Way back when, Wednesdays

Feline stud gets wired for sound

We all know that cats are arguably the most popular animals on the Internet. It seems like the local print media also never missed out on an opportunity to report on an extraordinary feline. On page 10 of the edition dated 2 August 1989, the Leader Messenger featured an article about handsome white Yuri, a show cat who enjoyed listening to music on the radio through his headphones. Yuri’s favourite radio program was the SAFM Morning Zoo. So who was “Max the Stereo Cat”, we wonder?

Yuri

Triple SA-FM was the first commercial radio station to broadcast on the clear sound of the FM bandwidth in Adelaide in 1980. The radio station later changed its name to Double SA-FM and then SAFM and dominated Adelaide’s ratings for many years.
The Morning Zoo was a new style of breakfast show. Lead by radio veteran John Vincent with newsreader Anne Fullwood and Grant Cameron, the Morning Zoo show was a mixture of music, news, absurd comedy segments and crazy stunts. For example, there were no shortage of listeners who signed up to go on the station’s Magical Misery Tours (the title of which was based on the Beatles’ song Magical Mystery Tour). Participants were taken to dubious destinations around Adelaide, including the Bolivar Sewage Treatment Works! The Morning Zoo eventually became the popular breakfast show on Adelaide Radio. SAFM is now called Hit107.

Perhaps Yuri was lucky enough to be listening to his owner’s personal stereo. The 1980s was the decade for being ‘wired for sound’ that is, having your own personal stereo. Before the Ipod, there was the Sony Walkman, technology which changed the way people experienced and enjoyed music. Cliff Richard even released a song and album called Wired for Sound in 1981. The video clip for the song features Cliff Richard on roller skates, listening to music on a Walkman cassette player.

Brazilian-German inventor Andreas Pavel is credited with obtaining the patent for the Stereobelt, in 1977, the original concept for a portable stereo. On 1 July, 1979, Sony Corp. introduced the Sony Walkman TPS-L2, a compact, lightweight, blue-and-silver, portable cassette player with chunky buttons, headphones and a leather case. The Walkman was powered by two AA batteries. It featured a headphone jack but as there was no external speaker you could listen to your music in private. Using a second earphone jack two people could listen in at once (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walkman).

360_walkman_0630

Before this time, people had to play vinyl records on a turntable with attached speakers or carry around a cumbersome cassette radio to enjoy music. You could carry the Walkman in your bag and listen to it while commuting. It was just what you needed to help you exercise during the aerobics craze of the 1980s. Or you could clip the device onto your belt when you went walking or running.

During the 1980s Sony added features to its original design, such as AM/FM radio, receivers, improved speakers, bass boost, and an auto-reverse function. You could even purchase a solar-powered or water-resistant Sport Walkman.

Sales of the Walkman were phenomenal. It was known by other names in different countries, as the Soundabout” in the USA, the Freestyle in Sweden, and the Stowaway in the UK. Other companies created their own personal stereos manufactured under brand such as Toshiba and Panasonic. (http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1907884,00.html).

With the introduction of compact discs in 1982, Sony also manufactured a portable CD player (known as a Discman for a short time). Later the company marketed MiniDisc and MP3 players under the Walkman brand.

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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

Special times at the Show

What are your special memories of the Royal Adelaide Show? One of our staff members at the Library was reminiscing about the Show. She mused about how she always loved the fairy dolls on sticks that you could buy there. She proudly displayed her doll in her bedroom.  On the front page of the edition dated 12 September 1973, the North East Leader pictured Anne Marie McArthur from Ridgehaven holding a fairy doll at the Show. Lots of little girls would have been envious. Their mothers also loved these dolls!

Fairy doll

The fairies on sticks were actually Kewpie dolls. They came in various sizes and the large ones were more ornate. These dolls had glitter painted on their heads and they were dressed in pretty colours, amid several layers of net skirt. The doll was fixed to a piece of cane shaped like a shepherd’s crook, so you could hold it easily and then hang it up at home.

70s girl at the Royal Adelaide Show

“In the 1970s and 1980s plastic showbags promoting snacks and lollies competed with showbags for rock groups, celebrities, television programmes and movies” http://www.nma.gov.au/kspace/teachers/adelaide/learning/showbags

 

Today Adelaide hosts a myriad of activities for children but in 1973 when your parents took you to the Royal Adelaide Show it really was a special experience. Families were larger so you were fortunate if you could afford to go every year. Children would save up their pocket money for months in advance, in anticipation of purchasing lots of showbags. With the school year having three terms, the Show also fell during the September school holidays.

Some older people might even remember the days when companies gave out free sample bags at the Show to promote their products, which contained mainly food samples. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-31/six-things-you-should-know-about-the-royal-adelaide-show/8859878 This would have been a boon for poorer kids, especially during the hardship of the Great Depression. These bags were the forerunners of our modern showbags.

Some things have remained the same at the Show. It is still primarily an agricultural event. The price, contents and design of showbags have changed over time but there are still so many to choose from. The ferris wheel and dodgem cars have been refitted and showgoers can play games such as the iconic laughing clowns. However on the map of the Wayville showgrounds Sideshow Alley is now called the Carnival. Patrons can purchase many new types of food are now available at the Showground but you can still enjoy Fairy Floss, waffles, hot cinnamon donuts and even the Dagwood dog.

Some things have gone. The art-deco edifice Centennial Hall was built in 1936 and closed in 2005 because it became structurally unsafe. It has been replaced by the modern Goyder Pavilion. I think that the horticultural displays have downsized but there are still competitions for needlecraft and cookery.

The Mad Mouse, which was the original roller coaster at the Royal Adelaide Show, ceased operation in 2007 and Kewpie fairy dolls have been replaced by toys depicting characters from film and television. The days are over where the Commonwealth Bank used to produce plastic elephant money boxes with the slogan “Get with the strength”. You could also get an iron-on transfer of Humphrey B. Bear for your t-shirt in a showbag from the Savings Bank of South Australia. I used to get excited about visiting the RSPCA shop in the Grandstand complex to build up my collection of Britains brand farm animals. And everyone knew that it was worth getting the Golden Eggs showbag from the egg board – not only for the recipes but because inside the bag you would find a cute molded plastic eggcup with shoes and stockings on its legs.

Eggcups final

Eggs with legs

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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

tumblr_mimrft2DPV1r906l9o1_500

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.

A_biography_(Johnny_Cougar_album_-_cover_art)

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

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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