NRMA: Thriving on 100 years of service and moments of profound change!

FORMER PRIME MINISTER BECOMES FIRST PRESIDENT OF NRMA.  

THE FIRST PATROLS, PART OF NRMA’s ORIGINAL FRONTLINE TO HELP STRANDED MOTORISTS. Below: THE 100 YEARS EDITION OF THE OPEN ROAD.

NRMA HAS ASSISTED THE COMMUNITY THROUGH THE DEPRESSION, EMPLOYED VETERANS OF WORLD WAR 1 AND 2, HELPED MOTORISTS WITH PETROL RATIONING DURING THE WAR YEARS, AND BACKED THE NATION’S FIRST ANTI-DRINK DRIVING RULES AND SUPPORTED LAWS THAT MADE SEATBELTS COMPULSORY. AND MANY MORE.

FRANK MORRIS

The first president of the NRMA changed an entire industry and brought kindness and courtesy to the new-found organisation.  His name was John Christian Watson who, at 37, became the Australian Prime Minister. 

“Many values J.C. Watson instilled over his two decades as president remain today,” says an article in the Open Road.

“His organisation was initially all about roads … he broadened its scope to include insurance, road trips, motor camps and tourism. He ended up making the NRMA one of the most powerful motoring clubs in the world”.

In December 1927, a member wrote to Open Road with the idea that J. C. Watson should be dubbed “Good Roads” Watson.

When he died at 74, on November 18, l941, Watson was given a state funeral.

It was when Watson was involved he introduced touring as the ‘must do’ parameter so that during the 1930s, and for this reason, the NRMA set up a touring office to guide people on their road trips.

One person who led the charge was A. W. Scott, who was employed under the NRMA “policy” of hiring returned servicemen.

He was a lieutenant aboard the HMS King George, according to the 1924 Open Road, at the Battle of Jutland. He took up flying and crashed somewhere in France.

In 1924, Scott was hospitalised because of war injuries. After he convalesced, he was “promoted to the touring office where he would manage the expanding market”.

Scott made it a practice to provide a regular feature, made up of weekly road bulletins, and given to the Sydney press. The weekend last minute information was broadcast by all of the radio stations.

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ABOUT THE OLYMPICS …
IN WINNING THE 80m HURDLES AT 17, THE PETITE MAUREEN CAIRD BECAME THE YOUNGEST OLYMPIC GAMES GOLD MEDALLIST IN TRACK AND FIELD. SHE BECAME THE “GOLDEN BABY” OF THE AUSTRALIAN PRESS. SHE CELEBRATED HER 17TH BIRTHDAY BY DEFEATING THE 80M WORLD RECORD HOLDER IN A PRE-OLYMPICS MEET. MAUREEN CAIRD FINISHED WITH CHEST PUFFED OUT IN THE 80m HURDLES FINAL IN RECORD TIME. PAM KILBORN WAS SECOND.
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“For motorists itching to explore, the maps and information about roads he traversed were invaluable” the NRMA noted.

As editor at the time, Scott’s occasional driving companion, A.C.C. Stevens, said he … had resourcefulness in all sorts of ticklish situations.”

Scott’s work as a patrol had clearly not been wasted.

Intrepid Scott said, “I have taken the Essex Six over roads on which no car has even been before …”

Taking over from Scott, was a gentleman who made many drivers feel far more comfortable with a Gregory’s street directory tucked away in their glovebox.

Cecil Gregory came from the Daily Telegraph as a journalist to join the NRMA as the touring and publicity manger to cater for members’ demands.

As well as being a cartographer, Gregory was the skilled editor of the Open Road for five years.
The touring office was described in Open Road as “the hub of travel” where staff gave information on the spot. By the late 1930s, the touring office issued more than 400,000 strip maps, 24,000 itineraries and 7000 letters to members a year.

And this was the time when the NRMA’s “love affair” with road trips was only just beginning.

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ABOUT THE OLYMPICS …
IN 1896, AT THE FIRST MODERN OLYMPIC GAMES AT ATHENS, EDWIN FLACK BECAME AUSTRALIA’S FIRST INTERNATIONALLY “RECOGNISED” ATHLETE. HE WAS OUR ONLY COMPETITOR. FLACK WON THE 800m FINAL AND THE 1500m FINAL. A FEW DAYS LATER, HE ALSO LINED UP FOR THE MARATHON, HIS FIRST ATTEMPT AT A LONG DISTANCE RACE.
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Frank Morris comment: The urbanisation of Australia began in earnest in the 1920s. Population had hit the 5.4 million mark; the capital cities were spreading out; new suburbs were sprouting up – and that meant lots of new streets. The motor car numbers were on the rise, over 22,000 were registered in Australia. People needed some expert guidance on how to negotiate the urban labyrinths. When Cecil Gregory left the NRMA, he decided to use the ‘Gregory’ name on the comprehensive street directory. The first edition was in 1934. It wasn’t the “first of its kind”, but it was the most popular. Hence, ever since Gregory’s became a household name “where’s the Gregory’s” is a familiar catchcry.

THE LEGEND OF THE PATROL. THIS PATROL IS CAUGHT IN THE BOG, A FURTHER STATEMENT ABOUT THE STATE OF ROADS IN NSW.

Material is an adaption of 100 YEARS OF THE NRMA; Frank Morris Comment comes from the Power of the Book, MMS.

