Way back when, Wednesdays

Come in, the water’s fine at Clovercrest

Did you learn to swim at Clovercrest? It seems that everybody either went to swimming lessons at the Clovercrest swimming school or knows somebody who did. On page 3 of the edition dated 21 February 1968 the North East Leader, a Messenger Newspaper printed a feature about the opening of the new Clovercrest pool. On Sunday 2 February over 200 guests attended that official opening of the 25 metre heated indoor pool, which as the article below states, was reputed to be the most modern facility of its kind in Australia.

 

Opening of Clovercrest swimming centre

Photographs of bikini clad women have not changed since 1968!

 

The Clovercrest Pool is situated at 433 Montague Road, Modbury North. On the 6 March 1968 the North East Leader followed up with a story on page 5 about swimming lessons for pre-school children, which was named the Tadpole class. Today children aged from 6 months to 4 years of age can enrol in the Waterbabies class! The Clovercrest Pool also took out a large advertisement showcasing it services on page 2.

Tadpole class

 

Pool advertisement

A special carnival for amateur swimmers (the first of its kind to be held at Clovercrest) made front page news on 19 April 1968. Money raised from the two day event would go towards helping the Australian Swim Team get to the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games. The directors of the Centre donated the use of the pool to the South Australian Amateur Swimming Association. Such a high profile event would have brought many people to the pool. The young people who entered the competition may have felt very special sponsoring the Olympic athletes. Many were named in the article below.

Swimming carnival

Some of our staff members at Tea Tree Gully Library recall going to the Pool during the 1970s and 1980s. “I remember learning to swim after school at Clovercrest, when the different grades were named after sea creatures – you would strive to attain the dolphin and then the kingfisher certificates. If you completed all of the levels of tuition you could join the Centre’s swimming club. I admired these older kids who swam really fast in the lanes devoted to lap swimming.”

“It was steamy and hot inside the pool area and you could see the reflection of the water on the walls. After swimming you were always hungry and it you looked forward to buying something from the pool kiosk. It was the first and the last time I ate a huge Bush biscuit, after my parents urged me to try one!”

The Clovercrest Swim Club was also founded in 1968. It is now affiliated with Swimming SA, and is a member of Swimming Australia. Members have taken part in competitions interstate and overseas (https://clovercrest.swimming.org.au).

1976 was a special year for the Clovercrest Swimming School when David Urry, the former coach of the Australian swimming team at the Christchurch Commonwealth Games purchased the facility. It was at Clovercrest that he developed the State Swim program. Today State Swim has schools at eighteen locations across South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria (https://www.stateswim.com.au).

 

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Clovercrest Swimming School, present day.

 

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Way back when, Wednesday

Entrepreneurial Elf

Have you ever wondered what the elves do with themselves in the off-season, when they are not employed in Santa’s workshop? In the 2005 picture book The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition by Carol Aebersold, Chanda Bell and Coë Steinwart, the elves visit peoples’ houses. Once adopted, they watch vigilantly to see if children have been naughty or nice, then make a report to Santa.

 

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The Elf on the Shelf.  Reserve this book through the Library’s online catalogue

 

Perhaps a more commercially minded member of the fairy folk may have swapped the elven tunic, leggings and shoes with curled up toes for a suit and tie, then set up his own small business in Adelaide. The North East Leader, a Messenger Newspaper printed this advertisement for real estate agent Ernie D. Elf on page 25 of the edition dated 4 July 1973.

 

ernie elf real estate

If Ernie Elf sold your house or you bought a property through him, please let us know about your experience. Ernie Elf certainly looks like his name. Notice how his chin-length, Seventies style hair could hide a pair of pointed ears!

Elf real estate no longer operates at 598 North East Road, Holden Hill, this is now the site of a Caltex service station. What happened to Ernie? Although Elf Realty is listed in Queensland, Ernie is not listed as an agent. Maybe Ernie joined another firm or eventually retired.

Thank you for reading ‘Way back when, Wednesday’ this year, best wishes for a Merry Christmas!

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Way back when, Wednesdays

What every child wants for Christmas

What would your children like for Christmas? Parents start putting toys on layby from the time of the mid-year sales. Or they race around the shops in December looking for the popular and sometimes expensive toys.

Search online and you will discover that a range of toys such as the Slime Factory, the Furreal Roarin Tyler and the Robo Alive lizard are in demand this Christmas. Santa is also stocking up on the cute L.O.L Surprise Dolls, the My Little Pony: My Magical Princess Twilight Sparkle and the Hatchimals. Lego and Star Wars related merchandise are listed as perennial favourites.

Would you like to encourage your children to play outdoors? Perhaps Santa could bring each of them a pair of stilts and they could have races! The North East Leader, a Messenger Newspaper printed this advertisement for Gimpy brand stilts on page 17 of the edition dated 7 December 1966.

Stilts

In a simpler time, kids probably had a lot of fun playing with their stilts over the summer holidays. Library staff who were children in the 1960s reflected on some of the Christmas presents that they received. Most parents never bought anything on credit. Only store-cards (which could be used exclusively in the issuing store) were available in Australia up until 1974 https://www.finder.com.au/credit-card-history and people usually could not afford to buy expensive gifts. Some toys were homemade. Intrepid woodworkers made and sold playsets such as a wooden hand-painted service station for toy cars. One member of our staff remembers that her uncle made her some furniture for her doll, a small wardrobe and a bassinet. Or you might gladly receive homemade clothes for your dolls. And you would have been very fortunate to receive several presents in your Santa Sack.

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Recollections of commercially made Christmas gifts include skipping ropes, Tonka toys, little cars, minature toy household appliances including a sewing machine and washing machine. There was also a treasured spinning top!

