|Interviewer: Robin Hughes
Recorded: February 7, 1994
This is a transcript of the complete original interview conducted for the Australian Biography project. Each transcript page covers one videotape (approximately 35 minutes). There is also QuickTime video of the full interview available. To play the video, click on the icon in the right hand column. In addition, each question in the transcript is linked to the video. Clicking on a question will play the video from that point. (Help with this feature.) Optionally, you can download the video file for offline viewing (approx. 10MB).
The interview has been left it in its original state so that you can get a sense of how the conversation developed. The repetition of some questions, or a question followed by another question, is often due to the end of a particular tape or some other interruption, and has been indicated at the appropriate place in the text. There has been minimal tidying up of the text so that the flavour of the encounter has been kept.
So while you were working at the tannery, what did you do for fun?
Well I had a pushbike. I was paying off a pushbike at five shillings a week. And I joined the Brunswick Amateur Cycling Club and it wasn't long before I was winning races, thirty-three milers and I never thought that I could ever do a thing like that. And then, Hubert Opperman came into my life. I was a great admirer of Hubert Opperman. He was the most wonderful man ever. And I thought: If I could only be as good as Hubert. So I turned professional and I joined the Collingwood Pros and I set about on some of the big races, one particularly - the Warrnambool to Melbourne, which was one of the world's greatest classic cycling races. And you know, to ride that 165 miles non-stop is really a marathon - was in those days, because the tyres we used were like those garden hoses. We didn't ... and worst of all of course was the amateurs who weren't allowed to have a free wheel. You had a fixed wheel and just one sprocket so whatever sprocket you put on, you had to push into it. That was hard. And I'd been through that and when I turned pro, of course, I was allowed to free wheel. But we didn't have like today: the changing gears. It's all we had. And you'd carry your spare tyre around your shoulders and you had your bidens in the front and your cap down and your goggles on, and may the best man win. So I joined up, as I say, with the Collingwood Pros. And I met up with a man called Buzzer Bent, who is still alive today and just sent me a photo the other day of us together. And great memories. And he was one that used to ride with Hubert Opperman too. And he said to me, 'Now look what about us joining together and forces. I'll be your ... I'll be your what you call, guardian man'. So I said, 'Right'. So in other words if I want to win, he'd block the others. It was all tactics then, when the professionalism come into it. So apart from riding 165 miles, you had to be on your guard that you could get a breakthrough to get through and not be blocked: learning the tactics. So the Warrnambool to Melbourne brought back some very happy memories because that was where I saw the first daylight when I was a child. And I hadn't been back there all that time. And here I was coming back as a full-fledged, grown-up cyclist. And I had to rise at 6.30 in the morning and we'd ridden down there to get the feeling of the thing, so it was a good training exercise. And I was on the seventeen minute mark, which really wasn't too bad considering that the limit was about 110, well over an hour start. But because I was winning so many races they kept putting me back and I was just at seventeen minutes ahead of the scratch men, which was Hubert Opperman, Freddy Lamb and Ozzie Nicholson. They were the three great riders. And I thought that, well, I guess that Oppie will catch up to me, no doubt about that. At 6.30 we were on our mark in the dark and they set us off and away we went. It seemed no time when we were coming into Colac and there was a prize for the first rider under seventeen minutes to go through Colac. Now the happy memories of Colac, of course, was Urac. That's where I came up in those days and I thought of the wonderful people and little did I know that they were there to see the race and to see me, just win there by a tyre - the sprint race into Colac. The first sixty-five miles. And by that time I had really just started to warm up. So I must have been in good condition. Along the way, what I do when I was riding, all my songs were coming back to me. As I pedalled away I just made up songs. So if you shut your mind off from these kind of things, you can do so many things that don't need a lot of attention, you know. So I got to the rhythm of the song and I probably write a song while I was doing it. That helped a lot. By the time I got to Geelong, I'd broken away from the main bunch, which I'd picked up, stragglers along the way. At Cameron's Hill in Colac they're always there to feed you. They were called the Feeding Station. Jam tins filled up with bread and milk and you just drank it down as you went by and kept on pedalling. We come down through Winchelsea and they'd done the road up for something like five miles of loose gravel. And Winchelsea is very windy and, of course, the speed coming through there was really fantastic. You know, let your head go and down you