The Hordern Hotel

Well I said I’d fill in the gaps today so I’ll try and keep it as short and sweet as possible, which probably means another three days of useless information before I get back to Shay Gap.

After spitting the dummy and leaving the Ford dealership, I thought I’d give a GM/Holden dealership a whirl and went round to James Clay Motors and they put me on straight away. A lot easier back in the 60’s to get work than it is these days.

They didn’t bother trying to indoctrinate me with their products, they had a fairly new model out at that time the HK Holden; it was a big improvement on their HR. I got a couple of sales up my sleeve but wasn’t too happy, I thought the Holden HK was inferior to the Falcon XT the direct competitor; still the people who’d done the deal with me were Holden people not Ford and didn’t need any hard sell.

In my second week I was given a lead on what looked like a promising big order, I can’t remember the company now but Clay’s sent me round to see them. I went through the usual pitch then the  buyer hit me right between the eyes.

He said ” You look like an honest sort of bloke, tell me what’s the best vehicles to do the work that we want and why.” or words to that effect. He’d told me the hard work that his vehicles were subjected to and he wanted an honest opinion

What could I do? I told him ” What you need and the best vehicle to do the work you want is the Falcon 500 Ute, (the 500 was the more expensive, bigger donk model)” Then he asked me who I’d recommend he buy them from, I knew that the mob I’d dumped had the best service and after sales service; so what could I tell him?

“Anderson Ford in Adelaide Terrace ” I told him; he thanked me very much for my honesty, ( I know that he did go order his vehicles through that dealership; I had some good drinking companions there); I went back to James Clay told them what I’d done handed over the keys to my demo told them to forget the commission due to me and I  left. Bit stupid really!

Having been in the car sales game/business/racket for a while Id got to know plenty of blokes in the business especially the used car business. You always had to ‘shop’ your trades around the town to get the best price to seal a deal and you got to know just about every genuine used car dealer, There are/were some.

Anyway one of the used car feller’s said he’d give me a go selling his used cars if I was stuck so I took him up on it but I couldn’t hack it,  I won’t go into the reasons why this is getting to long drawn out as it is!

I was having a drink at the Ozone Hotel,  Ozone hotel    (the old watering hole for Anderson Ford salesman) on Adelaide Terrace with Neville Mountain and his offsider Jack,( they ran the used car’s division before going off on their own a year or so later) and Jack asked me what I planned on doing, I said I’d probably go back to Anderson Fords and he said “Why don’t you get yourself a job in a pub?” “What the hell do I know about pubs” says me. “Well” says Jack ” you do half of your business at a bar,  your girl friends dad’s got a pub and  you ought to know what’s going on,  you spend more time in a pub than on the road”; we were pretty good mates so I didn’t take offence “so why not give it a go” says he, then comes the point.

“I’ve got a mate who’s got a pub in the bush and he’s having trouble getting a reliable bloke to look after his bars, he asked if I knew anyone who’d be interested” “You’re conning me” was my immediate retort, “No” says he “He’s a real good mate and needs a bloke no harm in my asking” “Okay” says me “where is he?” “Down in Narrogin” says Jack, “Where’s that” says me; “Halfway down to Albany” says he; “Okay” says me,” how do I get there, I don’t have wheels”.

“Take one of the cars from the yard” says Nev,  getting in on the act, he could do this he was the boss.

So having nothing better to do I said okay. Next morning  Nev fitted me up in an old 63/64Ford Compact and I cruised on down to Narrogin which was around 120 miles we still hadn’t graduated to metric; it took me a couple of hours I didn’t see any point in pushing it, enjoying the ride. Great car the old Compact big and comfy.  Compact

Pulled up outside the “Hordern Hotel” on the main street of town, and wandered into a small bar. Really quiet, not a sole in there, and this bloke comes  around and says to me “Come round this side” pointing through a doorway, so through I went and he asked what I was drinking and I said “nothing I’ve come to see a bloke named “Goochie” who’s looking for a bloke to run his bars”.

He pipes up “I’m Goochie” so I make myself known and we have a chat and I told him I’d never worked in a pub or bar in my life but had had my  fair share of drinking at them. He said “Okay I’ll give you a try if you’re no good at the end of a fortnight your gone” I said ” fair enough if I’m no good at the end of a week I’ll be gone.” We got on fine.   🙂

Then he tells me that the reason he wouldn’t talk to me in the bar I first went into was because that was the Aborigines only  bar and that that was the only bar they were allowed into.

