REMEMBER WHEN: Humour – There was once Lennie Lower ...

TURKEY FOR DINNER! WHICH ONE WILL MAKE THE BIGGEST MEAL, LOWER MUSES.

FRANK MORRIS

I first heard Lennie Lower’s name from my father. He loved Lower. He would smile and laugh every time he read the Daily or the Sunday Telegraph. Lower would sensationalise some people for something that would make a nation laugh.

Dad had shed a tear or three when he told me that Lower had died.

“Although he was a knockout journalist from 1930, fame for Lower came literally overnight,” I wrote in a piece on Lower. According to the late (Bill) Hornadge, Lower‘s humour “was very gentle.” He said: “It could be very penetrating. He was wonderful at description. He was a leftie for most of his life, and that came through quite a lot in his writing.

SACKED ON THE SPOT

It didn’t endear him to old man Packer, of course, but they couldn’t do anything about it when he was such a big drawcard at the time.” He was summarily sacked on the spot in 1941. This happened following an episode of imprudent banter with British humourist, Noel Coward. He was visiting Sydney on a wartime fundraising drive.

Lower, a surmising son of a gun, recalled that Packer would never on this occasion let bygones be bygones, was offered was contract by Smith’s Weekly; which he accepted; and stayed there for the rest of his days.

The Dubbo-born King of Humour, Lennie Lower, was aged 43 when he died.

<< There was Lennie Lower! Frank Morris; The article was run in Grand Years a few years ago; the first time in Australian Book Collector was in 2001.

Picture: Final mail. A Column 8 at the Herald was by journalist Joe Payne. Lower got the sack, said Payne, from AWW and the Daily and Sunday Telegraph. Both stories are true.


DOUBLE TROUBLE: “I’M NOT OLD,” PROFESSED GUDGEON. “I PRIDE MYSELF ON MY LOOKS.”

REMEMBER WHEN! ONCE IN A LIFETIME – GREAT STORY-TELLER LENNIE LOWER HAS A GO

FRANK MORRIS

In one of his quirky essays (Arthur) Bryant opined that “one of the advantages of growing old is that one has to have one’s hair cut less frequently; it is one of the lesser afflictions of civilised life, but one that I have always resented and postponed for as long as possible.”

There you are, see what I mean.

The great humourist and columnist, Lennie Lower, grappled with the question of growing old by thumbing his nose! In his novel, Here’s Luck, Lower’s character, Jack Gudgeon, considered the observations of people who called a man of forty-eight “old, superficial and even frivolous.”

BUT I”M NOT VAIN

Lower, the mirth merchant, always let his readers down gently.

“Gudgeon,” he said, “you’re getting old”.

“I’m not old!” I protested.

“You look old,” he insisted.

“That was a lie. I pride myself on my looks. I have not a grey hair on my head. I’m not vain, but in my own defence I quote a remark made by a girl in Flannery’s saloon bar to a friend.

“She said: ’I like his ruddy, clean-shaven, ingenuous face, and he has such a splendidly mature figure and manly bearing. That, I think should be sufficient.”’

So who’s worried about growing older? Think about it. It only happens once in a lifetime.

<< This article, in full version, was syndicated a few years back.

Picture: False Mask: No, not that. He had a haircut and the barber took too much off!


THE TINY TOTS: THE TOM THUMB POKER MACHINE (FAR LEFT) WAS USED IN UNLICENCED CLUBS IN THE 1930s. THE MACHINE TOOK TOKENS AND THE JACKPOTS WERE PACKETS OF CIGARETTES – OR GASPERS, AS THEY WERE CALLED IN SOME CIRCLES IN THOSE DAYS. IT WAS 25 YEARS BEFORE THE CLUBS HAD LICENCED MACHINES IN NSW. THEN THE FUN REALLY STARTED.

REMEMBER WHEN! “SOPHISTICATED” – THAT’S OUR POKIE PLAYER! MAHLAN BARBER SPEAKS OUT

There’s been a lot of change to poker machines in Australia over the past 40 odd years. For instance, there’s more pokies being played in all parts of the world; there are more people playing the pokies than ever before; there are more changes and, in the casino terminology, more alluring pokie machines being released at certain times of the year etc, etc. Australia has moved into the three ring circus which includes clubs, hotels and casinos. When it is all said and done, the pokie is to be played for fun only. The Government is fighting a losing battle against the pokieholics. As I wrote in A Player’s Guide to Poker Machines back in 1981, “Australians are the world’s heaviest gamblers by a long shot.” And will continue to be. I meant it then, and now – FM. The story below was written for Ballygram in 1979.

