Listen to New Voices on Studs Terkel our partnership with 826CHI-here! Read the Story

00 / 00

Jean Davies discusses life and culture in Australia ; part 2

BROADCAST: Aug. 10, 1966 | DURATION: 00:18:20


Australia journalist Jean Davies discusses life and culture in Australia, part 2. Davies reads Studs Terkel's palm during the interview.


Tap within the transcript to jump to that part of the audio.


Jean Davies But getting back to Perth, let's, it would be a very quick [trip?] for you to come across here to the west. Oh my goodness me. And then you could come back and tell them "Look, I'm sure. I'm sure that"--

Studs Terkel Perth is a port, isn't it?

Jean Davies Perth?

Studs Terkel The port of Perth?

Jean Davies No. Freemantle is the, is the port. Now to find where the map is.

Studs Terkel Where is Perth? Perth is somewhere.

Jean Davies Oh, here we are, getting so excited at the thought of getting a whole--

Studs Terkel Perth. Now--This is south?

Jean Davies This is the west. I'm over east. I don't know why I'm

Studs Terkel So Perth is southwest, southwest.

Jean Davies There's Perth down here.

Studs Terkel Along the Indian Ocean.

Jean Davies Right on the ocean and even in the summertime when it can be very, very hot, really hot, towards sunset in sweeps the sea breeze off the Indian Ocean. You never have a hot night. And that's something I miss. If I don't get back soon and get some lungfuls of good salty air I'll die because I've never been away from the sea for so long. And iodine is very necessary.

Studs Terkel I see, iodine. And

Jean Davies You couldn't do something about getting some salt in the lake could you?

Studs Terkel Salt in the, well that's a, salt in the ocean.

Jean Davies Occasionally when those poor little fishes are washed up I fancy I'm down near the sea again but it isn't salt so much. It's more like the kelp smells

Studs Terkel So, what about eucalyptus? You spoke of eucalyptus earlier as a sort of a panacea.

Jean Davies Yes.

Studs Terkel There's something special about eucalyptus?

Jean Davies Well, I couldn't describe just the clarity of the air to get into the bush where these huge forests of gum trees. As I told you, the eucalyptus oil has a tang, a pungent sort of a tang about it. The air is so clear because never has there been anything to pollute it. Thick forests. And the birds. We've got the oddest [bods?] and sods of birds that you've ever heard. Anyway, you've heard about the kookaburra haven't you?

Studs Terkel No.

Jean Davies Well, if you're in the bush and you trip over a log or you pick a spot for a lunch that turns out to be a bull ants nest it makes things very unpleasant for you. Sure as the Lord made little apples you'll hear this raucous, screaming laughter start from up a gum tree and the offenders will be two kookaburras, laughing jackasses the early settlers called them. It takes two for the duet. One goes cuckoo, cuckoo, koo and the other goes ca ca ca ca and when they get together you know, cuckoo ca, cuckoo ca, cuckoo ca. It just sounds like fiendish laughter. But he's a most popular bird. Because there's a sort of an eerie quality about the very heart of the bush. There's a stillness and a feeling. The Aborigines know all about that and it's rather nice and cheerful to suddenly hear bursts of laughter. You feel you're not alone. But one thing I must say, getting onto Aborigines, they are the last of the Stone Age people. The real primitive Aborigine. Although there are very few of them left comparatively speaking but do you know they have the most highly developed sense of a mental sort of telepathy? Not only telepathy. Many a time an Aborigine has died in hospital up at Darwin. Nothing wrong with him physically at all and the white doctors have not been able to save him because he is so convinced he must die. He's been willed to death by the elders; punishment, whatever, he's done the wrong thing. And they used to have the word pointing the bone. If an Aborigine believed the bone had been pointed at him that was his death warrant. And, and this thought transmission--did you ever hear of a writer called Upfield?

Studs Terkel No, I

Jean Davies Upfield. Well, his books are in the public library. And he was-

Studs Terkel U-P?

Jean Davies U,p,f,i,e,l,d. Arthur Upfield. He describes that amazing power of the Australian Aborigine in a couple of his books. How they can will a man.

Studs Terkel As you're saying something, Mrs. Davies, I think about myth by which we all live. It seems, each people seems to live by its own myth. You were just describing a myth, a legend, a way of life, perhaps of the Australian Aborigines, he knows, anthropologists have found, I'm sure there is a greater discussion two ways about this. At the same time myths by which we live, too. You know, each, it seems to be each people develop its own kind of myth.

Jean Davies Yes, and I mention this now because right here in Chicago there is a great interest and a great emphasis on this ESP.

