Chapter Two ...Tom meets
It was not long before Tom Jowett was heading as the locals called it to 'the big smoke'. Sydney was a bustling city of just over one and a half million people, with many new immigrants arriving daily. He had heard of the Snowy River Scheme where long hours were the means of making a lot of money. He met many of his fellow countrymen, but tended to give them a wide berth.
After the World War II, house building took off with many large contracts for government and soldiers homes. Restricted by his war injuries Tom responded for a job as a whitegoods salesman. His new employer not only liked him but was impressed by his enthusiasm and ability to make decisions. Giving him a month to prove himself Tom was a natural and soon began to make his presence felt as a company rep. His returns kept on a steady but climbing scale. In those days during the nineteen fifties Tom was neither encumbered with family nor a sense of duty toward his employer. For a few years he took up a job with the Postmaster-Generals Department. It was while he was working here that he suffered a set-back from his war injuries. He was posted to lighter duties, but failed to pass a medical examination by the Public Service Board and was retired with four months salary in lieu of holidays. The timing was unfortunate. Tom had met and married a Manchester lass Sheila Millard and they were only just getting on their feet, when Tom had a relapse. Sheila like Tom was a very responsible person who was now controlling a group of seamstresses at Harmony. This enabled Tom to take a rest and recuperate. He used that time studying the newspapers and decided to 'have a go' as he put it to Sheila, at selling again. So keen was he to do this, he actually took a position to start the following week. He might have gone too had it not been for the fact he told Sheila and she promptly rang his prospective boss and explained the true position. In hindsight it was a courageous decision of her part, for never again did the injuries interfere with his work.
He often switched jobs feeling as though his diligence was going unrewarded. There was an element of truth in this because it was about this time that wages were standardised and workers were paid not on ability, but on a wages that the unions had began bargaining for. Going were the days of bosses being able to pay their employees according to their worth. Whilst it was true as Tom had found out that good men were receiving similar salaries to himself it was also true that complete no-hopers were also working for the same. Incentive went out the door, but Tom Jowett wanted to get ahead. It was not long after this that he heard about a position going at Eclipse Radio Pty Ltd. Initially he made enquiries and was fobbed off. Undeterred he decided to call himself and find out what the job entailed. Tom found it hard to get past the receptionist and was interrupted when the State Manager walked in.
'Having troubles Jenny'? Mr Reinhold said.
'No Sir, but this gentleman believes he might be the man for the position, you have advertised".
"Oh does he" he said turning to Tom.' Do you know what the job entails, young man'?
'No, but I have spent five years in the home appliance field, with some success and since your firm trades in a similar field I am looking for advancement. I believe in my ability and judgement'.
Bill Reinhold. "Do you now? Since you have no idea of what the position is, I admire your enthusiasm. I like that in an employee. Give me half an hour and I'll see what you have got to offer'.
With that he left Tom and headed down a corridor leading from the front office.
Jenny did a bit of a chuckle. "Well you have jumped the queue".
"How's that"? Tom queried.
"The State Manager is a stickler for procedure. I am not surprised that he would see you, but to give you a hearing off the cuff is unusual". Jenny was very matter of fact.
"It must have been the introduction, that he took note of. I should imagine that he takes a deal of notice of what you observe."
"Possibly ...but I have been here over ten years, so I guess he might". With that Jenny went on with her work.
Tom was writing in his diary when Reinhold strode into the foyer. He stopped and turning, waving Tom forward. 'I'll see you now young fellow'.
'Right', Tom put his diary in his briefcase and followed. Reinhold proffered him through the door. Closing the door behind him and indicating a chair he sat down himself and leaned forward his elbows on the desk. He looked at Tom for a full minute before he spoke.
'Bill Reinhold. and your ..he paused.
'Your a Pom?'
'If you mean am I and Englishman, then lets say, yes and no. I come from Liverpool, which is not exactly the same as being English'. Scouse is preferable to Pom', Tom looked a little annoyed.
'Pom is not preferable',
Reinhold smiled. It was a statement he knew and secretly admired this man's
'Let's say it is a matter of respect. I came up in the old school and Pom to me is both disrespectful to the average Englishman and somewhat demeaning. In the eyes of the recipient the purveyor is not always held in the respect deserving of his position or corporate status'.
'Tell me Tom Jowett, if a competitor of ours was publicly criticising our product in a public domain, would you be so fervent in our defence?' Reinhold was not quite so benevolent now.
'Mr Reinhold that would depend. First I'd have to be impressed with the integrity of the company and its management and secondly the product would support my defence of it'.
'Otherwise?' posed Reinhold.
'I would remain honestly neutral, examine that criticism at a later opportunity and decide whether I was wasting my time in remaining employed'. Tom was being what he always was acerbic, but also honestly truthful.