The Aborigines had only had the right and freedom to drink and go into bars for a couple of years or so and they were segregated in most hotels. I won’t go into the reasons for or against here suffice to say that in 1968/69 this was pretty well the case throughout the West. One of the pubs in Narrogin barred them completely.

We agreed that I’d start the following week so I tootled back up to Perth, gave Nev his Compact back and told them I’d be starting in the pub the coming Monday. I went home to my digs, I was staying with another car salesman and his mother in a nice house close to the city, told them that I’d got a job in the bush and I’d be leaving at the weekend.

I arrived at the hotel on the Sunday I can’t remember for the life of me how I got down there; I didn’t have any wheels of my own at the time. I think I must have gone down by bus, anyway it doesn’t really matter. When I got there I was met by “Goochies” wife Rae, (they were a good team) and she  got me settled in, she gave me a nice big room, well and comfortably furnished and told me to make myself at home. Little did I know it at the time but it really did become my home.

There were two opening sessions of two hours in the country towns of WA back then but I didn’t go infor a drink that afternoon, I had to unpack and settle in as I was starting work first thing Monday morning. Rae told me that she’d be there to show me the ropes and to set the bar up at 9 am, the pub opened at 10.

I didn’t get any sleep that night. Not from thinking or worrying about the job, that didn’t bother me at all.

Narrogin as it turned out was the half way mark on the railway between Perth and Albany and it was here that the steam engines did the shunting and shuffling of goods wagons all night long. I kid you not!  I was washed out completely and  when I put in my appearance in the morning the rest of the staff, that’s the cook and the waitresses and Rae, plus the yardman all were laughing their silly heads off.

They knew what was going to happen to me that first night and didn’t warn me so that they could have a laugh. I did manage to put away a damn fine breakfast though, the best food I’d had in years.

After breakfast, and I didn’t have to wash up, Rae took me to the bar and gave me a run through. She asked if I’d ever pulled a beer and I assured her that I’d never pulled a beer in my life but I’d seen plenty pulled, so she told me  that I’d better beware the customers always gave a new untrained barman/maid heaps but not to take any notice they’d soon get bored ; I told her that I’d be ‘Jake’.

It didn’t take long to remember the prices and the cost of spirits/splits was stuck on the cash registers, so I didn’t anticipate any problems. Rae was going to leave me and throw me in the deep end at 10 when I opened the doors.

But before that at 9.30 on the dot a quiet knock on the bar door, “That’s Bill” says Rae “he always pops in for a couple of whisky’s before opening time” Bill was one of every pub in towns (there were 3 pubs) best customers. He owned a large furniture business and was an alcoholic.

His first stop in the morning was the pub on the other side of the railway line, where he had his 2 whisky’s then the other pub up the road from us (strange; try as I might I can’t recall their names) for his 2 whisky’s then across to the Hordern for 2 more.

In all the time I was in Narrogin I never ever saw Bill drunk, he was always quiet and polite, drank only Macleay Duff Whisky and if we were out he’d reluctantly drink White Horse. I’ve never come across another drinker like Bill, once late in the afternoon when he’d probably got the best part of 2 bottles down him I thought I’d fool him, when he came in for his 2 (always 2 never more I think he thought we didn’t know what he was doing going from one watering hole to the next) and poured him a White Horse. Now I know he’d drink that in an emergency but never if there was his Macleay Duff.

Anyway to cut the story short I poured the White Horse, he took a pull and called me over and said ” I don’t mind having White Horse if you haven’t got Macleay, but don’t pull that stunt on me again!” After all he’d knocked off that day he still knew what he was drinking. That was Bill.

Ten o’clock came and Rae opened up for me and the troops came parading in, a lot of shift workers from night shift shunting, and I started taking orders and pouring beer like I’d been doing it forever, nobody picked me for a tyro, some asked where I’d worked and poured before and I’d just say something like here and there you know what it’s like in this business.

  Rae came up to me and said  “You’ll be right no problems” she left and I never saw her again until lunch time. Jean the barmaid joined me around 11.30 to help with the lunchtime rush and Goochie himself arrived to give a hand, he took me down the cellar and showed me how to change the kegs set the gas and the general running of a cellar. He was a good teacher and I was a willing pupil, I’d decided I liked this side of pub life.

And that will do for tonight!

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