Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Reaching Out To The City Lights...Chapter Nine

After a three or so years’ hiatus, interruption, detour or whatever it was, finally my life was my own. I was living alone as I had wanted to do when first moving to Brisbane. I loved having my own place and space for just me and Sasha, my spirited ginger cat of whom I got custody, of course. It was a given, where I went, he went. Like the flat Dawn and I’d shared in Toowong, my New Farm abode was part of a whole house. Mrs. Smith, my new elderly landlady, had converted the rear section of her home into a reasonably large, private one-bedroom flat/apartment. It possessed a well-laid out kitchen, a large lounge room, bathroom with full bath as well as shower recess and a large bedroom that opened out to a small balcony with four or five stairs leading down to the backyard that flowed onto a wide well-manicured bank of the Brisbane River. From my bedroom, I could see across the expanse of the river to Hawthorne, a suburb on the other side of the waterway. At night, I left the French doors open so I could enjoy the atmosphere of the lights of the river traffic together with the luminosity from the buildings and homes across the way dancing on the water like phosphorescence, while resplendent and interruptive in the night sky, brazenly in competition with the stars.

Mrs. Smith was rarely at home, spending most of her time in Papua New Guinea visiting her brother where he had lived for many years. Her abundant rose bushes and their magnificent array of colourful blooms, not only turned the front garden into a kaleidoscopic spectacle matching an artist’s palette with their breathtaking display, but they also enhanced every vase and empty container in my new home. Mervyn was happy. I was happy. Sasha settled into his new surroundings without a backward glance.

The outside world was changing on the business-front, and had altered in the lives of my boss and his wife, as well. A couple of years after Gavin was born, along came his baby brother, Andrew James. John and Shirley moved from their apartment in Kangaroo Point into the new home they built in Kenmore, a western suburb. Both boys became part of my world and I, a part in theirs.

Everything started to move at a rapid rate of knots. The search for our replacement premises came to an end with the discovery of a newly-constructed building in Fortitude Valley, an inner city suburb, only a few kilometers from the CBD. The new building suited our requirements. There was room within it for a large warehousing area with loading ramp, two large showrooms, one L-shaped, both able to be divided off into two smaller areas if and when necessary, a general office area to amply fit four work stations including filing cabinets etc., an accommodating staff room, four generously-sized offices, plus a spacious reception area to hold a lengthy front desk, receptionist, sofas and visiting clients, together with parking for six vehicles on ground, some undercover.

An architect-interior designer was hired. I hardly saw John Trimmer during those days as he was busily instructing him on the desired interior lay-out, meeting with telecommunications’ people, painters, office and warehouse-fitters, plumbers, electricians and whoever else was necessary to achieve the successful completion of the new home for the Kolotex Group of Companies and its increasing family.

Four sales representatives were hired. Well, actually, two. Ken and Charles, the two young men who had replaced Barry were promoted into the roles of representatives to sell the company’s products to the trade. Charles’ territory spread from Mackay to Cairns in far north of Queensland, out west to Mount Isa and all areas in between. Ken’s territory started in Brisbane, extending up to Rockhampton and all areas west. Ron, based in Inverell, a country town in New South Wales, covered all of the northern, eastern and western areas of New South Wales. The Gold Coast and suburban areas of Brisbane were handed to Ian. Paddy, an Irishman (how would you have guessed!) was hired as head store-man with two junior charges. Isabel managed the Glo International Handbags and Accessories. Mr. Cam Head and his wife Myrtle joined our employ as manager and assistant in the men’s and women’s clothing section of Rogtex. Mr. and Mrs. Head were always referred to as “Mr. and Mrs.” A young receptionist, Dale, adorned the reception area. Direct behind the reception area was my new office. Alongside my office was Mr. Trimmer’s office. The Heads shared an office between John Trimmer’s office and the Rogtex showroom. Isabel’s office was down the corridor, around a corner, nearby to the Glo International showroom. Kolotex Hosiery used either one of the showrooms when required. Two young ladies occupied two of the desks in the General Office area. The other desks were for the sales representatives and consultants when they were in-office. Pam remained our hosiery consultant.

When we opened our doors in 28 Baxter Street, Fortitude Valley, our original staff count of two had increased to sixteen.

