulburn about 8.00 pm & stayed at AA Motel for night.

Monday, February 9th, Sydney
Got up at 5.00 am. Arrived Sydney outskirts 9.00 am. (At this time I should have been at Mr Hill’s office.) I proceeded to Dunkley Hat Mills, Waterloo (makers of Stetson hats in Australia) where I met the tour party for the first time. We were each given a hat after which we were shown over the mill. At 11.00 am we were received by the NSW Premier (J.J. Cahill) at his office. At 11.30 am we had a look at MLC building & had lunch with directors in the cafeteria which occupies a whole floor along with other staff amenities. 3.00 pm visited Harbour Bridge pylon (compliments of MLC). 3.45 visited ‘Unilever House’ (the building in front of where the new opera house is to be built). Tea in basement of Martin Hall with Mum & Dad.

Tuesday 10th National & General Insurance Co. Ltd. (Custom Credit) showed us the ground floor of their building in town, then they took us to the Rosebay flying-boat base where we saw the whole works. After that Custom Credit took us to Milano’s for a private luncheon (dinner in my book). 3.00 pm boomerang throwing in Domain. All given 2 boomerangs each, one to throw, one to give away to any important person. (Frank Donnellan gave the display & lesson, he holds all records.) 4.00 pm received by US Consul-General in Australia (Frank A. Waring). After that four of us (2 from NSW and one each from Victoria & South Australia) went to Channel 9 to go on the kids program. At night Mum & Dad & I went to Tom Holesgrove’s for tea with Tom, Robin & Louis.

Wednesday 11th 9.00 am visited Qantas building in town & maintenance plant at Mascot, also saw Super Constellation & other planes inside and out. Had lunch at Qantas staff cafeteria at Mascot. In the afternoon we looked over Sun-Herald. At night took Tom, Robin & Louis to dinner with Mum & Dad at basement of Martin Hall. Louis went to work after dinner & the rest of us went to The Big Country with Gregory Peck, Jeann Simmons & Burl Ives. A preview just for the typists & friends at a film company’s private theatre (smoking was OK).

Thursday 12th Went to Ford plant in the morning at Homebush, went to Marion’s in Russell’s car and saw their round the world slides plus Les’ New Guinea slides. Les took us home to Martin Hall.

Friday 13th Met Mayor Ald. Jensen at Town Hall. Later in afternoon Dad & I returned to Town Hall to say goodbye to Ted Holesgrove, he showed us over the place & I sat in the chair the Queen used in the Mayor’s room.

Saturday 14th Mum, Dad, Les, Marion, Tom & Louis saw us off at Mascot at 12.30 pm on our Super Constellation. At about 10.00 pm we touched down at Nandi (Fiji). Weather was mild & perfect with the stars out. We went to the hotel just next door to airport & had tea (the whole place was on native architecture if you could call it that). Richard Blaiklock lost his watch in the bathroom.

Wart Goo

Earlier this year I bought a little notebook for $1 at a flea market in Geelong, which had belonged to J. Davies, a student at the Gordon Institute of Technology. Davies had used it to record information about a trip he made to Western Australia in 1965. He made several extensive and very puzzling lists, including this one describing the things he ‘Brought back in kit-bag: money belt; 2 (white & fawn) tennis shirts; 1 underpants; 1 socks; camera & exposed film; 2 grey & 1 navy shorts; 8 unused & 5 self-washed handkerchiefs; hat; 2 books; 3 brooches & a pin (gem stones); large packet of diverse documents & papers; arch supports; raincoat (plastic); mosquito net (& fly veil); file; small kit-bag with snorkel & rope; bag of dirty laundry; bag of toilet articles.’ He then went on to list the contents of the latter two bags. ‘Dirty laundry returned: 1 socks; 3 underpants; 5 handkerchiefs. Toilet articles: toothpaste & brush; shaver; torch; repellent — fly rid; wart goo (Satd Na2Ca3.10 H2O); pad & envelopes; bayonet plug; bandaids; string; cotton wool; buttons, needle & thread; Vaseline; Savlon; toothpics; Aspro; Kwells; matches; cellulose tape.’ The notebook also contains a few rough sketches, including the following one showing how to fold a jacket:


The Mickey Mouse Club in Australia

In 1959, seven members of Walt Disney’s The Mickey Mouse Club — Jimmie Dodd, Doreen Tracey, Bobby Burgess, Sharon Baird, Tommy Cole, Karen Pendleton, and Cubby O’Brien — toured Australia along with the pop group, The Diamonds. Many people were very surprised that ‘dorky’ Doreen, as seen on the early episodes of the TV programme, had developed into such a ‘bomb shell’ (pictured). ‘I had a mad, torrid affair going at the time with Dave Summerville, the lead singer of The Diamonds, and I used to get drunk in the lounge with Dave and that got into the [Australian] papers and was bad,’ Doreen later told Jerry Bowles, author of Forever Hold Your Banner High (1976). The death of innocence!