went. And somebody got into the loose gravel, out in front of me, and the whole pack come down. About thirty of us all come down the bunch. I pulled myself out of there and straggled on. One feller out, his leg through a sprocket and his hands through a chain. A lot of casualties there. I was very lucky. I got a lot of gravel rash, but I never felt it. It's a strange thing you know when you're excited and your out to win, you don't notice it, do you? I just pedalled all the harder and got myself out there and by the time I got to Geelong I caught up with two other stranglers and formed another bunch. When I got to Werribee, it's only about twenty miles from the finish, I was out in front on my own. And I took the back road across, the Bacchus Marsh road, the Ballarat Road, and there, the race ended at Sunshine and with five miles to go, I was in front. And The Herald car was coming along behind me saying, 'Keep it going, son. They're five minutes behind: the big pack'. Ozzie was leading them. Ozzie Nicholson, Freddie Lamb and Hubert Opperman and all the stragglers hanging onto them. I used to go out with Oppy on weekends in training, so I thought, well if I don't win it, at least I'll come in with Oppie. And I got ... I did a fatal thing - I was that dehydrated I got off the bike to have a drink of water. I was just dehydrated. And I went over to a dam by the side of the road, which from recent rainfall had filled up, and filled myself ... had a gutful of water and I went flat. I got on my bike and I found it so heavy. I should have kept going. And anyway I could see in the distance the Dunlop Road Race and ... but all the lovely feelings of winning was going very quickly for me. It was dying fast because I was hungry. I was cold. I'd been sitting on this narrow blooming seat, you know. It was one of those occasions where bikes weren't as good as they are now. And the next thing I knew there was a big pack coming up behind me and Ozzie Nicholson and Freddie Lamb with Hubert right up in the front. And as you know they pace. They all lead each other. I remember a voice calling out, 'Hook on son', and I did. Oppie was up in the front. I swung back. I got into the pack. Once you get into the pack you've got a draught, a wind. You can free wheel and just run along, because there's no head wind. See, what I was doing was riding the race on my own. I didn't have a team to work with. Had I been with Oppie I might have gone further. So I come in. Well I finished with all the bunch. I didn't win the race. But I rode three Warrnambools and that was my last one. And when I came out I walked over to get my wheel checked. They examine the seals on you're ... They were very, very careful in those days. You couldn't have a car give you a spare wheel or anything like that. You'd change the tyre. You had to start with what you had. Everything was above board. And the roads were rough and tough. They weren't like they were now. I walked over to check in the tent and I don't remember any more. I passed out. And it seems I had ... I thought I had heart failure. I went to be insured and the doctor said to me, 'What sort of work do you do?' He said, 'I don't think I could pass you'. I said, 'Why?' He said, 'You've got a bumpy heart'. A bumpy heart. He said, 'What sort of work you do?' I said, 'Well it's not work actually, it's a sport. I'm a bike racer'. He said, 'Ah that accounts for it. Too many sprints'. Anticipation working. I'd go and dream of a night that I was winning it and the sheets'd be up on my legs and I'm pedalling away. I'd run my race the night before. So what happened to me, see, I drained myself. So, I'd notice I'd be lying down and my bed would be rocking with my heart. It'd bump - bumping all the time. And I had that for a long, long time. I gave up cycling because of that. Although I had ridden some bigger races. Like the thousand mile bike race over the Australian Alps. Oppie was in that with us. And we used to do 120 mile one day, 150 from Bairnsdale to Melbourne. Down, eight round laps in Como Park and I was so fit. I was really fit. And the bike was my love. But all that time I must have written about fifty songs. That was when my music had kept me going. I found that music ... you know, think of a world without it. It's infinite isn't it? Music has that one soothing feeling it gives to us. When you're in love and all that kind of thing. But you can shut yourself off from the world with good music. And that's what I did. I used to put my head down and forget about the road and just go on singing to myself. And I'd wake up and another five mile had gone. That's the story of the bike. I tell you what: it's been a good grooming for me and it also gave me a wonderful friendship. I must look up Oppie some day. I haven't seen him for a long, long time.
And what happened with your music?
The music has been going ever since. As I say, it's infinite.
So at that time, you didn't have a job, you were giving up cycling, what did you do to earn a living?
Well then of course I had this steel guitar. And I loved that steel guitar. Of course that's when I was telling you about the islands was calling. Dorothy Lamour.
I'll ask that again, because this is where he wanted a clean intro. So just tell me this story as if you haven't told it to me before. Forget that you told it to me before.
So what did you do in order to earn a living?
