“To forget one’s ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root.” – Chinese Proverb
This is a place where I have decided to create all the stories I have found through my family history research.
Here is a story that my father wrote when I asked him to tell me about his working career.
Jack Apps 1927- My Jobs
At 14 years I left school and worked as a grocer boy for Derrin Bros. on Botany Road, Mascot. School leaving age was 14 years and 4 months. My birthday was at school holiday time and when I did not return to school some mug dobbed me in the teacher, so I was forced to return to school until the end of the year. I liked that job. I was the delivery boy, riding a bike with a box on front and delivering the ladies groceries to their homes. Their bickies tasted good while I was peddling the bike and the ladies would give me a bickie for being a good boy. I was also a lolly boy at night for the Milk bar, owned by Clara Apps, Billy Curtis, my Uncle and Aunty, at the Ascot Picture Show at Mascot. That was commission pay of 3 pence in the pound (2 cents in the $2). If I earned 10/- (ten shillings was equivalent to $1) for the week, I thought I was made. In January 1942 I started at A W Stanfield & Co., at Baxter Road, Mascot making rat traps. The war was well and truly on and we made traps for the army; thousands of the! By the time I was 18 years my wage was £2 /18/0 = $5.80 per week and I was courting Joan Thomas, my future wife, then.
I could double my money by getting a job in the wool yard and working much harder too. So, I started at Swinbourne & Stephens workshop at Botany. They were on the Millpond near the original Cooks River. Leaving Botany Road heading south on General Holmes Drive, if you look to your right you will see a tree and bush and I think a part of the brick chimney, that is where they were. My wage then was £5/19/0=$11.90. I finished up with a good job there, working the scouring machine but it was then that I had a yearning to work outdoors. However, jobs were not too easy to get outdoors, so I worked for Butler & Norman at Alexandria, washing bottles, my wage was £6/0/0=$12.00 a week. I lasted a month there as a job came up at Botany Council, off siding on a tip truck, carting sand, gravel and cement, loaded by hand with a shovel. This was where I had my first stint at driving a truck. A 1938 Fargo. I was working on this job when Joan and I got married. My wage was £7/5/0= $14.50. During this employ I was offered my first driving job for Harry West of Rochester Street Botany.
Harry had a contract carting coke (not drink, coal) from Manly Gas Works and delivering it to homes and industrial premises. This was all hand on work as coke was bagged and weighed, 26 bags per ton. About 86 pounds per bag (40kgs). The minimum that was sent to households was 10 bags and as North Sydney was a very hilly port of Sydney, delivering the coke was always up and down steps. The customer was always right, and the coke had to be emptied and stored at their request, under the house, in the back shed, up in Annie’s room, whatever and where-ever.
While doing this type of work I was driving a Chevy Ex-army blitz truck-table top-maximum load of 4 ton; 104 bags, hands on, hands off.
My Uncle Jack (whom I was called after), Dad’s brother, was working at J. Speechley & Son at Park Rd, Mascot, carting wool and sheep skins and he got me a job there that saved a lot of travelling and time from Botany and Manly. I was given a 1928 International Singled tyre, table top truck to drive and my job was to pick up the odds and ends, to and from the wool yards, tanneries and wool stores and hide and skin stores, which were all established in Botany-Ultimo-Pyrmont. We also carted to and from the Sydney Wharves. I was only allowed to load no more than 20 bags of wool as the truck was not large enough to take more, as it had single tyres. I recall doing a favour for one of the Botany Wool scourers, by putting on extra 2 bales to clear their dock. The boss got wind of this and I was told in harsh words never to disobey his instructions. I did not anymore. I was later upgraded to a larger truck, a 1926 International with a capacity of 36 bales of wool and the biggest load of sheep skins I loaded was 2,222 and again this job was a hands on, hands off job. I still have the wool hooks I used, come in handy for the bags of chaff.
It was while working at Speechley’s when our second child, Margaret, was born (July 1950) and Mr Speechley loaned me his car, a 1930 Studebaker Sedan, wind up windows, big roomy seats, to bring her and Mum home from hospital. I would have settled for his work- car, which was a 1928 Ruby Tourer, but I remember him saying “Jack, your wife and baby will be coming home from a warm hospital and the Tourer will be too cold, take the good car.” I think I was there for about 18 months when I got the offer of a job with R.W.Miller & Co., the coal merchants. The rate of pay was similar, but the overtime was colossal. So, there was an opportunity to earn big money. The rate I was on, driving a left-hand drive ex- army jeep was about £14/0/0=$28 but usual take home pay was around £20/0/0=$40.
