Dry hair: our proposal to save traditional marriage

bathing

This is what we must stop. And soon.

Something is endangering the very foundation of marriage. And we at Dodgy Perth are taking a stand. We would like, no we insist on, a plebiscite to defend the very core of traditional holy matrimony.

What can this awful thing be, you ask? Is it mixed-race marriages? Is it a Roman Catholic marrying an Anglican? Or is it The Gays demanding the right to be as miserable as their heterosexual counterparts? Nope. None of those. It is much, much worse. We refer, of course, to the horror of mixed bathing.

As Western Australia left behind the values of the 19th century, the question of whether men and women should be allowed to enter the same stretch of water at the same time became the most pressing issue of the hour.

Take Kalgoorlie, for example. In 1912 the council had to decide whether to allow ‘family bathing’ in the local pool. The experiment had been tried at Claremont, they were told, but it required the local police and three private security guards to be on patrol at all times, otherwise who knows what might happen? Kalgoorlie wisely decided to delay any decisions on the matter

And they were right to do so. As the newspapers explained the following year, bathing suits have a bad effect on the male libido and marriage rates plummet as a consequence.

In times gone by, men were entranced by the sight of girls daintily and modestly attired, and affection sprang from a kind of worship of something which charmed. Are bare necks, bare arms and bare legs, with ugly skull caps, a bewitching spectacle? What effect has the ungraceful ‘flopping’ of the feminine figure on the male emotions? The desire to harpoon it rather than embrace it is probably one result.

The debate raged on for years, but by 1920 science had definitively settled the question. Marriage rates were dropping because the mere sight of the bathing female kills all possibility of reproduction: “The spectacle of a girl in a dripping bathing costume, with wet hair hanging over her eyes, and looking like a bedraggled Skye terrier, has been responsible for many a man taking an oath of celibacy”.

So there you have it. This is the line which must be drawn. Marriage must be protected from change. And mixed bathing is change. Demand the plebiscite now.

 

Damn you, Hoover

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Topless, in a Kalgoorlie bar? The Dodgy Perth team wouldn’t know about such things.

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Mirror, mirror on the wall… Do you have anything to do with Hoover at all?

The Dodgy Perth team is spending some much needed downtime in Kalgoorlie. Like good historians, we booked ourselves into the Palace Hotel, which was probably much finer when it opened in 1897. Downstairs is the Hoover Bar; upstairs you can stay in the Hoover Suite. In the foyer is the famous Hoover Mirror, together with a copy of a romantic poem he sent to a barmaid at the Palace with whom he had fallen in love.

Herbert Hoover, 31st President of the USA, was a mining engineer on the Goldfields from 1897, just as the Palace Hotel opened. He was a regular visitor to the pub, and when he left town Hoover gave them the magnificent mirror as a parting gift. And the long poem addressed to his local sweetheart, the first verse going:

Do you ever dream, my sweetheart, of a twilight long ago,
Of a park in old Kalgoorlie, where the bouganvilleas grow?
Where the moonbeams on the pathways trace a shimmering brocade
And the overhanging peppers form a lover’s promenade?

They quite like Herbert Hoover at the Palace Hotel, and a great deal of their advertising likes to stress the connection. But, unfortunately (as you’ve probably guessed by now) all the above is total and utter rubbish. Except for the bit about Hoover working on the Goldfields.

The poem isn’t by Hoover at all (who, like many engineers, couldn’t write lyrically if he tried) but by Texas poet Hilton Ross Greer in 1906. It was originally set in Mexico and addressed to Carita. Someone, probably someone who had never visited Kal since it now contains references to things that were never there, simply substituted local allusions for the original:

Do you ever dream, Carita, of a twilight long ago,
When the stars rained silver slendor from the skies of Mexico?
When the moonbeams on the plaza traced a shimmering brocade,
And the fountain’s tinkling tumult seemed a rippling serenade?

As for the mirror, it’s never mentioned until after a major redevelopment of the Palace in 1936, where it suddenly becomes advertised as a tourist attraction. Originally just described as a ‘banksia-framed mirror’ in the dining room, a couple of years later it had obtained a new story about its origin.

The manageress, Mrs V Cook, spun a tale about how it had been made in Florence in the 1850s, shown at the Melbourne Exhibition in 1880, cost £1000 to make, had originally been covered in gold leaf, could grant wishes, and had been painted brown by her late husband to fit in with the rest of the furniture. Actually, we believe that last bit.

The mirror looks 19th century, and is certainly magnificent and worth the trip to Kal just to see it. Even more so now they’ve stripped off the brown paint and restored it to its original (gilt-less) beauty. But, sorry Palace Hotel, it has nothing to do with Herbert Hoover. Nor does the poem.

Sometimes, being a historian is a bit like telling kids about Father Christmas.

Like Aversion

Kalgoorlie Racecourse

Kalgoorlie Racecourse

Thousands of fashionably dressed men and women cheered as they battled down the straight for the finish at Kalgoorlie. Yet only a few days later, the winning horse had his head smashed in and his carcase set alight near Gingin.

