20 March 2010

Excerpts: News About Brother Keith

Keith is George and May's oldest son, born Keith Willis Bagot Hughes on Nov. 5 1905.

When these letters start in 1931, the Great Depression was underway. Keith was 25 years old and having a hard time finding employment.

When Noel was putting together a family history in the early 1980s, he reviewed the letters that his father had written to him and wrote a summary of the family news (see the post Noel's Commentary on George's Letters, Part 1). About Keith in the early 1930s, he wrote:
"Keith too had a difficult time. He was unemployed for most of five years. Fortunately he was able to secure casual, short time jobs with the Texaco Company, the Dryfus company, the Wheat Commission and others which did give him a very limited but undependable income with long periods of famine up to the time he secured permanent employment with the Myers Emporium."
Below I have pulled the excerpts from the letters where George writes about Keith. I will add to the bottom of the file as I post new letters.

No. 8 -- 9 July 1931
Keith has not been able to secure anything so far, although he has been following up a few advertisements and making contacts with firms.

No. 9 -- 21 July 1931
When your letter came, Keith was very wrath that you did not give any particulars concerning Stan. Kirk. He was naturally anxious to know where Stan is and what he is doing.

Keith tried yesterday for a job with O.Gilpin who advertised for a Customs Official. There were about 100 after the job, including in the number some who were licensed agents, so that Keith does not imagine he has much chance of securing the job.

No. 10 -- 3 Aug 1931
Now just a little news of the home folk. We are all keeping very well, apart from colds which most of us have had. Joy and Keith have had very heavy colds which they have not yet been able to throw off. ... Keith has not yet struck anything to do.

No. 12 -- 24 Aug 1931
Keith has been working for the Texaco during the past week, but it looks as if this will finish on Wednesday at the latest. There are other ships to come and I suppose he will handle the cargo as before, that is unless he secures another job in the meantime.

No. 13 -- 1 Sept 1931
At our little Church we held a Father and Son Sunday, a week ago and had a fine evening service. Keith accompanied the rest of us to Church, and I think enjoyed the service. On the following Wednesday we had a Father and Son "Get-Together" gathering in the Church hall. Keith could not attend, but I went alone to see what the show was like...

No. 14 -- 12 Sept 1931
Keith expects to get a job again with the Wheat Commission and is hoping that he will be able to get into the forwarding and shipping end of the work as that lasts longer then the receiving section.

You will be surprised to hear that Keith received the Cup for the highest batting average in the cricket team for which he played last season. I think he was as much surprised as anybody else. It is a very neat little cup and now adorns the over-mantle in the drawing room.

We had a notice from the Lands Department advising us that noxious weeds were growing on the two sections at Burwood, and we were informed that unless the weeds were dealt with in the next three weeks, we would be fined.Keith went up yesterday to investigate the reason for the notice and discovered that there is a great deal of gorse on his section, but your section was fairly clear of it. A pal and he will be going up to the land next week with axes and slashers so as to destroy the gorse. A little later on it will be burned after it has had a chance to dry out. Talking of the lands reminds me that we have received a bill from Messrs. Maddock, Jamieson & Lonie for £3:19:0 being costs of the agreement and Caviat on you account and £2:5:0 on Keith's account. I suppose we did the right think in lodging the Caviat in case of any trouble that T.M. Burke's company may get into. I will pay the account a little later on.

No. 15 -- 29 Sep 1931
Keith had an accident at cricket on the 19th September. He went down to the first practice and a fast ball glanced off his bat and hit him in the eye. It was badly gashed just below the eyebrow, and necessitated some stitches by Dr. Ashton. However, the eye is practically better again apart from some discoloration. He had a beautiful "peeper" and looked as if he had been in a first-class fight.

No. 16 -- 5 Oct 1931
Everything is alright at home. Keith's eye is better again.

No. 17 -- 14 Oct 1931
Keith is still without a job, although he expects to be with the Texaco Company for 10 days or a fortnight commencing on Monday next.

No. 18 -- 26 Oct 1931
All the folk at home are well. ... Keith has had a week's work with the Texaco Company and I think has still a day or two next week.

No. 19 -- 11 Nov 1931
Keith and the kiddies are all well and I am likewise. ...

We are also pleased to say that Keith has another ship in just now. This will keep him busy for about a week. Fortunately there are two or three other ships expected in before the end of the year, so that in this way he will be earning a little money to assist him in his incidental expenses. He sat for portion of the Intermediate Accountancy examination last Friday, and has another examination tonight. This is more in the nature of a "try-out" as we do not think it is possible for him to pass with but six months of tuition. It is really a kind of "preliminary canter," preparing him for the May examinations of next year.

