A Look Back At… The Summer of 1952
Images of the summer of 1952. Clockwise from top left: a young Rex Aubrey who would become the first Olympian of the Parkes Shire; postage stamp for the upcoming Helsinki Olympic Games; Queen Elizabeth II; album cover for “Greatest Hits of 1952”; Marjorie Jackson competing in Sydney before representing Australia later that year at the Olympic Games; poster for “Ma and Pa Kettle Back on the Farm” which was showing at the Century Theatre in Parkes.
historyparkes is continuing our series of blog posts highlighting a particular period in the history of the Parkes Shire. This post will focus on the summer months of 1952. The biggest news occurred on February 6 when King George VI suddenly passed away. This marked the beginning of the longest running British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, who is still on the throne at time of publishing. The summer heat was taking the usual toll on farmers and the land, with water shortages exacerbating the farmers’ plight and also the bushfires too. With 1952 being a Summer Olympic year, there was a real buzz that a local lad may be heading to Helsinki come the northern summer, swimmer Rex Aubrey.
The Front Page – then and now!
Front page comparison of Parkes Champion Post in 1952 and 2018. Prior to the installation of ‘The Dish’ our iconic landmark was Memorial Hill monument. Colour printing was still too expensive and there was plenty of reading material on the front page, compared to today where the use of colour, bold type and images are used to capture a reader’s attention. Source: Parkes Champion Post Monday February 18, 1952 page 1 and Parkes Champion Post Tuesday February 27, 2018 page 1
Two of the major department stores, Howard’s and Burch’s, continuously ran advertisements on the front page of the local newspaper. Occasionally there were additional ads inside the paper too.
Two more newspaper front pages to compare. The Trundle Star and The Parkes Phoenix are similar in the number of pages but that’s where the similarities end! The contemporary Phoenix has all the benefits that the latest technology provides. It is also FREE whereas readers needed to shell out 4 pence (approximately 3 cents) Source: The Trundle Star Friday February 8 1952 page 1 and The Parkes Phoenix Friday February 23 2018 page 1
Making Local News in 1952
The biggest news of the summer, not just locally but globally, was the sudden death of King George VI. The popular monarch oversaw the British empire through the dark days of World War 2. On the front page is a tribute from Mayor Payne which was the first of many tributes throughout the Parkes Shire. Source: Parkes Champion Post Thursday February 7, 1952 page 1
The local newspapers in the summer of 1952 contained similar stories of other Parkes summers – bushfires, drought and water issues. However there were stories particularly unique to 1952. The main topic was the sudden death of popular monarch, King George VI, and his successor, eldest daughter Elizabeth II. Rabbit populations were in plague proportions while water was so scarce that fire-fighters didn’t have enough to do their job properly! On the lighter side of the news, local languages teacher became President of the World Esperanto Congress and there were regular updates on two future Olympians, Rex Aubrey and Ted McGlynn.
The rabbit population was so dire that Parkes Municipal Council considered using myxomatosis. You could also find advertisements for skins, rabbit meat and trappers. Source: Parkes Champion Post Thursday January 10, 1952 page 1
Some diseases of yesteryear – although sadly scarlet fever isn’t conquered today as children are still susceptible. However the severity and access to medication is much better than back in 1952. Source: Parkes Champion Post January 14, 1952 page 2
An interesting page of 1952 local newspaper. Included is an advertisement for the latest feature at The Century Theatre, as well as highlighting the danger of the fire season. The main article is of local high school teacher, Alan Towsey, who was just voted in as President of the Esperanto Congress. The World Esperanto Congress still continues today. Source: Parkes Champion Post January 14, 1952 page 3
As if summers weren’t severe enough, in 1952 the town of Parkes faced water shortages so bad that there may not have been enough water for fire-fighting! Source: Parkes Champion Post January 17, 1952 page 5
While Parkes still has close ties to agricultural industry, the reading in current newspapers is very different from 1952. Mentioned here are the leading wheat variety, information about the agricultural bureau, clearing sales and tree planting in Tullamore. Source: Parkes Champion Post January 17, 1952 page 4
Services to honour the memory of King George VI saw churches in Parkes packed. The late monarch was called a “great man” and the epitome of manliness. The church services mentioned were conducted by the Church of England (Anglican), Presbyterian and Methodist (now Uniting) churches. Source: Parkes Champion Post February 18, 1952 page 1
Looking to the future! This front page article highlights two future Parkes champions! The main article reports on Rex Aubrey’s exploits while the smaller article confirms the talents of another future Olympian, Ted McGlynn. Source: Parkes Champion Post January 29. 1952 page 1
1952 Newspaper Advertisements
Iconic Australian brand, Peters ice cream advertising a different flavoured rainbow ice cream to the contemporary one! The rainbow flavours in 1952 were lime, vanilla and pineapple. Source: Parkes Champion Post February 21, 1952 page 6
A couple more ads from 1952 newspapers. While still popular the size and packaging of chewing gum has changed considerably. Wrigleys Spearmint chewing gum began in 1893 and is still sold overseas (this product was discontinued in Australia although there are spearmint varieties in other Wrigleys gums such as Extra). While kerosene is not as popular today, it was a staple product in almost every household back in 1952 being used as fuel, heating, lighting and cooking. Source: Parkes Champion Post February 21, 1952 page 6
