|Me on left with one of my co-workers - centre - and the then girlfriend (now wife) of our boss' son - taken shortly before I left Gympie in 1965|
|The building at the right...Tozer & Jeffery, Solicitors - the window at street level was the window of the basement, christened "The Dungeon"...it is where we had our morning tea breaks|
If you’re a regular reader of my blog you’ve learned to the point of boredom, no doubt, Gympie was the town of my childhood and teenage years.
In late July, 1965 I left Gympie and my job as a legal secretary - a position I’d held for the previous five years - to hit the bright city lights.
Years, and many interesting, fun adventures later, in early 1998, I returned to the town of my youth. (My youth had left town, too)!
Four enjoyable years flew by, after which I packed my swag, and landed on this plateau.
Reflecting upon my time spent working as a stenographer in the law office often I wonder if my partners-in-crime and I ever got any work done. Monday to Friday, three other girls and I pounded away on our Remington and Underwood typewriters.
I’m not sure how much work we managed to get done, but we did manage to create much creative mischief. Nevertheless, we must have performed our respective duties to the letter and symbols – answering the phone; deciphering shorthand; interpreting dictaphones; presenting the error-free typed results to our boss and his two law clerks – because none of us got the sack.
Along with our stenographic skills, we were expert “Mistresses of Mischief”. Humbly (and proudly), I admit I was the leader of the pack. Our imagination was limitless; our timing near-perfect. Nothing was left to chance - almost nothing. There were a couple of close shaves, none of which involved Gillette razor blades.
A co-worker, with whom I’d been friendly throughout our school years - from primary to secondary- and I shared one particular misstep.
A clever, quiet girl, pale and whippet thin, she’d experienced a sickly childhood, one frequently interrupted by asthma attacks. Asthma wasn’t as widespread or as prevalent in those days of yore as it appears to be nowadays. Similar applies to allergies, in my most humble opinion.
I loved to dance. I was always a mobile fixture at the local dances and record hops. The nearby country dances were marked on my social calendar, too.
After much cajoling I finally convinced my friend she, too, should hit the dance floor; trip the light fantastic; do the fandango.
Having succeeded in twisting her arm, I then had to step up, and become her dance instructor.
Our boss was out of the office. His wife, the firm’s book-keeper, wasn’t working that day - an opportunity not to be ignored. Our boss’ vacant office begged to be occupied.
After physically guiding my workmate in the art of frame, stance and foot position, I kicked off my high-heels and climbed up on our boss’s desk.
Flamboyantly, while humming (loudly) a tune or two, I issued instructions to my dedicated pupil – one, two, three...one, two three... twirl....
So involved in the moment we were oblivious to all else.
The other girls out front didn’t have time to alert us of the looming threat headed in our direction.
I wasn’t only fleet of foot that morning, but quick of mind, too.
Upon our boss’ unexpected early return I explained my reason for being aloft on his desk i.e. doing so enabled me to reach the thick, hard-cover law books up high in the floor to ceiling bookcase behind his desk - a feasible defense, I figured.
While the attention was on me, my dance student had gotten with the programme. She was busily dusting on the other side of the room - a quick learner, both in the art of dancing and dusting.
We’d expected to cop a bit of curry, but, instead, our boss appeared to believe my story. On closer inspection, I noticed the hint of a knowing half smile, and a glint in his eyes - both revealed otherwise.
Another performance, on another day - I more than nearly got “sprung” by my boss...I got sprung “good and proper”!
The night before my notoriously infamous exhibition I’d been to the movies to see the then much-hyped romantic-comedy “Irma La Douce”, starring Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon.
Irma was a Parisian “Lady of the Night”. Lemmon played Nestor, a hapless, disgraced cop who became not only Irma’s pimp, but he also became enamoured of her - his ship was sunk. Thereafter, poor Nestor did his utmost to thwart Irma's activities.
It was a most enjoyable comedy.
“While the cats away the mice will play.....”
The following morning after seeing the movie another chance for some high-jinks arrived.
Again, our boss was out of the office, at court, visiting a client or local law firm. It
was a further window of opportunity not to be dismissed.
Having just finished describing the film in animated detail to my enthralled workmates, I ascended the winding polished wooden staircase. The mood of the film was still rife in the air.
Dressed in a rather tight, straight skirt (a fashion of the time), with my shorthand notebook in hand, in readiness to take dictation, I climbed the interior staircase that led to the second storey where the offices that housed the law clerks were.
High heels and stocking intact, I hitched my skirt above my knees. While swinging my hips exaggeratedly, I loudly I burst into my rendition of ...”Swing on the Bell, Nell!”
My highly entertaining stage/stair performance caused my workmates much laughter.
With a captivated audience, there was no stopping me!
Suddenly, I noticed everything had gone quiet, except for me, that is. I was still carrying on like a loony.
Turning my head, I discovered below me at the entrance to the premises, in the foyer, stood my boss, looking up at the sight before him.
He’d re-entered the premises to be greeted by my showgirl display.
A huge smile spread across his face, and then he laughed out loud.
The other girls had their heads down, diligently typing away on their typewriters, or pretending to do so.
The rest of my ascent was completed at a rapid pace, with my skirt smoothed back to a more ladylike position.
Through the years we had lots of fun in that office. Everyone got on...we respected and liked each other.
It was a bittersweet parting the day I left the offices of Tozer & Jeffery, Solicitors, Mary Street, Gympie.
I’d spent five happy years there from when I left high school...but, the time had come for me to move on
Brussels Sprout Soup: Cover 1kg trimmed Brussels sprouts with chicken stock; cook until tender. Add 600ml cream, 1tbs sugar, 1tspn curry powder and a few pinches of nutmeg; blend/process until smooth; season to taste. Reheat without boiling.
Prawn-Moreton Bay Bug Curry: Soak 12 small dried red chillies 2 hours; drain, then process with 4 chopped garlic cloves, 8 chopped shallots, white part of 2 lemongrass stalks, 1tbs chopped galangal, 2tbs chopped ginger, 1tbs chopped turmeric or 1tsp ground turmeric and 2-1/2tbs coconut cream to a paste. Heat 2-1/2tbs peanut oil in saucepan; add paste; stir over med-heat 3-4mins. Add 1kg peeled, deveined, tails intact green king prawns, 2tbs tamarind paste, 1tbs palm sugar, 2tbs fish sauce and 420ml coconut cream; season; cook over low heat 8-10mins; gently stir in 5mm slices of cooked bugs meat (about 500g) - (or lobsters) - and 2 kaffir lime leaves, thinly shredded; cook 2-3mins only.
Curry Cocktail: Fill shaker with ice; add 2tbs vodka, 1tbs banana liqueur, equal parts pineapple and mango juice, pinch of curry powder, pinch of cayenne; shake; fill a Collins glass with ice; strain drink into glass; top with pinch of curry powder and cayenne.