03 May 2012

George is feeling testy?

George doesn't usually express much emotion in his letters -- his language is always so civilized -- but in this letter (No. 20), a little testiness and frustration leaks through. It's subtle, even if George does come close to swearing at one point.

"I wish to goodness we could do something with that blessed amplifier, but seemingly it is impossible to dispose of it."

You could hardly blame him, though. The letter if full of examples of how the Depression is hitting the family. Keith and Rex are barely able to hold onto jobs. George is hoping that Joyce can stay in a free school, and is having to drop piano lessons for the girls. The YMCA's finances are a mess.

And here is George's youngest son, half a world away. He knows Noel is extremely low on funds and he hasn't heard from him in two months. George scrapes together $10 to send to Noel, and laments that he can't liquidate the amplifier, which is worth about $300.

The Argus (Melbourne),
Tuesday 17 November 1931, page 7
But that's not the only example of testiness. When talking about Henley Day, George issues a rare complaint.
"I personally would rather have gone to Henley-on-the-Yarra, but mother has determined to go with the kiddies so I suppose I will have to do likewise."

Of course, I had to look up Henley Day, and it turns out the Henley-on-the-Yarra was a huge regatta on the Yarra River, attracting up to 300,000 in 1925, according to a history site about the Yarra River. It was also a major social event.

So when you consider what an avid sportsman George was, it seems only natural that he would complain about missing a major sporting event.

Maybe I'm just getting better able to read George now that I'm 20 letters into this project, or maybe the stresses of the time are getting bad enough to bleed into the letters a little bit.  I'll be interested to see what other frustrations leak out in future letters.

No. 20 -- 24 Nov 1931

Mr. N.A. Hughes,
C/o Y.M.C.A. College,
5315 Drexel Avenue,

My dear Noel,

We were disappointed again this mail because we did not get a letter from you. The last letter we received was dated 16th September and we are naturally concerned to find out how you have been getting along in the interval. Kath. Also was without a letter and your last letter to her was dated 29th September. I suppose you have been up to your eyes in your new experiences and finding it perhaps difficult to earn your way and at the same time carry your schedule of studies. I can only hope that everything is O.K. with you.

The Argus (Melbourne),
Thursday 19 November 1931, page 5
We had the 12th National Convention in the building on Saturday November 21 to Monday November 23. The convention was much better than we anticipated it would be and we were particularly gratified with the large number of our own members who put in an appearance at the meetings. The convention had some excellent discussions based upon questionnaires circulated among the Association on the subjects of "Our purpose, our youth, our times". These created splendid discussions and I am confident it clarified the thinking of quite a number of the delegates who were present.

The National Committee finance was the major problem we had to face. In view of the difficulties being experienced b y the Associations in making regular allocations to National support, it looked as if it would be almost impossible for the National Committee to carry on. However, there was a very fine spirit of loyalty expressed toward the National Committee and I have no doubt that the necessary money to run a modified programme will be available if not from the Associations, it will  be secured from interested friends. Frank Trainor will be finishing up as an employed man I think about the end of the year. It is doubtful whether we will be able to carry Woodcraft unless he practically raises his own salary by personal solicitation.

The Argus (Melbourne),
Tuesday 24 November 1931, page 8
The support of the Indian work will also be diminished to some extent, although we will make strenuous efforts to keep our contribution as high as possible.

Mr. Thomas Thomas, after 15 years of service, has resigned the  Chairmanship of the National Committee, and Mr. R.W. Nevile, of our Board, has been appointed Chairman. Mr. Thomas will be Honorary Secretary to the Committee. This will introduce a little new blood and it may be all to the good in the future of the work. I shall send on to you some of the figures in connection with the Australian Movement, and some reports which give the salient features of the programmes of the Association. This will be interesting reading and material which you can pass on to your friends or to the College Library.