On the Road — 1959

Recently I purchased Peter E. Sayers’ travel diary on ebay for five dollars. In 1959, Sayers of East St. Kilda and nine other ‘boys’ — Peter M. Scott of Mosman, E. Phillip Brandt of Wahroonga, Richard Blaiklock of Castlecrag, James Trigg of Lake Cargelligo, Trevor Combe of Largo Bay, John Hammond of Darling Point, Ross Hooker of Mosman, Bob Foster of St. Ives, and Jim Black of Pokataroo — went on a 5-month business/study tour of the USA and Canada. It appears this was an official tour of some kind, because in Sydney the group met the Premier of New South Wales, Mr J.J. Cahill, and the US Consul-General, Frank A. Waring. The group looked around Sydney before departing for the US. They toured the Dunkerley Hat Mills at Waterloo, and each received a Stetson hat. They were also given boomerang throwing lessons by the world champion, Frank Donnellan, in the Domain, and each received two boomerangs — one to keep and one to give away overseas. Sayers, Combe and two members of the group from New South Wales even appeared on the children’s TV programme, The Channel 9 Pins. Whatever this tour was about (and I hope to find out when I get some time), it was clearly something special. Sayers left Melbourne on 8 February and visited Sydney, Nandi (Fiji), San Francisco, Davis, Sacramento, Monterey, Salinas, San Louis Obisbo, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Kingman, Flagstaff, Gallup, Albuquerue, Roswell, El Paso, Jaurez (Mexico), Pecos, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Kingsville, Houston, New Orleans, Birmingham, Louisville, Charleston, Richmond, Washington D.C., Wilmington, Philadelphia, New York, Hartford, Boston, Montreal, Ottowa, Toronto, Niagara, Detroit, Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Jasper, Vancover, Seattle, Spokane, Calgary, Bamff, Butte, Salt Lake City, Denver, Kansas City, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Dayton, and Orsova. Sayers’ diary contains a very detailed record of the group’s travels and activities. He even notes, for example, buying a jar opener for 69 cents on 10 June for his Mum. Pictured is Sayers’ account of his trip to Disneyland.

Television and Australian Crime Fiction

Television was introduced in Australia in 1956 and remained a ‘novelty’ for about 10 years. Even Australian crime fiction fell under its spell. In The Cold Dark Hours (1958) by A.G. Yates (a.k.a. Carter Brown), an advertising agency executive devises an ad campaign to sell defective TV sets; in the series of pulp novels by W.H. Williams featuring Marc Brody, he starts out as a newspaper crime reporter and ends up as ‘TV’s on-the-spot crime reporter’; in Who Dies for Me? (1962) by S.H. Courtier, people are secretly monitored by means of tiny TV cameras placed inside light globes; and in Make-up for Murder (1966) by June Wright, a popular TV show host is threatened with murder. Does anyone know of others featuring TV?


Danish de Luxe

Danish de Luxe was a furniture company founded by Neville Askanasy, John Westacott and Borg Gjorstvang, which operated in Melbourne, Australia, between the late 1950s and the early 1990s. They made some wonderfully comfortable and stylish chairs, including the Adeena chair (pictured), which was the company’s version of an Eames Lounge chair. Recently I purchased a pair of these chairs. As well as manufacturing furniture for domestic consumption, both in Australia and overseas, Danish de Luxe also manufactured chairs for the Australian Pavilion at EXPO 67 in Montreal, the Australian Academy of Science building in Canberra, and the Sydney Opera House. Danish de Luxe deserves more credit and recognition than they have received.

June Wright

Along with S.H. Courtier, I am also currently reading and researching the Melbourne-based crime writer, June Wright (b.1919). June wrote six crime novels between 1948 and 1966. The last three, Reservation for Murder (1958), Faculty of Murder (1961) and Make-up for Murder (1966), all feature her detective, Reverend Mother Mary St. Paul of the Cross (a.k.a. Mother Paul) — Australia’s ‘Father Brown’. Well worth reading.