Way back when, Wednesdays

Special times at the Show

What are your special memories of the Royal Adelaide Show? One of our staff members at the Library was reminiscing about the Show. She mused about how she always loved the fairy dolls on sticks that you could buy there. She proudly displayed her doll in her bedroom.  On the front page of the edition dated 12 September 1973, the North East Leader pictured Anne Marie McArthur from Ridgehaven holding a fairy doll at the Show. Lots of little girls would have been envious. Their mothers also loved these dolls!

Fairy doll

The fairies on sticks were actually Kewpie dolls. They came in various sizes and the large ones were more ornate. These dolls had glitter painted on their heads and they were dressed in pretty colours, amid several layers of net skirt. The doll was fixed to a piece of cane shaped like a shepherd’s crook, so you could hold it easily and then hang it up at home.

70s girl at the Royal Adelaide Show

“In the 1970s and 1980s plastic showbags promoting snacks and lollies competed with showbags for rock groups, celebrities, television programmes and movies” http://www.nma.gov.au/kspace/teachers/adelaide/learning/showbags

 

Today Adelaide hosts a myriad of activities for children but in 1973 when your parents took you to the Royal Adelaide Show it really was a special experience. Families were larger so you were fortunate if you could afford to go every year. Children would save up their pocket money for months in advance, in anticipation of purchasing lots of showbags. With the school year having three terms, the Show also fell during the September school holidays.

Some older people might even remember the days when companies gave out free sample bags at the Show to promote their products, which contained mainly food samples. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-31/six-things-you-should-know-about-the-royal-adelaide-show/8859878 This would have been a boon for poorer kids, especially during the hardship of the Great Depression. These bags were the forerunners of our modern showbags.

Some things have remained the same at the Show. It is still primarily an agricultural event. The price, contents and design of showbags have changed over time but there are still so many to choose from. The ferris wheel and dodgem cars have been refitted and showgoers can play games such as the iconic laughing clowns. However on the map of the Wayville showgrounds Sideshow Alley is now called the Carnival. Patrons can purchase many new types of food are now available at the Showground but you can still enjoy Fairy Floss, waffles, hot cinnamon donuts and even the Dagwood dog.

Some things have gone. The art-deco edifice Centennial Hall was built in 1936 and closed in 2005 because it became structurally unsafe. It has been replaced by the modern Goyder Pavilion. I think that the horticultural displays have downsized but there are still competitions for needlecraft and cookery.

The Mad Mouse, which was the original roller coaster at the Royal Adelaide Show, ceased operation in 2007 and Kewpie fairy dolls have been replaced by toys depicting characters from film and television. The days are over where the Commonwealth Bank used to produce plastic elephant money boxes with the slogan “Get with the strength”. You could also get an iron-on transfer of Humphrey B. Bear for your t-shirt in a showbag from the Savings Bank of South Australia. I used to get excited about visiting the RSPCA shop in the Grandstand complex to build up my collection of Britains brand farm animals. And everyone knew that it was worth getting the Golden Eggs showbag from the egg board – not only for the recipes but because inside the bag you would find a cute molded plastic eggcup with shoes and stockings on its legs.

Eggcups final

Eggs with legs

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Way back when, Wednesdays

With strings attached

On page 13 of the edition dated 20 March 1974, the North East Leader Messenger featured a promotion for Ann’s Hobby Shop. Ann’s Hobby Shop used to be situated at the Clovercrest Shopping Centre on Montague Road, Modbury. Ann’s sold craft materials as well as completed projects, such as the work of string art held by Ann Barratt, who is pictured in the photograph.

Hobby gear

During the 1960s, kits and books appeared on the market to help you create string art. It was still a popular pastime for both adults and children in the 1970s. String art was cheap and fun to do.  Basically, you wrap coloured thread, embroidery cotton or wire around a grid of pins or nails in a geometric pattern, to make a picture.   More complex designs feature multiple curves and intersecting circles to produce a kaleidoscopic effect. You can also build up your layers using different colour threads, which is an effective way to draw in the eye of the viewer to your design.

String art has a mathematical origin. At the end of the 19th century, intrepid teacher Mary Everest Boole invented ‘curve stitching’ or string geometry to help get children interested in mathematics, a subject that she loved. Typically designs are modelled on the ‘Bezier’ curve, as the straight lines of strings positioned at slightly different angles intersect. Spirelli stitching, which is another form of string art, is used to decorate cards and other paper crafts.

Today, there is a resurgence of interest in vintage crafts. There are websites devoted to string art design and instruction. Crafters have created a multitude of traditional and new innovative designs and have posted their ideas on Pinterest and YouTube. You can still purchase books and kits or download patterns online.

String art designs

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Way back when, Wednesdays

Blue jeans with bling – Eighties style

Was this the height of fashion or just a 1980s fashion which is still in dubious taste?

