Pennies from heaven?

hospital sign

With the opening of the new children’s hospital there has been interest in the origins of the first one, Princess Margaret. One popular retelling of the tale is:

In 1897, a young girl entered Charles Moore’s department store. She was drawn to an unusual moneybox into which she put three pennies. When Mr Moore asked her what she would like in return for her money, she asked to give it to the children’s hospital. Moore said there was no such hospital and the girl replied, “Then why not have one?” Moore responded, “We certainly will, and we will start it with your pennies.”

When Charles Moore told this story in 1909 at the opening of the hospital there wouldn’t have been a dry eye in the room. And since Moore himself related the tale, it must be true. Mustn’t it? Well, no, so let Dodgy Perth debunk it. But first, why is the moneybox always described as ‘unusual’?

The following section contains racially charged language and an image some may find offensive.

Moore said the moneybox was a “negro” one, where a coin placed into the hand would be thrown into the box. These were sometimes called ‘jolly negro’ moneyboxes or, worse, ‘greedy n****r’ boxes and were popular around the turn of the 20th century. Casual racism like this was the norm in the Perth of a century ago, so we shouldn’t read too much into Moore’s story, or the fact that this box apparently stood on the hospital’s front counter for years. However, today it is obviously unacceptable, which explains why modern accounts of Moore’s tale like to leave out some of the details.


So, there was a moneybox and Moore said it was part of the hospital’s origin. So it must be true, right? Not so fast. Let’s introduce two golden rules of history which will never lead you astray. First, if a story sounds too good to be true, it is almost certainly too good to be true. Always suspect a good story. Secondly, the older the account the more reliable it usually is. Let’s see what story Moore told back in 1897 when he started to raise funds for the children’s hospital.

Then he said he’d been in a rival’s shop, Bickford & Lucas, and noticed they had a penny-slot musical box, an early form of jukebox, probably something to keep the kids entertained while the parents shopped. He thought he should get one for his store and give the proceeds to charity. It was then he decided Perth needed a children’s hospital and the pennies collected in the machine should go towards that.

music box

Quite a different story. No little girl with her three little pennies, a simple question and Moore’s sudden realisation the young lady was right. Just an imaginative idea of starting a new fund for charitable purposes, and one he carried out tirelessly from 1897 until the hospital opened some years later.

Why did he invent a new story? Perhaps it was simply modesty about his own role, perhaps he just thought it was better tale. Either way, we can’t take anything away from Moore as a philanthropist and Perth owed him a great deal. But just because he was a good citizen, it doesn’t mean we have to believe everything he said.

Getting it on at Maccas


Buy Em By The Bag. We dare you.

As you probably know, the good citizens of Guildford are rejoicing over having fought off plans for a 24-hour Maccas to be built at the back of the Guildford Hotel. Even the local MLA, Michelle Roberts, is against any new fast food outlets in the town.

One of the reasons given for opposing the chain was that it was too close to a primary school. In other words, “Won’t somebody think of the children?” But this is far from a novel complaint about hamburger bars.

Although the media had regularly written accounts of how exciting Americans found them, the first burger bars seem to have arrived in WA only during World War II. And, just like the proposed Maccas, these were all-night joints. Which some sections of society found problematic.

In 1943, the head of the Salvation Army demanded that Perth should ensure all burger bars were closed at midnight, or society would be destroyed. How? you might ask. Well, they are “places of temptation”. And not just a temptation to supersize your order, oh no, temptation between the sexes.

You see, burger bars had become pick-up joints. (For young people: a pick-up joint is like Tinder, but without the need to register your email address.) “Perth has held such a fine place in moral standards that it ought to be the vital concern of every citizen to keep it in that position,” thundered the Salvation Army’s commissioner.

And he was not alone. The Women’s Service Guild wanted early closing on hamburgers, as did the Children’s Court magistrate and the Child Welfare Secretary.

Won’t somebody think of the children?

