The red under our bed

Findlay MacKay the red biker

Findlay MacKay the red biker

Schools have become hotbeds for extremists wishing to corrupt our youth. We refer, of course, to the leaflet handed out on James Street to schoolkids encouraging them to see a lantern slide about Soviet sporting culture. Thrilling it was too. Maybe.

Bloody Communists. No wonder 1933 never came back into fashion.

Anyway, it turns out that a James Street shop had been converted into the headquarters and clubhouse for the local branch of the Communist Party.

And in 1931, WA’s first ever Communist candidate for the federal senate was Findlay MacKay (pictured above), an engineer who lived in Gwenyfred Street, South Perth.

It is clear that the clean-cut young Commie was much better than the current Socialist Alliance lot who could do with a shower, a barber, and a job. (We are looking at you Alex Bainbridge.)

Poor Findlay not only lost his deposit—reds not being all that popular here in the 1930s—but also got fined for holding an unauthorised rally in Bunbury.

Long a motorcycle enthusiast, it was as a result of his bike colliding with a bus in Vic Park in 1942, that Findlay sadly lost his life.

Biker, Commie, and agitator on the streets of Bunbury. What’s not to like?

Brutish behaviour, and that’s just the zookeepers

penguinsSpeaking of Perth Zoo. In 1924 they threw a Tudor dress-up day. And a record crowd sat among the palms as Queen Elizabeths and Mary Queen of Scots.

Among the crowd was a journalist who wrote under the pen-name Omar Cayenne. We’ll call him Omar.

Omar loved the botanical garden feel of the place, but the plight of animals made him feel sick.

Take, for instance, the bears. Their habitat was so disgusting that if a circus proprietor kept animals in such condition he would have been jailed. They lived in conditions so bad, Omar recommended that no one should even look at them.

The Australian dingo, an animal whose home is the wide, open spaces. This poor brute was cooped up in an enclosure that resembled a freezing chamber. With only a concrete floor, the sick animal was trying to scrape a hole for himself in the hard floor. Obviously no one at the zoo thought to have put some sand in his den.

Nor did Omar approve of putting live frogs into the snakes’ cages, so they could be devoured in the presence of horrified children.

Walking through the grounds, all you could detect was the general air of decay and neglect. The excuse was that there was no money for repairs. Something Omar dismissed as a simple lie.

During the summer the zoo was the rendezvous for tens of thousands, attracted by the beautiful gardens and pleasure attractions for the kiddies. The tennis courts were packed and expensive to book, and so profitable the zoo kept expanding the number of them. There was plenty of money available to spend if they wanted to.

Omar had once lived near the zoo and could testify that during the summer months the stench arising from the place was overwhelming. He suspected the local government would have closed the place long ago if it wasn’t paying a good portion of the local rates.

Keep the birds and the plants, said Omar, and make an ideal botanical gardens. As for the animals, if their present miserable conditions cannot be improved they should be mercifully destroyed, and thus end this tragic farce.

The Dodgy Perth team have never been in favour of zoos, and it is entirely possible that Omar’s recommendations from 1924 should stand today.

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.

The right sort of pervert

Bathing beach, 1920s

You know how it is. Down at Como Beach in South Perth and the only place to change into your swimming togs is in the back of the car.

Well, in 1938 young women were doing so with only the benefit of a towel or two covering the car window.

The Mirror was suitably shocked. Well, sort of shocked. But more a little bit creepy.

Noting that young girls were often undressed on the beach, our journalist made the astounding observation that perhaps young ladies had not grown out of this habit of appearing nude in front of young men.

But while young men would be embarrassed to stare at a naked child, they would not be so coy about a fully developed female body.

And this is where our journalist becomes a little odd. He declares that it is not his intention to be a spoilsport, or to restrict the liberty of girls to change where they like.

After all, those males who get a “spicy delight” from walking up and down past the cars hoping to catch the female form should not be denied their right to do so.

But unfortunately, every now and again someone ruins the party by committing sexual assault.

So, it is up to the girls to make sure that they are not seen by perverts. Only the decent sort of peeping tom is allowed that privilege.

This article is a rewrite of an earlier Dodgy Perth post. You could go and find the older piece, but you shouldn’t really be looking between the towels.

Up yours!

Definitely a parental advisory image

Definitely a parental advisory image

Are you suffering from nervous tension or constipation? Then you need to visit Perth Zoo. A choice of remedies were on offer, including a chance to bathe in radioactive water.

But if that hasn’t cured you, fear not. A nice lady attendant will happily offer you an enema. Or if you want something stronger, how about a complete intestinal cleansing?

In Perth Zoo. In 1950.

Dodgy Perth wonders what the animals made of all this.

Atomic alligator water…. seriously

Feeling sore? Do you know what would be good for you? Bathing in radioactive water. That would be just the thing to relieve your aches and pains.

But where, you ask, will I find this modern miracle? Look no further than Perth Zoo.

1928 Zoo Ad

Discovered around 1904 when Colonel Le Souef bathed in the alligator pond to cure his rheumatism, the radioactive baths became one of the main sources of money for the ever-impoverished zoological gardens.

In the 1920s, it cost just one shilling for admittance to the hot waters, although for a little more you could also get a Swedish massage from Madame Asta Idlund.

Along side those suffering from rheumatism, radioactivity was thought to be very good for those athletes who made regular visits.

But what about those radioactive alligators?