Everyone was eagerly waiting in the wings as the interior of the premises was being put into shape. We’d hired the young receptionist before the rest of the clerical staff, who came later, once we’d moved lock, stock and barrel into our new “home”. As soon as the telephone lines were installed into the building, Dale was set in place, even though she would be surrounded by painters, electricians, tarpaulins, ladders and other work equipment. The architect, who was a very tall man of around 6 feet 7 inches in height, was present every day, too. One morning during this hectic time, John Trimmer came running into the Queen Street office where I was still ensconced holding the fort up that end of town. He was flustered, his normally tidy hair out of place. His face flushed, angrily he tossed his suit coat on one of the chairs in front of my desk. Growling rather loudly, he raged about our new young receptionist. Our “big kahuna” in the Sydney office had rung John, and Dale, still not familiar with the new-fangled switchboard and phones tried to connect John Trimmer to the big boss in Sydney, but somehow managed to connect him to one of the painters, instead! John never did see the funny side of it until years later. All I could do was laugh, because I could picture the scene vividly. I could clearly see John ranting and raving not caring who was within earshot, while the painters tried to become invisible, one having a conversation with Paul Kornmehl in Sydney, and John talking to one of the shopfitters. Meanwhile, the long and lanky architect, Ed Devenport was trying to minimize his height and presence in a corner, failing miserably!

The New Year was drawing close. So was the opening of our joint marketing venture. Stocks of clothing, hosiery and handbags were arriving daily by the truckloads. The little city office was looking forlorn and bare as the shining new offices were gradually being completed and fitted with new furniture and equipment. New carpet and tiles covered the floors. I went with John to an office equipment store to choose my spanking new desk, which ended up bigger than his! Drapes were hung. Concertina doors fitted to enable the showrooms to be divided when appropriate.

We were ready, straining at the bit. I was the last to leave the city office, saying a fond farewell as excitedly I looked to the future.

To be continued.....(I hope I'm not boring you all!)


  1. lee,
    Even reliving this event...your excitment is tangible.
    It's a fun read if for your words alone.

  2. Thanks,'s actually good for me writing it, too...because we were on the verge of an exciting time and I'm reliving those times as I recall and write. I was laughing out loud today when I was telling the story about the misdirected phone was so funny at the me, anyway! ;) I have a pretty weird sense of humour!

  3. It's not boring at all. I'm loving the way you build the story.

  4. Anonymous6:26 AM

    Do I have to start counting words Lee? That was only half the length of the last one......



  5. That's good, Robbie...I guess you all will tell me if it is, anyway...or just not bother reading it! lol

    Hey...stop that, Nicole! Give a girl a was either stop it there or continue on for another hour or so! ;)

  6. How could you ever bore us, Lee?! Well, first let me say I'm glad you got the cat! That's a lovely description of your apartment. I can see you there in the evenings with the windows open. Poor Dawn! I bet she was flustered! Did you ever take a picture of your majestic desk? I can feel the exciting atmosphere. Hurry up and write more! Auguri from Sicily. [Btw, I'm just about to link to you in a post.]

  7. I'll try, Welsh! I'll try! I'll probably add to this sequel to "Gone With The Wind" tomorrow. :)

  8. /not bored, just reading quitely

  9. Hey there, Gto...good to see you...keep on reading quietly. I won't disturb you!

  10. Pretty exciting life you lead Lee. I'm glad it's all going well at this point. Somewhere here you must start bringing lunch for the employees and they go crazy over your cooking and you gradually get into catering and running resorts. Just a guess. Okay, I'll wait for you to write it.
    HEY, I just had a thought. You're not making any of this up are you?
    We better not find out you were a shy librarian with glasses and a wild side that would make me blush and no one knows about. Because if you were, I want to know details of your wild side. Everything. Bedtime. Nite.

  11. Wow, things are heating up in the business world for you.
    Do you have a diary that you are referring to or a photographic memory?
    Not bored yet. How could I be? Waiting for episode 10.

  12. Hahaha, I assure you everything is true. I'm embellishing nothing. That gets one nowhere, I believe. What's the point?

    No, diary, just a very good memory. Actually, I was just talking about that with a friend a little while ago. I've always had a good memory. I can quote verbatim. :)

  13. Bored? Bored? No way am I bored with this. But, Lee, here's your book, or a bloody good start to it anyway. I love reading stories about where I really puts me in the story, and I like that.

    Keep going, girl. It's good stuff!