We suspect that the problem with burger bars was they were simply too American for the taste of Perth’s leading citizens. What was more likely to corrupt young minds than being exposed to Yankee food?

Anyway, Guildford has managed to protect young people (at least for the moment) from both the pleasures of a thick shake and the pleasures of the flesh. So we salute them.

Suffer little children


Eugenics R Us

Here at Dodgy Perth we’re a little over hearing so much praise for St Edith of Cowan. After all, how seriously can you take someone who named herself after a local university?

Should we save her house? Probably. Should ECU have spent $715,000 on a tent to name after her? Probably not. Because she was Australia’s first female politician should we assume she was Gandhi and Mother Theresa rolled into one? Absolutely not.

What really gets us is the way everyone keeps going on about how much she loved all of the little children? Did she? Let’s take a look.

In 1929 the Government proposed a new law which would sterilise any girl who they decided was ‘mentally defective’. This was needed, it was said, because the ever growing number of mental deficients were “poisoning with their hereditary taints the lifeblood of the State”.

Edith Cowan, who loved children you’ll remember, was outraged and demanded the bill be changed. She didn’t think, of course, the bill was offensive, but that it did not go far enough. The proposed law said parental consent was necessary before sterilisation, and Edith thought this was wrong. Parents were being cruel by letting their idiot children breed, and “the moron girl should be so treated that she would not become a menace by reproducing her type”.

Fortunately, the bill was shelved and before the Government could reconsider it the Nazis had given that kind of thing a bad name.

Edith Cowan did many great things in her life, but she also held some extremely offensive views. Let’s not create a saint from her life story but remember her as an all-too-real complex human being.


Leader of the plaque


This won’t hurt a bit

Yesterday one of the Dodgy Perth team had to undergo dental surgery. Being somewhat of a nervous disposition, they had successfully put this off for a number of weeks by inventing various unmissable meetings. But finally, the coward submitted to the chair.

Which made us wonder who Perth’s worst ever dentist was. The answer is Harry Derepas. Actually Harry wasn’t a dentist, just a dental assistant employed at Massey Crosse’s dental surgery on William Street. But small details like that weren’t going to stop him.

In November 1923 Lily Edwards, who worked at the Savoy Hotel, visited Harry for a regular check-up. He informed her she needed three gold fillings along with a scale and clean. He then proceeded to drill out a nerve and injected something into her gums.

In immense pain, Lily got back home to discover her gums had turned black and the pain was getting worse and worse. So she went back to Harry who took two swabs and told her the tooth would need to come out, which she agreed to.

This was not a success and poor Lily’s mouth became so septic a vile stench was given off.

Now the story takes a turn towards the weird. In the course of duty a policeman may sometimes be required to do more than just arrest drunks. But how many have been asked to sacrifice a tooth to an unregistered dentist in order to gather evidence?

This is precisely what an unfortunate probationary constable was ordered to do. He was given five shillings and sent to the William Street surgery to ask for a tooth out. The fee was paid and the tooth duly extracted by Harry.

Waiting outside the building was Constable Baumgarten who then entered and arrested Harry for practicing without a license.

We hope the probationer got some kind of medal for going above and beyond the call of duty.

How to get rid of your tan


Ugly tanned body

At this time of year, especially after a day like today, it is all too easy to become tanned. In 1930 this was the last thing you wanted, since it would mark you as someone who worked outdoors. And you wouldn’t want to be mistaken for a tradie would you?

According to the West Australian, the solution was easy. And we invite Dodgy Perth readers to try this and report back.

Make up a solution of peroxide and ammonia bleach. Use six drops of household ammonia to three tablespoon…s of hydrogen peroxide. Pat this solution on the skin with a pad of cotton wool and allow it to dry in.

It is advisable to massage a nourishing cream into the skin after the bleach has thoroughly dried. To be really effective it is necessary to get someone else to apply the lotion to your back.

But perhaps your problem is freckles. And no one likes freckles, do they?