FRANK MORRIS

The poker machine player in NSW clubs is “probably more sophisticated” than his counterpart in Nevada.

This observation was made by Mr Mahlan Barber, vice president of Bally Distributing Company, Las Vegas. Barber, a recognised poked machine systems expert, said it was a matter of defining the types of players that both areas attract.

“As far as your clubs are concerned it is the same people playing the machines over and over again. They don’t depend on tourists,” he said.

“Whereas in Nevada it’s another matter. We depend on tourists. People come to Nevada from all over the world who are not exposed to poker machines, so therefore the poker machine has a certain charisma.

WAITING FOR THEIR TURN

“In Nevada for example, there are conventions going on all the time and if the convention exhibitor really wanted to entice visitors to his booth he will simply rent a poker machine and hand out free tokens to play with.

“People will stand in line for hours waiting for their turn.

“Now you wouldn’t find one of your club-goers susceptible to this type of inducement only because they are conditioned to poker machines.

“So that’s why I believe your players are more sophisticated than the average player in the States,” concluded Barber.

<< In 1979, this article was written for the December Ballygram published by Bally Australia Pty Ltd.

Pictures: All on top. Mahlan Baber knew how to study and play the pokies. “Back in Nevada, USA, we would depend on tourists. In Australia, the players know the machines and they play time and time again.” Casino v Club movement. Younger people favoured the casinos, with their cross-purpose form of gaming.


THINK ABOUT IT! I have a grandmother and she looks after me and my sister and my brother and no-one else. Claudia.

I like my grandma, she is nice and she is beautiful. Robin.

I wish that my grandma had cleaned my bedroom. Samira.


DOWN CAME THE RAIN? IT POURED AND IT POURED. AND THEN IT STOPPED. THEN IT POURED AGAIN ALL NIGHT. THEN IN THE MORNING, ITS CLEARED. I JOINED MY VILLA MATES AT THE COFFEE SHOP.

LIVING ALONE: IN YOUR RETIREMENT A WOMAN CAN GET A MIXTURE OF FEELINGS

There are times when I get depressed.

ANNE SIMONS*      Adapted by FRANK MORRIS

Living alone in retirement? Anne, who has been retired for five years, discovers that being alone is not the same as being lonely.

“When I was approaching retirement age there was one problem – or stumbling block – which perhaps worries many women, but not me. A man. I didn’t have to worry about ‘my man getting under my feet.’ I don’t have one. I live alone.

“I did think about retirement before the time came, which I consider to be a great advantage. While working and bringing up my children single-handed, there were many things that I had neglected. Since then I have managed to make amends in some spheres.

“I find I quite enjoy splashing around with wallpapers, brush and paint. And there’s no one to laugh about the fact that sometimes I get almost as much paint on myself as on the doors and window frames!,” Anne said.

Her role was to become part of the tribe that went to evening classes in English, which might have annexes that flow from that. Anne took to writing for pleasure.

THE BEST YEARS OF MY LIFE

“I’ve now have written at least 200 poems and have about 80 published in various journals,” said Anne. “Then I found delight in experimenting with some exotic cookery recipes to the advantage of a few clubs in the area. Next, I turned to one of the loves of my youth – music.

“I was pleased to find that the theory and sight-reading hadn’t left me entirely. And no neighbour had yet complained about the few scales and five-finger exercises which I found necessary. If I do find myself getting a little depressed, I find playing my piano really lifts my blues!

“I don’t believe that ‘such and such years’ are the best years of our lives. No one can know this. It’s up to us all, individually; and each stage had its compensations, both financial and otherwise. In retirement, reduced bus and rail fares, visits to cinemas and theatres are a great boon.

“Guilt about neglecting friends and relatives living some distance away has now left me. I’m in touch with them again. The numerous emails I receive, and the replying to them, gives me quite a kick.