While contemporary readers will remember Broderick Motors as retailers of Holden vehicles, in 1952 Jack Broderick sold Chamberlain tractors. Source: Parkes Champion Post February 7, 1952 page 9
To highlight how different society was back in 1952, these ads would possibly be illegal today! Both Howard’s Department Stores and the Post Office are advertising for workers but specifically asking for boys. Source: Parkes Champion Post January 10, 1952 page 5
Another ad displaying its age from a different era! This advertisement might be aimed at women, but again the age limit would see cries of unfair discrimination today! Source: Parkes Champion Post January 14, 1952 page 4
Another ad that one will not see in present newspapers. Rabbits were a pest, and to farmers that meant loss of livestock’s feed and an impact on the household’s finances. While rabbits had a negative impact on farmers’ bottom lines, they were a booming industry for some in 1952. Not just this ad for farm equipment, but there were also ads for rabbit skins, fur, trappers and meat. Source: Parkes Champion Post January 17, 1952 page 5
Long term residents will recognise the name of the family-run cafe that was a popular eatery for many years. Located at 342 Clarinda Street this was next door the Century Theatre. Source: Parkes Champion Post January 17, 1952 page 7
Two more advertisements to stir nostalgia lovers! Long before the internet and television, the radio was the family’s source of entertainment. Parkes Shire residents would purchase them from Kendall’s store. While small cars are still popular today, the Morris Minor is now a vintage car. Source: Parkes Champion Post January 21, 1952 page 2
Prior to television, cinema played an important part in country life. Locals not only caught up with ‘The Thing’ but also Abbott and Costello, Tom and Jerry and all Davis Cup Finals action in the one place! Source: Parkes Champion Post January 21, 1952 page 3
To listen to samples of songs from the Greatest Hits of 1952 click here
Parkes Shire Library would like to thank the following people and organisations for their assistance with this blog post:
If you have stories of the summer of 1952 that you are willing to share please contact Parkes Shire Library via email@example.com so that they can be shared and kept for posterity on this blog. Alternatively you may leave comments on this page.
To view old local newspapers, come in to Parkes Library and speak to Dan who will assist you with operating the microfilm
Feature Picture Images
- Rex Aubrey [Personal photograph]. (1952).
- Posti-ja telelaitos. (July 1, 2016). Olympia 1952 [Postage stamp of XV Olympia 1952]. Retrieved February 28, 2018, from http://www.datafun.fi/postimerkki/
- Long Live The Queen! (February 7, 1952). Parkes Champion Post, p. 1.
- Greatest Hits of 1952 [Digital image]. (n.d.). Retrieved February 27, 2018, from https://www.allmusic.com/album/greatest-hits-of-1952-mw0001987504
- Sydney Morning Herald. (2015, August 24). [Australian athlete Marjorie Jackson competing at a club meeting at the Sydney Sportsground on 12 January 1952]. Retrieved February 28, 2018, from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Marjorie_Jackson-Nelson_1952.jpg
- Ma and Pa Kettle Back on the Farm (1951) [Digital image]. (n.d.). Retrieved February 28, 2018, from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043767/
At A Glance Images (clockwise from top left)
- Queen Elizabeth II [Digital image]. (May 2, 2015). Retrieved February 28, 2018, from https://www.express.co.uk/pictures/royal/2709/Royal-2nd-s-heirs-and-spares-second-children-Royal-family-in-pictures
- Robert Gordon Menzies 1894-1978 [Digital image]. (April 8, 1998). Retrieved February 28, 2018, from http://www.asap.unimelb.edu.au/bsparcs/aasmemoirs/menzies.htm
- Parkes Historical Society. (August 8, 2011). Kenneth Ivo Payne. Parkes Champion Post, p. 6.
- Dalray [Digital image]. (n.d.). Retrieved February 28, 2018, from https://rv.racing.com/careers-and-education/australian-racing-museum/hall-of-fame/horses/dalray
- Municipal Council Wants Myxomatosis Used At Lake Metcalfe [Microfilm] (January 10, 1952) Parkes Champion Post page 1
- New Broad Range Antiobiotics: Scarlet Fever Conquered [Microfilm] (January 14, 1952) Parkes Champion Post page 2
- Local Teacher at Esperanto Congress [Microfilm] (January 14, 1952) Parkes Champion Post page 3
- Town Water Position Serious – Not Enough For Fire Fighting [Microfilm] (January 17, 1952) Parkes Champion Post page 5
- Short Couse for Homemakers: Agricultural Bureau Proposal [Microfilm] (January 17, 1952) Parkes Champion Post page 4
- Parkes Churches Packed For Memorial Services [Microfilm] (February 18, 1952) Parkes Champion Post page 1
- Saturday’s Successful Swimming Carnival [Microfilm] (January 29, 1952) Parkes Champion Post page 1
- Peters Ice Cream [Advertisement]. (February 21, 1952). The Champion Post, p. 6.
- Mobil Power Kerosene [Advertisement]. (February 21, 1952). The Champion Post, p. 6.
- Chamberlain Tractors [Advertisement]. (February 7, 1952). The Champion Post, p. 9.
- Boys Wanted Apply Howard’s [Advertisement]. (January 10, 1952). The Champion Post, p. 5.
- Telephonist at Parkes Wanted [Advertisement]. (January 14, 1952). The Champion Post, p. 4.
- War Against Rabbits [Advertisement]. (January 17, 1952). The Champion Post, p. 5.
- Coolabah Café [Advertisement]. (January 17, 1952). The Champion Post, p. 7.
- Radiola Senior 4 at Kendall’s [Advertisement]. (January 21, 1952). The Champion Post, p. 2.
- Century Theatre Feature [Advertisement]. (January 21, 1952). The Champion Post, p. 3.
- Greatest Hits of 1952 – Various Artists | Songs, Reviews, Credits. (n.d.). Retrieved March 02, 2018, from https://www.allmusic.com/album/greatest-hits-of-1952-mw0001987504