I eventually worked my way through the tip trucks, from the 5-ton type to the 20-ton left hand drive ex-army Mack with canvas hood. They only had three of these trucks. The largest in their fleet and I was fortunate to be driving one of these, “A Big Rig” in those days. Starting time at Pyrmont Silos was 6.30am and knock off time was whenever. We had to work Saturday mornings as well as grease and wash our trucks over the weekend. We got paid for all this of course and I remember one week collecting £33/0/0=$66. However, I was leaving home when our household was asleep and coming home when everyone had eaten and was ready for bed. So, after about 12 months of this I looked for a more reasonable type of job and hours and started with A. Pitman & Son Heavy Haulage Contractors at Rozelle. The main cartage was steel, from the wharves to the steel works, and to Commonwealth Engineering and Wagons. The first month I was driving a Mobile Crane mounted on a Federal Truck and the jib was at the rear, so I had a twisted neck all day seeing what I was doing. Almost spilt my beer at knock off time.
I was finally promoted to a Semi-trailer, my first ever, and it was an Army Blitz Ford with a 32-foot single axle trailer. I was later promoted to a late model Federal Bogie Drive and Bogie Trailer. However, the travelling to and from work was time consuming and again early starts and late finish, so I resigned and found a job with H. G. Murray at Maroubra Beach, driving a 1948 British Bedford, carting wool from Woolloomooloo Wool stores to the wharves. The trucks capacity was 41 bales of wool; another hand on job, and when we were quiet with wool work we would cart fruit and vegetables to and from tail to rail to Sydney markets and frozen meat, beef and sheep from the cold stores to the wharves. It was at this time that we started to contract with C.G Dunn of Yarra Bay, who was carting paper from A.M.P. I liked paper carting better and left Murray and started with Clarrie Dunn, whose depot was opposite our Rhodes Street house, as my children will remember. Clarrie loaned me £400 =$800 as a deposit to buy the house and it took me a long time to repay him. My wages then, was £19 =$38 per week. It was while working there that Denise and Diane were born ( July 1960) and I use to use my truck to visit them at the hospital. When Mum and the twins were to come home, only Mum was allowed as the twins were tiny and Mum had to express her milk and I had to take this every morning to the hospital and when they wereready to come home we borrowed Clarrie’s 1957 Fairlane.
I was eventually to become Clarrie’s foreman and in 1960 he sold out to J. N. & A. S. Miller who were the owners of East Coast Transport from Gladesville. The Miller side of the
business delivered local transport and storage and the East Coast Transport side was interstate. When I started with Clarrie, he had 6 trucks and we eventually built that up to 28 and this is why made the business looked appealing to the Miller’s. East Coast Transport eventually bought the defunct tannery of Wilcox Mofflin in Sir Joseph Banks Street, Botany. In March 1963 the Gladesville and Matraville depots were combined and I became the local Manager. No more driving! White shirt and tie and an office. Totally, I had 60 employees I was responsible for.
In 1966, Decimal currency week February, I was given a company car, an XE Falcon and was sent to Yeerongpilly, Brisbane to Manage the East Coast Transport Business.
In 1968 Mayne Nickless Ltd., bought the whole of our company. The Director advised Mayne Nickless Personnel, “hands off East Coast Transport”, no interference. They must run the business autonomously, and so it was like that for many years until the big boys, through channels of management and directorship, the Main Nickless influence began moving in. Mayne Nickless was a very good company to be associated with. By 1977 the increasing paperwork, business meetings, computers and scheduling to meetings, I had had enough and took 3 weeks leave to drive to Melbourne and back and staying at some cities and towns to see what was available.
I called into Risdon Stud, Warwick and stayed a couple of days and was offered a job by the owner. He was the owner and founder of East Coast Transport and J.N. & A.N Miller – A.J Miller himself. So, you see we knew each other very well, so I accepted.
It was something different. Horse, cattle, sheep and farming and a lot of general roundabout. This was a good experience of something different. After 2 years it was too confined and quiet and even though I was in charge of the stud for the last 9 months I just had to get out. The wages were half of what I was used to! I had to dig into our savings to allow us to live as we wanted, and of course Maree and Pete going to school was added expenses, so I took a job as a salesman for Condamine Chemical Products and the rest is history. The owner wanted to sell and move to Brisbane. We put our head in the wall, borrowed money and brought ourselves a job. Had to do that, nobody would have an inexperienced bloke like me.
Well, now you have it. I told you there was heaps.
This story was written about 2010