Bacchanalian revels in flats


Perhaps it’s surprising that the first flats built in Perth were extremely controversial. As far as the press could see, nothing good was going to come of this new way of living in the 1920s.

Prepare to be shocked by the discovery that unmarried males were renting apartments:

The latest thing in Perth is flats for young single men.

The flats are used not for residential purposes but for the wild parties of these young high-livers and in more than one instance the practice has become a scandal among the neighbours.

But it would be a worse scandal if some highly respectable Perth parents knew the sort of place their sons were keeping and also the type of resorts some of their daughters were frequenting.

Most of these young fellows are sons of well-to-do families and the result is that they have more to spend than the average working boy. Hence they are not content to take their enjoyment at public dances and shows as ordinary people do. And as the parties they hold are not of the kind that would be sanctioned in their own homes they have to look elsewhere.

On three or four nights a week the bright young bloods invite their girl friends down to these places. If the parties were quite alright nothing need be said. But young men don’t go to these measures for parties that are quite alright.

The truth is that they are wild affairs in the real sense and if a girl isn’t used to drinking before she goes there she finds it very hard to avoid it once inside. To put it briefly some of these well-educated sons of wealthy families are priceless young scoundrels and they don’t scruple to get decent girls along to these flats under the belief that they are coming along to an ordinary private party.

Of course there is nothing in the law to prevent people keeping such establishments if they please. At the same time it is not a practice that is any credit to the flash youths who have started it in Perth. As it is most of them have more money than morals.

So in their own interests we advise them to leave the flat habit to the older roués and enjoy themselves normally as the average healthy-minded young man does.

Private flats for young men are sure to cause trouble in the end.

What cold hands you have, my dear

A quick refresher.

Henry Whittall Venn was a pompous, portly windbag with a huge moustache. After being sacked by Forrest, he passed his final years at Dardanup where he died of heart disease on 8 March 1908.

End of refresher.

Venn is remembered for two things: trebling the mileage of the government railways, and having been an aging lothario.

Guess which one Dodgy Perth is going to celebrate?

At some point, probably early 1901, Venn was at a party when he met a young, but married, actress. We don’t know her name, which is a pity, so I’m going to call her Eve. She needs to be called something.

Since he was 56 summers old, you would think that Venn would know better than to act like a giddy teenager and believe in love at first sight. But that’s precisely what he did.

However, it had been a long, long time since he had been courting young ladies—in fact, he had been married for nearly three decades.

Continue reading →

It’s only gossip if you repeat it

The Sunday Times used to run a column with all the town’s gossip, but few identifying details.

Anyone who was the subject would know who they were, as would their friends and neighbours, but the newspaper trod carefully to enable maximum humiliation with minimum chance of a libel suit.

So, although I have no idea who the subjects were, Dodgy Perth still presents the gossip from the week ending 20 November 1927:

We hear…

That South Perth is the forcing ground for a scandal that will probably wreck several homes.
That a chance word from a mere baby set a social blaze that will take a lot of extinguishing.
That as the little boy had been allowed to see far too much it was the family’s fault.
That if the rumpus gets to the ears of their farmer relative he will make out a new will.

That a married couple from North Perth caused hearty smiles in a tram leaving the Esplanade for home.
That as it was a hot evening, pa and ma reclined on the grass to await the arrival of a picnic launch.
That when they entered the tram, all hands grew merry over the grass-seeds on the coat of pa.
That by the time they arrived at their destination half a hundred passengers had loud laughs.

That a much advertised wedding-to-be may not be if a certain bundle of letters comes to light.
That the owner of the said epistles has been keeping them for many a long year since his jilt.
That an attempt to steal them resulted in the burglar being caught and made to confess.
That as they have also been well photographed, the denouement may be sudden and sulphurous.

That the practice of a Claremont wife of slandering her decent husband recoiled upon her last week.
That as he devotedly gives her all he can in the way of motors and theatres, a pretty lady visitor heard him libelled.
That she discovered that the wife did it to prevent the visitor from falling in love with him.
That in one case the lady visitor fell in love with hubby out of sheer pity for his misery.

That why White City is being saved from slaughter is a mystery no reasonable citizen can fathom.
That this accursed gambling hell has incited many boys and girls to become hooligans and jazz-flappers.
That the type of brawler it breeds is exemplified by the weedy wasters who nightly enter it.
That as bottled beer and pinky is always planted for the closing hour, the subsequent capers would shock a savage.

That a cheeky swain in a northern township bas been given the key of the street over the piracy of several poems.
That for a long time he has been giving the retired farmer’s daughter verses allegedly composed by him.
That he has laboriously copied them from several volumes of poetry by Lord Byron and Bobbie Burns.
That when the schoolmaster relative came along and exposed the fraud the cavalier called no more.