Well I took up playing the guitar. I bought a guitar for five shillings a week. A Hawaiian steel guitar - not a pedal, on the level. And I learnt to play all those wonderful [songs]: Goodbye Hawaii, and Aloha, Alohi, I Love You and all this kind of thing. And my brother took up the Spanish guitar, and we'd become a duo. And we called ourselves The Coral Island Boys. And we entered the professional and amateur parade on 3KZ Melbourne. And we finished up with a bigger team than we started with and called it The South Sea Islanders. And we got through to the finals with it in the instrumental section. And the only people that beat us was a couple called Lal Chieri (?) and Lou Campara - the two Ls. And he's still around, the Camparas. And Toppano. And they won, and we were runner up to them. But out of that emerged ... Dot came in there to help me. And we put sound effects into it. As always, I was always a man that likes to put atmosphere into my programmes. So we invented a theme that would give us that lovely sound of waves coming up on the beach to Waikiki. So we got a little box made with the flywire, you know, and we poured out some shot out of a cartridge and poured that over there and just tilted it up and down like that in front of the microphone. And the effect was shhhh, just like the waves coming in. And over that we got Terry Dear to say what I'd written: 'Aloha, aloha. This is the voice of the islands'. And we'd come in with Beautiful, Beautiful Little Hawaii and we had a wonderful team and Dot was part of the team. And has been ever since.
So how did you get to go professional and actually earn a living from it?
Well the money was there. I was doing everything for love at the beginning. And you know what love is don't you? You do anything for love. Then I found that, you know, you had to pay your rent too. And we were staying in a little place up in Lygon Street, not far from where Squizzy Taylor was shot. Six musicians out of work at the time. Whoever got a job fed the others. And we were all lined up around this ... the room for six shillings a week. And we'd have six people. One would play a trombone, the other a clarinet. And one would rush in of a night and he'd say, 'Guess what, I got a job! We eat! We eat!'. Yes so I turned pro because I had a band to think about. And this was a bigger band, growing bigger and bigger all the time. Of course when we won that, with The South Sea Islanders, I was invited then to do a western. Up to that time I hadn't used Smoky Dawson. And I just had that first, what they call, thing that I put down on Fidelity as a thing. And the campfires. So Pepsodent picked it up. It went and they used The South Sea Islanders too.
So Pepsodent became your sponsor?
Pepsodent became my first sponsor. They were the one that kept my teeth in order. Now look, I still have them. And you might say that my teeth have outlived the product, because they don't make toothpaste anymore. Not Pepsodent. So I think that they did me a bit of good. They were my first sponsor. Dot was my second sponsor.
How was she your second sponsor?
Well she wouldn't marry me. She said either adopt me or she would sponsor me.
So how did you come to meet Dot? This was all happening ...
Well she was on the station. Actually before that we had met on what they call an amateur station: the hams. Every Sunday morning in Victoria, in Melbourne, the ham stations used to come on early in the morning and go off at ten o'clock. That was about the time the commercial stations used to come on air. But you see it was very Victorian in climate then. No work was allowed on Sundays, trams didn't run until midday, church bells rang on Sunday morning at the cathedral. And there was nothing virtually on Sundays. But the ham stations had to get off to allow the commercials to come on. So a fellow called Chris Rainbow had this big amateur station out at West Preston and he invited us to come over and try our talents. And when I got there of course, there was Dot. And she was doing drama. She had her sister Jean with her and they did little French sketches, you know. And my brother and I had walked five miles, carrying our guitars, all the way from East Melbourne, only to get there and [be] told that they couldn't fit us in because Miss Cheers and her sister was on. And I went grrrr. Didn't know that I was going to marry her one day.
So Miss Cheers was Dot?
Florence Cheers, I'll have you.
So how did she come to be called Dot?
Well Dot ... She was called Dot because when she was born she was so small compared to the rest of the family, they called her The Dot. And she's been affectionately named that ever since. It's a short way. But no one calls her Florence. That's a beautiful name, Florence.
And so you weren't very impressed with this ...
Oh not at the time.
What was her specialty? She did drama did she?