Studs Terkel Well, I guess in various

Jean Davies Well, we've all got perception but lots of us lose it, don't you think? You see, it's like a lot of other gifts as nature gives to animals. But we don't make

Studs Terkel You're talking about a super sensitivity, a hypersensitivity on the part of man that hasn't been explored

Jean Davies A perceptiveness.

Studs Terkel Again, there's been a great controversy about this, you know. You've heard of Dr. Rhine of Duke University? His experiment?

Jean Davies Yes.

Studs Terkel He's undergone quite an ordeal lately by various science writers. But there seems to be, people are groping, no one seems to know quite what, maybe there is that something, you know.

Jean Davies Oh, there is.

Studs Terkel Oh, you're convinced of that? I should describe perhaps the look that Mrs. Davies is given me. It's the sort of look that, [unintelligible] nothing more need be said. [laughter]

Jean Davies Well, I, no, I

Studs Terkel Now, I once had a friend

Jean Davies of Say

Studs Terkel I once, no, I once had a friend, no, I must describe her--I say this very, very--a friend of mine, named Chet Rowe. What a marvelous pianist and he'd have a certain look when he says, "You need say no more," you know, and you just offered me that sort of look, it's sort of--he would generally put his finger to the tip of his eye and he'd pull down part of the eye, you know, the skin below the eye, you see. And that's, that's a signal as though to say, 'You need say no more'.

Jean Davies Like I gave him a clairvoyant look.

Studs Terkel A clairvoyant! [laughs]

Jean Davies Well, can I just say something? As I say I don't want to make a point of it but years and years ago I was in a public library in Melbourne one night and I picked up a book by Cheiro, C,h,e,i,r,o. Cheiro was a famous palmist that all read the hand of the royal family and all the rest of it. And I became fascinated. The psychology of hands were just the same as there are [match striking] no two fingertips, no two, you know, fingerprints--

Studs Terkel Alike.

Jean Davies Alike in all the world. Hands are fascinating. I became so interested in it, I used to madly read hands for charity. Of course it's illegal, fortune telling, but, oh, I've raised thousands of pounds for charity

Studs Terkel Would you read my palm?

Jean Davies I'd like to and it is a science. Now the left is what, according to Cheiro, you start off with. Well you see, you've got a creative ability, a vivid imagination.

Studs Terkel

Jean Davies Yes. And you see the way your headline? No?

Studs Terkel I'm listening. I am listening.

Jean Davies This is, this is quite true. I nearly said dinkum.

Studs Terkel What is dinkum?

Jean Davies Dinkum is the great Australian word, not used so much now.

Studs Terkel Dinkum

Jean Davies But if an old-time digger said to you "square dinkum" that meant an oath that could have been sworn on a sacrifice.

Studs Terkel Oh, I see.

Jean Davies Dinkum.

Studs Terkel So dinkum, the truth.

Jean Davies Now, look--

Studs Terkel At the moment

Jean Davies This is the hand of a creative person. The bulge indicates creative ability. That's a superb lifeline. You probably had a grandfather that lived to be 98.

Studs Terkel I hate to tell you this.

Jean Davies Did you?

Studs Terkel My family has a ver--terrible history as far as longevity.

Jean Davies I'll bet they

Studs Terkel But my, my grandmother, now the females of my line have lived a very long time. The males not too hot, but nonetheless, nonetheless yo- there is that part, I have a long lifeline.

Jean Davies Yes, I'll tell you what: if you were English you'd get a cable from the queen because I think you're going to top 100.

Studs Terkel I'm going to? [laughter]

Jean Davies Look, I'm not--I'm quite serious. You take a piece of paper and you cut it out and put it around there and you would say to round about there is 75, the allotted span. Well, lord, look at that. You got right around 100, but you can't get a cable from the queen because you're an American.

Studs Terkel Yes. I get a cable from the president.

Jean Davies Will you? Oh.

Studs Terkel Do you think I'll make 100?

Jean Davies You will, definitely. Now let me have

Studs Terkel Then I'll offer advice to people as to how to

Jean Davies I should have a bright light and I'll tell you.

Studs Terkel Bourbon, martinis, cigars.

Jean Davies That is a very significant thing in your hand.

Studs Terkel You're pointing out

Jean Davies That is called the Girdle of Venus but it has nothing whatever to do just with sex. It's a terrific appreciation of everything that appeals to the senses: beauty, music, scenery, living. You love life and living. You feel it. You live it. You're so caught up. That is the, an obstinate thumb.

Studs Terkel An obstinate thumb. I'm very stubborn.

Jean Davies I'd like to have that on my side in fighting lost causes.

