Memories of the 60’s

I was asked what I could remember about the 1960’s. “A Labour government, the Beatles, flower power and make love not war” I answered. However, this was not the right reply! I was being asked for my recollections of the Globetrotters Club and its activities during the 1960s. So, with the magazines of that decade as an aide-memoir, I will endeavour to set off on a trip down memory lane.

The Club was comparatively new when I joined in the early 1950s, as a result of an article I read in a magazine called “GO”. This has long since ceased publication. I was the proud owner at that time of my first passport, issued in 1949 for five years; this could be extended for a further five years by the Foreign Office for a fee of 10/- (50p ~ decimalization did not happen until 1971). This extension charge had increased to £1 by 1964 but by 1969 the ten-year passport had arrived.

The club subscription rate for a full member from 1945 was 10/- ~ only being increased to £1 in ’68. Associate members from the start of the Club into the ’70s paid 2/6d. Life Membership (later discontinued) would have cost me £18 in 1968 or £8 had I been over 60.

Gordon Cooper remained our President until he collapsed and died in Nairobi. He wrote no less than 100 travel books, all from first hand experience. We all knew he would be sadly missed as he took a very active part in the Club, attending and speaking at many London meetings.

He also answered the travel queries written into the Club a service it was thought might not be able to be resumed. However in January 1964 Peter Jenkins, a well known and much travelled member living in Wales, was appointed as new President Educated at Bromsgrove Public School, he saw army service abroad. Peter lived in Baghdad, was the first European to arrive in Katmandu by push-bike and had recently returned from a South American Expedition. He not only continued the invaluable service of answering travel queries but, together with his wife Shirley, did travel book reviews for Globe and set a Travel Quiz from time to time (No 13 was published in December 69).

He remained President into the ’70s and he and Shirley continued to travel and submit many articles for publication in Globe. We have had to wait until 1995 for our first Lady President to be elected. Congratulations Hilary! Our only Hon. Vice President up to the end of 1963 had been Norman D Ford (our founder) but at that time he was joined by Albert Head and Norman Williams. Both these members, much supported by their respective wives (Phyl and Win) did stalwart work for many years.

Albert was Chairman of the Committee for a considerable time and had the task of keeping the Club on an even keel during ’63 when we were without a President. Norman, ever the live wire greatly increased the membership of Globe by ‘advertising’ us wherever he and Win travelled, especially in America. He was London Meetings Organiser for a number of years and was followed in that capacity by Betty Browning (now Dawns). Two other well known members were Chairman during the ’60s: Reg Hooper and Louis Prechner.

Both ultimately joined the list of vice presidents thus making a total of five. A somewhat smaller numbers than that being published in 1995. Reg Hooper was a great cyclist and in his retirement pedalled the world.

A picture of him, in shorts, with bicycle, appeared on the cover of the March 69 magazine compliments of the Fiji Times. Louis Prechner, always a mine of information, still attends London Meetings in ’95, giving us details of museums, exhibitions etc. with special mention if admission is free!

The job of London Meetings Organiser and wore both these hats into the ’70s. For several years Mrs Eryl Jones (nee Parry) was Editor of Globe but resigned in ’63 because she and her husband were off to work in foreign parts. (Membership at this time was 365.) A volunteer came forth, however, a certain Josephine Mohan (soon to be better known as Jo Hanson) and a new Editor was born. Jo was joined by Celia Stringer (later Celia Johnson) as co-editor July 66-67. Quite a “brief encounter” and Mr and Mrs Johnson also took off for a foreign land. Jo, together with Bryan, jointly took on the editorship continuing till December ’69, when you’ve guessed more migratory editors.

There have been many criticisms of Globe over the years so perhaps we should remember what Phyl Head once wrote. Globe is “created” by us the members, not by the Editor.

During the ’60s (and beyond) Globe was addressed and dispatched by volunteers. A small “army” led by Shirley Pick typed labels for the envelopes, these were checked by “Barley”, Ren MacQueen (now living in Vancouver) and myself. It was the off to Fetter Lane to join the “licking, sticking and stuffing party”.

Bundles of 3O magazines (I think) were sorted into homes and aways, put into mailbags and taken to the PO in King William Street. During the whole of the ’60s London meetings were held the Scottish Corporation Building in Fetter Lane.