My brother said, 'Get this sheila off. Gee, we walked, look how far we've walked, carrying this'. And Chris Rainbow said, 'Never mind. Mother's made a big banquet for you'. And they had the local brass band, anybody who could play a mouth organ. Anybody could go on and do their act. And this is where we ... we sat in the middle of a room with a little crystal set and broadcast. And this Chris Rainbow is alive to this day and he always says to this day that he acted Cupid for us. And this is how we first met. Then we went to 3KZ auditions. She got in doing sketches on there. And then I got sponsored by Pepsodent, which went for three years. And oh, every front of the The Radio Times and the Listener In was always, 'She is the wife of Smoky Dawson, Florence Cheers'. And she went to 3KZ. She become in charge of the children's programmes. So she was with a feller called Norm Swain, known as Billy Bouncer. She was June, named by Terry Dear for want of a name. 'We'll call her June'. We were all on the one station. And honky tonk, on they'd come, Children's Hour. And it'd be June - Billy Bouncer and Auntie June. And then Smoky the Cowboy. So there we were. We had this kind of triangle.
Did you get married straight away?
Oh no, no. No, it was a long drawn out experience I can tell you.
Why was that?
Well she had doubts as to my ability in being able to speak as well. Or to perform. And I couldn't convince her that two could live for the price of one, not in a Depression. And might I say about the Great Depression, bad as it was, it taught us a lot. You know I think today, looking back at the recession, it's only in times of that, of the Great Depression and big catastrophes like the war and all that, that we find that wonderful characteristic that Australia is known for, and that's mateship. It was very, very evident there. Long before we had the cars. It disappears the moment you get to the wheel. It existed and has existed here with recent fires. Mateship comes to the fore. And the Australian character is identified readily. But in those days everybody shared everything with everybody. It was one of those wonderful periods in my life, remembering how I used to go down the street, with Dot, you know, and take bowls of soup to people down the road. And there was always that. And her father did the same thing. Everybody cared about each other, you see because there wasn't much. Nobody had much. So we were all on the one level and when you get on the one level, then you have family. And this is what's gone wrong with the world today, is that we've lost that, in some sense. The values. The simple ways of life and how to get by. Either we want too much. We all want things rather than what we need. So we had the old, what do you call, the old ice chest we used to have. And Coolgardie safes with the old piece of canvas and hessian down the back, where the water went down and cooled the butter inside. We got by with it. And we all washed out things out with our hands. I still do it. I still don't use much my clothes washer here. I just wash daily and simplify it. I was brought up in the days of washing boards and we worked hard. But it was a good, clean way of living and everybody seemed to have more love for each other. Maybe.
What attracted you to Dot?
Oh she was magic. I didn't know whether I'd ever get her you know. Because she was so ... she was so tall and stately. She carries herself well and she was doing a lot of ... you know, she was modelling. You know, she used to be dancer, she was the first Darryn girl down there in Melbourne, when they had all these things on the show and they had these frocks coming and she'd put them on. And then of course they'd be all ... everybody racing for them. They'd nearly drag her off to get it. So, and then she used to come home through the gardens, the Alexander(sic.) Gardens, with her lunch. I always waited for her, because she gave me my lunch. And she always shared an apple with me. You know, she'd peel the apple. I was at the YMCA where I got some cheaper diggings. Dot had a school of music but it wasn't going too well until I got started. But she stood by me. She's so wonderful and she'd be there. I'd see her coming with the basket after she did her work. She was getting a pound a week. Then she'd come over there in the gardens and open up her little hamper and there were all these lovely sandwiches, like she's doing now. And she'd always have that apple. She'd peel it all. Cut it in half. 'Here's yours. There's mine'. And this is the way we've lived our lives. Sharing apples. We share everything. Because there's so much ... that's what she wanted to say to me about getting married then, you know. Unless you can do that. And she didn't think that I'd be mature enough. I don't think she thought that I was mature enough as a businessman, because I was too wrapped up in fantasies and love and building bridges and things that she didn't realise that some of my bridges would turn into realities. Which they have in the long run.
How old were you when you met?
Oh crazy age there: about nineteen. Think you know all. You know, you think you're grown up until somebody tells you, 'Oh you're only a kid. You're only a baby yet'.
And Dot would tell you that she thought you were too young.
Well yes. Well I thought she said that because she was mature to me, very mature. And of course I must say that I was ... I'd been absent of a mother for a long time and I hadn't had any girlfriends. She was my first girl, so it was a great experience for me and a great triumph when I brought it off. But it took a war to do it.
So you were courting her. Did you want to marry her straight away?
Oh yes you do. Impulsive youth. 'Let's get married'. Don't worry about whether you can keep her or not.
And she was the voice of caution?
