04 April 2014

No. 44 -- 25 August 1932

This letter is full of examples of how the Great Depression is affecting everyone. The Chicago YMCA College is seeing a drop-off in students and having trouble placing those who did graduate. Keith is still having difficulty finding work. YMCAs throughout the area are shuffling things around to make ends meet. Even George's local church is having to get creative to raise money. The good news: the family is healthy.

Mr. N.A. Hughes,
C/o Y.M.C.A. College,
5315 Drexel Avenue,
CHICAGO. Ill. U.S.A.

My dear Noel,

I was expecting a letter by a mail that arrived the other day, but evidently you did not write, as nothing came to hand. I understand the mail will be leaving here tomorrow morning at 3 a.m. and I am taking the opportunity of dropping you a line.

All the folk at home are exceedingly well, I am happy to say. Mother has completely recovered from her cold and although she hasn't quite the same spirit of “lift” as is customary with her she is still in good fettle.

"The [Chicago YMCA College]
President referred to the
presence of Glover and yourself
 at the College and spoke
 highly of you both. He also
drew attention to the fact that
a number of the men who had
graduated in June had not
been placed because of the
difficulties in the
American situation."
You will be interested to hear that a letter came to Mr. Crosby from President Jenkins, this last mail. The President referred to the presence of Glover and yourself at the College and spoke highly of you both. He also drew attention to the fact that a number of the men who had graduated in June had not been placed because of the difficulties in the American situation. In his letter, there was also a reference to the fact that there would be a possible drop in the number of students for the next school year, and as far as they could see at the present time they could care for about 200 students; that several of the Professors were already on the job endeavouring to secure part-time positions for men so that they could continue their training.

I would suggest, therefore, that you keep in close touch with the College and endeavour to get one of these part-time jobs. Put in a strong plea for it and if you can possibly pull it off you know all that it will mean to you.

Ruth is still at home and is considerably improved; in fact she is back again to her old health and strength again. Last weekend she made application for a job in the dentist’s surgery with the idea of perhaps spending a while at a job of that kind before returning to her training. She has not heard the result of her application.

" Joy will be 15 on Wednesday
of next week. She, of course,
 is beginning to feel that she is
quite grown up, and in fact to
 look at her you would think
 that she has made tremendous
development during the past year."
Keith has been battling around trying to locate a job but it is pretty difficult matter these days. Joy will be 15 on Wednesday of next week. She, of course, is beginning to feel that she is quite grown up, and in fact to look at her you would think that she has made tremendous development during the past year. Edith is sitting for her term exams this week and is putting in a lot of time swotting up matters which she thinks may be part of the examination work.

By the way I heard that our friend Jinkins, of the Father’s Club has spoken to Bob Way concerning your amplifier. It appears that he is a relative of Thomas who used to live in the building and who had the picture show, I think it was at Albert Park, and another one in the country. They are turning out some talkie apparatus for picture shows and he thought there might be a possibility of him disposing of your amplifier. I submitted the matter to him last week, but have not heard the result to date.

We say farewell to Charlie Jutsum tonight. We are making him a presentation, and I am hoping that it will be a substantial amount, because he will need it.

We are re-organising the Membership work and now making it a departmental matter so that the Younger Men’s Department and the Physical Department will each be responsible to go after the renewals of the men associated with those sections of the work. Records will be taken over by Alf Hines’ Department; Charlie Stradwick has been appointed Sub Editor of “Manhood” so that he will attend to that section of Charlie’s work. I do not quite know what we shall do with regard to the Industrial Work — we will probably appoint one of the Industrial Secretaries as Secretary to the Committee.

Next Tuesday we start a big job for unemployed boys. I have been developing this for the last two or three weeks and I think we shall have quite a good programme to put over. The plan is to communicate with over 1000 boys who are on the register of the Boys’ Employment Movement, and we will bring them into the Association building on four mornings in the work and possibly on one or two afternoons. The plan is to give them picture shows with industrial and scenic films and films of a general educational character, followed by lecture talks and discussions, and then a turn in the gym with organised games, followed by a swim in the pool. This, we think, will help to profitably occupy some of their enforced leisure. Of course, the whole thing will be done without cost to the boys.

Port Pirie is in South Australia,
north of Adelaide.
You will also be interested in hearing that Tru Barber who used to be Secretary at Ballarat, and who for the past couple of years has been in Perth, has been appointed as General Secretary of the Y.M. at Port Pirie, and will be taking up his new duties shortly.