A hoof from the poor animal was hung in the criminal museum at Perth Police Station for many years. It should be clear 1918 was an unusual year for racing in Western Australia.

The hoof was from Aversion, a horse at the centre of one of the most remarkable stories in the history of the Australian turf.

Now forgotten, Aversion was a first-class performer on the metropolitan courses. He won several big races and was at the top of his form when he was disqualified for a year. As far as the public knew, Aversion had been sent to a paddock for semi-retirement.

The 1918 Goldfields racing season was massive. Perth horses were drifting into town to prepare for the big races. Shortly before the event, an unknown horse named Loch Var was nominated for a third-class handicap. The paperwork submitted with his application showed he was a mediocre performer, and the handicapper treated him leniently.

On the day of the race, it was pouring. Loch Var was brought into the saddling paddock. Although heavily rugged, several commentators noted he looked strong and might do well for himself in the future.

Strange news started filtering through the course. Loch Var, an unknown newcomer, was being backed off the boards. The cash was pouring in, and no matter how the bookmakers lowered the odds, there were still takers. Any price was good enough.

Then they were off! Straight to the lead went Loch Var, and it was no race. In the pouring rain he opened a bigger and bigger gap. But what most people failed to notice in the excitement was the effect of the water on his steaming body. The horse’s white blaze had shifted its position, and a white fetlock was now practically washed off.

There was only one subject of conversation that night. There had been a gigantic swindle! Loch Var was the disqualified Aversion, and should have carried at least twenty kilograms more than he did.

Loch Var’s owners put him straight on a train back to Perth. They did not wait to collect the stake, and did not need to. They had got all they wanted from the books.

But the police were moving. However, moments before they caught up with the criminals, the horse was taken to a paddock at Gingin, his head clubbed and the body set on fire.

The gang was prosecuted, and banned from all racecourses for life.

What remains of Aversion now? Dodgy Perth would love to know if the hoof still exists in a forgotten box in the police archives. Anyone know?

It’s getting hard for miners

impotenceIf you’ve ever stayed up late watching SBS you will probably have noticed those adverts. The ones where they prey on men’s fears of declining performance and then offer a medical miracle that will turn you into a bunny again.

The Dodgy Perth office would like to assure readers that we have no problems in that department. Proof may be obtained in exchange for a meal and single red rose.

But before nasally delivered medicine, do you suppose that men didn’t fret about their declining performance? Of course they did. Even hardened miners feel pressure to perform.

And where there is anxiety, there will be someone out to make a profit.

In 1908, it was herbalists Collison & Laking, who plied their trade next to the Maritana Hotel in Kalgoorlie. They advertised they could cure all diseases of a private nature: failing manhood, nocturnal emissions, and night losses. (Impotence and wet dreams, basically.)

But first, you need to know how a strong manly miner could have come to such a situation. The answer is, as ever, simple. He disobeyed Nature’s Laws when he was young. And this is his punishment.

No, our grizzly gold digger had not broken the law of gravity. Worse. He had engaged in an (at least one) act of masturbation when a teenager. The shame. The pity. The horrible consequences.

But there was no point in getting all depressed about this dreadful violation of Nature’s Laws. Instead, he simply needed to nip over to Collison & Laking who were the specialists who could sell him a remedy before it was too late.

They stressed that ordinary medicines were useless in these cases. Only herbal medicine could restore true manliness.

So, to all Dodgy Perth readers who have indulged in self-pleasure in the distant past, before you fully understood the consequences, we say beware. And get yourself down to your nearest herbalist.

Then we can talk about that dinner date.

You know what gets my goat?

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Who are you calling a hillbilly?

Animal rights activists, look away now. Dodgy Perth presents a horrible tale of goat cruelty from 1905. The scene is Hare Street, Kalgoorlie, around 5 o’clock in the afternoon.

An elderly man, Owen O’Neill, drives his cart up to Edward Chidlow’s house and screams out that the occupant is “a EXPLETIVE DELETED murderer” and “a EXPLETIVE DELETED convict”. The old gentleman dares Edward to come out and settle this like a real man.

Receiving no response, Owen slowly pulls away, continuing to yell abuse.

What could have caused such drama? As it turns out, the death of Owen’s beloved goat.

He had owned a milch goat which much appreciated in Kal. One small girl had been so sick she could consume nothing but a little goat’s milk. Now the goat was dead, and the little girl cried all the time.

Did we forget to mention how the goat died? Edward had lured it from Owen’s premises, shot it, and cut its throat.

The heartbroken Owen walked up to the murderer and asked: “Did you kill this goat?” Edward calmly, and somewhat harshly, replied with a simple “Yes.”

After that, every time he encountered the old man, Edward put his fingers to his nose and baa-a-aa at him like his poor deceased goat.

Of course the whole thing ended up in court. Owen was found guilty of using abusive language in a public place and heavily fined, with the threat of one month’s hard labour if he failed to pay.

The goat murderer, of course, walked free. Justice? It ain’t what it used to be.

