Piloting the manscape

Kid dressed like a pilot playing with toy plane @ iconicbestiary / Freepik
Come fly with me!

Image: Freepik

Janette may have thought she had not become a pilot but that isn’t true. She loves life and our community and has piloted so many people through Celtic Festivals, Beach Road upgrades, council initiatives, spinning and all the things we don’t know about. It’s how she is. Sonya, our roving reporter has brought us her story:

As a young child in Adelaide, during the war, it was my dream to be a man and be a pilot!  When the training bi-planes flew over I would raise my hands in the air to wave at the brave pilots up there in the sky. I had red hair, which was known as cocker-spaniel red. When we took our dog to the vet, he reckoned he couldn’t tell the difference between me and the spaniel! I think you would describe the colour of my hair as Titian red, but not in those times.

I was teased endlessly by a boy who lived in our street. He called me carrots! “Hello carrots,” he would taunt me . “wWhere are you going carrots?” or “Here comes carrots”. My mother suggested,“Why don’t you call him swede”. Well I did that and it dried up his teasing immediately! Well done, Mum. As a teenager I did competition ballroom dancing, winning a lot of Australian championships. These were held at the Palais Ballroom, on North Terrace. It is now the Palais car park.

As my father didn’t deem it necessary for girls to have careers, I did not become a pilot, but worked in a large wholesale warehouse, G&R. Wills. In those days commercial travellers sold to all the stores. We’d dispatch orders from the shops, from the samples that the commercial travellers showed them. I started out in the underwear department then went on to dresses and eventually I used to help the boss do all his buying. Once or twice a year I used to got to the suburbs with one of the travellers to sell knitwear etc because I was good at selling. I enjoyed my time there.  We had picnics,  basketball and football matches, and an annual ball. I played district tennis and basketball for G.R. Up until last year we still had re-unions, (no partners or spouses for this).

K.A.Wills, the actual owner of G&R. was a Brigadier during the war and according to a plaque in the city, was in charge of the Secret Service in the South Pacific. All the men who had high positions in the warehouse were ex-army ….

 When I got married and eventually became pregnant, my father took it upon himself to sell my good riding jacket and bought me a   Scottish tartan kilt from Fletcher Jones. I could let it out at 3 notches, thus concealing my pregnancy at work.  But after I had to let it out to the last notch, I could no longer hide my secret or be employed. So that was the end of my years at G&R.Wills, as pregnant women would not be permitted to work there, or in most other positions of employment. Women who married public servants or policeman were not allowed to work, at all!

 I got into the world of spinning all thanks to my eldest daughter. She went to an exhibition at the Jam Factory, which was on Payneham Road. She met a man by the name of Ron Doley (the one and only!)  and came home with a gift for me: my first upright spinning wheel. I had it for about a year but didn’t know how to use it. One day my son went over to the Christies Beach school show day. Eunice Brock and Marjorie were demonstrating how to spin. My dear son bought a bag of wool and came home to me saying “Mum, there’s someone over at the school showing people how to spin. You have to go over right now and talk to her. “I did that and the next week I went to her house to learn how to spin.  After a few lessons, I was away!  And I’ve been spinning ever since. These days I’m using an electric wheel. So I’m able to knit up garments pretty frequently. (And aren’t they stunning  creations dear Janette. Onya girl!)



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