Admission was 1/6d. and continued thus into the ’70s. A raffle in 196 raised £5, £3 for Dr Barnados Home and £2 for the Anglo-Danish Santa Claus Holiday Fund. A “Bring and Buy” in ’69 netted £4 for Club Funds – we were always hard up! A party was held in March 63 with “cocktails, food and music”. Admission 4/6d. We also enjoyed occasional conversation Dictionary says a soiree is given by learned society! Can’t think we quite saw them like this. After the meetings large numbers of us would eat at the German restaurant, Schmidt’s, in Charlotte Street and then go on to a pub called the Wheatsheaf. That was the place to hear the Traveller’s tales not told at the meetings.

It was discovered that there was another club called Globetrotters in Bristol. Peter Jenkins made contact to find it was strip club! Meetings continued in Fetter Lane! Malcolm Keir has said in his 1945-60 write-up that in the early days meetings were more like a social club.

This is quite true. Membership was smaller and we knew most of the attending members. I make no apologies for mentioning those “names” in my previous and later paragraphs because I remember then all. I have a book, which we used to sign and the same names crop up month after month. Iris Ware always made the tea, “Scottie” Quarman reported on the meetings and entertained us so well when she was the Speaker.

I collected the money and dealt with the “finances” of the London Meetings. A certain W E Manders is still quietly attending in 1995. Holidays and money were in short supply and several of us had been in the services during the war. We thought we were lucky to now have jobs and no way could we give them up in order to travel much as we would have liked.

The travel allowance in the early ’60s was £25, reaching £50 by 1970. This was then abolished and British citizens could now take up to £300 in foreign currency for each journey.

Who had ever had £300! Our “trips” were limited to 1-2 weeks to near Europe, but how exciting they were. It was a bonus therefore when Bryan Hanson, driving for Minitrek of Kingston during several summers, was able to put on offer – at bargain prices – that firm’s excess air tickets for Morocco, Tunisia and some European countries.

I well remember setting off for Tunisia with “Barley” and Betty Browning, as did Jo Hanson and two of her friends. Return fare was, I believe, £25. We envied Jo so much; she was already well travelled in Africa and India.

Other members, too, were certainly travelling further afield, and being great recruiters for the Club. Ashley Butterfield and his brother Roy were in business overland to India £85 return. Paddy Conway cycling across the USA via Highway 66, being a steward on the Northern Star and thrilled to be sailing in Sydney Harbour.

He picked pineapples in Hawaii and eventually worked at the Youth Hostel in London (Carter Lane) and became Secretary to our Club. Rita Brown, our woman in New Guinea (Madang) wrote of the sex life of the natives not considered Globe material?

Here she was visited by the intrepid Nicki Prosser now there you really do have a globetrotting lady who could fill a book. Jack and Jill Richards, in Quaker Service, in South Vietnam, living near the 15th parallel, the China Sea only five miles away but inaccessible because of war activity.

From that tiny spot on the map they sent greeting to Globetrotter friends everywhere. 30 years on and we are now meeting in a Quaker Building. I remember Louise Sutherland who produced her book of six years of adventures as she cycled round the world. Called follow the Wind, it could be bought for 8s 6d (43p). Peter Wood, with his girl friend Joan, drove a minibus to India. It was the used as an ambulance by the Mother Teresa organisation Bangalore.

The Garsides were also in India at this time, in Calcutta, dispensing hospitality to passing Globetrotters just as they still do to this day now they have returned to New Zealand. The Blowers’ Family were in Africa, later to take up residence in Canada.

A very large Globetrotters flag has always been flown above their establishment So many more stories I could tell and perhaps I should apologise to those who are not mentioned Its nothing personal -just lack of space. These are my recollections of the ’60s.

Many happy thoughts, especially am I grateful to have been given the opportunity, by being asked to write this, of re-reading the magazines and doing a lot of smiling while carrying out my task. After all, smiling and sign language are how we make friends when we travel in foreign lands.

As we moved into 1970 two travel “aids” were born. Concorde made its first flight and Trailfinders became “The Travel Experts” However I like to think that it was Globetrotters who furthered the cause of the independent traveller into the next decade.

Not only had we come of age – We had graduated

Rene Richards, London.