On page 13 of the edition dated 23 February 1983, the North East Leader ran a feature on diamond studded jeans which were reported as trending in Paris.  In her column titled In Style Jaye Walton wrote about a collaboration between diamond merchant Bruce Portner, Californian jeans label Tres Jolie and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council to mass produce diamond trimmed jeans.

Jeans with bling final.jpg

Former model Jaye Walton was the original host and producer of the popular Adelaide television show Touch of Elegance. Touch of Elegance screened at 11am on SAS Channel 10, from 1968 until 1980. Having a woman as the principle host was a first for Adelaide television.  The show featured fashion and lifestyle segments, musical performances and advertorials. Jaye Walton interviewed a series of special guests, including celebrities and promoted local events.  Some people thought Jaye Walton was stylish and sophisticated but others considered her to be a snob who was out of touch with the average income earner.  She is reputed to have said “If you want to be truly successful, you need to have half the audience loving you and the other half hating you, then they all talk about you”   This strategy probably worked for her. Jaye Walton died in March this year, aged 88.

Hopefully wearing these fancy jeans did not usually result in being grabbed around the waist by strange men.  North East Leader certainly needed more accurate type-setting, printing the not-so-elegant phrase “proving that denims can be a girl’s brest friend”.  “Shrila Chan” is probably well-known Hong Kong actress Sheila Chan. Sheila Chan has appeared in numerous films and on television and she was elected First Runner-up and Miss Photogenic of the 1988 Miss Hong Kong Beauty Pageant.

Though not a mainstream fashion item, it is still possible to buy rhinestone studded jeans online.  However, wearing upmarket denim adorned with precious gems does not seem to have been a lasting trend.  If you could afford to buy the jeans you had to be prepared for the cost of regularly dry cleaning them too.

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Way back when, Wednesdays

All alone by the telephone

In the edition dated 18 January 1967, the North East Leader A Messenger Newspaper featured a series of articles about the new City of Tea Tree Gully Council building, which was located at 1020 Main North East Road, Modbury. This address is now the site of the Tea Tree Plus Shopping Centre.

Council building

This impressive new facility was officially opened by Premier Frank Walsh on Saturday 21 January 1967. The modern complex was outfitted with fluorescent lighting, naturally finished timbers, an acoustic tiled ceiling to absorb noise and a public address system.  A wide use of glass provided the interior of the building with adequate daylight.  The Civic Centre cost $140,000 and featured modern offices, a spacious entrance foyer, impressive Council Chambers and a large civic hall to accommodate up to 300 residents at public receptions or recreational functions.

Page 1 of the Messenger newspaper highlighted Council employee Janice Rogers, who operated the busy telephone switchboard and answered incoming calls from the public. As stated in the accompanying caption, Janice’s job entailed managing eight lines and connecting calls to the 28 extensions in the Council building.  We would really like to hear from Janice or from any readers who have recollections of working on an older style telephone switchboard.

Telephone operator

Since 1967 things have progressed significantly at the Civic Centre. Council is now situated at 571 Montague Road, Modbury. There have also been extensive changes to our telecommunications technology. Naturally the population density of the municipality has increased. Here are some fast facts: In 1967 the population of City of Tea Tree Gully was approximately 23,000. In 2016, the estimated resident population for the City of Tea Tree Gully was 99,518 (http://profile.id.com.au/tea-tree-gully).

The City of Tea Tree Gully now employees a total of 13 staff in the Customer Relations Department, who may work in Council’s Call Centre or at Reception in the Civic Centre. The old switchboard and line set-up no longer exists. Customers are automatically placed in a queuing system, which can handle a large volume of calls and redirect your call to the appropriate department. The City of Tea Tree Gully now has approximately 280 extensions throughout the entire organisation. Each month we receive approximately 6,500 telephone calls. That is a lot of people telephoning the Council but consider also that approximately one quarter of our communication with customers is made via social and digital interactions (through email and online).

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Way back when, Wednesdays

R.O.C.K. in the T.T.P

Have you heard of Johnny Cougar? Tea Tree Plaza advertised the forthcoming appearance of pop star ‘cool cat Johnny Cougar’, on page 18 of the Leader Messenger dated 9 August 1978.

Johnny Cougar

Johnny Cougar and John Cougar were stage names used by Indiana born heartland rock musician and singer-songwriter John Mellencamp, early in his career from 1976 to 1982. Believe it; at the age of 26, John Mellencamp visited Tea Tree Plaza, before he rose to fame internationally. Let us know if you went to Tea Tree Plaza to see him or if you attended the Grease themed ball in Adelaide!

John’s professional music career began in 1976 when he secured a recording contract with MCA Records. The company released his first album, The Chestnut Street Incident, which featured some original compositions and cover versions.