 

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A metal spinning top

 

little washing machine

Mini washing machine that really worked!

Childlike dolls, Mattel’s Barbie and Skipper and Sindy manufactured by English company Pedigree were on many girls’ wish lists. Board games such as snakes and ladders and quoits were popular gifts as they encouraged family interaction.

Snakes and Ladders

Skipper

Or you could have lots of fun with dress up outfits like cowgirl and cowboy costumes or a nurse’s uniform (perhaps you were lucky enough to also own a toy medical kit with a stethoscope).

Most toys manufactured in this era relied on children using their imaginations or being physically active to have fun, rather than the use of technological components.

You can still buy stilts for kids online. The design is still basically the same. Modern stilts are made from metal or plastic and the height can be adjusted to fit the child. Some can also be strapped on. Parents might be concerned about accidents and broken bones. Unlike in 1966, it is now recommended that children wear safety gear when using stilts, such as elbow and knee pads and a helmet.

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Way back when, Wednesdays

History in pictures

If you are driving along Montague Road at Modbury you might notice a very large, distinctive mural painted on the wall of the Karadinga Recreation Centre, which is situated opposite the City of Tea Tree Gully Civic Centre. Formerly a YMCA facility, Karadinga is now run by the Uniting Church of Australia. According to the Karadinga Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Karadinga-Sports-and-Recreation, its name is a corruption of the Kaurna name for the Modbury area ‘Kirra ung dinga’. This means “the place where the red gums grow by the creek”.

IMG_4520 Mural

So what is this artwork about and who is responsible for its creation?

The Karadinga mural is a visual record of our local history since European settlement. On page 28 of the edition dated 28 January 1987, the Leader Messenger reported on the mural, which had been completed in December 1986.  It was painted to commemorate the Centre’s tenth birthday and the 150 years since the State of South Australia was founded. The project was designed by artist Stefan Twaine-Wood and subsidised by the State Government and Watyl Paints. School children and members of the local community helped to paint the mural.

Karadinga mural article

Karadinga mural with children

The mural takes us across time in its depiction of local icons, which are based on historical photographs. The City of Tea Tree Gully area is painted as being expansive, verdant and fertile. In the foreground, Tea Tree Gully’s farming heritage is celebrated. The image on the left of the mural is taken from a 1910 photograph. Behind the hay paddocks are the Tea Tree Gully Hotel (circa 1886) and to the right, the Greenwith Methodist Church, built in 1863.

In the background, we can see a representation of the Hope Valley Reservoir, constructed between from 1869 to 1861. Behind the reservoir are the more modern edifices of Tea Tree Plaza (which opened in 1970) and the Modbury Hospital (which was opened in 1973) alongside the former nurse’s home (now operating as the Torrens Valley Institute student residence).

Behind all of these works of human history lies the timeless beauty of the bush and the hills of the Mt. Lofty Ranges. Overhead, the mural features a huge sprig of the native tea-tree, the popular name for Leptospermum lanigerum, after which the suburb and the City of Tea Tree Gully were named. It is said that when the first colonists arrived, after being so long at sea, they were delighted on seeing beautiful thick growth of the tea-tree growing over and covering the bed of the River Torrens, (Page 118, Settlement to City, third edition, Auhl, Ian, 1993). It is reputated that they used the plant to brew a tea, (Page 6, Tea Tree Gully Sketchbook, Auhl, Ian and Millstead, Rex, Adelaide, 1975).

If you would like to find out more about our local history why not reserve these books online or enquire next time you visit the Library?

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Way back when, Wednesdays

A bigger, better library

In its first incarnation, the Tea Tree Gully Library was a bookmobile. The ‘Municipal Library’ began operating in June 1965. It was a bus that serviced the local community by visiting locations around the local district, Inglewood and Houghton, such as shopping centres, the Council Civic Centre, schools and the Highbury hotel. At this time, Tea Tree Gully had a population of approximately 16,000 residents scattered over an area of 55 square miles. By 1968 the population had increased to 27,000 and Tea Tree Gully had officially been declared a City. The Library’s book stock and the number of borrowers had also increased substantially, making conditions cramped inside the mobile library. Due to its age and poor mechanical condition the bus had to be retired.

Public Library

So the official opening of a new public library made front page news in the North East Leader, a Messenger newspaper on 5 March 1969. The Library was housed in the building which was formerly the Modbury Primary School and headmaster’s cottage, which is now designated as 561 Montague Road, Modbury. It was small compared with our modern library facilities but it had high ceilings, fireplaces and was of solid construction. However, I recall a former Library staff member who worked in the old building shelving books after school commenting that it was cold and that there were mice!

The North East Leader article provides us with some interesting statistics relating to the amount of book stock held by the Library, the number of loans and membership in 1969. Naturally the demand for library services has increased over time. Since 1969 the Tea Tree Gully Library has serviced the community at three other locations. The Library opened on 17 December 1975 at 1020 North East Road, Modbury, adjacent the former Civic Centre and on 28 July 1991 at 98 Smart Road, Modbury, in a joint-use agreement with the Torrens Valley Institute of TAFE. Things have changed quite a bit since the Tea Tree Gully Library moved to our current premises in the Civic Centre at 571 Montague Road in 2003.

As of September 2017 the City of Tea Tree Gully Library has approximately 118,000 items in stock, including not only books and magazines, but also many audiovisual materials which did not exist in 1969. As part of the One Card Library network we can offer our customers infinitely more choice.   On average, the Library issues 75,000 loans per month. We have 28,500 members who have borrowed in the last three years and we enroll around 266 new people per month.

The heritage listed Modbury School House building has been transformed into the Sfera’s 1877 Restaurant which commenced business in 2004. Sfera’s 1877 Restaurant offers fine dining and serves Italian cuisine.

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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

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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