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

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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.

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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

Retro style at Myer

Did you used to enjoy eating at the restaurant in the Myer store at Tea Tree Plaza, Modbury? On page 22 of the edition dated 15 August 1973, the Leader Messenger promoted the Myer Restaurant in its regular feature Tea Tree Plaza News.

Myer restaurant

The Myer Restaurant was situated on Level 3 of Myer, in the area that is now Ladies Fashion. It offered patrons panoramic views of the Adelaide Hills from a large, rounded rectangular window. You can still see where the restaurant was located if you drive down Smart Road towards Reservoir Road and look for the window above the entrance to level 2 of the store, that faces the car park.

The Myer restaurant was self-service. Self-service was very much in vogue at the time. A customer at the Myer restaurant would line up, take a tray and push it along the guided rails as they proceeded along the servery and selected their meals, paying for their purchases when they reached the cash register.

The advertisement pictured says that the Myer Restaurant would appeal to families but it was a comfortable place for anybody to sit and relax during their time browsing the store. Dining there would transform your shopping trip into a special outing.

You could choose from a range of reasonably priced meals and beverages, including hot food, sandwiches and treats like cakes and colourful jellies. Part of the appeal was looking at the presentation of all of the different foods and choosing what you wanted. The décor was very fashionable for the time, with funky chairs and tables and burnt orange tiles on the walls.

My personal recollection of the Myer Restaurant in the 1990s is enjoying the huge square-cut scones, topped with jam and fresh cream and accompanied by a big mug of hot coffee on an icy winter’s morning. What are some of your memories of dining there?

Myer renovated the restaurant in the years preceding its closure and it introduced table service, which was what customers expected in more modern times.

Some readers might also remember that when the restaurant closed in approximately 2005, Myer donated several large photographic prints depicting our local history to the City of Tea Tree Gully Library. If you know when the Myer Restaurant ceased trading, please let us know.

Everything old is new again. Nowadays we have the IKEA restaurant which is also self-service and offers a range of interesting cuisine, cakes and on occasion that 70’s favourite, chocolate mousse. If it was still in operation, we might view the Myer restaurant as being retro and hip!

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Way back when, Wednesdays

You spin me round

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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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