Getting a Better Job
After leaving Collier Garland I had a few dead end jobs before joining the public service.
I was appointed to the MRD in Albert St which was the luckiest break Iíve ever had.
It was where I met my darling wife and weíre still together having raised a wonderful family of two boys three girls and now 13 grandkids.
Arriving that first day I was taken to meet the Secretary, Leo. J. Feenaghty, a really dapper fellow whose name was well known, as his signature was on all vehicle registration papers.
That sort of introduction to the boss doesnít happen these days, youíre just a number in the public service and most wouldnít recognize the boss if they fell over him.
In those days all inductees had to produce a Birth certificate, produce evidence of joining a Union within 14 or 28 days and I think I had to undergo a medical with the Government MO
My first job was in the Plate Section which issued Alpha- Numero number plates replacing the old single Q style ones.
It was a small section, a clerk in charge, two girls, Monica and Denise and me.
It was here that I was to meet a man, my next boss, who became a great racing mate.
He was an ex POW captured by the Japs and locked up in Changi prison in Singapore.
T.K. (Kevin) Skehan he was named but his war time nick was ďKillerĒ he was a stretcher bearer in the POW camp and it was said if you had the bad luck to get sick or injured and he looked after you that was it ......in most cases.
He was quite a few years older than me and lived in Grey St. South Brisbane in a boarding house owned by his widowed mother.
The Museum is on the site these days.
When his father was alive they had hotels and he knew lots of guys in the hotel game.
On Saturdays before I got married I would pick him up in my car and go to the races at Doomben or Eagle Farm.
He was a lucky punter and was never short of money.
He would go for months without opening his pay envelopes.
One Exhibition Wednesday at EF with only one race to go interstate, I had done my dough and asked Kev if he had a bet.
He said he was on Sweet Fred at 8/1 so I borrowed a fiver from him and had 40/5.
When I asked him why he backed it I remember him saying he had never heard of it but by then I was already on.
Anyway it bolted in trained by Arthur Smerdon. It turned out a good horse to follow for us both.
I wasnít always so lucky.
I was working at Peters Ice Cream after leaving Collier Garland and was due to work on the Australia Day Monday.
My cousin from Toowoomba had a tip for a horse that had been set for a race at EF that day.
They were very confident as it had been raining and this horse Mr. Gay loved the wet.
So I took the day off and went to the races with a five pound note in my kick to back this good thing Mr.Gay.
It was in the last race and I waited all day in the Leger for it without having another bet.
By then it had fined up to a nice sunny day and I started to doubt whether the track was wet enough for him.
Stupidly I asked a punter I didnít know from Adam what he thought about the track...Nah its good he said.....look at the blue sky.
So instead of backing Mr.Gay,I could have got 33/1,I talked myself out of it and put my fiver on the favourite Self Defence 7/2 which looked home and hosed until Mr.Gay comes flying home to get up and beat it.
What a rotten day that was,should have gone to work and given my cousin the fiver to put on.
The winner was by Mr.Standfast out of Wilma Gay, I remember it vividly his pink and black checks flashing home.
My next job in the MRD was in the Correspondence section, writing letters all day, chasing late payers and sending those pink slips threatening prosecution if they didnít cough up.
As jobs go it was interesting enough but I missed some of my previous outdoor perks like driving the Ute, picking up plates from the Store and a little bit of freedom that went with it.
Also driving the boss around town when it was required got me out of the office.
I was approached by a very refined middle aged lady from Accounts who knew I was a keen punter.
Olive was her name; she asked if I could put some bets on for her.
That wasnít a problem as I could put them on SP which was easier than taking them to the races.
She would come down every Friday afternoon with her bets on a slip of paper and money up front.
She would mostly back the same horses 5 or 10 bob each way, sometimes a pound.
Mostly she lost but there wasnít much in it.
One day I forgot to put them on with the SP and decided to keep them.
After I arrived at the races I pulled out the slip, and saw she hadnít backed a winner at that stage but had a quid EW on Tudor Hill in the upcoming race the Doncaster.
It couldnít win..... I thought and put the slip and her money back in my pocket.
Well, that was that......... up it got at 33/1.
I learned the hard way, being an SP bookie had its drawbacks.
While still in the Plate section a mate who worked in the department and me had a go at the SP business holding bets from fellow workers and one outside client.
It was only small but suited us at the time as we were both battlers trying to get ahead.
I was single but he was married and had a couple of young kids.
He was a very good lightweight boxer who won a Qld title when he turned professional and he retired from the ring with his brain intact and in good shape.
We never had any trouble with the locals but one day the outside client took the knock after a bad day with a lot of big bets, some of which we laid off and had to settle even though he welshed .
My mate went to see him where he worked and things got a bit heated and the Manager of the show got involved and threatened to call the police.
He settled down when my mate got a chance to explain what had happened and he turned around to the welsher and made him promise to pay what he owed ........which he did on time payment over a period.
Macdougalís Cup was the last straw for us in the SP business, it was a blackout, everyone was on it, all the regulars and even the once a year punters cheered it home, even the roughie placegetters were no help and were backed .
We stayed back until about 7oíclock that night working out the settling and tallying our losses. That was it.................no more bets.