Murder and riots: just another evening in Kal

Glen Devon Hotel, Kalgoorlie, 1912

Glen Devon Hotel, Kalgoorlie, 1912

As part of Dodgy Perth’s ongoing quest to bring harmony and love between all sections of Western Australian society, we dig up a forgotten story of Italians and Australians brawling in Kalgoorlie.

It all kicked off in August 1919, with a small disturbance between a few Italians and Australians, who had a brief fight at the Majestic Café.

As the Italians left through the back door, one of them picked up a knife. Later that evening, the same group of Italians, still looking for trouble, brawled with some young men at the corner of Hannan and Porter Streets.

In the commotion a returned soldier, Thomas Northwood, was stabbed in the buttock by Jim Gotti, a 23 year old Italian.

Northwood bled profusely, and although several people tried to assist, none of them knew first aid. By the time the doctor arrived, it proved impossible to save him.

Meanwhile, another returned soldier had been stabbed, although without fatal results.

As the Italians headed towards the Glen Devon Hotel—the main watering hole for Southern European woodcutters and miners—they broke windows, and fired shots from a revolver.

As news of Northwood’s death spread, a bell ringer walked through Kal’s main streets summoning all returned soldiers to assemble the next day.

Several hundred did so at the Soldiers’ Institute, determined to get their revenge against the Italian community.

The Resident Magistrate addressed the crowd and appealed to the men not to use violence. The Italians would soon be back at their camps on the woodline, he said, and the whole thing will be over.

The crowd was having none of it. “They must leave the country,” was the chant.

The returned soldiers agreed not to take revenge if the Government deported all Italians and closed all Italian-owned hotels. And, if all Italians had not left the goldfields by Saturday night the consequences would be severe.

A couple of hundred young men still decided to make their feelings known at the Glen Devon Hotel. Despite a strong police guard, a number managed to force their way in to confront the patrons.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the hotel was deserted.

The would-be rioters decided to help themselves to a few drinks, and tore down an Italian flag hanging behind the bar. They then moved on to another hotel where Italians were known to drink, where windows were broken and more booze stolen.

But failing to find anyone to fight, the crowd slowly dispersed.

The Italian community was not prepared to risk staying in town. Some fled to Perth, while others went to the camps on the woodline a few kilometres from Kalgoorlie.

A few Italian families remained, but it was promised that these would be left in peace.

One of the more unpleasant aftermaths of the whole affair was a general mood across the State that employment should only go to Britishers and that ‘aliens’ should be forbidden from either employment or renting houses.

Preference for our own? Foreigners taking our jobs? Sounds familiar, somehow.

Anzac profits

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A few Anzac gifts available from the Post Office

As you bite into your Anzac biscuit, preparing to celebrate Anzac Day at Anzac Cottage, or maybe have a pint at the Oxford Hotel on the corner of Anzac Road, or…

You get the point. Anzac is a bit more than a military term. It’s a word full of emotion and value. Value in the ‘give me all of the money’ sense, that is.

The wonderful Ms History Punk has exposed the cashing in immediately—really immediately—after the word Anzac was coined. It wasn’t even an official word at first, just a nickname. It wasn’t even popular with some soldiers. So Ms Punk explores the seedy world of business folk safe back home in Australia who never missed a chance to make a little extra.

Like the Imperial Boot Co on Hay Street who announced an Anzac Sale in 1916. Yep. Apparently all those Anzac heroes going off to war meant they weren’t buying footwear like they should have been. And the poor shop was overstocked. So here was your chance to get some cheap shoes before the soldiers came home and the prices went back up again. That’s what they meant by Anzac Sale!

If you were in Bunbury during WWI and fancied a cool drink, fruit, lollies, or perhaps some beef or ham, we’d recommend the deli quickly renamed The Anzac to catch the current mood. Or if you were in Kalgoorlie, why not eat at the Anzac Grill Rooms?

Didn’t get a residence built for you by the local community? Presumably that’s because you weren’t a wounded serviceman. Never mind, estate agents will still sell you a lovely house as close as possible to Mt Hawthorn’s Anzac Cottage. Really close if you can afford a bit extra.

And finally, not serving overseas? Well you can pretend you are by buying some Anzac badges and Anzac hat pins to wear on Anzac Day. Then you can imagine you’re playing your part. And Boans can make a profit. By coincidence, of course.

It was all getting so out of hand that the WA poet Dryblower (aka Edwin Murphy) imagined a dystopia where:

It’s ‘Anzac Cottage’ and ‘Anzac-street,’
Anzac sox for your tender feet;
Anzac collars and Anzac ties,
Anzac puddings and Anzac pies.
Anzac stockings and Anzac shoes,
Anzac buttons and Anzac booze.
There’s an Anzac hat for an Anzac head,
And an Anzac bridegroom newly wed,
While spoony pairs will be sighing soon
For a sweet little Anzac honeymoon!

We were spared this nightmare when the Government suddenly banned the use of the word on anything commercial.

But you should still go to Anzac Cottage. And eat an Anzac biscuit. And be thankful we were spared Anzac socks. Although a pint of Anzac booze would go down nicely right now.