Bill Hillman's Monthly Military Tribute
AS YOU WERE . . .
WAR YEARS ECLECTICA :: JUNE 2019
2019.06 Edition


Wartime Journals of Correspondent Edgar Rice Burroughs :: December 1942-April 1943
THE DIARY OF A CONFUSED OLD MAN
or Buck Burroughs Rides Again

Written April 1943 ~ Copyright ERB, Inc.
Shared by Danton Burroughs from his Burroughs Family Archive
Transcribed and Illustrated for ERBzine by Bill Hillman

PAGE SIXTEEN

New Year's 1943 Celebration in Sydney, Australia: December 31 - January 3
. . .  for about an hour, but seemed more interested in the drinks than in me. Something I can fully understand. He finally left without having asked me a question. Ham, Ferguson, and I were joined by three America army nurses: 2nd Lt. Rose Koma and her friends, 2nd Lt. Mary S. Gill of Oxford, N.C. and 2nd Lt. Jean Holzknecht of Forest Hill West, Long Island, N.Y. Three nice, clean American girls.

New Year's Eve is celebrated in Sydney from 11 P.M. Dec. 31 to 1:00 A.M. Jan. 1. So Ham and I went down to the lounge about 10:45. Mr. Young, the hotel manager, joined us for a few minutes and we had a highball on the house . After he left, one of our Australian girl friends came. There was much singing, joined in by all (except me); and at midnight, Mr. Young proposed two toasts -- the first to President Roosevelt, the second to His Majesty the King, during which we stood and sang God Save the King. Our National Anthem had been sung following the toast to the President.

Around one o'clock, January 1, the party broke up: and Ham and I walked the streets until 2 o'clock in the rain with the girl trying to get a cab to send her home. Cabs are few, far between, and independent as a hog on ice in Sydney. Most of them are equipped with things that resemble a Rube Goldberg invention in which charcoal is turned into motive power. Those burning petrol are so limited by rationing that they are very choosy about where they will take fares. Some of them wouldn't carry a "Yank". Probably had had a girl friend taken over by an American soldier.

There were hundreds of people on the streets trying to get cabs. At last we gave up and returned to the hotel. After a long argument with a walrus mustached old fellow who was combination night clerk and janitor, I finally persuaded him to give the girl a room. Throughout, he was watchful of the hotel's reputation. The whole thing looked immoral to him. When he eventually gave in, he insisted on taking me to my floor and Ham to his before delivering the girl to an unknown destination.

This New Year's Day produced a lovely Labour scandal. The fourth holiday the previous week had been in lieu of a holiday on New Year's Day. It was a government order and was well understood. But 37,000 essential defense workers refused to work January 1st. At the abattoirs, the men would not even slaughter enough cattle to feed the army -- their own army. "Shocking", one Australian described it to me.

At 11:30 that morning, George Folster, NBC and Chicago Sun, sent his car for me, and I was driven to his apartment at Darling Point for thin hot cakes and maple syrup! Also, good old Hills Brothers' coffee, with Scotch and champagne as added attractions. His other guests were Syd Albright, NBC; Bill Dunn, CBS; Pat Robinson, INS; Loyd Ring (Deke) Coleman of Brockport, N.Y., and his wife, Louise, formerly of Paris; Edmee Monod de Troideville of The Hague, Holland; Patricia Holmes and Phyllis Voin of Utan, Simpan Estate, Kuang, Malaya. The last three were refugees from Malaya and the Dutch East Indies who had fled before the Japs. There are several thousand of these refugees in Sydney. Mostly woman and children, many whom have not heard from their menfolks since they left them and do not know whether or not they are still alive. It was a nice party, and I stayed all afternoon. one of the girls drove me back to Usher's.

On the 3rd (January 3), Ham and I walked through the Botanical Gardens. they are very beautiful, with innumerable trees and shrubs unfamiliar to us. Some of them might have served as models for Jack's Inner World and Martian landscapes.


A NEW YEAR'S TOAST

King George VI  and President Franklin D. Roosevelt


Sydney Botanical Gardens

PAGE SEVENTEEN

January 3 and 4
After lunch, Ham and I walked over to Marton House, where we met Syd Albright, Ednee de Troideville, and Pat Robinson. Took a train at Wynyard Station and drove for about 25 minutes to Pymble, a suburb. Arrived there in midst of terrific electrical storm and downpour of rain. Our hostess, Mrs. SJ. Field, met us with car; but had to go back for raincoats and umbrella to get us across over-pass from station to street.

Field is one of the wealthiest cattlemen in Australia, as well as having a big packing industry. They have a lovely home with a large garden and swimming pool Their other guests included C.M.Stump, who wrote "Quite unknown" after his autograph, Laurie D. Smith of Wahroonga, Mona lyson of Pymble, Ralph E. Smith of Vancouver (he is Canadian Minister of Timber, or something), and a Mr. Marton of Manchester, England. The day was cold and disagreeable, but the company and the refreshments were excellent.

By the time Ham and I got back to the hotel and were ready for dinner about 8 P.M., we learned that on Sundays the dining room closes at 7:15! And this in one of the best hotels in the largest city of Australia. Pat Robinson was with us; so he invited us to dine with him at The Australia. Nothing doing there either. We finally heard of a place where we might get food - Ciro's, at 308a New South Head Road, and took a cab there.