John’s manager insisted that he change his name to Johnny Cougar in the belief that it would be too hard to sell a record by anybody who had a surname like Mellencamp, which reflected John’s German heritage. Eventually John would become successful enough to insist on using his real name.  http://www.mellencamp.com/about.html

During an interview in 2005 John Mellencamp revealed “That (name) was put on me by some manager. I went to New York and everybody said, ‘You sound like a hillbilly.’ And I said, ‘Well, I am.’ So that’s where he came up with that name. I was totally unaware of it until it showed up on the album jacket. When I objected to it, he said, ‘Well, either you’re going to go for it, or we’re not going to put the record out.’ So that was what I had to do… but I thought the name was pretty silly.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Mellencamp

tumblr_mimrft2DPV1r906l9o1_500

Unfortunately, The Chestnut Street Incident was not a commercial success. MCA Records ended their association with John but supported by Billy Gaff, (who also managed Rod Stewart) he secured a contract with the small Riva Records label. On the advice of his new manager, John moved to England to record his new album A Biography in 1978. He then went on tour to promote it. John had a top ten hit in Australia at this time with I need a Lover. His album A Biography peaked at 19 on the Australian music charts but it was not released in America.

A_biography_(Johnny_Cougar_album_-_cover_art)

John recorded his successful self-titled album in 1979, Nothin’ Matters and What If It Did in 1980 and American Fool in 1982, under the name John Cougar.  I Need a Lover was included on John Cougar and made it to number 28 on the Billboard Hot 100 in late 1979. US charts. He released Uh-Huh in 1983, Scarecrow in 1985, The Lonesome Jubilee in 1987 and Big Daddy in 1989 using the name John Cougar Mellencamp. John finally dropped the Cougar part of his name with the release of Whenever We Wanted in 1991.

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Way back when, Wednesdays

We are not alone

In celebration of 40 years since it first release on 16 November 1977, plans are in motion to remaster the iconic science fiction adventure film Close Encounters of the Third Kind and re-screen it in cinemas. It used to take some months for a film released overseas to reach Australia. Only selected cinemas had the right to show certain films, so audiences flocked to the Hoyts Regent cinemas in the Adelaide Arcade.

On page 16 of the Leader Messenger dated 5 July 1978, Tea Tree Plaza advertised a promotion designed to tie in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. To generate interest in the film, Tree Plaza hosted a display about UFOs, which was put together by the Australian Flying Saucer Research Society, in conjunction with Hoyts cinemas. This promotion also featured a special event, which was a talk by a member of the Society, with the incentive of winning free passes to see Close Encounters.

Close encounters

At this time, people were receptive to new cinematic science fiction experiences. Steven Spielberg had terrified and thrilled audiences with Jaws in Australia in 1975. Star Wars had been monumental – it had set the bar for special effects and excitement, when it was released in Australia in October 1977. Everybody was waiting for the next blockbuster movie. Sessions of Close Encounters of the Third Kind on evenings and weekends would book out in advance.

If you don’t know the story, Close Encounters of the Third Kind is focuses on a group of people who experience some sort of paranormal activity associated with alien contact.

Two parallel stories are told. Strange phenomena and sightings of UFOs are happening around the world, which according to a scale devised by UFO researcher Dr. Josef Allen Hynek, is a close encounter of the first kind. A team of scientists and experts including French scientist Claude Lacombe and his American interpreter and cartographer David Laughlin, are investigating these related incidents. For example, military planes which disappeared in 1945 have suddenly reappeared in the desert but without their pilots.

In Muncie, Indiana, in the USA, Roy Neary (played by Richard Dreyfuss) refuses to accept conventional explanations for his encounter with an unidentified flying object. After this close encounter of the second kind, he becomes obsessed with pursuing the truth. Single mother Jillian Guiler (played by Melinda Dillon) and her young son Barry have similar experiences.

Integral to the film’s plot is a musical sequence of five tones enabling humans and aliens to communicate. In India witnesses report that UFOs make these distinctive sounds. Both Roy and Jillian have repeated visions of a mountain and the five musical notes run through their minds. When the scientists broadcast the musical notes into space they receive a response, a series of numbers repeated over and over. Cartographer Laughlin, interprets this data as geographical coordinates, for the Devils Tower near Moorcroft, Wyoming.

Defying a cover-up and military action by the American government, all of these characters follow the clues they have been given to reach a site where they will have a close encounter of the third kind: contact. The film was groundbreaking in its depiction of aliens as peaceful beings who wish to get to know humanity, rather than trying to take over the Earth or eat us. After their cinema experience, people could look up in the sky and think that perhaps we were not alone.

