28 March 2013

Who was Keith Hughes?

In virtually every letter to Noel, George includes family news about Keith, who is Noel's older brother. When Noel compiled a family history in the early 1980s, he wrote the following biography of Keith.


Keith was born November 5, 1905 in Adelaide, South Australia. In February 1909 the family moved to Dunedin, New Zealand, where he attended primary school. He attended high school in Wellington where he was a top athlete. He was quite skillful in cricket and rugby football and he participated in these sports well into his adult years, and assumed responsible offices in the administration in Australia of these sports on a local and national basis.

Note: While I'm not sure of the significance of 
Keith's first name, I do know that his two
middle names are significant in the 
family history. Willis was a family name
on his mother's side, and Bagot was a 
family name on his father's side.
In Wellington the family lived at Lyall Bay, on the ocean, where he was Captain of one of the Volunteer Surf and Life Saving Clubs.

After high school he was apprenticed to an architect but gave it up following a minor accident where his skull was creased by a piece of falling masonry. March 15, 1924 the family moved to Melbourne, Australia where Keith secured employment with the Texas Oil Company. This lasted until the onslaught of the Great Depression. For the next several years he was unemployed. Fortunately he was able to secure work for short periods with the Texas Company, when a boat arrived from America, and with the Dryfuss Co. and the Wheat Commission during the harvest seasons, exporting grain. He was also studying accountancy. In March of 1934 he obtained a permanent position in the Credit Department of Myers Emporium.

For excerpts that specifically
mention Keith, see
Excerpts: News About Brother Keith
Beginning in 1935 he was keeping company with Ella Heale, whom he had first met in the Texaco Office several years earlier, bringing her home in August to meet Mother and Father. On March 5, 1938 Keith and Ellie were married. The following May, Ellie entered hospital because of a tumor. Five months later, October 14, 1938, son Ian was delivered by cesarean section.

Ellie's health, the outbreak of World War Two and the death of Father in December 1940, all created uncertainty for the future. Keith became a member of the Australian Armed Forces and served in the islands to the North of Australia, with the Air Force rank, FLT. LT.

After the war he secured employment with the Australian Safety Council, Victorian Air Safety Division.

Keith also participated in the Boy Scout Movement as a volunteer executive in the Melbourne Headquarters.

Ellie's health was an ever present concern and it culminated in her death in September 1952. Son Ian was fourteen years of age. Three years later, July 27, 1955, Keith married Doris Garbutt.

In the period prior to his marriage, Keith while leading a Boy Scout hike in Tasmania suffered a coronary he was not aware of, because unfortunately it was incorrectly diagnosed.

Three months after his marriage he suffered a second coronary, passing away October 27, 1955.

Doris was three months pregnant at the time of Keith's death. She delivered a son Keith Thomas Bagot, April 22, 1956.

19 March 2013

No. 32 -- 13 April 1932

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

My dear Noel,

We did not receive a letter from you this American mail, but a copy of the “Collegian” came to hand. We must assume that no news is good news.

Noel from the early 1930s
in Chicago. 
Affairs at home are much the same as I reported in my last letter. Mother is keeping well, and of course, sends her love.

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.

Ruth is still at home, although she is much better as the result of the rest she has had. We are sending her away next week for a spell, and hope shewill be soon right again.

The two little ones are as usual “in the pink”. Edith is getting more boisterous than ever, greatly to Joy’s annoyance. As you know, Joy is much quieter and less demonstrative than Edith and is consequently reprimanding Edith for her noisiness. However the two of them get on very well together, despite their little disagreements. Edith is making good progress with her music under Miss Marshall. Joy seems to be quite happy at Fintona and is entering into the sport of the school and is, of course, keen on that side of school life.

Rex. is still away in Sydney. We had a letter from him last week in which he stated he would probably be away for another fortnight, but even that is not certain – he may be away longer.