They are due, apparently, to an excess of iron in the system. The cure is a mixture of pumice and peroxide. Add sufficient hydrogen peroxide to three tablespoons of powdered pumice to make a creamy paste.

Smooth this over the freckles and let it remain until dry. To remove, moisten the pumice with cold water until it wipes off easily. Follow with an application of nourishing cream which should be permitted to remain on for five or ten minutes.

From now on we don’t want to see any of our readers with tans or freckles. At least not if you’re following the advice of The West.

Where was Perth’s first gym?

Feel the burn

Feel the burn

There is, apparently, anger at the news ECU is thinking of privatising its gyms. All the users will get in exchange is better opening hours and increased investment in the equipment. Outrageous!

But this does lead to the historical question: where was WA’s first gym? It’s not an easy question to answer, since it depends on what you mean by gymnasium. The school at Fremantle had the first equipment, but it wasn’t open to the public.

In which case, we nominate Stirling Square at Guildford. Some wooden gear, painted white, was erected there around 1885. This was organised by future MLC and local businessman, James Morrison, who was worried about the local larrikins and wanted to give them something energetic to do.


Named after James ‘Young Brides’ Stirling

The following year, Wellington Square got Perth’s first outdoor fitness centre. There was a trapeze, a horizontal bar—one for adults and one for kids— rings and a climbing pole. While it was popular, residents complained the unpainted wood made it look half finished.


Then known as the Recreation Ground

A commercial gym was established in 1887 by William Rosevear at the back of his ironmongers in William Street, right where the entrance to the Bankwest Tower now sits. The club taught self-defence, and had a horizontal bar, free weights and other equipment.

The 1880s saw an obsession with gyms because of the rotten kids. Boys were standing on street corners, smoking and swearing, while the girls were walking the streets looking for a quickie. The solution, known as Muscular Christianity, believed that anaerobic exercise resulted in more spiritual souls.

As the Dodgy Perth staff can testify. After a good gym session we are in no state to smoke, swear or seek one night stands. Muscular Christianity works.

Genuine fakes


Tastier than what we’re serving tonight

Following on from yesterday’s money-saving tips, here are a load of things we will no longer need to buy in the Dodgy Perth household. We particularly like the fake bones in the goose.

(Still no sign of Mrs Dodgy Perth giving us back our credit card, but we remain optimistic.)


Put one pint of dry breadcrumbs into a saucepan with a pint of water. Stir until boiling hot. Take from the fire, add six hard-boiled eggs chopped fine, one pint of chopped walnut, one pint of cold boiled rice, one tablespoon of salt, one tablespoon each of grated onion and powdered sage. Mix well and then stir in three well-beaten eggs. Place an oiled paper in a baking tray.

Form the mixture into the shape of a goose, reserving a portion for legs and wings. Put the ‘goose’ on the paper, form the legs, and put in each a piece of dry macaroni for the bone and press them against the body of the goose. Form the wings likewise and press them down near the back on the paper.

One hour before serving brush the ‘goose’ with melted butter, dust thickly with breadcrumbs, bake in a quick oven one hour, basting two or three times with melted butter. In carving cut off legs and slice body crosswise.

MOCK FISH (1945)

Grate 3 raw potatoes, add an egg, salt and pepper to taste. Beat altogether, and fry until nicely browned.


One tomato and a little sugar in winter, 2 tablespoons grated cheese, 1 teaspoon butter, 2 tablespoons bread crumbs, and a little onion, pinch of herbs, pepper and salt.

Mix all together, and beat in one egg. Put on fire, and stir until thick, then let get cold. This, made into sandwiches, is a great favourite with everyone. Apparently.


Wash and scrape carrots and then cut in fine rings. Cover with water, and boil till soft.

For each cup of pulped carrots use 1 cup sugar and ½ lemon. The sugar and pulp must be boiled until it jellies.

Recipes from the Depression


The Dodgy Perth team queues for lunch

Mrs Dodgy Perth has asked us to tighten our belts a little. Apparently we have been ordering far too many Margaret River reds, and eating out should be a little more Dominos and a little less Fraser’s.

