Way back when, Wednesdays

What a funny old fellow

On page 6 of the edition dated 2 May, 1973 the Leader Messenger advertised that Humphrey B Bear would appear at St. Agnes Shopping Centre. His visit was in celebration of Mother’s Day and a retail promotion.  Despite being a children’s character, we all know that mums love Humphrey!  Everybody wanted a photo with Humphrey and a big bear hug.

Humphrey

If you did not grow up with Humphrey, he is a local television legend. He does not speak but communicates through gestures.  Humphrey wears a tartan waistcoat, a big yellow tie and a straw boater.  In true bear style, he loves eating honey.

Perennially young at heart, Humphrey turned 50 in May last year. Here’s Humphrey first appeared on Australian television on Monday, 24 May 1965, televised by Adelaide’s NWS9. Each episode of the show aimed to both entertain and educate its preschool audience while making children feel good about themselves.  Young children could identify with Humphrey as he explored his world of the Magic Forest, meeting friends, dancing and singing.  Humphrey learned from his mistakes but also had lots of fun.  Humphrey was always accompanied by a human companion who narrated his adventures.  One of the writers of the show, Anthony O’Donohue, also hosted it for an extended period.

Humphrey last aired on mainstream television in 2009. Humphrey became an international celebritity when an american version of his show was translated into different languages and screened in several countries. Humphrey was honoured to be declared official ‘Ambassabear’ for the Women’s and Children’s Hospital Foundation in 2012. He was introduced to a new generation of children and the hospital successfully raised funds from sales of a limited edition plush doll and DVD.

In July 2013 Humphrey returned to television when his show was screened on Community Television stations in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. In May 2015 the Sydney Morning Herald reported on plans to produce a high quality Humphrey themed animated television series or film.

Humphrey B. Bear is still making public appearances and drawing crowds at community events and school performances. He even has his own Facebook page.  Humphrey does lead a very exciting life!

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Way back when, Wednesdays

Everything old is new again

Why is the woman in this photograph trying to look attractive in a swimsuit, while lying on an ironing board? The Leader Messenger printed this story advertising the locally produced Slant Board, on page 11 of the edition dated 11 June 1967.

Slant board lady

Doing just ten minutes of exercise while lying on a slant board relieves tension in your nerves and muscles, increases circulation, strengthens your back and shoulders and leads to weight loss. The slant board is even better than a nap, a physiotherapy session and can help people who suffer from respiratory illnesses.

Were some of these amazing claims somewhat exaggerated? Possibly.  Nevertheless, exercise is good for you.  More modern forms of the slant board exist today.  You can use the decline bench with weights to build core and abdominal strength.  Advocates of ‘Inversion therapy’, where which you lie on a slant board with your legs raised above your body, believe that this practice can relieve stress, ease various types of back pain and improve your breathing.  They revere the work of Dr. Bernard Jensen DC (mentioned in the Messenger article) who discovered and wrote about the positive health effects of slanting in 1933.

Advertising tactics have not changed. Health conscious Americans and Hollywood celebrities use the slant board, so you should be modern and buy one too.  It looks like using the slant board will make you look glamourous too.

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Way back when, Wednesdays

You spin me round

Hills Hoist at Myer.png

On page 18 of the edition date 18 July 1973, The Leader Messenger advertised a sales promotion for the Hills Hoist at Myer in its feature Tea Tree Plaza News.  Did you know that not only was the Hills Hoist a revolutionary invention but that it was created in Adelaide?

When her washing kept falling off a propped up clothes line, motor mechanic Lance Hill created the first ‘Hill’s Hoist’ for his wife. He built it in the back yard of his home on Bevington Road, Glenunga in 1945.  Mr Hills was not the first person to come up with the idea of a rotary clothesline.  Gilbert Toyne of Geelong had patented four rotary clothes hoists designs between 1911 and 1946.  In 1925 Toyne had designed a rotary hoist with and enclosed crown and a wheel and pinyon winding mechanism.

