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Dad and Dave from Snake Gully – Episode 1 (1937)

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‘Your troubles are my troubles’

Clip description

Dad (George Edwards) and Dave (John Saul) discuss Dave’s hope to marry Mabel, as Dad examines the farm’s finances. Money is too tight for Dad to offer his son a house, which would allow Dave to ask Mabel to marry him. Dave tries to fix the clock, with disastrous consequences.

Curator’s notes

The public enthusiasm for the radio shows was based in part on the success of the 1932 film version of On Our Selection, Ken G Hall’s first feature at Cinesound. That film was an enormous box-office hit in the midst of the worst year of the Depression.

The film was also clearly an influence on the way actors perform their roles in the radio shows. Edwards in the first episode sounds like Bert Bailey (who played Dad in the film), but the performance changed during the 15 years on air. In later years, Dad was less of a yokel than he sounds here.

The first episode introduces some long-running themes, drawn tenuously, if at all, from Steele Rudd’s stories. Dad worries about money, Dave worries about getting a wife; the season is a poor one for farming and together the two men manage to disrupt Mum’s domestic arrangements by unfixing a valued clock. It’s interesting that they mention the Depression directly. That may be an illustration of why the show became so popular – listened to four nights a week by 90 per cent of the population. We can also hear that this recording was done quickly, because they keep going when Edwards mangles his lines, trying to say ‘If that clock strikes again I’ll do some striking’.

These characters shared the same troubles as their audience – which is not quite true of Edwards and Stirling, who were making an extremely good living from all their hard work.

Theme music plays – an instrumental version of ‘The Road to Gundagai’.
Narrator We now present the first episode of Dad and Dave. A human story of two typical Australians – their families, their lives, their hopes, their doubts, their fears and their triumphs. The characters of Dad and Dave represent all that is sturdy, honest and resourceful in the great Australian outback. You’ll laugh with them. You will sympathise with them and perhaps their troubles may in some way remind you of your own and perhaps their courage will inspire you.

Now let us visit the homestead in Snake Gully just off the road to Gundagai. It is a typical Australian homestead. There’s a veranda running almost right round the house. In front of the house are a few trees and a small well-kept garden.

Now let us enter the homestead. It is night-time and in the living room we make the acquaintance of Dad and Dave.

Dad is sitting at the table laboriously writing while Dave has just finished reading the daily paper.