“Before my retirement, I never had time to write!,” Anne said.

<< Living alone in your retirement; Best Years Newsletter; March, 2010.

*Not the correct name

Next week: l0 tips for living alone.

Pictures: Backpacking. At 72-year-old, our newest friend in the villa is skirting around the world for 12 months as a last hurrah. Catching up. I look for Skype to catch up to my relatives and friends.


THINK ABOUT IT! The clock ticks. The fire splutters. The cat sings. There’s a knock. Open the door – and there is a smile and outstretched arms and a splodges kiss and a rush of feet. And a day transform. Pam Brown.

My grandma gives my family toys and my cousins too. Rebecca.
I love grandma. She loves me too. We both love each other. Ryan.

<< The children in Mrs Houghton’s year 1 at Chalcot Lodge Primary School, Melbourne.


HEARSES ON CALL: THE POLITICIAN AND LADY RECEIVED THE SEND OFF THEY DESERVED. FROM LEFT: PREMIER OGILVIE’S FUNERAL PROCESSION IN 1938. THE HEARSE LOOKS LIKE A 1934 DODGE THEN A 1939 MERCURY SEDAN; CLARK BROS – BOTH HEARSES ARE 1929 STUDEBAKERS; LADY CLARK’S FUNERAL IN HOBART. THE HEARSE IS A 1940 DODGE.

OLD HEARSES OF TASMANIA: FINAL. CAN’T BEAT THE GRIM REAPER!

Today, most hearses are from Mercedes-Benz or some other imported American model. These days, cars do not lend themselves to being lengthened.

LES MORLEY      Adapted by FRANK MORRIS

Clark Bros had nice looking 1941 Dodge hearse came up for sale in 1972. I went and had a look at it, it was in first class condition. I put a price on it, but missed out. Millingtons had a Chrysler Royal that was really styled at the rear end of the body.

It had nice rounded corner windows, all streamlined. Millingtons also had a Hudson, a 1939 model or there about. There was a 1959 Fairlane Ranch Wagon that also was converted for hearse work. They got a Ford Galaxie that looked rather good, but the smartest was the Lincoln Continental.zz`

Millingtons paid $18,000 for one of the Continentals (two were auctioned) which was sent to the mainland and converted into a hearse. It was also changed to right hand drive. With the conversion and body being built this was to cost Millingtons $40,000 in 1972.

It appeared okay, but I thought it too long in the wheelbase, and with those long doors it’s looked a bit heavy. It did the job for Millingtons. They later replaced it with an Australian Fairlane.

1938 BUICK, 10 YEARS ON THE JOB

Today, most hearses are built on the Mercedes-Benz model, or some other imported American makes. Cars of today do not lend themselves to being lengthened. Sure, we have got some limousines built based on American cars; but since Ford quit the Fairlane there is not much left to select from for the funeral trade.

Some old Fords and Holdens are still earning a living, particularly with the country funeral directors. A certain funeral director in the Midland at one stage was using an extended FE Holden station wagon up until about 2010.

In Queenstown, on the west coast, the local undertaker had a 1934 Ford V8 running until about 1956. He then purchased a second-hand 1938 Buick Straight Eight and got another 10 years out of it.

Most country undertakers often buy second-hand hearses from the larger city undertakers. When the Buick proved to be too old the company purchased a second-hand 1956 Dodge hearse, then a 1959 Fairlane, and, lastly, a 1967 Galaxie.

DEATH IS A NO-NO!

Usually, old hearses do not disappear. They are resold to the smaller undertakers.

Although hearses are used every day. But, today, there seems to be nothing much of interest written about them. Maybe, it’s the thought of death associated with them that is the turning point; but they make a good talking point when you restore one.

I once owned a 1939 Dodge and it is still doing funeral work for Geoff Cuthbert in Hobart.

For someone who wants to restore a hearse, you can pick up one at a reasonable price; the demand for them is not great. But are certainly a talking point at any car club gathering!

<< Old Hearses of Tasmania by Les Morley; Restored Cars Australia, Jan-Feb 2017.

Posted in: Grand Years with Frank Morris at 12 May 17

Stay Informed

Receive eNews & Special Offers

Brochure Request Order

BLOG: Grand Years Read

Last 12 months


Tags