The National : JUNE-SEPT 2017
68 THE AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL DRYCLEANER & LAUNDERER JUNE JULY AUGUST SEPTEMBER 2017 The evening programme featured “A Walk Down Memory Lane” when we endeavour to trace the his- tory of VILA from its inception in 1967 up to the present day and in the process enjoy ourselves. Members were invited to send in any photos they may have had relating to previous association activities - identified where possible as to who, where and when. This was taken up with considerable gusto, and a long table in the cocktail area attracted a great deal of attention. The collection of photographs, Awards, golfing trophies, copies of the NATIONAL, and other memorabilia was cause for much amusement, and the occasional solemn moment as the smiling faces of those now passed on were glimpsed in flashbacks. Graeme Nimmo outdid himself in bringing along a usb with many photographs on it, and these were played behind our glorious leader, Jack Runnalls, as he traced the history of VILA,and indeed, all of the laundry manager associations over the years. JACK REMINISCES Opening over the strains of Barbara Streisand’s “The Way We Were”, and a photographic montage, Jack pondered “Can it be that it was so simple then? “And if we had the chance to do it all again – would we? “Could we?” “Memories ... “In Canberra in 1998, at Launtex, I made the following observations and I believe they are worth repeating on this occasion. “In the 60s and 70s men stepped forward and took up the challenges of the day. We look back today and label them “pioneers”. Did they, at the time, have a sense they were creating history? No way! They were simply facing up to the problems of the day, and acting as they saw fit to deal with these problems. “However, they all had one thing in common. Enthusiasm for the cause! A desire to see a better, more efficient hospital laundry system operating throughout state of Victoria. “They gave of their time and they gave of their talents to lift our Association and with it our industry, to a point where we were in world class. As those of us who were lucky enough to travel overseas would attest.” Jack said there is the problem of a lack of records, minute books missing, and he had to rely on the “NATIONAL” magazine, personal records and old photographs, in putting his piece together. “Thank you to those people who made the information they had available for tonight.” The industry as it was in the 50s and 60s “The industry that many of us came into at the time was by todays stan- dards primitive, labour intensive, with old machinery that has thank- fully been much improved upon. Indeed, equipment was generally obsolete and only kept going by the combined efforts of the hospital’s engineering department. Chemicals were pure soap powder, liquid chlorine bleach (sodium chlorite purchased in concentrated form and diluted to 11%). There were no synthetic detergents. No sours. No softeners. Salt was added in the washing of blood stained items. Some of you will remember the “blue bags”added to the final rinse to bring out the whiteness of the linen. Textiles were predominately 100% cotton, or 100% wool. The laundry was not a particularly pleasant place to work. Hot and noisy. The status of the laundry in the hospital hierarchy was “bottom of the heap”. If employees were found to be unacceptable elsewhere in the system “send them to the laundry”. “In those days Laundry Managers were referred to as Laundry Supervisors. They most likely graduated to that position via the washroom floor, rising up by their bootstraps. No management training: no training, full stop! “Laundries generally were “in- house” supplying the parent hospital only. However, things were beginning to change. “The Royal Melbourne Central Linen Service, conceived in the 40s, commenced operations in September 1953. Loddon Linen Service commenced operations (on a smaller scale) in 1961. And there I suspect this is not, in fact, the first meeting of the Victorian Laundry Managers Association.
DRY CLEANER MAY 2017