Dave What are you doing Dad?
Dad I’m very busy. Two and five is uh … why don’t you do something useful instead of sitting with your nose in the paper all night?
Dave Oh I’ve finished the paper now.
Dad Well, don’t talk! I’m busy. Two and six is…
Dave What are you doin’ ?
Dad I’m working out something! Four and nine is… I wonder what time your mother will be home.
Dave Oh Ted Ramsey said he’d bring her home. She should be here pretty soon now.
Dad Well why didn’t you go over to the social?
Dave Oh well, Mabel wasn’t goin’. They’ve got a sick calf over at her place and she said she’d probably have to sit up all night with it.
Dad Six and… well yes Mabel’s a good girl, Dave. Four and two is six. She’ll make a good wife for a farmer.
Dave Yes that’s what I think Dad.
Dad Well why don’t you ask her to marry you?
Dave Oh well, you know what it is. A fella’s got to be able to make a home for a girl. And I don’t know but I…
Dad Oh you’re not half the man I was! I remember in my young days the young fellas knew how to go courting.
Dave Oh that’s all very well Dad but what have I got to offer Mabel? You know we’ve never got over the Depression.
Dad Yes I know it only too well. But you haven’t got to think about things like that.
Dave Why didn’t you go to the social?
Dad Oh I’ve got some business to do here. Six and four is ten and two is twelve and ah… oh dear, oh dear. Why don’t you slip over and see Mabel now?
Dave Oh it’s a bit late aint it?
Dad Well when I was courting your mother I used to go and see her every night and she was always glad to see me too.
Dave Hey Dad, did Mum always boss you about?
Dad Eh? What do you mean ‘boss me about’? She doesn’t boss me about now. Let me tell you your mother’s worked very hard. She helped me to build this place.
Dave I know she did.
Dad Yes, well maybe she feels that she wants to go a bit social since I’ve been on the Shire Council. Four and six is… oh dear, I can’t… well good luck to her. She deserves it.
Dave I’m with you Dad. But why don’t you go around to all these socials and dances with Mum? Are you gettin’ a bit too old for dancing Dad?
Dad Who said so? I can out-dance you any day.
Dave I notice you’ve always got an excuse not to go out.
Dad You notice a good deal too much. Two and six is… don’t talk all the time! Do some useful work. No man should ever be idle.
Dave All right. I promised Mum I’d have a look at that clock.
Dad Oh talking again! What’s the matter with the clock?
Dave Oh she says it keeps stoppin’. Seems to be all right now though. I’ll see if I can fix it.
Dad Well don’t disturb me all the time. Four and two is… and be careful with that clock. Your mother and I got that for a wedding present.
Dave Yes it’s a pretty good wedding present.
Dad Yes, you know I remember when we first furnished this place Dave. What a time we had choosing the furniture. We did most of it by mail order you know. And your mother picked out that easy chair for me.
Dave It’s a pretty comfortable chair that.
Dad Ha, ha. Too right it is. It’s solid. That leather armchair will last forever. You know I remember how your mother and I had a bit of an argument about the curtains. I wanted green baize and she said that dark red was much better.
Dave So you had dark red. (laughs)
Dad Eh? Well I didn’t give in right away. But maybe your mother was right. They make the room look cosy all right. Four and six is… oh what are you doing with that clock?
Dave I’m trying to mend it.
Dad Well don’t talk so much! Here am I trying to work out some figures and you’re talking all the time.
Dave All right Dad.
Dad Fourteen and six, that’s twenty. And fifteen… oh what is the matter with you Dave?! Now I’ve lost count again. That’s the third time I’ve tried to add up that column.
Dave I’m sorry Dad but you told me to do something useful.
Dad Well do you think it’s useful to keep on making me lose count?
Dave Oh I’m sorry. I was thinking Dad. You were talking about me and Mabel.
Dad Yes.
Dave I wonder if you could fix us up with enough for a little homestead, near here. I wouldn’t shift away from Snake Gully.
Dad Oh Snake Gully is a good place.
Dave That’s true. I know everyone here. There’s old Bill Johnson at the store and Harry Matthews at the pub. Cripes I wouldn’t feel the same in another town. Do you think you could fix us up with a little homestead near here Dad?
Dad Well Mabel would make you a good wife, there’s no doubt about that.
Dave Well what about it Dad?
Dad What about what?
Dave Well I could say the word to Mabel tomorrow if you can fix us up and help me.
Dad Well what do you want me to do? Go and ask her for you? Can’t you do it yourself?
Dave No I don’t mean that. Set me up in a little homestead.
Dad Oh you’ve been a good boy Dave and you’ve worked pretty hard but I don’t think I can help you just now. You see things are a bit tough.
Dave Yes that’s true. And you promised to buy Mum a motorcar.
Dad Yes your mother has set her heart on a motorcar. Of course in my day we were happy enough in the old horse and trap but now we’re getting on in life and Mum thinks we should have a car.