There is not a great deal of home news to pass on to you. Things are much the same as in my last letter. We held the Annual Meeting of the South Hawthorn Presbyterian Church last week, and had quite a good turn out of folk despite the very bad weather. The Church is having its problems as you can well imagine, especially along financial lines. Mr. Baird is, I think, preaching better than he was some time ago and there is good spirit in the Church’s life.

I have been pretty busy as Chairman of the Boys’ Work Committee of the Rotary Club, and just now am up to my eyes in preparation for Girls’ and Boys’ Week to be held April 30 to May 6. I have a very big programme in hand and hope this year will set new standards of achievement. I will send you a copy of the programme in our next letter.

At the Association we are still struggling with the financial problem. It is becoming a nightmare! We do not seem able to improve the revenue despite all the economies that we have effected in expenditure. However, we are trying hard to make changes in our work that will enable us to do more promotional work and in this way we hope to improve the position somewhat. It is clear we cannot continue at the present rate of loss. Our banker will stop us before long. The Board is meeting at weekly intervals to try and see daylight through the number of the issues tied up in our financial situation.

We had a good camp at Manyung during Easter time. While there were only 30 present, Ivor Burge reported that it was the best held in the last four years. There have been further improvements effected and showers have been installed at the camp. Also big improvements were made at Shoreham by a work party which spent Easter there.

We are still about two-thirds full in the Residential Department and the going is hard. Cafeteria has slumped badly during the last two months. We actually have a loss on the first quarter. This is something new for us. We are also trying to speed up revenue in the Billiard room and have re-formed the Billiard Room Committee with that end in view.

You will receive this letter about the middle of May and will then, I expect, be scratching hard in preparation for your final examinations. We know that you will endeavour to make a good showing and we ask you specially to remember the folk at home who are desperately anxious for your success. I know you will not give too much time to other matters and will put your best work into your studies. It is only in this way that you can expect results we all desire.

Please pass on my regards to Clive and May, and also to Foss, Dreaver and others. I must close now.

Yours affectionately,

(Handwritten post-script)
All unite in sending their love.

11 March 2013

No. 31 -- 24 March 1932

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

My dear Noel,

Today, St. Louis is about a five-hour drive down
Interstate 55 southwest from Chicago.
I'm not sure how long the trip would have taken
in 1932.

Since historic Route 66 was opened in 1926,
I think it's fair to say that they would have
followed that route. For a description of the route,
see RoadtripUSA.com.
Your letter of February 24th reached us this week. We were very delighted to get the news it contained. You are certainly a fortunate young men to be able to spend a weekend at St. Louis. It is good that you were able to make arrangements at such short notice, and that there were others who could undertake the jobs for which you were responsible. I know you would enjoy the opportunity of a visit to such a home and with such friends.

I did not visit St. Louis when I was in the States though I had planned to do so, but time would not permit me to make the trip. We were interested in all that happened at St. Louis and thank you for giving us such a full account.

The Central YMCA at 1528 Locust Street in St. Louis.
The building is now called Centenary Tower
and only the bottom two floor are now occupied by the YMCA.
See this history on the YMCA website.

Photo by Tom Bastin (Reading Tom) via Flickr
Used under Creative Commons license
I remember very vividly the campaign held some years ago to secure money for the Central building at St. Louis, and for other branch buildings. It was one of the first of the huge campaigns which the Associations organized in the post-war period. St. Louis was followed by the Detroit Campaign and then by the New York campaign. All of these raised new standards of achievement in money raising for local work by the Associations. Thank you for sending me copies of the material you collected at the Central Y. Some of it is very suggestive and I am sure it will be of value to us.

The mail bag of miniature photographs also arrived safely. Ditto the “Association Collegian” on Feb. 16th. While your visit was of short duration, you packed into it quite a lot of sightseeing.

This is the same record I wrote about in
the post Jacko the Broadcasting Kookaburra
in August 2112.
We not that you were to speak on “Australia” on the following Sunday. We hope you got on alright. We are sorry to hear that the phonographic record was cracked when it arrived. I knew the thing was packed securely, as I had it specially done with the object of making sure it would reach you in useable condition. Perhaps it may be possible to get one from the San Francisco office of the Australian National Travel Assocn. At any rate a little pressure at that end may persuade them to get one for you and if you are unsuccessful, please let me know and I will see if I can secure another record.

