Thursday, January 17, 2019

What happened in Garfield in 1914

This is what happened in Garfield in 1914, 100 years ago. These references are from various newspapers available on Trove

A report on January 15, 1914 in the Bunyip Free Press said that Mr Laurence Plant of Garfield had caught 41 blackfish in the Diamond Creek (in Tynong North) and his companion had caught 36. The fish were caught in less than two feet of water.  Mr Plant went on to say that the trick to catching blackfish was not to go fishing when the sun is shining on the water in the middle of the day as the fish can see you. He also said that there were plenty of rabbits and wallabies within a half a mile from the Railway Station for ‘sports’ lovers. In this sense ‘sports’ lovers means shooters.  I’m not sure how many wallabies you would now see within half a mile (800 metres) of the Railway Station today but you would no doubt see plenty of rabbits. Mr Plant advertised in a later issue of the paper that he would clean chimneys at a nominal cost.

On January 22 in the Bunyip Free Press it was reported that the Iona Brass band visited Garfield and that they are making great progress under Bandmaster Legge. The Iona Brass Band began in 1909 and disbanded in 1916 as many of its members went off to war.

The Argus reported on April 13 that a school boy at the Tynong School, named Smith struck another scholar who retaliated by kicking Smith in the shin and thereby breaking the leg. Interesting report for a number of reasons – firstly they named the school boy involved, this would never happen today; secondly no mention of the word ‘bullying, perhaps they feel that young Smith got his just desserts. 

On April 16, 1914 the Bunyip Free Press reported that the Garfield School Committee had instructed the Secretary to write to the Railways Commissioner and complain about the class of train provided for school excursions as the stifling dog boxes are by no means conducive to the health and safety of children. In the last few weeks there have been similar complaints from commuters about the stifling trains and trams, so no change there in 100 years! In other school news it was reported that Mr John Daly, who had been head teacher at Garfield for 17 years, was promoted to Coburg School in May 1914. At a ‘complimentary social’ to farewell Mr Daly and his wide Gertrude. Mrs Daly was presented with a case of cutlery and a silver sugar and cream bowl.

The Argus of April 29 reported that on Thursday, April 23, the Iona Hotel and adjoining buildings were destroyed by fire. All that remained of the fine block of buildings were 20 chimneys. The hotel had been built in 1904 and its replacement (the existing building) opened in May 1915.

On May 28, 1914 in the Bunyip Free Press there was a report of the Iona Football Club dance, held at the Garfield Hall. At nine thirty there were only five couple present and it looked like the dance would prove a frost. In less than half an hour, a good crowd turned up and an enjoyable time was spent. The Iona Football Club had started as early as 1907 and finished up around 1931.

Bunyip Free Press  February 12, 1914

However, my favourite report for 1914 illustrates how our language has changed over the years.  From the Bunyip Free Press of February 14, under the headline Gay Life at Garfield there is a report of two men and a woman who were behaving in a disgraceful manner in the Garfield township. The Bunyip Police travelled to Garfield and found that the reports were true, so they arrested John and Elizabeth Fitzgerald and a Mr Moss. The police chartered two vehicles and transported the unsavoury cargo to the Bunyip lock-up. At a subsequent court appearance, both men were fined £5 or ones month’s imprisonment and the ‘wife’ was fined £2 or a fortnight’s imprisonment.  As the trio were all of the nomad travelling class they couldn’t afford the fine so they were sent to His Majesty’s hominy factory in Melbourne.  I had never come across the term hominy factory before; it means prison as apparently hominy is a slang word for prison food; hominy being a thin gruel or porridge made from cornmeal.

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