From notes compiled by Jean Hose (nee Blackwell) in 1986 on her memories of Ocean Grove.
"My name is Jean Hose of Ocean Grove. I am one of the Blackwell family, one of the first families to settle in the district before it was named Ocean Grove.
My great grandfather and his family came from Bristol, England in 1850. One of his sons was Thomas who was my grandfather, and his son James was my father. I have one brother James and one sister Dorothy.
Thomas Blackwell, grandfather of Jean Hose, with a basket of crayfish at Ocean Grove.
[Photograph : courtesy of Jean Hose, Ocean Grove]
I have lived in Ocean Grove all my life. I went to State School and had one teacher all my school days. Mr Clarke taught all 8 grades to qualifying certificate in sixth grade and Merit in eight grade.
The children left school at 14 years and found employment in the district or went to be apprenticed to a trade.
One of our pupils became a famous singer, he was Norman Menzies and he sang at the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. We had about 20 pupils.
We had one Sunday School at St. Peters, all the children of all denominations went there. The junior class was taught by Miss Jessie Weber who also played the organ. Miss Beatrice Cuthbertson taught the middle class, and bible class was taken by Rev. Thomas Quinton who came from St. Mark's in Leopold. He drove a horse and buggy & took the church service after Sunday School. He was here for 30 years.
Services for the Methodist Church were held at night with ministers from Yarra Street & Thornton Church in Geelong.
Our entertainments were mainly socials, dances, picnics, football, cricket and tennis. The tennis courts were opened about 1924.
There were euchre parties held in the hall which would be full of players until 10.00 p.m., when the tables would be cleared away and dancing would begin. The music was piano. I think the pianist was payed 15 shillings.
The men had a rifle shooting club which was situated in the sand banks at the beach where Collendina is now.
Our family would go by boat to Barwon Heads to the pictures. My father and brother would row the boat from the Ocean Grove jetty which was at the end of Gutheridge Street near where the boat ramp is now.
We could go to the jetty and buy fish from fishermen who were nearly all based at Ocean Grove before the bridge was built when they had to go below the bridge. We used to buy a barracouta for 9 pence.
Our butcher was Gallop Bros. from Drysdale. They came in a covered cart on Tuesdays and Fridays and as there were no refrigerators or ice chests we had Coolgardie safes which were water cooled and had to be placed in a draught to be effective.
Our baker was Kingsbury Bros. of Drysdale, who came on Monday, Wednesday & Friday. I remember my mother and a neighbour used to bake their own bread because they thought that 10 pence for a 4 pound loaf was too expensive.
One of our pleasures was when the Indian hawkers called. There were 4 of them. Their names were Carlo, Sammy, Munshee Khan and Meerkhan. They would call in their covered wagons. They would prop up the sides to display the clothing, household goods and at the back would be drawers with ribbons, laces, cottons and darning wool. Sammy told us he was married when he was 7 years old which surprised us children.
Another man who called was a man who sold all sorts of tin ware and sharpened knives and scissors.
In the summer season we had an ice cream man call in his red & white cart and white horse. He came from Geelong.
I remember the first mail man to bring the mail from Geelong in a motor car. His name was Joe Steiglitz. My first ride in a car was with him. I may have been 10 years old. The Post Office was then on the corner of Powell Street West and Presidents Avenue. It was a room in a private house and the Postmistress was Miss Jessie Weber. It was later moved next to Menzies store in The Terrace.
Where the recreation reserve is now was once the swamp & water hole where the horses and cattle used to drink, they used to roam all over the town. The cows would all go to their home about 4.00 p.m. to be milked and put in a paddock for the night. A fee for each cow and horse was paid to the Council - 4 shillings per cow and 7 shillings & sixpence per horse for 3 months.
The bridge to Barwon Heads was built in 1926. Before then if we wanted to go to Barwon Heads we would walk along the river or beach and be rowed across by Harvey Gray for 6 pence.
There were plenty of open spaces when we were young, behind our place from Ashbury Street to Thacker Street there were no houses and we would play at the lagoon (now Blue Waters Lake) and set rabbit traps.
There were 3 orchards in this area and many times we had pockets full of fruit from them.
In the early 1920's the Heralds were delivered by aeroplane to Ocean Grove and other towns in this area. Mr. Menzies would put a sheet on the ground where the Catholic church is now and the pilot would drop the Heralds.
These are some of the local organisations I have been interested in :
- after I was married and my children started school, I worked for the school committee and Mother's Club for 35 years. I was secretary of the school committee for 14 years.
- Country Women's Association
- Blind Auxiliary
- St. Peters Ladies Guild
- Football Club Ladies Committee
- Infant Welfare Centre - I was one of the foundation committee which raised the money for the building. We bought the land and had the Centre built and opened in 1957. I was on that committee for 24 years
- Red Cross Service Company - we had a busy company with First Aid and Home Nursing. We had a First Aid Post at the surf beach for the summer holidays every year until the council employed 2 inspectors for the beach and they worked with the Surf Lifesaving Club. Now we do transport of people to Queenscliff Health Centre or Geelong or local doctors. I am the representative for our district.
Ocean Grove once had 5 guest houses where single people could board when they worked in the district. The guests would come by bus from the railway station."