On Lance Hill’s original structure metal ribs spread out from a central steel pole. He strung rust-proof wire between the ribs, on which the clothes could hang. Lance Hill invented a way to raise and lower the height of the hoist and he attached a handle to make this happen. You could hang the washing on the lines with the hoist set to your height, then wind it up higher. Combined with the rotating square structure, this feature allows your washing to dry more effectively in the wind.  His design was so successful that Hill’s neighbours started putting in orders and he happily manufactured the hoists from scrap metal in his shed workshop.

In 1946 Lance Hill and his brother-in-law, Harold Ling, established the Hills business in Glen Osmond.  They bought some army surplus trucks to make deliveries. Lance and Harold opened a factory at Edwardstown to manufacture steel tubing in order to create a quality product at a reasonable price. Demand was high, even though the hoist sold for 11 pounds, which in 1948 was twice the weekly wage. Hills then expanded its operation to include the manufacture of other laundry products. Lance Hill was awarded a patent for his Hills Hoist in 1956. Renamed Hills Industries in 1958, the company exports its range of clothes lines around the world. The Hills Hoist is listed as a National Treasure by the National Library of Australia.

In recent times, with the rise in construction of medium density housing in Adelaide, such as townhouses, there is usually only room for a pull-out clothes line. Let’s hope that we will continue to see the Hills Hoist as an iconic fixture in the Australian back yard.

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Way back when, Wednesdays

Adelaide’s famous duckling

TTP Children's show with Winky Dink

On page 16 of the edition dated 17 January 1973, in the section entitled Tea Tree Plaza News, The Leader Messenger promoted its forthcoming school holiday programs.  The caption accompanying the photograph stated that kids could see shows featuring celebrities such as Channel 9’s Hot Dog and Cheryl.  But who is that little bird sitting in a bucket, pictured in the centre of the photograph?  If you grew up in the 1970s or 1980s and watched Channel 9 after school, you will probably remember that small pink duck with fondness.

Winky Dink was a sweet-natured, happy young duck. The puppet was operated and voiced by children’s author Wendy Patching. Winky starred on the Adelaide children’s show the Channel Niners, produced by NWS-9.  The show screened in the afternoon from Monday to Friday.

Pam Tamblin and Ashleigh Mac originally hosted the Channel Niners. They were later replaced by Patsy Biscoe and Ian Fairweather.  The final presenters of the show were Joanna “Joey” Moore and “Robby” Robin Roenfeldt. Channel Niners was repackaged during the mid 1980s as C’mon Kids, screening from 1986 to 1990.

Winky often made references to the duckpond where he lived, looking down through the aperture in the desk. Winky Dink’s favourite treat was sugared worms.  I remember one episode of the Channel Niners in which a young viewer once sent Winky a small box of sugared worms.  The contents resembled Allen’s Snakes coated in sugar!

Pink Winky Dink

The fabulous Winky Dink

 

If you found Winky Dink to be too sweet or you just didn’t like his voice, the early days of the show also featured zany, rude Wilbur Worm. Wilbur would make funny, insulting remarks to Winky (by the standards of a children’s program) which their human comperes would have to counteract. However, Winky had pluck. Winky could hold his own and was usually ready with a quick reply to Wilbur’s jibes, creating a humourous interchange between the two characters.

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From left:  Channel 9 children’s characters: Wilbur Worm, Humphrey B. Bear, Hot Dog and Winky Dink

Way back when, Wednesdays

Look who’s talking

Page 13 of the Leader Messenger dated 30 November, 1983 featured an interview with talented young ventriloquist Linda Jane and her friend Charlie.  Does anybody remember watching Linda Jane and Charlie on Channel 9’s talent show New Faces?  The article focused on Linda’s emerging career in ventriloquism and on her childhood experiences.  Linda Jane and other artists were to appear in a series of concerts to entertain inmates and staff in Adelaide’s gaols.  A brave girl!  Prisoners at Yatala Labour prison had been rioting and lighting fires.

A ventriloquist can change their voice and make it seem like the words they are speaking are coming from a puppet or dummy, which is commonly referred to as having the ability to ‘throw your voice’.  The technical term for a ventriloquist’s dummy is a ventriloquial figure.