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IT’S THE OLYMPICS …
1964 AND TOKYO PLAYS HOST TO THE “HAPPY GAMES” AND JAPAN SPENDS $2 BILLION ON MAKING IT ALL HAPPEN. THIS IS THE FIRST GAMES IN AN ASIAN COUNTRY AND ALSO WHERE AUSTRALIA’S DAWN FRASER WINS THE 100m FREESTYLE FOR HER THIRD TIME IN SUCCESSION IN AN OLYMPIC CONTEST. CONTINUED.
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KOALAS: A time for action -- when we think of the grim situation that awaits them!

“THE BUSHFIRES HAVE HIT OUR COMMUNITIES HARD AND WILDLIFE HAS SUFFERED; BUT THERE ARE THINGS YOU CAN DO TO HELP.” THAT IS A STATEMENT FROM NRMA GROUP CEO, ROHAN LUND IN THE CURRENT ISSUE OF OPEN ROAD. SEND YOUR DONATIONS TO WILDLIFE AND OTHER CHARITABLE ORGANISATIONS IN YOUR STATE.


MASON KNIGHT: YOU BE THE REPORTER. DON’T LEAVE MASON KNIGHT TO TAKE ALL THE CREDIT!

EVERYBODY’S FRIEND, UNTIL: MASON KNIGHT, ACE REPORTER HERE. I’M ABOUT TO NAIL THE RUTHLESS GANG! Below: KNIGHT WATCHED FROM THE SIDE AS THE BULLETS FLEW.

FRANK MORRIS

I got in the front door and the phone rang. “It’s Mason Knight here!” Then dead silence. “Bernie Squires, your favourite editor. I just …” Knight coughed. “… I just wanted you to know that four crooks, headed by McCann, are meeting at Towong Shopping Mall early in the morning. So be there!” Squires rang off.

Squires must think the four crooks are going to explode, thought Knight. They just as well might, you know, he thought. Four murderers with guns are down there for a reason, he thought again.

I’ll bet they are going there to gun down someone else, according to my favourite editor. Knight ran the story through his head. He could be a bastard at times, thought Knight.

Knight gleefully put his hatted figure on the unmade bed. He then went to sleep. In no time at all, he was awake. Knight lifted his sprawled figure off the bed, gave his face a wash in cold water, and a quick shave. He was already attired.

He marched to the car, a maroon 1936 Buick sedan, and was off. Knight headed straight to Towong Shopping Mall, stopped the car, and ran to an escalator coming in the opposite direction. He rode up and down before he spotted the four bandits.

Earlier on, the four men started a serious argument that resulted in a fatal shooting of one man by the others. All of the others ran away after the shot, but were eventually rounded up by police and brought to headquarters.

Knight took in all the action, including the fatal gunshot. He took in who was killed and by whom. The police brusquely rounded up the gang and an innocent man, not one of the crowd, who was unfortunately among the suspects.

Knight saw who the murderer was, who the victim was, and who the innocent man was.

McCann, the boss of a powerful gang, was an escaped convict. He was the first one found by the police. Evans, who stood behind the murderer when he fired the shot, was sure that Barker had done it. Barker, who had just met the murdered man and knew he controlled a gang, wouldn’t dare tell on the killer.

Carter is a pal of McCann’s and a cousin of the murdered man. He hated the murderer whom he had known for four years. Gates was in Melbourne with his girl the evening of the murder and hadn’t seen Carter for two years. He was arrested in Sydney two days later.

Mason Knight made his presence felt among the police. He introduced himself to Police Inspector McCraddock. They talked for a while, got the nitty gritty of the shootout and even eventually asked Knight for his solution.

Knight then stated: Evans was neither the murderer nor the victim, as he stood behind the murderer when the shot was fired. Barker could be neither, since he had just met the murdered man and wouldn’t dare tell on the murderer.

Gates must have been the killer. He could have been in Melbourne the evening of the murder and still committed the crime and fly from Melbourne to Sydney. There is nothing to indicate Carter’s presence at the scene so he must had been the innocent man.

McCann must have been the victim since all the others are obviously alive.

Knight was happy to receive a “well done” by some of the police. Even the Inspector joined in. “That’s the beauty of these cases,” the Inspector said. “You know what the guys ate for breakfast.” Said Knight: “Better still, you’ll be able to read my account in tonight’s Inquirer.”

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THE MYSTERY OF THE HANSOM CAB …
THIS MOVIE IN 1911, WAS ADAPTED FROM THE FIRST NOVEL WRITTEN ON CRIME IN 1886. THE INTEREST IN THE CRIME WAS NEVER ALLOWED TO FLAG. THE MYSTERY IS CLEVERLY HIDDEN UNTIL THE LAST FEW MINUTES. DEALING IN MURDER AND A MISSING WITNESS, THE COURT SCENES ARE EXCELLENT. THE MELBOURNE ARGUS REVIEW CUTS RIGHT TO THE POINT, THE MOVIE IS “WELL ACTED AND PHOTOGRAPHED.” THE MELBOURNE HERALD SAID “THIS APTLY DEMONSTRATED A HIGH STANDARD OF FILM-MAKING.”
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MASON KNIGHT’S 1936 BUICK.

<< Grand Years, 10.

Posted in: Grand Years with Frank Morris at 20 March 20

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