Alien

These were exciting times. Close Encounters of the Third Kind was a critical and financial success. It was nominated for several Academy Awards but the film only won one, for cinematography. It also won several other film industry awards. A disco adaption of the five note sequence charted as high as 13 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in March 1978.

John Williams would write many other beautiful, memorable film soundtracks and be arguably the best known composer of classical music in modern times. Steven Spielberg would direct a trove of acclaimed and popular films, and become the highest grossing director by worldwide box office ($9.246 billion) wikipedia.org. What would be the next science fiction/fantasy blockbuster? Superman released in 1978, which made a star of Christopher Reeves.

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Way back when, Wednesdays

Moonlight flicks in the Valley

Do you remember the Valley Line Drive-in? The Advertiser featured a story on closure of the Valleyline Drive-in Theatre on Tolley Road, St. Agnes, on page 111 of the edition dated Saturday 26 April 2003. After servicing the local area since the 1960s, the Valleyline drive-in closed on Sunday 4 May 2003. The final film to be shown was the comedy Anger Management starring Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson. The site was sold to the Stratco hardware chain.

Valleyline closure

If you have never experienced a drive-in theatre, you did not have to buy individual tickets to see a film. Customers just paid for the cost of your car, which was more economical for families. You parked in a designated area within view of the big screen and fitted a speaker to your car. Later, sound streamed through the car radio. In summer, it was pleasant to sit outside. Given that many older cars had a bench seat in the front, rather than two bucket seats, you could fit an extra kid in your vehicle!

What are your special memories of the Valleyline and what films did you go and see there? Members of our library staff remember the drive in as being good fun “I took my wife there on our first date” and “People beeped their horns when something ‘juicy’ came on the screen.” Another staff member recalls her brother hiding friends in the boot, to get them into Valleyline. Then they set up chairs to watch the movie. Or “I took my boys and they would lie on the bonnet of the car where it was warm.”

Valleyline

The Valleyline drive-in theatre

Drive-ins made a lot of money from canteen sales. You could purchase drinks and foods such as hotdogs, fish and chips, and even steaks at some locations. Unhealthy snack foods might seem ordinary nowadays but in the 1950s and 1960s a hotdog was very American and pretty cool. Being a family friendly venue, staff would even heat up your baby’s bottle. The canteens generally faced the big screen and were fitted out with speakers so the customers did not miss out on the film. There were also children’s play areas, such as swings situated under the big screen.

In the United States drive-ins had been in existence since the world’s first Automobile Movie Theatre opened way back on 6 June 1933. It took an act of Parliament to bring the drive-in to South Australia. During the second half of 1954, members of the South Australian Parliament debated the controversial Places of Public Entertainment Act Amendment Bill. In an era where people dressed up to go out, some parliamentarians feared that there would be a decline in the standard of dress.  Dressing casually and comfortably while sitting in your car would appeal to families and it was a major selling point for the drive-in theatre. Then there was the issue of safeguarding the morality of South Australia’s young people. Some feared that young couples would behave inappropriately while alone in a darkened car in a public place.  Future Premier Don Dunstan, who was a young man at the time, spoke in support of the bill.

Adelaide became the second Australian city (after Melbourne) to get a drive-in theatre when the Blueline at West Beach opened on 28 December 1954.  Valleyline commenced business on Friday 3 December, 1965 and it could accommodate 383 cars  http://www.campbelltown.sa.gov.au  Records differ as to how may drive-in we had theatres in South Australia at the height of their popularity. The article from the Advertiser states that South Australia used to have 24 drive-ins. According to http://www.drive-insdownunder.com.au/australian/sa_modbury.htm South Australia used to have 37 drive-ins.  The City of Campbelltown website states that there were 15 suburban drive-ins just in Adelaide.

Today, there are only two drive-in theatres left in Adelaide. Wallis Cinemas still run the Mainline Drive-in at Gepps Cross, even after having to make costly repairs to the main building when it was damaged by fire in March this year.  Cooper Pedy also has a drive-in, which is operated by community volunteers.  It is worth noting that outdoor cinema has made a comeback!  Moonlight cinema in Botanic Park is still popular and suburban councils hold film screenings in local parks during the summer.

So what factors brought about the demise of this cultural icon?  When most people had black and white television, going to see a film in colour was a novelty. By the 1980s people could watch films on video at home.  It became socially acceptable to dress casually when you went to the cinema.  While some drive-ins had two screens, new multiplex cinemas opened in suburban Adelaide, offering patrons a greater choice of films that screened concurrently, from morning to evening.  During daylight saving, movies shown outdoors have to start later, which is inconvenient for families with young children. The quality of the picture and sound of a film shown at a drive-in theatre could not compete with a film projected in a modern cinema. For example, the screen would appear darker at the drive-in. As drive-in theatres aged and ticket sales fell, operators had to make the decision as to whether it was cost effective to upgrade the equipment and facilities.

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