We also held a short Employed Officers' Conference at the close of the convention, and appointed Charlie Jutsum, President of the Employed Officers Association and George Briggs, Honorary Secretary and Treasurer. This should help to revive interest in the Employed Officers' Association which it sadly needed. During the past 18 months or so there has been practically nothing done in its interests.

I have not a great deal of home news to pass on to you as conditions are much the same at home as when I last wrote.  The boil on Mother's chin has gone  and she is O.K. again. The kiddies are all well. Joyce has written a letter to you which has gone under separate cover. Mother has also written to you under separate cover.

Ruth has been home each Tuesday (her day off from the hospital).  She is just as keen as ever about her work. 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. Rex. Baker is away again in the country and has been for some days past. He seems to hang on to he present job, although he growls a lot about it.

Joy is to have her examinations this week, and I am hoping that she will do well, and will continue her free schooling at another school. If not, I will probably send her to Fintona or the Presbyterian ladies College. Edith seems to be quite sure of having done well in her examination and I have not any doubt that she will go to Gardiner or one of the other elementary high schools.

In view of the fact that they do not seem over anxious to continue their practice at the piano, we have practically decided to give them a rest for the next year from tuition in pianoforte and I believe that the effect of it will be that they will be more keenly interested to take it up again. In any case it will not do them much harm  as we will see that they continue their practice at reasonably regular intervals. My own judgment is that they have not displayed any particular ability and it is hardly worth while continuing the tuition. Then again we must consider curtailment in some of these expenditures in view of the reduced income.

They Sunday School will have its picnic next Saturday which happens to be Henley Day and I suppose the whole family will be at Sandringham Picnic Grounds. I personally would rather have gone to Henley-on-the-Yarra, but mother has determined to go with the kiddies so I suppose I will have to do likewise.

We have not seen or heard anything of the Harrisons for some weeks, although I understand that Mrs. Harrison is still away in a position in the country.

Ivor Burge is back again from his honeymoon.

Jim. Swain arrived a little over a week ago from Perth, Western Australia. His job over there has finished up and he is now looking for a position in Melbourne. I understand there will be other adjustments on the Perth staff and it is likely that Parsons, the Physical Director, may be dispensed with and Ern. Saunders is likely to get the job. You will recall that Saunders went to Montreal and if this information is correct he is returning again to the Perth job. He was on the staff of the Perth Association some years ago and was also located there as Migration Secretary representing the British National Council of Y.M.C.A.s.

You will be interested in hearing that Holmesdale Nitschke has been selected to represent Australia in the first test match against the South African Cricket team now touring Australia. Mr. Dick Nitschke called in last June and left his card; and called in to see me the other day. He reports that the Nitschkes in South Australia are all well.

I think I told you in my last letter that I was to be inducted into the Eldership of the South Hawthorn Presbyterian Church. That induction ceremony was postponed, but it will take place next Sunday morning. three of us, Jack Roberts, Jack Gray and I are to be inducted.

I had a letter the other day from A.W. Alley, membership Service of National Council of Y.M.C.A.s of New York, in which he reported having met you at the conferences. I have not heard a great deal from America during these recent weeks, but I suppose that is largely because of the busy period an the opening of the Associations' programmes, September, October, etc.

I have not heard anything from Clive Glover for months past.

In this mail I am sending you a Money Order for Ten Dollars, which I hope will be of some little service to you. I wish I could make it five times the amount.

Please let me know how you have been getting along. We are all anxious to hear. I wish to goodness we could do something with that blessed amplifier, but seemingly it is impossible to dispose of it. When Rex. returns I am going to have a good talk with him and see if we cannot dispose of it piecemeal.

Well, I must finish now. This letter should reach you somewhere about the 20th December, and I hope, boy, you will have a Happy Christmas, although we shall miss you from the home circle.

We hope that you are enjoying your work, despite the difficulties you are facing.

I have forwarded a few newspapers to you which I hope you received safely. I shall also send you one or two others by the next mail.

With warm love from us all,
Yours affectionately,