In 1911 father arrived in Fremantle with little more than a ‘flat hat’, which earned him the nickname of Pommy George, and a reference attesting to his ability with horses. He soon found employment driving a cab on the Perth Railway Station rank and then accepted a job from Jack Williams whose cabs awaited passengers at the Claremont Station.
Having earned a little, father started his own modest carrying business with a two horse lorry. Carting the heavy machinery from Fremantle wharf to the site of Cordin’s Iceworks behind their Bay View Terrace butcher’s shop was a sore test for those horses. They went down on their ‘knees’, as they strained to pull the load up the steeply sloping lane from the Perth-Fremantle Road.
A recession was coming, business was bad, and father opted for employment as a driver for Drabbles Hardware. On the last trading day before Christmas 1922 one of the Drabble family asked the manager if ‘the boy’ – father was short of stature and fresh of face – could also cover his round as he was feeling ill. With that he collapsed and died in the manager’s arms. Father not only coped with the extra deliveries, but carried the poor man to his home in Chatsworth Terrace.
On a lighter note, father once borrowed a horse from Mickey, his milkman friend with whom he whiled away his spare time in the Claremont Billiard Saloon. Now Mickey, as his name implied, was a good Catholic lad, and as father made his way to Fremantle, absent-mindedly puffing on his pipe, the horse turned into the Star of the Sea Church. Let’s hope the parish priest didn’t hear his likely exclamation of, Gawd spare m’days!