I quite imagined you would have some difficulty in maintaining your work at the Kenwood Church. In one of my former letters I mentioned I thought this would happen in view of the prevailing conditions. If you are without that source of revenue, you will be facing difficulties, I am certain, unless it is possible to find something else to take its place.

The greetings you forwarded in your letter I will pass of the various persons named.

Mr. Handley, Melbourne High School, has just left for a trip to England, and America, but I do not think he is likely to go inland as far as Chicago. He has made a number of enquiries concerning yourself.

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.

In my last letter I mentioned that Ruth was having a bad run at the Hospital with illness. We had her examined and I am afraid it may mean that she will have to abandon her hospital training for some time. The prolonged period of night work seems to have upset her a good deal, and she must keep a prolonged holiday. Whether she will return to the Homeopathic Hospital to complete her training is doubtful, as we do not think it will be wise to go back to the place which has proved so difficult. However, that remains for the future to decide, but in the meantime she is home and I am trying to make arrangements to get her away for a spell.

Under separate cover you will find letters from Ruth, Joyce and Edith.

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.

Rex. is still away in Sydney, but we expect he may be back any day now. He has been away for three or four weeks.

The great event in Australia during recent days, was the opening of the Sydney Bridge. I have sent you a number of newspapers including a copy of the “Australasian” in which you will find illustrations of that Bridge and the account of the opening, which may interest you.

I have heard recently from Harry White, and also from John Cook. What has happened to Clive Glover? I have not had a word from him for a long time. Tell him a letter is overdue.

Dick Nitschke of Adelaide called in the other day as he as passing through to Sydney to the opening of the Bridge. He was also over here at the time that Holmesdale Nitschke was playing with the South Australian cricket team against Victoria. Holmesdale was been doing very well at representative cricket this year. Just the other day, against New South Wales, he made 119. Dick reports that the folk in South Australia are feeling the strain financially, specially in finding money for the building Edith is erecting in King William Street, Adelaide. I think he has put between 20,000 and 30,000 into it already and it is not yet finished.

We have had a number of special Finance Committee meetings recently, with the object of trying to find out in which directions we can increase our departmental revenues. I am afraid we have not got far, although various plans have been suggested which might be possible on trial. The Board will never meet our financial needs until they tackle an annual financial campaign. It is the only way to meet the position.

Ivor Burge is expecting between 30 and 40 fellows at Easter Camp. The main party will leave tonight. He is putting a lot of time into camp work and is doing a fine job. The Boys’ Department will not have an ordinary camp, but they have about 15 or 16 fellows who are spending the whole of the Easter period in doing odd jobs to the camp property at Shoreham.

Alf. Hines is still away on holiday and we do not expect him back until after Easter.

I have not been able to get any definite information concerning the Australian exhibit on the Chicago Exhibition, but hope to have it available for you shortly.

Last Sunday week I had a full church when I took, the Cricketers service at our own church. We had a splendid body of young fellows present and on the whole a most enjoyable gathering. Last Sunday I had a Sunday School Anniversary at Coburg. We had the Church packed 10 minutes before time of commencement. Scores of folk were turned away and here again we had a really good service.

I have a very busy time ahead of me in connection with Rotary Club work. We have the district conference at Geelong, April 14 to 18, and then at the end of April and the beginning of May the Rotary Boys’ and Girls’ Week. All of this is consuming a good deal of my leisure, but it is an interesting job, and I am glad to have a share in it. You did not tell me whether you called at the Rotary Club in Chicago. I think it would be a good thing for you to make that contact.

I must close now. You have our united love my boy. We sincerely hope your second term’s results will satisfy you. Please let us have all details as soon as you can. Time is slipping by very rapidly and it is difficult to imagine that you have been away over 9 months. We look forward to your letters with eagerness.

With much love from us all,
Yours affectionately,