The other day I managed to get confirmation of an amount of £100 as a contribution to the Port Pirie Association from the Associated Smelters. This has made possible Tru’s appointment to the position, in addition to which a fine effort was conducted by Frank Woodcraft and a good sum of money secured locally.

The Newcastle Secretary has also resigned, but I do not know just what the plans are likely to be concerning the filling of that vacancy. It is possible that Eric Price who was General Secretary of the Y.M.C.A. at Hastings may be in the running for the job.

Our little Church at South Hawthorn will be holding what it calls “Church Day” on September 7th. It is really an opportunity that will be given to the members and the adherents of the church to make a definite contribution to the church funds in lieu of holding a sale of work or something of the kind.

Conditions at the Church are pretty difficult as you can well imagine and this is one method that has been decided upon as a means of alleviating the position.

"In the Association we are still
battling along, although it is desperately
hard and money comes with difficulty.
As far as the house is concerned
we are down to 43 permanent
 residents and the number of
casuals coming in daily is
 ridiculously small."
In the Association we are still battling along, although it is desperately hard and money comes with difficulty. As far as the house is concerned we are down to 43 permanent residents and the number of casuals coming in daily is ridiculously small.

The Cafeteria is holding its own despite the difficulties we are facing, although of course the returns from that department are greatly diminished in comparison with other years.

I must finish off now, boy. This letter should reach you just prior to the commencement of your school work, and I do sincerely hope that it will be possible for you to have some part time job made open for you, so that the future may be to some extent assured.

We all unite in warmest love,
Yours affectionately
Dad

25 March 2014

No. 43 -- 15 August 1932

Finally, George has heard from Noel and it seems to have brought him a lot of relief. The tone of the letter has lifted compared to the previous few letters in which George fretted so much about finances. We learn more about Noel's summer work with Dean Ames on his farm, and the juicy information that the Dean is no longer with the college. We get a little information about what is going on in Chicago, plus updates about the Melbourne YMCA's programs. And most interesting to me, we see the first reference to my grandmother, Marion Smith. Noel seems to be pretty serious about her, although the reference is very cryptic.

Mr. N.A. Hughes,
C/o Y.M.C.A. College,
5315 Drexel Avenue,
CHICAGO. Ill. U.S.A.

My dear Noel,

Your letter of July 3rd reached me this week. I notice, though, that it bore the postmark of July 10th, which indicates that after you had written it you held if or approximately a week.

You may be surprised to learn that it is a month since you wrote to us. We were naturally anxious to know how you were getting along and thought that possibly you were either short of cash and could not provide the postage, or else that you were so busy with the Dean in his job that you had very few opportunities of doing so.

We were very glad to get the news concerning your work with Dean Ames, although we can see that you are having a heavy time with the work that you have to do.

"We are exceedingly sorry to learn
that Dean Ames has severed his
connection with the College.
... he mentions that Dean Ames 

had had a bit of a row with the
Faculty and I judge from that,
that there may have been some
reason behind it which the Dean
has not referred to in his
conversation with you.
You will, therefore, be
particularly careful that you
do not take sides in the matter."
We are exceedingly sorry to learn that Dean Ames has severed his connection with the College. He will be a distinct loss to the Movement. It is also a great regret that there is no place for him to fill in the Movement at the present moment. With all the fine experience he has had and the splendid teaching ability he has it seems a pity that he should now be without a job. According to the retirement plan he will receive the whole of the amount that he has paid in plus 4%, so that he will not be at a real loss over the matter, although of course, the loss will come in four years’ time when he would have had the retirement allowance.

Presumably your work with the Dean will make you quite an expert gardener!!

I had a letter from Laurie Bowen in which he mentions that Dean Ames had had a bit of a row with the Faculty and I judge from that, that there may have been some reason behind it which the Dean has not referred to in his conversation with you. You will, therefore, be particularly careful that you do not take sides in the matter.

When you return to the college there will surely be a number of enquiries concerning any conversations the Dean has had with you.

According to his obituary from the Monroe 
Evening Times on 5 March 1959, Dean Ames
did quite well as a farmer after leaving
the college. His obituary says:
"Despite his many years as an educator, 
college administrator and attorney,
Dr. Ames said he considered one of  his
greatest accomplishments was  in producing
132 bushels of corn  per acre on his farm
following retirement."
He is a fortunate man to have his flower farm, as this will no doubt help to keep the pot boiling until a job turns up.

