Tales of a railway town

More from Graham Bradbury, Wodonga’s barber as told in 2005.

Wodonga was a great railway town. If it wasn’t for the Railways, the Army and the Saleyards, Wodonga would not, in my opinion, have progressed as well as it did. Payday for the Railways was quite an entertainment day for us.

Two names come to mind, Eric Molloy and “Clean-em-up” Anderson. They were train drivers. How he got “Clean-em-up” Anderson for a nickname is quite a story. They lived in the railway homes in South Street. They used to graze their cows on the railway lines, tethered of course. On this particular day, the cow must have broken its tether and “Clean-em-up” Anderson was coming back to Wodonga in the train and ran over his own cow and that, of course, is how he got his nickname of “Clean-em-up” Anderson.

On paydays, the railwaymen would have a few drinks at the Terminus Hotel in High Street, Eric and “Clean-em-up” Anderson among them and then come in for haircuts. They thought they had good singing voices and would keep singing “There’s a bridle hanging on the wall”. If they sang it once, they would sing it a dozen times.

Often we’d try to put them before other customers to try and get them out of the shop. Eric had a bad habit, when he was like this, of turning to look at you when we were talking while cutting his hair. You’d be cutting and he’d twist his head to the left or right and to the back to look at you. It was difficult to cut his hair with all that twisting around.

This was in the time when there wasn’t a lot of money around. The wage I was getting in my first year of apprenticeship was 19/-. Talking with Norma Flower, she said she didn’t get that much as a ladies hairdresser. She should have been a men’s hairdresser. By the time I finished my apprenticeship, I was getting 50/-.

Prices for haircuts in those were nine pence for a men’s haircut, and three pence for a boy’s haircut. We used to build up a lot of threepences and sixpences.