3TR WOMEN'S CLUB
MEMORIES OF OUR DEBUTANTE BALL (Fay Langstaff)
John Davidson's report on a 3TR Ball in 1947 brings to mind our Debutante Ball in 1942.
There were 18 "Debs" and their partners at the 3TR Ball, with 3 page boys and 2 flower girls. The 3TR Women's Club was an organization that raised money for the Sale Hospital and local charities, mostly by holding regular dances in the Mechanics Hall, catering for luncheons, Balls, and Euchre Parties as well as the annual 3TR Ball. Although only young, Hilda (My sister - now Hilda Flowers) and I worked with the 3TR ladies. It didn't matter which club was running the dances or the balls, Mrs. Breen, Senior, always made the coffee.
So to the 3TR Ball of 1942 held in the Traralgon Town Hall in Hotham Street. What with working with the 3TR ladies, we could hardly have been told that we couldn't make our debut! Although there may have been a difference of 4 years between the youngest and the oldest of the girls making their debut, most had grown up here, with the majority of the girls having attended the Traralgon Higher Elementary School.
Mr. Jeffery's store must have done a good trade, as coupons would have been needed to procure the material for our frocks; also bear in mind that we were probably only earning 15/- a week. Hilda and I chose crinkle chiffon for our dresses. Hazel Mitchell (now Mrs. Blair) was a dressmaker who lived in Thomas Street and it was she who made our frocks and my petticoat, which was made of a lovely satin in a style that could also be worn as a frock. My shoes were white leather lace ups, with leather Cuban heels. They had a design of small punched holes on the fronts. Auntie (our stepmother - Mrs. Nellie Pickering) had said "Get a good pair so that they will last." And, of course, I did. Hilda made her own slip of a cheaper satin.
We met weekly to practise our dancing under the capable guidance of the late Mrs. Alice Britnell (nee Bell). Alice was a very dedicated lady who also ran a National Fitness group that raised funds for the war effort. We learnt the Pride of Erin and the Charmaine. I think the pianist for our practices was Miss Anne Bell.
On the night of the Ball, all the debs. wore long mittens and a white flower in their hair. Hilda and I had a white camellia each, from Mr. Jack Duck's garden. My partner was my brother, Kevin, and Hilda's was Harry Flowers.
The Town Hall floor was always lovely to dance on, having been prepared with candle wax, saw dust, and a box of bricks on a bag pulled over the floor until it was slippery enough to break your neck. Half way through the evening the floor would be swept and a new lot of sawdust, etc. put out.
The Hall would be decorated with gum leaves, bracken fern, wattle, or paper flowers, plus streamers and balloons.
When all was in readiness we danced to Bunny Hunter's orchestra. At the conclusion of our presentation dances, we were presented to Mrs. Miles O'Grady who was President of the 3TR Club.
One of the girls had a false back in her frock, and as soon as the formalities were over she quickly removed the offending piece and had an almost backless frock.
We all had a lovely night's dancing, but we mustn't forget the supper. Suppers were mostly set up in the Mechanics Hall next door where rows of trestle tables were set up. A sit-down supper was provided - sandwiches, trifles, cream puffs, sponges, fruit salad, cream, and, of course, milk, coffee and tea. All of the washing up afterwards was done by hand - no paper plates in those days! It probably cost us 5/- to go to the Ball.
The girls who made their debut that night were: Joyce Paulet, Betty O'Sullivan, Janet Cousens, Ida Renzow, Hilda Pickering, Moira Bolger, Fay Pickering, Monica Oats, Leila King, Betty Lethborg, Elsie Lee, Marie Lavin, Muriel Ing, Betty Harris, Hazel Williams, Nancy Stubbs, Isobel White, and Joan Tonkins.
Parker's Dairy usually donated milk for balls, and Stoddart and Marsh butchers, were always willing to donate a piece of meat for sandwich filling.