Keith is now playing for the Y.M.C.A. seconds Cricket team and seems to be doing fairly well on the whole. I think I told you that he is bowling fairly well and that a Saturday or two ago he made in the two innings 65 in one and 11 in the other.

No. 20 -- 24 Nov 1931
Keith has another ship in just now and this will keep him busy for this week. We are glad that he is managing to get these odd jobs to help keep him going.

No. 21 -- 7 Dec 1931
Keith was glad to get your message concerning his birthday.

Keith has another ship coming in this week which will give him a further extension of his job. This is helping to give him some pocket money at any rate, although we will be very delighted when he is able to secure a constant job.

No. 22 -- 22 Dec 1931
Keith sat for two subjects in his Intermediate Accountancy, namely, Commercial Law and Auditing. He was very unfortunate in just missing a pass in both subjects. He got 58 in Commercial Law, two marks below a pass, and 60 marks in auditing, five below a pass. However, he is not very disturbed about it as he now feels hat he can do much better in the May examinations. It would have been a great thing for him to have secured these two subjects at this examination and would have made it easier for the May examination. Now he will need to take five subjects in May. This will be a bit of a hurdle for him, but he feels pretty confident that he can do it.

You will be glad to hear that yesterday he secured a job with Louis Dreyfus & Co., Grain Merchants, 465 Collins Street. This will probably see him over the next few months while the wheat season is on. He also has prospect of another job and is nibbling it so as to discover whether it will be a better one than the Dreyfus job. It is a great relief to know that he will be employed during the next few months at any rate.

No. 23 -- 28 Dec 1931
Christmas is over and we are back at the office in the interim between the Christmas and New Year holidays. We had a very quiet Christmas both as far as home is concerned and also at the Association. Keith, Mother and the two kiddies and myself had dinner at the Y on Christmas Day, with the members of the staff.

No. 24 -- 5 Jan 1932
Unfortunately, Keith could not come down [to Camp Manyung for the holiday camp] on account of his job. He cannot afford to lose it for the sake of a holiday.

No. 25 -- 20 Jan. 1932
Keith, unfortunately for him, could not come to camp as he was hanging on to his job and could not afford to take any risks by asking for time off. His job is still holding and it looks as if he may have an additional couple of months work.

No. 26 -- 3 Feb 1932
We are all well at home. Apart from the fact that Keith has had a very bad face, caused by neglect of his teeth. He had two extractions the other day and this has left a very sore jaw, the cavity not having properly healed. He has had pain for very nearly a week and nothing seems to stop it. The rest of us are in good form.

Keith has been playing Cricket for the Y.M. While he has not done anything startling, he has still played a useful innings and has done a little with the ball.

No. 27 -- 8 Feb 1932
We were greatly interested in the College Handbook, as it enabbled us to visualise conditions a little better...

Keith was delighted to get the extra copy which he is using as a diary, and of course it helps him to pass on information to any of your friends he may happen across.

No. 28 -- 17 Feb 1932
...This has all been put right, as Millie held her birthday party on Monday evening which was Ruth's night off, so she and Keith went along and had a good time.

Keith's job is still holding, but we do not know for how long.

No. 29 -- 2 March 1932
Mother is keeping in excellent health and so is Keith. He had a good deal of trouble with his teeth, but that seems to have straightened out alright.

No. 30 -- 16 March 1932
Since my last letter, Keith has been exceptionally ill. We have had the Doctor to him practically every day for a week. We thought it might be diphtheria and a swab of his throat was taken and examined, but the result was negative. He has had a very bad attack of laryngitis. The Doctor states it was one of the most severe cases he had ever handled.

No. 31 -- 24 March 1932
The folk at home are reasonably well. Keith had a very bad illness and lost 1 ½ stone in weight in ten days. He had Pharangitis, and the medical man said it was one of the worst cases he had seen. However, he is back again at work and is slowly picking up.

Having these two patients at home has place a pretty heavy strain on mother, but she is bearing up exceedingly well. Fortunately Ruth did not come home until Keith was practically well again, so that mother did not have the two of them simultaneously.

No. 32 -- 13 April 1932
Keith is getting back into his old stride, although the illness shook him up a good deal. He doesn’t expect his present job will last much beyond this month, and as far as we can see, there is nothing ahead immediately.

No. 33 -- 27 April 1932
Keith finished up his job on Friday, the 30th April. I supposes we must be pleased that has has had 4 1/2 months' work, although just exactly what he will do in the future is at present unknown. With the winter opening it looks as if he will have another long period of enforced idleness, but we hope something will turn up for him.

No. 34 -- 11 May 1932
Keith has been working with the Texas Company for the last nine or ten days, handling some of their oil shipments. He is at present sitting for his Intermediate Accountancy examination, and is having a shot at five subjects. Two of the subjects have been completed and he seems to think that he has done fairly well with both of them.