Naturally we have taken this command well and not over-reacted at all. Which is why from now on Mrs Dodgy Perth will be eating only Depression Era food at home until she admits she is being unreasonable.

So until we get our credit card back the following 1932 recipes are all we are prepared to serve.


You know what it’s like. Guests come round unexpectedly. You open up the special can of fruit salad you’ve been saving for an exciting desert. Suddenly the full horror hits. You can no longer afford cream.

Panic no more.

Put one cup of milk on to boil. While boiling, moisten a dessertspoon of cornflour with a little milk. Then stir the moistened cornflour into the milk and cook for three minutes, stirring all the time.

Place in a basin to cool, and, while so doing, beat a dessertspoon of butter and a tablespoon of sugar to a cream with a wooden spoon.

Stir in the cornflour very gradually, one tablespoon at a time. The ‘cream’ will then materialise.


Since you can no longer look forward to a nice piece of fish each Friday, you’ll have to make do with tinned salmon.

Open a tin of red salmon, and empty into a pie dish liberally smeared with butter. Smash up the bones and distribute any juice from the can. Season with pepper and salt, and even off the surface.

Layer with slices from two hard-boiled eggs and cover with a white sauce. Lastly, put on a heavy layer of breadcrumbs, and dot over with small pieces of butter. Place in a hot oven and bake until brown. This will take about half an hour.

Serve with mashed potatoes and peas.

Mauled in the lions’ den

Lions at South Perth Zoo

Lions at South Perth Zoo

In June 1952 a bizarre death occurred at Perth Zoo. Alexander Lindsay Edmeades, of Snook Crescent in Hilton, had jumped into the lions’ den where he was attacked by the occupant.

His badly-clawed body was found about 8 a.m. on the following day.

Strangely, the 36-year-old clerk was not seeking to end his life but attempting to prove his faith in God. A few days before his death, Alexander had written a letter announcing his intention to fast for 51 days, which would save many thousands of souls in Australia.

Alexander was suffering from schizophrenia, which had been triggered during World War II and his last-minute escape from Singapore. Before the war, there had been no signs of mental illness at all.

And Alexander was not the first to be killed in the lions’ den. Just one year earlier Dorothy Bostock had also climbed the 18ft enclosure and jumped to her doom, only discovered the next morning.

The coroner ruled that he did not believe Alexander’s motive was suicide, but a case of someone in the grip of a religious complex. Normal mental processes had been completely swamped by this mania.

Alexander genuinely believed that, like Daniel, God would protect him and that his actions would bring people to salvation.

“I would ask members of the public to take a generous view of this man’s action—and indeed of those of all people who take their lives,” the coroner added.

There’s no cure for stupidity

child_vaccinationHarold Martin, of 315 William Street, was very very angry. He had just sat down to breakfast and opened the newspaper.

There, in June 1906, Harold read Dr Harvey Astles sneering at opponents of vaccination as being misinformed at best and positively dangerous at worst.

Well, Harold was one of those opponents of vaccination. He believed it was a “pernicious, disgusting foolery”. Oh, it was also a “cruel, filthy, unnatural heathenish operation”.

He wasn’t a doctor like Harvey, but Harold knew that vaccination was dangerous. All he needed was a proper diet, good habits, pure air, and abstinence from all kinds of medicine.

Warming to his theme, Harold warned that vaccination did not stop smallpox, it was actually the cause of that disease. Dr Astles was responsible for spreading disease, and he was the one who called himself a medical man.

Further, Harold wanted a law passed making vaccination a criminal offence. He called on the society for the prevention of cruelty to children to save the poor helpless little mites, who will all suffer and die if doctors are allowed to inoculate them.

In conclusion, we would all be better off if every physician, surgeon, midwife, chemist, and drug were wiped from the face of the Earth.

So what does this story teach us? That vaccination sceptics have been around since inoculation was invented. And they were no less stupid then than now.

h/t Museum of Perth