Dave Are you gonna buy one Dad? Cripes, I’ll be able to go and take Mabel out and we’ll be able to slip over to the station to meet the train every night.
Dad I can’t do it Dave.
Dave What’s up Dad? You look a bit worried.
Dad Well never mind about me. What are you doing to that clock?
Dave I’m fixing it.
Dad Well fix it and don’t talk. I’ve got a lot of work to do. Now where was I? That’s right, now thirteen and six and nine… oh how can I do any work? How can I do anything with you sitting there making the noise with the clock?
Dave I’m not making a noise. I’m mending it. Hey Dad, do you think I’ll ever be able to marry Mabel?
Dad My boy I’d be very happy to see you settle down and marry but, well you may as well know the truth – I’ve been trying to reduce me overdraft and I borrowed money to do it. I paid a pretty high rate of interest and I’ve got to meet that interest bill.
Dave Oh. Does that mean that Mum won’t get her car?
Dad Well I don’t want to disappoint your mother. She’s set her heart on having this car now that the Ramseys have got one. It means something to her that I’m on the Snake Gully Council. And I promised your mother and well now I don’t know how I’m going to keep that promise.
Dave I wish I could help you Dad.
Dad I’ve been adding up these figures and working out the interest and looking at me bank book and… I can’t let your mother down.
Dave Well what can we do Dad?
Dad What do you mean – what can we do? You can’t do anything!
Dave Too right I can. Your troubles are my troubles.
Dad Good on ya Dave.
Dave I know how hard Mum’s worked. I know she deserves a bit of a rest now. She likes going around and being all social. Oh I’ll have to try and help her.
Dad Why, what can you do for her?
Dave Well I’m mending the clock anyway.
Dad Oh Dave! If that strikes… look stop it will you? If that clock strikes again I’ll do some striking.
Dave Oh I got a bit nervous. The thing doesn’t go at all now. I’ll have to take some of the wheels out.
Dad Do you know anything about clocks?
Dave Oh I can fix it. Cripes Mum’ll be pleased to find the clock working again won’t she?
Dad Oh you don’t know anything about it. Here give me a go. Let’s have a look. I’ll get a few of these little wheels out now. I’ll unscrew this one. This must be a spring. Now let’s have a look. You pull that out like this.
Dave Hey! Be careful! You can’t pull a spring like that.
Dad I know what I’m doing. If I can mend a milking machine, I can mend a clock.
Dave Yes but we’ve got such a lot of it out now. I don’t know where these things go.
Dad Well we’ll put ‘em back in a minute.
Dave Yeah perhaps we should’ve sent the clock to old Jim Norris the jeweller.
Dad Oh we can fix it without him. Jim has been in Snake Gully a long time, why I bought your mother’s wedding ring from him and her engagement ring too. You know she’s a wonderful woman Dave. I hate letting her down. Here give me that other screw. I think that goes in there.
Dave No it don’t go in there. It don’t fit. Here give it to me.
Dad Be careful. Be careful. I know what I’m doing.
Dave All right. Isn’t there any way you can raise the money Dad?
Dad Eh? I’m going in to see the bank manager tomorrow. Maybe the bank will help me out. You know I’d like to get you married and settled down Dave and I’d like your mother to have the car. You know the Ramseys got married a little while after us. Maybe the Depression didn’t hit ‘em so badly. But they’ve got a car now. It might’ve been all right if this had been a better season. We’ve had very little rain and the price of feed has gone up.
Dave Yes I know. Still we might get a drop of rain soon.
Dad Yes, I think it’ll be too late. Oh I can’t get this spring to go in. Wait a minute Dave, the other wheel is coming out now.
Dave Dad look! We’ve got everything out of the clock now.
Dad Well it’s just a matter of putting it back in the right way.
Dave Hello, here’s Mum.
Dad Oh it’s a pity we couldn’t have had the clock mended before she got back. Now don’t say anything about my troubles Dave.
Dave You leave it to me Dad.
Dad I’ll put that bankbook and these papers in my pocket.
Mum Goodbye Mr Ramsey. Thanks for the lift home.
Dad Here she is.
Mum I’ll have my own car soon. Goodbye.
Dad Open the door for your mother Dave.
Dave All right.
Dad Hurry up.
Dave Hello Mum.
Mum Hello. Oh it was a wonderful social. Everyone in Snake Gully was there. And did they like my cakes!
Dad I’ll bet they did.
Mum What have you two been doing?
Dave Oh we’ve been mending the clock Mum. We’ve got it all in pieces now.
Mum What?!
Dad I don’t know how we’re going to get it together again. There seems to be a lot of wheels over.
Mum My clock! Oh! Why what have you done? You’ve got it all in pieces.
Dad Well it was broken. You wanted it mended didn’t you?
Mum I had Jim Norris the jeweller over here today and he fixed it for me. Now you’ll never get it together again.
Closing theme music.

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