Naturally we are getting a little concerned regarding your return to College as you will have hardly any resources on which to commence your new school year. I am making desparate attempts to dispose of that wretched amplifier in the hope that I may be able to send something to you in time to be of service in connection with your school work.

Johnny Walsh I understand is leaving Veall’s and is likely to take a job with the Vocaltone people, the same firm as that with which Rex Baker is connected. Rex has not returned from Sydney. We are expecting word from him any day.


USA Presidency
Complex Forces in Election.
(1932, August 6). 
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1957), p. 9. 
Retrieved March 24, 2014, from

Continue reading on the TROVE website.
Your reference to the condition of the Association in Chicago and the inability of the Association to pay its Secretaries indicates a very serious state of affairs. We have not yet reached that position I am happy to say, but we are still in very serious difficulties and it will be a considerable time before we will be able to see a way out.

We had quite a number of lengthy cables concerning the convention held in Chicago in connection with the political situation. Evidently, the affairs were of the brass band type and quite a lot of “bally hoo” went on.

The folk at home are keeping well on the whole. Ruth is picking up and we will soon have her ready to return to her job. I think I told you before that she will not be returning to the Homeopathic Hospital. We, therefore, must find another place for her where she can continue her training.

Edith and Joyce are going along quietly, that is, as quietly as Edith can go! You know quite well how full of life and vim she is. Joy has taken a turn in the same direction during recent weeks and we are surprised to notice she is coming right out of her shell and becoming quite voluble and excitable.

"Edith and Joyce are going along
quietly, that is, as quietly
as Edith can go! You know
quite well how full of life
and vim she is. Joy has taken
a turn in the same direction
during recent weeks and we are
surprised to notice she is coming
right out of her shell and
becoming quite voluble and excitable."
Keith has had a few days’ work with the Texaco Company but there is nothing permanent in sight for him. Mother is much better from her heavy cold and looks more like her old self again.

Alec Moodie has tried several jobs since he left the Renaldi people; he at present is running a bakery business in the Preston or Northerly area.

At the Association, things are moving along in much the same way as before. We had about 100 young people who went up to Warburton for the Viking Snow Trip on last weekend. They had a thoroughly happy time and I understand there was a great fall of snow, and on the top of Mt. Donna Buang there was four feet of snow altogether.

We are making certain adjustments in connection with the Boys’ and Physical Departments. We are asking Ivor [Burge] to hand a good deal of his detail to Alan Tassell, so that he might, in turn be able to spend more time outside in personal interviews especially with business men with the object of boosting up that section of our gym work. The classes that Alan has been running for the Boys’ Department will in future be conducted by honorary leaders of course, under the immediate direction of Ivor himself.

You will be delighted to learn that Charlie Jutsum has been appointed General Secretary of the Y.M.C.A. at Broken Hill. He will take over his new duties at the beginning of September. We shall miss Charlie greatly from our work here as you can well imagine, but it will be far better for Charlie to have a job of that kind than to have to leave Association service at this juncture.

The second bunk house at “Manyung” is practically completed and by next weekend, I think it will be ready for occupancy. There have been quite a number of work parties at “Manyung” during recent weeks, especially with the idea of getting the bunk house completed before the winter season is over, so as to have everything in readiness for the coming summer.

You will be pleased to learn that we are setting out upon a new job in connection with the Association. For some time past we have been wondering what action we can take in connection with the unemployed boys. As you know there are thousand of them without jobs in the Metropolitan area and we feel that we should take some special action in trying to fill up their leisure time in some profitable manner. We have, therefore, decided to co-operate with the Boys’ Employment Movement, a special committee that has been formed in the City for the last eighteen months, and we will be charged with the responsibility of seeing that these lads are adequately cared for at the Association building, especially during the mornings and on certain afternoons during the week.

We shall provide a programme of picture shows, lecture, talks, gym, swimming, etc. etc. and in this way help to keep many of them off the streets where they might become a menace to Society.

I have the job of organising this section of the work and it will take me quite a lot of time to have the thing working along the lines that I have in mind. We plan quite a big job in this direction and I am confident that with the backing of the committee concerned we shall be able to put over something worth while.