'I like you Tom Jowett, but our relationship could, to put it mildly be testy at times'.
'Are you saying that you maybe considering me for the position?'
'Yes, but lets us spell out what the position entails and the chances of promotion'.
Tom Jowett was a man who could be testy on issues of propriety and principles. As he demonstrated here, he was not one to be easily pushed around even when confronting the possibility of personal advantage. Reinhold was suitably impressed to the point where he immediately hired him. For three months he placed Tom on the road as a salesman, with as Tom was led to believe a novice to train. As it transpired the novice was an executive cog in the company sent out under the guise of a beginner to access Tom's potential which Reinhold strongly believed he possessed.
Tom Jowett, Manager of Rental Division of Eclipse Radio, with William Reinhold, State Mgr Eclipse Radio and Bruce Regan State Mgr of Apeco. Posing with the group former Miss World Anne Sidney.Tom, who always claimed he was lucky with gambling was one of a number of Sales Reps who vied for a S1000 prize. Anne drew the winning number.
His confidence was well placed for Tom made a rapid rise to become the manager of the rental division of the company. He handled the position with ingenuity born of self-reliance, rather than conventional methods learned in the corridors of management. As a man about town he worked hard and lived a busy social life. Once work was over and often this was late in the evening Tom often dined out in the city. Always charismatic, he could be charming where women were concerned. His English upbringing and scouse heritage tended to make him attractive and he knew this and exploited it, particularly in the business world.
He could be extraordinarily lucky too. In 1971 he won a thousand dollar prize in a competition. The lady who drew the prize from barrel also presented Tom with the cheque. Tom whose rapport with women reached a new level this day for the girl was none other than Miss World, Australia's own Ann Sidney.
Tom and Sheila, settled into married life and lived a somewhat hectic business and social life. With no children home was a place to occasionally unwind from the rigors of toil and pleasure. By the late seventies Tom was beginning to feel the effects of his war injuries and along with Sheila who a couple of years off fifty, they mutually decided to retire to Queensland's Gold Coast, settling in Bradley Ave, Miami. Here the pace of life was far quieter and Sheila in particular found that she could occupy her time taking orders for women's fashions, which her experience and training befitted her for. In Sydney Tom had turned his hand to doing home repairs, in his spare time and as a consequence had built up quite a handyman's tool kit. In Bradley Ave, he did considerable cosmetic renovations to their home. In 1983 he was offered a good price for the home and sold. Unfortunately this was done before Sheila knew about the deal. She was furious. In trying to appease his wife he sought a home in the same area. Sheila was somewhat indifferent and in this state of mind a home came on the market around the corner in Frangipani Street. With time running out they reluctantly settled for this house but Sheila was never at home with it. Tom on the other-hand was quite content, but he knew that his wife would never be happy there.
It was about this time that the age difference between them began to have an impact. Tom 15 years Sheila's senior, was slowing up and began to frequent the Clubs, which at that time were booming in the northern part of New South Wales. Tom was not a heavy drinker, but he was a heavy smoker a fact that had resulted in emphysema, but he liked his little flutter. In this he was remarkably lucky for he seldom left the casino or poker-machines in debt to them. In the meantime Sheila built up a handy clientele and nice little business. This broadened their social base and as a consequence they began to entertain. The house was too small but they managed.
It was during an evening out with friends at the League club that Sheila heard about the pending sale of a home at 5 Frangipani Street. She did not let on to Tom for fear that he might decide to repeat an earlier episode, but she also wanted to see the home for herself before mentioning it, if at all. The following day she approached the occupants who it transpired were only renting the property. The owners who lived in Brisbane could be contacted by phone. Yes the house would be up for sale, but not until later in the year. If she was interested in looking at the house then she might approach the Burleigh Land Agent and make an appointment. For the moment Sheila decided not to mention the idea.
One evening Sam the couples poodle was making one hell of a row at the window. Tom got up from his chair to investigate only to find nothing. After abusing the dog he sank back into his armchair rocker and went back to sleep. Sheila was cooking the dinner. The episode was repeated a few nights later with Tom throwing his slipper at the barking dog. About a week later Sam set up another prolonged barking frenzy, but Sheila who was reading at the time in the lounge looked up to see an elderly man walking past the property with two white dogs in tow.
'You got a couple of friends out there Sam', she commented to the excited poodle.
Later in the evening when Tom had come home from the club, Sheila had mentioned this in passing.
'By the way Sam did his barking act tonight. Some old chap went past with a two white terriers in tow'.
'I've seen him walking them before. Some times it is a woman, with one or both. She keeps them on a lead, but he doesn't seem to worry.
On the odd occasion after that they met whilst one or the other were outside. Oddly enough they did not know each other , yet in the future their paths were to cross in a significant way. The man with the dogs was myself, Bruce Whiteside.
Return to Book Index