  14. Anonymous3:15 AM

    it must be exciting to be in on the ground floor of a business that is taking off. Were you a little apprenhensive?

  15. Hi Lee ~~ Wow - Big changes for Kolotex and it sounds so exciting -
    and never boring.
    Thank you so much for the Birthday Greetings Lee. I had a great day and am waiting for Geoff and Joanne to arrive. Pea and Ham soup at the ready and Chicken casserole,& bread rolls.
    Geoff will work in my garden tomorrow, best ever present!!Thanks
    again my friend,Take care, Love, Merle.

  16. This is unfolding like one of those mini-series you see on television occasionally. Not knowing the story of your life, I hope it doesn't go the route of my second cousin, an extremely energetic and restless type who has been married seven times. (He also managed his own bar once, so he kinda does remind me of you in a way).

  17. This is all NEW to me so it is not boring and you write wonderfully from memory. My favorite part was the description of Mrs. Smith's apartment and how you left the doors open to see the lights, I was so caught up that I could feel the gentle breeze on my face and feel Ginger curling around my legs.The smell of roses were wafting around from all those vases scattered here and there. Keep up the good work.

  18. Robyn...I'm glad you're enjoying my trip through memory lane. :)

    G'day Merle...I hope you had a great birthday...and enjoy your time with your family. :)
    Hey, I wasn't at all apprehensive. I think I was too excited about it finally getting off the ground and had little time for apprehension. :)

    Hiya Dave...I'm not quite as drastic as your brother...not yet, anyway! ;) It is turning into a mini-series, isn't it? A long mini-series! lol

    You would have loved the roses, Lady Di...there was such a variety of colours...they were magnificent and I did nothing to them...they just grew and bloomed without any assistance from me. Glad you're enjoying the story. :)

    Thanks everyone for your comments.

  19. Lee,

    We share the rememberances of being with a small, growing comnpany when we were young. Mine was HERCO, Houston Engineering Research Corp. I was employee #007, no kidding!

    We had the Pres, Vice Pres, three Engineers, and two Techs to start off.

    Over some 12 years, ( minus 4 yrs in the USAF ) I did everything from Drafting, to designing digital and analog circuits, to designing printed circuit boards, to Mechanical design, to Electromechanical design, to whatever. They shut the doors for the last time in 1990. The pres, Dr. Joe Schweppe died last year, God rest his soul.

    Most fun time in my life!

    The oil industry was next...CONOCO for 15 years. More than half were the most frustrating and miserable years of my working life. I don't buy their gas even now that they are ConocoPhillips.

    Lots of water under the bridge these last 30 years. I would wish our younger ones as much fun as I have had overall though! And as you know, Lee, My fun continues!

  20. Wow, the ups and downs of these last two chapters I can relate to...

  21. It's all part of the rich tapestry of life, isn't it Marc. I'm glad you've found your pot at the end of the rainbow. :)

    Hi throws some odd balls at long as we can choose the right ones to catch, we're okay. ;)

  22. Hi Lee,

    Nope not bored at all. You paint very vived pictures with your words.

    I had to laugh at the idea of some one 6'7" trying to be invisible in a corner while some one rages on.


  23. Thanks, Janice. :) I still laugh when I think of that incident.

  24. I wanted to let you know that your story is far from boring. I was thinking to myself when I started reading this one, how amazing I had this picture in my mind and you had NO photos for me to go by, that is describing a scene IMO absolutely amazingly. I love going down memory lane with you. Keep the wonderful stories coming.

  25. Thanks, Sandra...your comments are great appreciated. :)

  26. NO way is your story boring, Lee ... never think that. It is sooo interesting, and your passion and excitement is shining through.
    Have a great week.
    Take care, Meow

  27. Come on chapter 10!

  28. Thanks, Meow. I hope your week's not too hectic.

    Patience,'s on its way.

  29. Hi Lee

    I worked for a company in the seventies/early eighties which established a branch office from scratch in Brisbane, in Fortitude Valley, so I am familiar with that inner city suburb. I flew up from Sydney regularly for a few days once a month for several years. Sounds as if you become fully immersed in your work and enjoyed that time as the business expanded rapidly

    Best wishes

  30. Fancy that, Lindsay...then you have a good insight into the area and can relate. Thanks for your comment. :)

  31. Ha marvelous. This sounds like a movies. Boring? NO.