Friday, November 3, 2023

Australia’s First Female Garage Proprietor

As why does that ‘Ol Alice’s restaurant song come to mind, Eh?


Was doing my daily News trawl via my NFB Newsline for The Blind’s telephone service. Where the New York Times Obituary section had another of it’s Overlooked articles. This time chronicling the rather short life of Alice Anderson.


For which like Mwah, Y’all are probably saying Alice Anderson Who?


Anderson is featured in Loretta Smith’s 2019 book titled A Spanner in the Works: The extraordinary story of Alic Anderson and Australia’s first All-Girl Garage.


And although the NY Times article said Her full name was Alice Elizabeth Foley Anderson, She also seems to have been known as Alecia Elizabeth Foley Anderson. Being born on June 8, 1897 in Melbourne, Australia.


Love the NY Times description of Mechanic Alic scowling at the camera with elbows out, eyebrows arched, Her Bob’ tucked underneath a Chauffeurs cap. Wearing a shirt with a tie and a gloved hand jauntily resting upon the steering wheel in a photograph taken in August, 1918.


As Alice grew up in the suburbs of Melbourne, riding a bicycle, Horses and learning how to Shoot Guns. As Her father who was an Engineer whose company landed the Australian patent for a Concreting technique that revolutionized roads and bridges. Gave Alice a Hubmobile at age 18, while She worked as a Secretary for Her Dad’s Transportation company.


Alice quickly began badgering the mechanics to teach Her how to drive, before beginning to hone Her driving skills over the dangerous Black Spurs route, apparently in the rather large eight passenger Hubmobile!


After completing an Mechanics Apprenticeship, Alice opened the first All Female Garage in Australia, and once of the first in the world, where She only employed women, who She called Her Garage Girls. Eventually training 29 ore more Garage Girls, with Anderson’s Garage also offering Chauffeur services…


As the opening ceremony for the Garage featured several female mechanics in shirts with ties and slacks serving sandwiches. With a famous Opera singer and the future Prime Minister in attendance.


Anderson’s Garage performed all aspects of mechanical repairs including what was called the “Once Over” service. Which included doing the Get down and Get Under service routine on one of Alice’s inventions. What essentially is known today as the mechanic’s Creeper…


Alice, along with co-driver Jessie Webb set out in 1926 to become the first females to drive a vehicle from Melbourne to Alice Springs, a journey of over 1,500 miles upon rugged, torturous, bone jarring, rattling fillings Outback! Where most preferred the customary travel of Camels instead!


As Anderson and Webb drove a Baby Austin, the smallest car available, removing it’s doors in order to strap supplies onto the Austin instead. Which included boiling acrid water and Alice shooting their dinner when needed! With the pair being successful in their adventure…


Alice hadplans tobecome a pilot, but sadly Her life was cut short on September 17, 1926. When She was found dead at Her Garage after having accidently Killed Herself while cleaning two of Her Guns…