For once the dates elude me; but it must have been sometime in ’67 or ’68, when I got well and truly conned by a ‘mate’!
Now this mate, had a mate, who owned a pub in the country, and this mate needed someone he could, trust to run his bars, and my mate, who was also the publicans mate, suggested that as I conducted most, if not all my business, in a pub, I’d be the perfect bloke for his other mate. Sounds logical if you say it quickly.
So I became the my mates, mate’s bar manager.
I did a post, 3 year ago, with the full story; and for those who haven’t got anything better to do, here’s the link, so you can fill yourselves in, without having to worry me, by asking any silly questions! https://lordbeariofbow.com/2013/11/29/the-hordern-hotel/ 😈
Now the picture of the pub, to the left, I lifted from Google Earth, so it’s pretty up to date. The pubs appears run down now. When I went there in the 60’s it was a One ⭐ rated hotel and looked it!
It wasn’t always possible to get a room there, the commercial traveller types, preferred to stay, there rather than the motel. Nothing like a liquor licence to attract them! 😈
It was here, in Narrogin, that I came into contact with what we now call “indigenous Australians” for the very first time. Well first tie on a personal acquaintance. Then, they were called many things; which I’m not proposing to get into.
There were three pubs in town, ‘The Duke of York’, ‘The Cornwall’ and ‘The Hordern’. The publican, at the ‘Cornwall’, wouldn’t have a bar of the Aborigines, and he had a ruthless way of getting them out of his pub; any that entered, were served, and whatever money was placed on the counter, was scooped up, and put in the till/cash register.
The unsuspecting customer would ask for his change, and the reply always came back the same, “that’s my price, if you don’t like it you can go drink elsewhere”. Of course they couldn’t, because they didn’t have anything left to buy a drink; they only got the one!
Had they put $5 down, that’s what he, (and his staff on his instructions) charged them, for a glass of beer, or wine, that cost 20 or 30 cents, for non-aboriginal people.
And this was legal!
When the law changed and the Aboriginal People were given the right, amongst other things, to buy, and drink, alcohol, Goochie; my new boss, had no qualms about having them in his pub, however, he knew that when they got a few in them, they didn’t mind a bit of a barney, which he didn’t intend to happen in his ‘One’ ⭐ hotel.
I suppose in a way it was segregation, he turned his ‘Public Bar’ into an Aborigines Bar; and the saloon bar stayed as such, with the slightly higher prices; which the Aborigines didn’t want to pay.
Non Aboriginal people could still drink in the public bar, if they wished, but none ever did. They soon found out that the inhabitants of the public bar, were not slow, in soliciting a glass, or two, of ‘Conto’, this was a South Australian Port that they’d discovered. It was quite cheap and cheerful and the favourite drink.
Segregation? Yes in a way, but it seemed to work very well; there was no attempt to stop them going into the ‘Saloon Bar’ , except they’d have to pay more for their drinks. I must admit, I did have a great deal of fun serving them, We got on very well! 😀
They were all of the Noongar people, that had occupied the southwest region of Western Australia for years. There were no full bloods, now; (late 1960’s) very few half-caste; some could almost pass as Caucasian, and they all seemed to have the same surname; Ugle, pronounced You-gall .
The only non Ugle I ever heard of, from Narrogin, that did not share that name, was Barry Cable; Narrogin born and bred, he went on to become one of the greatest Australian Rules footballers, of the 60’s & 70’s, a football legend, as any “Rules” follower will tell you; well of my generation at least!
There are three Ugle’s that I’ll never forget. Effie, Ronnie and Norm. Ronnie was a young bloke, a good shearer and pretty handy on a sheep farm/station. A Wikepin man, with whom I became very friendly; Ivo Raifford Corr, 5th generation Australian “call me Bill” had a decent property, and would have employed Ronnie full time. But as Ronnie told him, “I’d rather drink Conto with me mates”.
Which was a great shame, for Ronnie was a very intelligent young man (about 19 or 20); his IQ had been assessed at more than 160, ( I’d have died for that!). The towns number one doctor, Dr Zilco, and head honcho for the hospital, had tried to bribe Ronnie to go to W.A. University, up in Perth, offering to pay all his fees, (these were the days before Gough Whitlam) and accommodation, for as long as it took, to get whatever degree he wanted.
