was born in Brisbane in1929, at the beginning of the Great Depression. For the
first two years of his life, John and his parents lived a nomadic existence,
peregrinating around south east Queensland, including a lengthy stay at the
Cania goldfields before eventually living on the Noes’ family farm at Barney
View, near the New South Wales border, south of Brisbane.
His father died
suddenly in May, 1933 and at the end of 1935 his mother moved to Brisbane with
John and his younger sister, Jill.
educated at Rainworth, Wilston and Ithaca Creek primary schools. He had one year
of secondary education at Brisbane’s Central Technical High School.
his apprenticeship and became a qualified boat builder and designer in June
1950. This was followed by three years employment with Peters’ Slip and the
Department of Harbours and Marine. During these early years John became an
enthusiastic, life long yachtsman. For most of his life he has owned yachts.
John has enjoyed a lifetime of blue water cruising and racing experience, which,
coupled with his extensive boat building knowledge, has ensured that he has a
thorough understanding of the sea, sailing and maritime procedures.
career began in 1954, when he was employed as the Ipswich branch manager for
Bruce Small of Malvern Star Cycles fame.
In July 1957 he
founded his neck tie manufacturing business in Ipswich. In 1963 the operation
was moved to a much larger factory and John began travelling world wide, several
times each year, sourcing exotic silk fabrics. In 1969 the tie manufacturing was
transferred to Cleveland and production had reached its peak with manufacturing
and sales staff well in excess of 100 employees, Australia wide, plus a
considerable export business.
in the 1970’s; so between 1975 and 1977 the necktie production was wound down
and eventually ceased. During this time an equipment rental business was
established to take its place and this venture also expanded to become a major
player in yet another industry. After a further twenty five years of successful
trading John sold the business and retired to pursue his photographic and pen
For more than
forty years he has lived on Cleveland point, where the sun rises over the blue
water of Moreton Bay, at his front door and then sets across Raby Bay, at his
This book is
his first literary work.
‘Are you William James Mason?’ asked the stranger.
‘Yes, I’m Bill Mason’
‘I’ve got a little wedding present for you’ continued the
stranger, as he handed a document to Bill.
‘What’s this?’ Bill asked, as he took hold of the paper.
‘I am the court bailiff and I have just served you a summons.
You can pay the money you owe to Nellie Bell now, or fight it out in the court
at Roma, or go to jail’ the stranger concluded.
This was how the wedding of Bill Mason and Elsie Noe began on
Thursday 21 February 1929!
This day was meant to be the culmination of all Elsie Noe’s
dreams, the most important day of her life, her wedding day!
About six months earlier, when she was employed as a bush
nurse at Gunnewin, south of Injune in western Queensland, she met her debonair
prince charming and for the first time in her twenty-seven years, became
absolutely besotted with the most fascinating man she had ever met.
Bill Mason was a persuasive, gentlemanly salesman from
Sydney, with wealthy parents and he played the piano with more skill than Elsie
imagined possible. Suddenly, when she was with Bill, Elsie found a new,
exciting, purpose in life. He told interesting stories about his experiences and
family in faraway Sydney, exuded confidence, had excellent manners, was well
dressed and far more interesting and exciting than the young country men she had
known. He was a car salesman and a skilful driver, which was a rare talent in
those days when cars were few and far between. They enjoyed a unique social life
driving around the district in Elsie’s ostentatious, 1924 Overland, Model 91,
Roadster, which she had bought new when she was the bush nurse at
Burrandowan. This rather unusual vehicle was her proudest possession and had
cost her the princely sum of two hundred pounds, in 1926, representing the
better part of two years’ salary.
Bill and Elsie were irresistibly attracted to each other and
about a month after they met, began to talk about marriage and moving to New
South Wales, although Bill said he wanted to continue working for Miscambles at
Roma for another month or two and was not quite ready to return to Sydney. A few
weeks passed and suddenly, Christmas was approaching and 1928 drawing to a
Early in the New Year, Elsie made the alarming discovery that
she was pregnant! Something had to be done about this without delay, because
Elsie was terrified at the prospect of being held to ridicule if word of her
condition got around. In those days, such a situation was seen as a cardinal
sin. To escape the possibility of any ignominious criticism, they decided to
resign from their respective jobs, move to Brisbane and quietly marry. Elsie
preferred this arrangement, as she wanted to hold her head high and to be
married with a ‘proper’ ceremony in the presence of her mother and her
already-married, younger sister, Mary Eustace.
By early February the lovers had given notice and abandoned
their jobs. They then travelled from Roma to Brisbane in Elsie’s car with their
personal possessions. For the few days before the wedding, they stayed with
Elsie’s sister Mary and her husband, Henry Eustace, in Abbotsford Road, Bowen
Their discreetly arranged wedding took place at St Andrew’s
Presbyterian Church, Brisbane, on Thursday, 21 February 1929, with Norman S
Millar officiating. Mary and Henry Eustace were the witnesses and Elsie’s
mother, Mary and her stepfather, Charlie Ferris, from Toogoolawah, were also
The day’s drama began as the wedding party arrived, when out
of the blue, Bill was approached by a stranger on the church steps and received
the bad news as described above.
Bill was stunned; embarrassed and silent for a few moments.
He then said, ‘Can we come to some arrangement about this? ‘The bailiff replied,
‘Nellie is waiting for me down the road and she believes that you don’t have the
money, but she is prepared to take your car as settlement. If you want to clear
it up that way, I can relieve you of the car and the matter will be settled’. In
desperation, Bill asked, ‘can you give me a few minutes to talk about this with
my family?’ The bailiff agreed.
Bill had earlier borrowed two hundred pounds from Nellie
Bell, a barmaid at the hotel where he boarded at Roma. She had discovered that
he had left town and was intending to marry Elsie. The alarming, unexpected news
motivated her to obtain a summons and travel with the bailiff from Roma to
Brisbane. They intended to ensure that her money would not disappear, along with
her capricious former lover.
Bill and Elsie had a quick discussion and Elsie, under
duress, reluctantly agreed to sacrifice her most prized possession in order to
save her man. It proved to be one of the worst decisions of her life.
They called the bailiff across and advised him that he could
take the car, in full settlement. So Nellie Bell, barmaid, was satisfied and
that would be end of the matter.
Elsie’s car had been lost, and although she had just
discovered that her husband-to-be was a philanderer, she remained committed and
the wedding went ahead, as planned. Elsie’s closest living relatives, her mother
and sister, were present without knowing that Elsie was two months pregnant,
which compensated her to some degree.
So much for
the happiest day of Elsie’s life!
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