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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Way back when, Wednesdays

yatala-bombing

Get out of gaol free!

A plan to detonate gelignite bombs inside Yatala Labour Prison, was front page news in the Leader Messenger on 7 December 1983.  The article highlighted chronic staff shortages at Yatala.  Prison officers were overworked and forced to do excessive overtime in order to maintain minimal staffing levels.  Inmates had become more violent, endangering the lives of prison officers.  There was hearsay that prisoners planned to set several fires before Christmas.

Follow up articles on page 9 largely focused on how an increase in staff numbers could solve these issues. More dramatically, the Messenger related how an inside source had revealed that chemicals had also gone missing, which prisoners could use to manufacture homemade bombs. There were allegations of a coverup, as the Prison administration and State government were aware of the potential danger.

crisis-at-yatala

Note that the Yatala Labour Prison is still standing. So the prisoners’ evil plans to bomb the building must have been thwarted. Hopefully the Crisis at Yatala articles led to the State Government employing additional staff to ease the pressure on existing prison officers and to try and curb further violent episodes.

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Way back when, Wednesdays

Diana lookalike

Have you ever tried to be like your favourite celebrity?

Never underestimate the popularity of the late Diana, Princess of Wales. The Leader Messenger reported on the engagement of Juanita Steele and Jeffrey Smith, on page 11 of the edition dated 23 November, 1983. I was struck by the resemblance between Juanita and the late Princess Diana. Below you can view photographs of the happy couple and also of Princess Diana taken in 1983.

diana-lookalike

So why did women want to look like Diana and style their hair in the same fashion? If you don’t remember Diana, she was attractive and well dressed. However, she was more than just a fashion icon. The world media presented Diana as the young, innocent girl who had married her Prince Charming. Although born into the English aristocracy, she became known as ‘The People’s Princess’, a modern woman who was more accessible than the rest of the Royal Family. Diana wore party dresses and swimwear, she went out dancing and regularly visted a gym outside the Palace in her exercise clothing.

diana-in-pearls

It has been said that Diana could manipulate the media for her own purposes. Depending on your point of view, this can be viewed as clever or calculating. There are some that doubt Diana’s sincerity but her gentle nature appealed to ordinary people, who perceived her to be genuine and caring.

Diana never behaved snobbishly. She was always happy to stop and speak with people and children in the crowd. As part of her royal duties, Diana became interested in charitable causes and in a break with protocol she let young children touch and hug her. She supported children’s charities but she also took on topical issues, campaigning against landmines and promoting awareness of AIDS, a disease which was surrounded by fear, misinformation and controversy. Diana was compassionate and accepting of others. For example, she visited gay AIDS sufferers in hospices, holding their hands to dispel the myth that you could catch HIV through touch.

Diana was also loved for a role as a mum. Breaking with tradition, Diana refused to leave baby Prince William at home, bringing him along on the trip she made with Prince Charles to Australia in 1983. There are many photographs and camera footage of Diana enjoying time with her two sons, at home and on holidays, behaving naturally and showing them affection, which is in contrast to the restrained mood of the older promotional films, featuring the Queen and her children.

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