Before I leave the Channel 7 mail room and my early days as the
messenger boy travelling the city from D.Y.T. to the Herald and 3.D.B.
to Crawfords, here are just a few more thoughts and memories.
I actually worked for a couple of weeks in 1960 during a school break
while John Gilby (Mail Room) went on holidays. I answered an advert and
went in to Newspaper House in Collins street. The Accounts department
for 7 was down a flight of steps below ground. Adrian Miller was the
Accountant and Bob Arrow (Who later married Dorothy Bushell-Makeup.) was his 2 I.C. Others there were John Massey, Bob Barnes, John Munnings and a lass named Olive. They provided me with a kit bag and a small weekly amount for tram fares.
Some of my duties included going to 3.D.B. and collecting several
bottles of scotch to take down to 7. destined for General Manager Keith
Cairns' bar refrigerator. I also once had to carry a large drawer on a
crowded tram and another time, fighting to get on the tram to 7 in peak
afternoon period, I got in but the door closed on my wrist and my hand,
which was holding the kit-bag…just about head level for the people
crammed onto the Flinders street stop. Talk about gob-smacked. There
were a number of victims who didn't duck. But I wasn't letting that bag
go. And there were times when I was carrying large amounts of cash
(10-15 thousand pounds. A lot of money back then.) bound for the
national bank up the Paris end of Collins. I would have been an easy
target, but who would have picked a skinny youngster with a kit-bag? Now
they use bullet-proof vans and gun carrying guards.
Descending into the bowels of The Herald building, it was sometimes my
job to pick up a bundle of newspapers and get them down to 7, all on the
tram with bag in tow. The roar of the presses and the heat, especially
in summer, was incredible and of course health and safety was almost
zero. No ear protection, no air-con and few safety guards.
Speaking of 3.D.B. earlier, they had a lift that travelled the two or
three floors of the building and it was Man-Propelled. There was an old
fellow who sat on a stool and hauled on ropes that were
counter-weighted, using strips of rag to protect his hands.
The lift at Crawford's down the other end of Collins street was of the
old, open cage design: sort of wrought-iron patterned and the
floorboards of the building squeaked and groaned. It was a very old
building and eventually Hector abandoned it and Crawford's moved to
When I was working in the mail room, I had a good arrangement with Doug
Cordell, who was the replacement for John Gilby when he graduated to the
studio floor on staging after the departure of Kevin Crawford, Bob
Henderson, Jeff Spenser and Barry Cross who went on a sea-going
pilgrimage to England to find fortune and fame. (Well that proved
Doug and I split the shifts so that he did messenger duty morning and me
afternoon, and the reverse the next day. That worked well and we both
were able to cover the two situations. In the city we walked everywhere
and still claimed the tram allowance.
Yeah I know, guilty of fraud, but hey that was over fifty years ago.
The Statute of Limitations must have cut in by now.