Maybe the penultimate raw draft entry - the project is at 97,000 words and midway through the final chapter: Chapter 1953.
Returning to work has definitely had the wrong impact on the project, but as the routine settles down I'm still hoping to finish the raw draft by the close of next week. I guess the next blog entry will report accordingly.
Research shifted a little this past week from 'delving into the unknown' to recalling the 'vaguely remembered.' Eileen's courtship involved her travelling from Adelaide to Meningie initially by bus and her first overnight stay was in the Meningie Hotel to attend a Ball in the Meningie Town Hall. All of these are familiar to me - having even ridden on the Bob Mitchell bus service several times in my childhood and teen years - but it still sent me digging into the histories.
Meningie Town Hall and Council Chambers were opened in 1889 and also became the local facility for showing movies and holding dances for many years. In recent times, the building is used as an arts and crafts centre with a small cafe for tourists.
The Meningie Hotel began in 1867 as a single-storey establishment owned by William Hitch. The second storey was opened in 1925 and additions made thereafter. Local historian, Marianne Cunneen, has published a book detailing the building's history.
Less is easily available regarding the Bob Mitchell bus service, although research on it wasn't necessary for the brief reference in the story.
Pre World War Two and certainly the Depression years, the push-bike was prevalent and cars were owned only by the well-off in the community. Post-World War Two, cars were not common in families in Adelaide. Sources put it that only one in four families owned a car in the 1940s and even in 1948 there were approximately 162 cars per 1000 people in South Australia (which was higher than the National average!). Many young men were riding motorcycles and taking their young ladies to dances on them. Bill owned and rode motorcycles as his prime means of transport after he was repatriated from the hospital and returned to his country home at Malcolm Plains near Lake Alexandrina.
To impress Eileen during the courtship, Bill bought a 1936 Chevrolet Coupe convertible from Smith's Motors in Adelaide. I have the original papers of the sale and the owner's manual. Holden actually made the coach/body for the car and bolted it to an imported Chev chassis for the Australian market. A car very much like the one Bill bought was sold in 2017 by Shannon's at auction for $50,000 (lucky I didn't know about it or I would be significantly poorer!).
Bill proposed to Eileen on her birthday, March 24, in 1953, his motive being also that he'd been offered full-time work at Naranga Station, a large property established south of Meningie on the way to Salt Creek. When Bill left the Repat in 1952, he was basically unemployed, like many returned service men and women who had been injured or were ill. Bill had begun Airforce training in mechanical engineering, but never finished it, so he was doing itinerant work for local farmers to make ends meet when he began dating Eileen and therefore hardly a realistic marriage prospect. The Naranga Station job gave Bill the reason and courage to ask Eileen to marry him. And she was delighted.
A short distance to travel in drafting - let's see where it gets.
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