The Girl’s Guild at the Church held its Birthday Party (its 7th) last Thursday, and there was a splendid turnout of the young people and of course a big gathering of the church folk who came by invitation.

Under separate cover I have sent to you some newspapers which I though you would be interested in looking over.

Before the Public
(1932, June 17). 
News (Adelaide, S.A. : 1923-1954), p. 8. 
Retrieved March 25, 2014, from

While searching through the online newspaper archive
I found this reference to a few familiar names:
Clive Glover, Noel Hughes and Ern Saunders.
This article ties George to Glover and Saunders
from his years at the Adelaide YMCA.
I haven’t heard anything in recent weeks from Clive Glover, although I understand that they are to live-in at the college during the next year.

I had to drop you a line by hand during last week, as Dorrie Yates was away and I did not have anybody available to dictate to. I am afraid George Briggs and Alan Tassell, will have to think seriously about leaving next year. It looks to me as if it would be inadvisable for them to go to the States especially while conditions are as bad as they seem to be judging from all the reports that we receive. I should certainly advise them to remain here at any rate for another year.

You haven’t, so far, given us any information concerning how conditions are shaping up, and I shall be glad if you will drop me a line so that I may have a better conception of the arrangements you think will be possible as far as your future is concerned.

This is the first reference in the letters
to Marion Smith, whom Noel would marry
a few years later, and was
my grandmother. The reference is cryptic
because the woman taking dictation on
the letter was a good friend of Noel's
former girlfriend.

See: The girlfriend at home and other tidbits 
I would advise you to take your time as regards to Marion Smith, especially during these difficult times.

I must close off now. You know we all unite in our warmest love to you, and assure you that we look forward with eager anticipation to the receipt of other letters. There should be another mail in this week. So far you have not advised us whether you received the remittance I forwarded in early June.

With warm love, my boy,
Yours as ever,
Dad.

17 March 2014

No. 42 -- 3 August 1932



As the financial burden at the Melbourne YMCA worsens, the filter drops a bit in this letter and we get some strong emotion from George about the board, calling them "a lot of whipped puppies". We also learn that George has placed his job on the line, telling the board that he would be willing to “drop out”.  This letter is different because he hand-wrote it instead of dictating it to a YMCA typist. I’ve done my best to do an accurate transcription, but part of the writing is lost in the book’s binding, so I’ve had to make a few minor guesses in places. The letter is short and sweet and full of love and longing for his son.


My dear Noel,

This is just a brief line to say Hello! There is a mail leaving today. I feel I must drop you a line even if it is very short. Dorrie Yates is away this week (rationed) and so I am writing by hand.

All at home are well — Mother’s cold is much better but it has left her very weak. My own cold has affected me similarly and I am feeling pretty punk. Still we must “carry on” with the job.

We haven’t much to add to last letter. Keith is still unemployed and so is Ruth. It’s questionable if she will return to the Homeopathic — the work is far too strenuous. We must seek another opening for her. At the association we are still faltering along. How long we can last with our bank position steadily rising is a moot point. It is probable that Charlie Jutsum will receive the appointment of General Secretary to Broken Hill. The National Committee has recommended him for the job and he is willing to accept it. We may be compelled to make other changes in the staff before long. We cannot go on losing £200 a month.

"I suggested to the Board that
I drop out but so far they
have not agreed to the proposal.
It looks to me as if it will
have to be faced soon. I am
getting really fed up with the
Board’s inertia in the direction
of raising revenue. They are
like a lot of whipped puppies —
without any strength to do
financial work."
I suggested to the Board that I drop out but so far they have not agreed to the proposal. It looks to me as if it will have to be faced soon. I am getting really fed up with the Board’s inertia in the direction of raising revenue. They are like a lot of whipped puppies — without any strength to do financial work.

In the long run I guess I will have to let programme matters go and give almost my entire time to financial solicitation.

I have had you much in my thoughts these days. No letter came again this mail and we are naturally wondering why. Your last letter was dated June 5 nearly two months ago! Let’s hear soon!

We are full of curiosity to hear about your work with Dean Ames and your doings since leaving college. Did he tell you about my letter to him?

The kiddies are both well and as usual, full of beans! We are all having a pretty anxious time but we still manage to keep smiling! We are praying for you, my boy, and expect big things for you in your college work.

With our united love,
Yours affectionately,
Dad