Undressing in cars is asking for trouble

I appreciate that it has been some days since the last Dodgy update. I blame work. And I’m still fiddling with the Venn story to get it right. In the meantime, some sensible advice from the Mirror in 1938:

If some girls must undress in cars surely the more care less of them could make sure that they are not displaying themselves to the vulgar gaze. There is quite a lot of it going on—or coming off?—at ocean and river beaches. And even at places as crowded and as close handy as Como, girls may be seen undressing in the dubious shelter of a car with a towel or two up at the windows.

Possibly with some of them, it is a development from the days when their mothers delighted in completely undressing them on the beaches, to the embarrassment of sensitive young men occupying a nearby patch of sand. But even if the said young men might not be quite so sensitive in the more mature stage of the girls’ development, careless undressing in cars is not to be encouraged.

No one wants to be a spoil sport, or to restrict the personal liberty of the girls who want to use cars as a dressing—or UNDRESSING PAVILION—with or without reasonable privacy. Nor would the average man bother to interfere with those males who derive some form of spicy delight from wandering past such cars in the hope (quite often gratified) of catching a fleeting glimpse of a female in partial undress.

But what local girls want to remember is that there have been cases at some of the outer Sydney beaches where girls, undressing in cars have been attacked by prowlers and perverts.


Miss Verne knows how to be interviewed

As your attorney, I advise you…

Miss Priscilla Verne readily consented to be interviewed.

“Let me tell you how the trouble originated,” said the artiste to our reporter. “On Tuesday night I was singing a song called ‘He Sits in the Front Row,’ and, as I usually do, pointed to a person in the front row. Mr. M’Bride was there, and, looking at him, I sang—

He sits in the front row; he is blushing like a maid,
I love you, darling; be my hub; now, don’t be afraid.
Don’t turn away in anger, dear; I always will be true,
Accept this kiss, and give me one; for I love you.

“To this,” resumed Miss Verne, “I distinctly heard a reply that made my blood boil, and I determined to do something. I consulted a solicitor, and he advised me to horsewhip the man.

“Very reluctantly I did so, but I considered that I had been grossly insulted, and only wanted to revenge myself.

“Accordingly, on Wednesday I penned a letter to Mr. M’Bride, and signed it ‘Alice Chalmers.’ I wrote that I was enraptured by his charms, and asked him to meet me at 1.45 p.m. on Thursday at the Town Hall corner. I added that he, perhaps, would not remember my name, but, doubtless, when he saw me he would remember me.

“I ascertained that he had received the letter, and, accompanied by several other Fayre artistes, I lay in wait for him at the appointed place. He arrived with a punctuality that did him credit, and forthwith I proceeded to interview him.

“I had a neat little, though strong, cane concealed in the folds of my dress, and as he saw me I called out, ‘Come here; I want to speak to you.’

“He began to run, and I followed, and lashed him as frequently as I could. I said ‘You cad; I’ll teach you not to insult another woman as you did me.’

“He broke away from me, and hastily proceeded across the street. I followed, and with each stroke I took good care to let him know what it was for.

“Soon a crowd collected, and I heard him appeal to a policeman. Messrs. Jones and Lawrence, however, put matters right.”

“Have you ever had any such experience before?” queried our reporter.

“Never,” replied Miss Verne. “It is entirely new for me, and I can assure you I was nervous for the time being. In all my years in the business I have always got on remarkably well with gentlemen. The remark, however, was as venom to me, and I plucked up courage and did it.”

Caned by Miss Priscilla Verne


The ladies of the company then met and decided that the man should be chastised.

If you’ve been following the posts here over the last few days, I am prepared to bet that you didn’t guess the direction in which this story would veer:

PERTH, Friday.—An extraordinary scene was witnessed in Howick Street, this afternoon, when Miss Priscilla Verne, the serio-comio singer, who is performing at the Olde Englishe Fayre, publicly chastised a well-known man about town.

It appears that while Miss Verne was singing a song, the man ejaculated an improper remark. Miss Verne took umbrage at this, and called him a “contemptible little cad.”

The ladies of the company then met and decided that the man should be chastised, and a plan to entrap him was arranged.

Miss Verne wrote a notice, signing herself as ‘Alice Chambers,’ saying that she had fallen in love with him, and asking him to meet her at an appointed hour.

He swallowed the bait, and strolled to the meeting place, where Miss Verne met him, and producing the cane, began to publicly chastise him.

A crowd quickly gathered, and hemmed the two in, and before he could escape the man was severely drubbed.

It is probable that the affair will be further ventilated in the police Court.