Matching, to see who would pay for the cab, I lost. We also matched for the dinner check, and Ham lost. Then I lost the taxi fare back. Ciro's is run by Harry Gould of San Francisco, Shanghai, etc. It is something of a hot night spot. Something Gould knows how to run. His floor show consisted solely, as far as I could determine, of volunteers from this clientele. Altogether, January 3rd was a large day.

The next morning (January 4), William McCall and Bill Rodgers of MGM's Sydney studio called on me and invited me to see Tarzan's New York Adventure, the final Tarzan picture to be made under their contract with Sol Lesser and ERB Inc.

Pvt. Joseph Y. Taylor came up to my room and got my autograph in his Boy Scout book! Then I went, by order of Colonel Dupres, to the Provost Marshall's in the Bank of New South Wales Building, where I was finger-printed and photographed for the umpty-steenth time since December 7, 1941, since when I have done about everything except sit in printer's ink.

From there, I went to the Q.M.'s, where I met Lt. Wm. C. Cruickshank of Barre, Vermont, who took me down to another room where I bought a carton of Camels for 3/6 - about 56 cents. Back at Usher's, Ham came to my room; and we ordered up a double Scotch to fortify ourselves against whatever  might come later. Domini Harnett of Broadcasting Station 2SM phoned that some radio magazine wished a photo of him and me together. He came after lunch with his photographer and a couple of pictures were made.

I went to Bank of Australia, where Mr. O'Brien had my account all fixed up and the impounded fund released; so I had a blank check book and about $3000 in the bank. Drew $100 and went to the Criterion Mercery (haberdasher to you) and bought a wool uniform -- OD shirt and cap and "pinks" (pink trousers) and a tie to match, all for 6/6 ($20.73, as nearly as I could figure it out). It had turned so cold (in mid-summer) that I was shivering in my khaki.

About 4:P.M, Percy Curtis of RKO and J.W. Dent, Editor "Film Weekly", came to my room and invited me down for a "spot". Before we went down, their photographer arrived, and we went up on the roof. Down in the lounge, we had several "spots". As they were leaving, a medical corps man came to my table and asked me to come to his and give his girl an . . .



Wynyard Station


ERB and Sol Lesser, Producer of Tarzan's New York Adventure


 Taxi cab powered by charcoal burning gas

PAGE EIGHTEEN

Australia: January 4 ~ 5 ~ 6
. . . autograph. I had to have another "spot" with them. Then I saw Ham and a pretty girl, and he asked me to have dinner with them. The girl was one of the few really nice girls we met informally, except the American nurses, of course. Anyway, they were all safe with Ham, not alone because he is a Suth'n gem'n from Richmond, Virginia, but because he always took me along. Whether to protect the girls or Ham, I wouldn't know.

We met again at seven. Bob Ferguson and a Sydney girl were with them. We went to Ciro's and had a pleasant evening. Pat Robinson was at another table with a girl. He was getting his spirits lived -- rapidly.

The following morning (January 5), while I was at breakfast, Mr. F.W. Simpson of the Australian Broadcasting Commission called for me. I went to the studio with him and recorded a talk (8 1/2  minutes) that was broadcast that evening.

Went to the Grace building and talked with Major Cary Tucker of Buffalo, N.Y. about purchasing US War Bonds. While there, I accomplished even more. Lt. Cruickshank took me to the Officer's Club and got me a bottle of Johnny Walker. I decided the War Bond matter could be placed lower on the agenda. First things should always come first.

The MGM men called for me at three. Bob Ferguson was with me and I asked to take him along to see the Tarzan picture. It looked good box office to me. Met a number of MGM people and we were all photographed. Saide Parker, MGM News Service asked me to record for her the next day. She also interviewed me.

My laundry finally came back after eight days. What Australia needs is a few Statler Hotels with Statler service. Of course the war has messed things up for them. So has the Labour Government. Some of the things one saw on the streets were reminiscent of the '90s -- hansom cabs and other horse drawn vehicles, and ancient bowler hats.

Back at the hotel, Bob and I found Ham and Mr. and Mrs. Field in the lounge. Thelma Terry (the nice girl) joined us later. After Bob, Ham and Terry left, the Fields took Pat and me to Prince's for dinner. Prince's is another swank restaurant. Prince's and Romano's are the best in town. They put on quite a lot of dog. At tea dances in the afternoon, I was always rather shocked to see the number of men in civilian clothes dancing. It didn't look like all-out war effort to me.

The following morning (January 6) I made a recording. The script was written by Saide Parker. The recording was directed by George Matthews, General Manager B.A.P.

Met Brydon Taves, UP Bureau Chief, Sydney. He seemed peeved because I hadn't reported to him. I thought him something of an ass. So did Ham.
 

After lunch, I went with Miss Osborne of Australian Broadcasting Commission and recorded a talk for her children's hour. Afterward, I spent the rest of the afternoon shopping for something I needed. Went to the Finance Section and got a priority release. Took a cab to a big concern that was supposed to have what I wanted, if anyone did. They didn't. But a friendly and very busy chap named Haughtry spent half an hour telephoning all over town to locate the article. His desk was in what I suppose the British call the counting room The whole place, including the furniture and the clerks, might have been lifted bodily out of a Dickens story. A sad faced, little old man wearing a white collar and a black alpaca coat, matched the ancient, timeworn tables, chairs, and desks. Everything was dingy and depressing.


Horse-Drawn Hansom Cabs


Australian Broadcasting Commission Mobile Studio Caravan 1943 and Camouflaged Double Decker Bus




BILL HILLMAN
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