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).

#waybackwhenwednesdays

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.

#waybackwhenwednesdays

Way back when, Wednesdays

Waste to wattage

Imagine if you didn’t cringe every time your power bill arrived. And if the contents of your bin was the solution to cheap and affordable electricity! Is this science fiction? One far sighted resident of Ridgehaven wrote to the Tea Tree Gully and Campbelltown councils because he believed that converting rubbish into electricity was not only possible but cost effective.  Mr. J. Sagen’s futuristic plan to burn general refuse in specially designed furnaces at Torrens Island power station, made front page news in the the Leader Messenger on 23 January, 1974.

waste power

Forty-three years later, on 1 March 2017 the Eastern Courier Messenger http://www.adelaidenow.com.au reported on the proposed construction of a $300 million plant in South Australia, where household rubbish would be converted to electricity. Recycling company Integrated Waste Service approached six of Adelaide’s councils, including Norwood, Payneham and St Peters, Unley and Burnside with a view to  purchasing their rubbish. This new incentive could lead to an alternative, reliable energy option for our state.

Peter Dyson, the managing director of the Kwinana Waste to Energy plant, which will begin operating in Perth in 2020, stated that one wheelie bin of rubbish could produce up to 20 per cent of a household’s weekly power needs.

480 plants across Europe generate electricity by burning combustible, non-recyclable residential and industrial waste. The most common way of generating electricity from rubbish is by burning solid waste, which would normally go to landfill. Garbage is incinerated, transforming chemical energy into thermal energy at temperatures of up to 1093 Celsius. The heat then makes steam, which drives a turbine and produces electricity that feeds into the grid. Waste conversion facilities must meet strict guidelines, in order to filter emissions and capture pollutants such as dioxin, from being released into the air. Harmful methane gas is produced when waste decays which contributes to global warming. It can also be used as fuel.

#waybackwhenwednesdays

Way back when, Wednesdays

The naming of cats is a difficult matter

Before the inception of the Facebook lost pets page, many people would take out a classified advertisement in a newspaper. Devoted cat owner Mrs Penning did more than that.  Mrs Penning contacted the Leader Messenger who ran a short article on page 4 of the edition dated 5 March, 1969.  This was probably so her appeal to find her missing cat Pookie-Pookie would be clearly visible to the majority of readers.  Let’s hope that Mrs Penning and her little cat man were reunited.

Pet cat missing Pookie

Babies’ names change with the times and apparently so do the names we give our pets. ‘Bow Wow Meow Pet Names’, which is an online supplier of personalised identification tags, lists the following as being the most frequently ordered names for cats during 2016:   Charlie, Oscar, Leo, Max, Ollie, Milo, Toby, Jasper, Shadow, Simba, Coco, Bella, Luna, Molly, Coco, Lily, Daisy, Lucy, Lulu and Millie, http://www.bowwow.com.au

When naming pets, owners can be influenced by popular culture. For example, lion cub Simba from the Lion King, Milo the kitten from Milo and Otis, Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter or Luna the black cat from the Japanese Manga series Sailor Moon.  People also choose names which are based on a cat’s appearance, their colour and markings, such as Tiger or Leo. For those who want something a little different, you could name your cat Mr Darcy, Pumpkin, Kanye, Laksa, Lord Darth Vader, Marakesh, Burger, Mr Schnitzel, or Qantas!

Evidently Pookie-Pookie has not retained its popularity.

#waybackwhenwednesdays

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!

#waybackwhenwednesdays

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.

#waybackwhenwednesdays

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.

#waybackwhenwednesdays