Page 7 - untitled
P. 7

Stodgins).  Mr. Green. who came from Loughborough, England, and who ran a flower shop in Burwood Road
            on the east side of Boundary (now Warrlgal) Road was the hall caretaker.  He was replaced by Victor Miles, at
            the time that I was approached to play the plano for the  "silent• films.  My delighted parents accepted this
             tnv~atlon on my behalf whh  much glee. Thereafter, Instead or sitting in the  first  seat of the  first row  as a
            member of the audience every Saturday evening, I found myself ·running the gauntlet• with my state school
            No. 461 "friends" who gave me hell as t hurried down the centre aisle to the piano on the stage.  Here, fortu-
            nately, I was screened from public view by the heavy black curtain that separated the ·house· from the stage.

            1 was a tender 12 years old, and tried, quite unsuccessfully, to play appropriate music to match the •action•.
            This was playing galloping music for cowboys and Indians, sombre music for funerals and scenes of sadness,
            sentimental music for love scenes. and light music for comedy situations. By the time it took to find the right
            kind of music. the film had moved on to other situations.  So in the end I di<ln~ bother. As tong  as there was
            some sort of accompanying •noise", no one cared a hoot! From 8 p.m. to 11.00 p.m. this ordeal continued,
            finishing when the final lights went up with "God Save the King•.

            I came hOme proudly with my 12 shillings and sixpence.  Years later I went to my first job, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
            weekdays and 9-6 Saturdays (9pm Friday evenings) for five shillings per week -fares were sixpence to the city,
            so I was losing one shilling per week - happily not for long.

            When AI Jolson sang "Mammy• In 1929, it was the death-knell for silent movies. Melbourne city theatres in
            Bourke Street like the "Melba" and its next door "Britannia" closed  and several continuous picture theatres
            (open 1 o a.m. and finish 11 p.m.) collapsed.

            So an era passed, during which I feel happy to have made a contribution no matter how smalL  RB(X)IIeclion is
            one of the few advantages of old age, and tsn~ it self gratifying to be a fountain of information to one's grand-

                                                    •• • •• ••• ••••••

            An Excerpt from "A History of the City of Waverley"                        by Susan Priestley

            The twentieth century was heralded In Mulgrave by one of the wonders of the new mechanical age. In October
            1899 as was reported at the lime Alex Gunn "the well  known optlcallantemist and limelight operator ~ater of
            Gunn's Theatre AdVertising Slides) gave one of his celebrated entertainments• to a packed audience In the
             Wavertey Road Methodist Church. Despite showery weather someone from almost every family in Black Flat
            was there, and the hall resounded with frequent applause. To begin the evening, half a dozen songs were sung
            by artists against a background of suitable limelight pictures. Then there were three of four items played on a
            micro-phonograph, with the  audience gasping in astonishment at the life-like sounds which came from  the
            machine. The notes of the Nightingale Polka especially were as clear and distinct as if they had been played In
            the room.

            The real marvels. however, were the biograph pictures. These short moving glimpses of life stirred wonder,
            laughter, pride, patriotism, and sentiment.

            At Black Flat the audience saw 'London Street Traffic', 'Baby Quarrel', 'Arrival of a Train', Artistic View or a Sea
            Cave', 'A Wayfarer compelled Partially to Disrobe', 'Funeral of the Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone', Gardener
            watering Plants', 'Love at the Wash Tub', 'Comic Costume Race', 'Regiment of Soldiers', 'Queen's Carriage In
            the Jubilee Procession'. 'Boys Playing Leap Frog', 'Going to a Fire'. 'Gordon Highlanders', 'Forth Bridge Ex-
             press', and Wedding Party leaving Church'.

            After this first showing, biograph or bloscope entertainers, often with concert items in train, became  very
            popular. Fund raisers could be assured of success if they provided moving pictures. At MI.  Waverley occa-
             sional cinematograph shows were held in the fruiti)rowers' hall from 1908 at least when a sober clergyman,
            F.W.  Cameron was invited to give a programme. AI Glen Waverley a commercial picture show proprietor
            rented the Mechanics Hall every Wednesday evening from October 1911 until April1916. When he discontin-
            ued these shows he gave as the only reason •unforseen circumstances•, but he may have been involved in
            moves at that Ume to build a permanen1 picture hall. a cinema In Oakleigh.
                                                             (thanks to Graham Smythe for send'rng in this article)

   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12