Studs Terkel Oh,

Jean Davies I'm losing out.

Studs Terkel Well that's not bad.

Jean Davies I'm always fighting the world single-handed.

Studs Terkel Well, you're pretty good in that one. I'd say that's, you batted well, there.

Jean Davies Well, look. I know. I had to meet

Studs Terkel I've never had my palm read and this is a palm reading on the air by Mrs. Davies.

Jean Davies You see this little sort of slightly raised up? Now--

Studs Terkel Fingertips now.

Jean Davies Now, I don't know whether you switched to cigars from cigarettes but whatever you--

Studs Terkel Yes,

Jean Davies Yes, because you could have always had a bit of bronchitis [cough, cough] and you want to drink rum.

Studs Terkel Rum?

Jean Davies Don't worry about cutting out cigarettes. Drink rum. Rum, honey and olive oil is a wonderful thing for that strangling after bronchitis cough.

Studs Terkel So rum, honey. What about eucalyptus? [unintelligible] that fit in here, too?

Jean Davies Yes, rub your chest with eucalyptus.

Studs Terkel I'll remember that.

Jean Davies But if you're going out with a very beautiful lady, don't put eucalyptus on. It's worse than stale beer.

Studs Terkel Oh, really?

Jean Davies And beer

Studs Terkel And then with euc--with eucalyptus, stale eucalyptus then I'll be, have complete privacy.

Jean Davies Oh, you would, yes you'd have plenty of privacy.

Studs Terkel For

Jean Davies But I'll tell you something you probably do your best work in a crowd. You wouldn't want to be stuck on your own out in the bush because you like people. Show me the right hand, let me

Studs Terkel

Jean Davies have Well, Show me the right. Put that little finger out and you know I do hope you've got a manage--Oh no, you've made it, you've made it. You must give me your recipe. You see your little finger?

Studs Terkel Made what? Yes?

Jean Davies On this hand.

Studs Terkel Yes.

Jean Davies The little finger barely makes it to there. Now, you see?

Studs Terkel Yes.

Jean Davies Well, you see my little finger? It doesn't make it at all but I'm left-handed, so it [unintelligible].

Studs Terkel Ah. Oh! You are a left-hander

Jean Davies That means--oh, I'm a left-hander.

Studs Terkel Well, that probably could account for a great deal

Jean Davies My peculiarity.

Studs Terkel No, no. Your uniqueness.

Jean Davies Oh. Well, you see that the difference means that a lack of push, oh no--

Studs Terkel I should say in case people have turned in late or something, Mrs Davies is reading my palm,

Jean Davies Oh, and I hope I'm not taking up too, not long, but I'm very interested. I'm forgetting that I'm on the air altogether.

Studs Terkel It's

Jean Davies That is a very accurate indication that any timidity and lack of, you see, sensitive people that are creative and that are writers rarely have the necessary business-like, down-to-earth attitude about themselves without which you perish in Chicago. You must have

Studs Terkel Mrs. Davies, I'm convinced not only are you are a remarkable palm reader but you are a superb diplomat as well. And I think somehow we've--

Jean Davies Creative ability, vivid imagination. You could have made a success at the law because you've got a terrific capacity for getting to the bottom of things. I bet you do all your own research.

Studs Terkel Yeah, it's true. Well, you are a [Studs laughs] You're marvelous. Mrs. Davies, Jean Boyett Davies, Australian journalist, offering us a few insights and memories of Australia, of the nature of it, also reading a palm at the moment indicates she's quite, how shall I put it? Very diplomatic, indeed.

Jean Davies No, no. I just said exactly what I thought.

Studs Terkel Well--

Jean Davies Exactly.

Studs Terkel You know, do you recall we opened and I think it would be marvelous someday if you were lecturing to people about Australia because you have a style that's colorful. But if there were, remember we opened, we opened with the wild, excerpts from "Wild Colonial

Jean Davies Boy". "Colonial

Studs Terkel These songs that A. L. Lloyd sings.

Jean Davies Yes. Oh, we

Studs Terkel And you talked about old timer in the play of Jack Lawler, "Summer of the Seventeenth Doll", a man who realizes he's not gonna quite make it, and so on.

Jean Davies Yes.

Studs Terkel And in the song "Click Go the Shears" which I understand is very popular there--

Jean Davies Yes.

Studs Terkel The old man is trying to keep pace with the younger ones, isn't

Jean Davies That's right.

Studs Terkel Here too.

Jean Davies Yes.

Studs Terkel Is this song known, too? Well-known to Australian people? Is it a popular song?