What was Ronnies’reponse, ‘no thanks doc, I’d rather drink Conto with me mates”! True!
Fifty years or more on, I imagine that Ronnie is long dead, what a waste. He was a good lad, always polite, never in a fight, just loved that Conto!
Effie was a different kettle of fish; could have played ‘Mammy’ in “Gone with the wind” except she wasn’t quite dark enough; physically she’d have been perfect. Had a great sense of humour and would give me, a right going over at times.
The thing that I always recall is the day she came into the bar; head all bandaged, some blood showing through, happy as Larry, accompanied by one of her many cousins, who’s name I cannot remember; something like ‘Tilly’, naturally enough I was curious and the conversation went something like this:
“G’day Effie, what in hell happened to you?”
Big smile, ” ‘Tilly’ hit me on me head, with a brick”;
Had to love her, the night before, her cousin ‘Tilly’ had clobbered her over the head with a housebrick, she’d been carted off to hospital, and I suppose Doc Zilco or one of his offsiders, had patched her up, and here she was, at opening time, ready for another day of drinking with her cousin; no hard feelings. That’s the way she was. A real character.
And then there was Norm Ugle.
Norm was a good little bloke, a little shorter than my 5’9”; – we were still on Imperial (as against the USA system; which I don’t intend to get involved with, in this sortie!) measurements at the time; (we saw the light and switched to metric in 1970) – and weighing in at about 8 or 9 stone. Norm not me! Had Norm had his nephews brains, and chance, he’d have jumped at it. He liked to work!
Trouble was, he was the only one of his people that did. He’d have a drink along with the rest of them, but always knew when it was time to stop. I never saw Norm even half tanked. But it didn’t do him much good. Tarred with the same brush as the rest, nobody would take the risk of giving him a proper, full time job.
Of course his qualifications were pretty well non-existent, and like all of the Noongar people, he survived mainly on the handout, from the government, supplimented by what he could pick up, as an odd job man. Just about the only one who’d actually seek him, out and throw some work his way, was my boss; Goochie, (Colin Henry Gooch, call me Colin, which nobody did, not even Rae, his wife).
One of the big problems in the sou’west of WA, was and might still be, starlings; hundreds, if not thousands, of them. And none of them house trained! For some reason they seemed to like the ‘Hordern’, and made sure they left their mark.
There was no way Oscar, our yardman, was going to climb up on the roof and scrub off the birds droppings, from the verandah, or anywhere else, come to that. Oscar was a canny Scot, as old as the hills, and nobody could blame him.
Now Norm had no qualms, and would merrily climb up and scrub, the thing spotless. It’s actually a fair bit longer, than it appears in the picture.
Goochie had a dickie ticker, and he was advised to give the pub game away. Which probably came a bit late.
He’d recently bought the freehold of the Waroona Hotel, over near Bunbury, on the coast; which he planned to move into, in a couple of years taking me along to run the pub for him. (we did get there).
However, he had to give the lease of the ‘Hordern’ away. He’d spent quite a small fortune taking it from a run down pub to the good pub, that I was now very familiar with and in a way sorry to leave, but was now preparing to move on.
I thought it was time I threw out some unwanted, personal belongings, which I’d been carting around since leaving Victoria; amongst which I found the hand tailored suit, from 1958, which had then, cost me, the lofty sum of 53 guineas. It was still in excellent shape, having been worn rarely. I decided I’d give it to Norm.
Norm was the only Aborigine, that was allowed upstairs at the ‘Hordern’, so I took him up, and he tried the suit on, it was a pretty good fit, and he wouldn’t take it off. Had to bundle up his own gear and off he went, feeling pretty pleased with himself!
Time came for me to bid the ‘Hordern’ fairwell, the last thing I recall seeing, as I left Narrogin, was this little Aborigine, immaculately attired in a navy, pinstripped suit, scrubbing the verandah of the birds droppings. He was a good bloke!
Don’t forget, if you want to know how I landed up working in a country pub, theres a link near the beginning of this, and who knows; you may be the first person to read it!