Oh yes, the voice: 'Beware. Go back. A lot of thing left to be done first'. But she'd come and we'd see each other a lot and I'd be at her home a lot and her mother ... I'd talk to her mother and we'd sit by the fire, poking the embers and I'd wish her mother would go to bed and leave us alone, and she wouldn't. [Laughs]
So what do you think she liked about you?
I grew on her. I wore her out. No, I'll tell you what it was. After about nine years of it, 'til in the end I didn't ask any more because I was still getting this. It was rather a difficult period for me to keep my self-respect and feel I was important without being dragged down, that I was using the wrong words. And I was always looking up the dictionary to see what it meant. You know, and that business of coming and saying, 'Guess what I done?' was really put in order. And she said, 'You didn't done it, you did it', which sent me into confusion because I used to turn around and say, 'I didn't did it at all'. 'Now you're getting worse. Forget about it'. So she'd keep pulling me up on these things. So, one day, the war had broken out and they start thinking differently, don't they. I think: Ah, she'll think more of me now, I'll enlist. And so I was hoping they wouldn't take me. [Laughs] So I said to her, 'What about us getting married?' And she looked shocked. We were sitting down there. I think it was Mordialloc, or somewhere down there ... or Mentone, on the beach, watching the seagulls, tide coming in and out, you know, looking out to sea and my thoughts on her and I said, 'What about us getting married?' And she said, 'For what reason?' And I said, 'Well I love ya'. And that's when she put me down. She said, 'It is not ya, it is you'. Not ya. So I didn't ask her any more until I got enlisted and I come home and I said, 'As a married man, if I go overseas I get one and six extra a day. What about it?' It's marvellous what they'll do for money. [Laughs] It did it. But she said, 'I wish you wouldn't have rushed me'.
Nine years of it. Then the war was on. I was up in Darwin. A few bombs were falling here and there and I come back. And I hadn't married her. I was still in the army. And I come down and I [say], 'Get ready to get married. Now, because I'm on leave'. So I remember as I got down nearer to Melbourne I raced home and there she was. And had to be the next day because I only had a certain ... about a week off. And I had to be back in Sydney at the barracks here. And so she said, 'You know what you've done to me? Here we are, we've got this coupon business ...' You had to have coupons to buy material. 'I've got no wedding frock, nothing. I'll have to make one'. And that's what she did. 'And you're not supposed to see me the night before'. And I didn't see what she was making but she'd bought this lovely little veil of lace and that there. And did a little shortie. That's all I could afford. Borrowed other people's coupons. These were the blackouts too. The war was getting on. Japan had come into it. And I thought: Well, there you are, don't want to ever forget. And the next morning there I was in my uniform, up there in Collins Street at the Congregational Church, standing out in the front, waiting for the bride. And I hoped she hadn't changed her mind. And there she came in all her glory. I tell you what - it was the most beautiful day of my life. I said, 'Now two will live for the price of one,' because I got the Army to help me. [Laughs]
Where did you spend your honeymoon?
Ah, what a beautiful place. A place called Yarra Junction. We used to often go up there: Warburton, near Warburton and up the Acron Way, a beautiful part of Victoria. And there's enormous bush fires up there too. We had built a little cabin up there. I called it My Little Old Log Cabin In The Shadow Of The Pines, which I wrote a song about - my going away and coming back. And there we went on our honeymoon. When we got married in the church by the way. Henry Evans - he was an old Welshman ... and Dot had often gone into the pulpit to read the lesson. She was one of those girls you know. That's what she was. She was all going round with the Methodist Men's Choir, dressed in her evening frock. Going into the ABC of a night and doing ... she had to go and do a ten minute spot on air. She'd catch the tram in full evening dress. And nobody could see her in studio. And she'd do this little Florence Cheers: her sketches, and come back again. And so I thought, dear oh dear.
So you had your honeymoon in this little cabin up in the hills?
And it didn't last very long did it because you had to be back in Sydney to go to war.
That was the shortest honeymoon. I had three days honeymoon and a little boy that she took along with us ... He was only about six. His mother was very sick. And this is where Dottie was trying to help somebody else out - took this child with us, on our honeymoon. Young Ray, sharing my honeymoon. I'll never forget it. Oh he used to play. We had three pine trees up there and he used to swing in these in old rubber tyres and that. It was good to see him about, you know. And ...
How did you feel when you had to go back to war?