Jean Davies Well, I do hate to disillusion you but you see Australia is the same as America. How many of your city dwellers have seen a buffalo? Lots of our city dwellers if you said to them about the "Wild Colonial Boy" they'd look at you blankly.

Studs Terkel Ah-ha.

Jean Davies But, did you ever hear of "The Sentimental Bloke"? Did you ever hear of C.J. Dennis? Well, that's excellent. It's written in the slang, you know, you'd need a glossary but it's a sort of Romeo Juliet setup; he came from the wrong side of the tracks. But the poetry is beautiful. It talks about a stoush in the chows, the Chinese restaurant. A stoush, a fight, and he copped a half a chicken with his neck. And then he falls in love with Doreen. He belongs to the mob, the push, and then Doreen's so beautiful. She's so everything that's, that's good and decent that he reforms, "The Sentimental Bloke".

Studs Terkel So that's "The Sentimental Bloke".

Jean Davies "S'truth. Her name's Doreen." [Laughter]

Studs Terkel Mrs. Davies. Oh, before we hear, and perhaps sign off with the "Click Go the Shears" that A.L. Lloyd sings, art--there's, there is a celebrated Australian artist, isn't there, Sidney Nolan?

Jean Davies Sidney Nolan, yes. He had an exhibition of Ned Kelly type of paintings. And friends of mine have got one of Nolan's paintings called "The Blacks". It's the Aborigines that when you go through by train across the Nullarbor Plains which is over to Western Australia from Adelaide. The Nullarbor across here. A lot of desert country, you know, in Australia. But along the Nullarbor the, the more or less nomad type of Aborigines, not the real tribe ones but the ones that follows seasonal work and that, they will stand along the track and for people to throw things out to them. Lean and hungry-looking. Well, Nolan slightly exaggerates in his painting and it always used to distress me. If I were enjoying a good meal at this home I used to ask them not to sit me facing "The Blacks" because every mouthful I would take, I would feel their reproachful eyes looking oh so hungry.

Studs Terkel So, Nolan would arouse

Jean Davies a It

Studs Terkel Nolan would arouse in a sense, a sense of guilt on the part of the observer, too, now and then.

Jean Davies Yes, but still, it is just their physique. They have very long feet and skinny ankles you know.

Studs Terkel Mrs. Davies--

Jean Davies May I just say something you said about lecturing. I would like to ask you if I may tell the listeners this: I have spoken to the business and professional women at the church on 53rd, Hyde Park, the United Church. I've got quite a lot of very good slides of Australia. Beautiful ones. A lot of them are off the beaten track. I also took the slides to the Schwab rehabilitation hospital and I'm very interested in welfare work for children. I've been guardian to more than 200 youngsters back home. Most of their mamas went into production before they had a license, you know? And if anybody is interested in having a talk, having a night to see slides and that, well, I'd love to do it and they might care to contribute something, perhaps, to the Child Care Society.

Studs Terkel So we say that to the lecturer to

Jean Davies Is it all right for me to say that?

Studs Terkel Please. Mrs. Jean Boyett Davies, D,a,v,i,e,s.

Jean Davies Yes.

Studs Terkel A Welsh name sometimes, an Australian name in this instance and perhaps we could end, Mrs. Davies, with what is it, what is it? Oh, I suppose if ladies would like to, or listeners would like to reach you how could they?

Jean Davies Well, I was just looking for the little bit of paper. You know, I feel I've taken up so much time. I'm dithering around here like--

Studs Terkel There it is.

Jean Davies No, it isn't.

Studs Terkel Oh, that

Jean Davies That's the compliments of somebody or other.

Studs Terkel Well then I'll tell you I--

Jean Davies I have got it here.

Studs Terkel All right. Again, a blow-by-blow description, looking up a telephone number in a well-thumbed notebook and thus we come close to it.

Jean Davies 5407

Studs Terkel 5407 South Harper. 5 4 0 7 South Harper, Hyde Park 3 7 4 4 3. Mrs. Davies--

Jean Davies Thank you.

Studs Terkel Thank you very much for a delightful hour and let us listen to the old man trying to keep up with the 20th century without quite making it. The last of a vanishing species, perhaps the old sheep shearer, "Click Go The Shears".

Jean Davies And if I weep on your shoulder, will it upset the line of it?

Studs Terkel [laughter]

Jean Davies Because I'm very nostalgic.

Studs Terkel Well, I think nostalgia is good.

Jean Davies Talking

Studs Terkel The Greek word for that is "nostos", a longing for a home, and Mrs. Davies thank you very much indeed.

Jean Davies Thank you for having me. [A.J. Lloyd singing "Click Go