A Middle Class Man: An Autobiography


Unpublished Author: Alistair Knox

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  • Chapter 1
    Apart from the sounds and tensions normally associated with childbirth in A.D. 1912, my entry into the world on Easter Monday - 8 April of that year - was without any remarkable incident. The street in which I was destined to live for
  • Chapter 2
    I can recall very little of the events that followed the outbreak of the Great War - Germany, Austria, and Turkey battling Britain, France, Russia, and their allies - except that Edie and her friend Isabel taught me to sing 'It's a Long
  • Chapter 3
    When I turned threethe time had come for me to start attending church, which our whole family did, morning and evening, every Sunday. I only went once a week at first. The church we attended had been co-founded by my grandfather,
  • Chapter 4
    The Anzac participation in the Dardanelles campaign continued for seven bitter months. With their usual ponderous strategic attitude, the western Allies' intention to take the land on the sides of the narrow entrance to the Black Sea
  • Chapter 5
    It was during 1916 that I first recall the Extraordinary; it was a news sheet born out of due season by a specific war-happening - perhaps the drowning of Lord Kitchener, or some special action on the Western Front. The first
  • Chapter 6
    My father's job did not follow the normal pattern for those days, when most breadwinners' hours were very regular and uneventful. He never seemed to leave for the city until after nine in the morning, when he would saunter down to the
  • Chapter 7
    The postwar world produced a new sense of freedom which developed into a real fact of life by 1920. The war was over; the men had returned home and were trying to make some sense out of the promises the nation had made to the navy,
  • Chapter 8
    Middle Park Central School No. 2815 was a Higher Elementary establishment which included the seventh and eighth grades, the first two years of the high-school syllabus. It had an excellent record both scholastically and in sport -
  • Chapter 9
    The new society which evolved after the First World War affected the national lifestyle and precipitated a decline in moral standards. The promises of a new world failed to fructify in many instances because every participating
  • Chapter 10
    When I left Scotch College in December 1927, Bradman was our national hero. He shared the honor with Phar Lap and with Bert Hinkler, the pioneer airman. The following year saw the Conservative Government lose the election, and its
  • Chapter 11
    The Great Depression came on gradually at first, but then burst into its full ferocity and culminated in the Wall Street crash in October of 1929, when millionaires jumped out of their skyscrapers and the whole hitherto prosperous
  • Chapter 12
    I was transferred from Port Melbourne to the Swanston Street office in 1930, which was an agreeable change. There was a staff of twenty-four under a white-haired bachelor manager who was nearing the conclusion of his service with the
  • Chapter 13
    There were one or two places where artists and art potters - art pottery was still in its infancy - would always meet, notably the Primrose Pottery in Little Collins Street. When I first visited there in 1932 it was run by Cynthia Reed,
  • Chapter 14
    The society of the entire world was in flux. Ramsay McDonald had long since been written off as a spent force in Britain, and his successor Stanley Baldwin was busily trying to maintain the status quo, though without the power to
  • Chapter 15
    For several reasons, courtships in the 1930s were slower but generally more permanent. The need for security was greater because the welfare programmes of today were not then generally in existence. Marriage was still considered to be
  • Chapter 16
    Mernda again became pregnant a few months later, and it was clear to us that our little cabin by the stream would be too small; we would have to find some new living accommodation. This began the most depressing period of my social
  • Chapter 17
    The latest German attack began with massive tank and dive-bomber spearheads, and the result was immediate and fearful. Holland, Belgium, and the Low Countries were conquered, in essence, in a matter of days. Resistance points were
  • Chapter 18
    My father-in-law Reggie Clayton died in 1940, and I inherited his 8-horsepower square-nosed Fiat tourer, along with a small petrol ration. It was the first motor vehicle I had ever owned. I had only been outside Victoria once in my life
  • Chapter 19
    My spiritual life had become increasingly nominal and without commitment. Whatever my beliefs were, they did not significantly alter how I lived. I allowed the knowledge of the truth to excuse me for not obeying it. Mernda and I
  • Chapter 20
    The Japanese armies quickly proceeded south, east, and west after the conquest of Malaya and the Philippines moving towards Burma and India lay to the west the Pacific Ocean and its strategic islands to the east, Borneo, Indonesia, New
  • Chapter 21
    After I spent the better part of a year instructing in motor engines and cleaning mess decks - interspersed with a stint of watch-keeping - the great draft arrived. Six Victorian ratings were to be drafted onto HMAS Martindale to head
  • Chapter 22
    We rounded Cape Otway that night, and the following morning we were heading up Port Phillip Bay. When we berthed at Gem Pier men came over from the naval jetty, which we had left behind only a few days earlier, to greet us. We felt we
  • Chapter 23
    It was determined we should proceed up the coast without delay as our real time did not start until we reached Ladava, the Milne Bay base. We sailed between Fraser Island and the mainland and past Brisbane until we reached Gladstone.
  • Chapter 24
    Most Australians regarded New Guinea as the centre of our theatre of war in 1943. Some months earlier, Milne Bay had been under intense threat from Japanese invasion. The extreme southwestern Nipponese advance had been halted on the
  • Chapter 25
    There were times when we received signals that took us into uninhabited places where there were only primitive charts, causing us to report some islands several miles out of position. Minor dots on the charts designating the Group
  • Chapter 26
    I returned to Milne Bay by air and was drafted onto the Amohinie, a craft over twenty-five metres in length that was being refitted for duty in Dutch New Guinea - an active war zone. Its crew had been idle for months, and the whole
  • Chapter 27
    At the end of the month, I felt I was enjoying my last day at sea. The signal would almost certainly be waiting for us on our return to base. The best feature of the Stingray was the fact that her radio facilities never functioned once
  • Chapter 28
    The Germans finally surrendered in May 1945; but there was still no idea of how long it would take for Japan to capitulate, although our victory now seemed inevitable. As soon as the atomic bombs were dropped, first on Hiroshima and then
  • Chapter 29
    The New Art movement - at whose birth I had been present thirteen years earlier - was, however, in healthy condition, even if its members were beset with financial difficulties. Arthur Boyd, John Perceval, Sidney Nolan, David Boyd, Neil
  • Chapter 30
    At the end of the year I sat for the final-year exams as well as Year 2, and passed them very easily. I felt these were all the academic qualifications I had time for as opportunities to design increased, particularly because we were
  • Chapter 31
    Stonygrad was situated on the stoniest part of the stony district. It was virtually stone from the surface down. The tree growth consisted of native red and yellow box and stringback eucalypts that won a grudging acceptance from the
  • Chapter 32
    I was never a Jorgensenite in the real sense. Jorgie described what such a commitment would mean with great clarity. 'There's a great big world out there', he would say, 'but if you come into my little world, you come in on my terms
  • Chapter 33
    We were actually creating building history without really understanding what we were doing. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, a similar movement was also beginning to emerge. Eltham and Albuquerque were combining to make earth-building a
  • Chapter 34
    My great chance to escape the tedium of the bank occurred as I neared my twenty-years-long service leave. This concession was still restricted to only a few firms and institutions. A good steady job, a house, a wife, and children were