Oh terrible. It was terrible because it all went so quickly. You see, I kept telling myself how we waited all those years, all the years waiting to get her, now I'm going away. I might lose her. And so I ... we promised that when we went, what we would do ... We just had an embrace, a kiss. And I was loaded up like a bloomin' camel. I had everything. She even made me a great pillowslip. Enormous. It could be my sheets, so I wouldn't be eaten by the fleas up in the camps. Always had that. Trying to be a mother to me. You can imagine what the soldiers would say when you come to a camp and you got sheets. Anyway, I walked down the hill down there. I hear the whistle of the train down ready to go. And here's Dot, looking me over and she said, 'You can't carry it all. I'll help you down with it'. I said, 'No'. I had my guitar with me. I had my bayonet and my rifle and my respirator and a gas mask and steel helmet. And then my roll of blankets, army coat because it was winter time and away down the hill. One kiss and we promised we wouldn't look back at each other. Go. I couldn't bear it. And I walked down. It was one of those very cold frosty mornings and as I got down towards the station, I could hear the old train coming down. You could see the smoke up round through the hills, puffing away and whaa, whaa, you know. And I could see it was getting nearer and nearer. And as I got to the station I thought I'd never make it, you know. And the train pulled in and it was these old carriages, single doors, and I couldn't get through the darn door with my pack. There was two elderly ladies inside and they helped me in. And I took off all the gear, sat down in the corner seat with the window, looking up onto the hill where I'd come. And I saw the pine trees and I saw her up there standing. And oh, the big tough soldier burst into tears, and I cried and I cried and cried. And the two old ladies started crying too. 'Poor boy going off to war'. I never thought I'd ever see Dottie again I'll tell you what. And do you know that kid, that Ray, he spent about seven years with Dot. He become part of the family. When I come back he was still there. Had my honeymoon and all my life. [Laughs] That's the funny side of things, but I didn't feel that way when it happened, I tell you what. It was ...
So you were, once again, having to say goodbye really to ... You'd just found another woman in your life, having lost your mother all those years ago ...
... And now you were saying goodbye to really someone who had come into your life to replace her.
It was my anchor, it was my life, you know. I was really going away and so were many others too. And I saw all these fellers going away and we didn't know - destination unknown - we didn't know where we were going even.
Before we get you to the war, I'd like to go back and pick up on what was happening with your radio career at this time because I wanted to ask you another question about that. And we'll get you up to date and then we'll go to war.
How was it for a young guy from the country who could sing and knew how to bring a band together and knew how to make a really good programme, but knew nothing of business as far as I know? How did you manage the business side of it?
Oh yes, I did. You know that almost slipped my mind. Yes I did have a business. It was a school of music. You see that's one thing about music, I did learn music and the orphanage taught me to read music and write music. So I was a musician and I had wonderful musicians with me. They were all the best that you could get around in Melbourne in those days and nobody thought about the word 'country or anything like that. They were just straight out musicians. They could play jazz, anything at all and they'd harmonise. You write parts. We read our parts. And I'd formed this wonderful group and the show, after we'd finished with Pepsodent, went on to be ... The station carried it, it was so good, that they did a barter system with me. And I opened up a school of music just a few doors down in Elizabeth Street, not far from where 3KZ was, and we opened this up as Smoky Dawson's Hillbilly Club, in which you could learn to play anything from a jaw harp, a Jew's harp, a mouth organ up to a piano and vice versa. And we even sold instruments. And so we had about 2,000 square feet of dance floor above Don McKellar's Dancing School, right in Elizabeth Street near the terminus, almost near Flinders Street Railway Station. So it was a wonderful spot. Now KZ gave us free publicity for us to do a Sunday program and we kept going. The Smoky Dawson Band became a very viable one and of course we got a lot of jobs from it. We did a lot of songs with the ABC. We had contracts with Colin Crane on The Hillbilly Cabin. We took over from Freddie McIntosh and the Rhythm Boys and we went into Coconut Grove, and all the big shows around Sydney all engaged us. And then when the war came like this, I had to leave that behind. And I had this big school of music where I was teaching. I couldn't pay the rent because I had to go out. So they transferred me to a smaller building and I put my name on the door: Smoky Dawson School of Music and I took private ... just private students until I was about to go. And I had a partner who was a Mormon preacher. But he was a musician with the ABC and he really had me on. I thought he was a lovely fellow. And he said, 'Look ...' Of course his conscience wouldn't allow him to go away. War that was a violent thing. So he wasn't in it.
[end of tape]