In the 1940s and 1950s ventriloquism was incredibly popular in Australia. Hundreds of people performed the art of ventriloquism on stage.  Ventriloquism became a novelty, when electronics used in modern film made it easy to convey the illusion of a non-living character having a voice.  Less people visited the theatre to watch comedy and musical acts.  Fortunately technology and the Internet have created new opportunities for ventriloquists to build new audiences and connect with fellow performers.  Carrying on the tradition, Darren Carr and David Strassman are two ventriloquists who are popular with Australian audiences.

If you find ventriloquist dummies creepy, you are not alone. Fear of ventriloquist’s dummies is known as Automatonophobia.  People who suffer from this phobia feel stressed in the presence of ventriloquilist dummies.  They may also dislike animatronic creatures, dolls or wax statues.  Anything that resembles a sentient being.  Symptoms range from feeling uneasy when looking into their glass eyes, to experiencing panic attacks, an irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath or nausea!

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Jailhouse dummy

Way back when, Wednesdays

Big sizes, low prices

Adelaide’s fascination with buying in bulk to save money is not new. Before Costco, shoppers flocked to Half-Case Warehouse. Our local Half-Case Warehouse store opened in February 1980, at 432 North East Road, Windsor Gardens, which is currently the site of the Bunnings construction site. The Leader Messenger published a large advertising spread for the Half-Case Warehouse first birthday sale, on Wednesday 11 February, 1981, from pages 9 to 11. Half-Case Warehouse provided genuine competition for the big retailers such as Coles and Woolworths. In the same issue, Target and Coles advertised as offering ‘Warehouse’ and ‘Discount warehouse’ prices respectively.

Half-Case Warehouse supermarkets were so named because most of the goods on display were sold in half-carton lots. Instead of standard supermarket shelving, you might choose your purchases from large cartons positioned on the floor. If you had found a single item for sale, it would have been in a large size. Unlike Costco, you did not need to pay a membership fee at Half-Case.

Half case warehouse.png

Half-Case Warehouse at Windsor Gardens was operated by former Australian Rules footballer Bob Hammond. His status as a local hero probably raised the profile of this particular store. Bob Hammond played in the SANFL for the North Adelaide and Norwood football clubs from 1960 to 1975. He coached the Redlegs, leading them to win premierships in 1975 and 1978. Bob also coached the South Australian State team. He went on to coach the Sydney Swans towards the end of the 1984 season. At the end of 1990 he was appointed as the first chairman of Adelaide Football Club.

You might wonder how you could possibly store all this food that you bought in bulk. You would certainly need a lot of cupboard space. The trend in the 1970s and 1980s was to buy a large freezer, to accommodate buying bulk meat or other perishable goods. My parents owned a Malleys Tucker Box but there were many other brands of freezers available, such as the those pictured on sale at Kelly’s Electrical Discounter at St. Agnes Shopping Centre.

freezers

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Way back when, Wednesdays

Do I have to go back?

On page 13 of the edition dated 30 January, 1974, the Leader Messenger published a large advertisement, which used humour to tell readers that you could buy everything that you needed to start the new school year from Tea Tree Plaza. Of course the advertisement is targeted at parents but it features a glum boy sulking about the prospect of being ‘institutionalised’ once again. He just has to face up to reality and look at what school supplies he needs to survive the experience. Modern ‘Back to School’ themed advertisements depict enthusiastic girls and boys heading off to school or enjoying themselves while learning in the classroom. Companies also run associated marketing campaigns which aim to entice parents and children to buy their products so they can receive bonuses such as free school name labels, books or lunch packs.
Look below and you will note the amazing transformation in your child’s demeanour, once they are outfitted with new uniforms and stationery, purchased during your shopping trip to Tea Tree Plaza.
back-to-school
Is school more fun than it used to be? Going back at the start of term 1 in 1974 usually meant spending long days in a hot classroom without even a fan. Maybe the school curriculum and teaching methods have changed to become more stimulating for students. Or perhaps kids used to be reluctant to return to school, just because they got used to spending a long summer break simply enjoying life, seventies style. Before the implementation of four terms during the school year, the school holidays ended shortly before Christmas and extended into February. Plenty of time to visit your friends, ride your bike around the neighbourhood, spend the day at your local pool or simply run around under the sprinkler in your back yard!
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