Claire SMALLWOOD
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Arthur Stanley SMALLWOOD
(1877-1939)
Mary Ellen PARSLOW
(1878-1961)
Murdoch McLEAN
(1876-1961)
Emily Frances ORTON
(1877-1939)
Charles Arthur William SMALLWOOD
(1902-1967)
Gertrude Laurie McLEAN
(1903-1975)

Claire SMALLWOOD
(1929-2004)

 

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Claire SMALLWOOD

  • Born: 10 May 1929, Townsville, Queensland
  • Died: 1 Feb 2004, Prince Charles Hospital, Chermside, Brisbane at age 74
  • Buried: (cremated) 4 Feb 2004, Albany Creek Crematorium, Albany Creek, Brisbane 1
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• Murdoch McLean, Claire's grand father, had an air raid shelter in his back yard, at 57 Ahearne Street, Hermit Park.

Here we see an unknown person descending into it, ready for action in, could it be, a pith helmet?



• Claire was born at her grandparents' house at 57 Ahearne Street (corner of Lucy Street), Townsville. This was the home of her mother's parents, Murdoch and Emily McLean.



• She is seen here with her father, Charles Arthur William Smallwood, her mother, Gertrude Laurie, her older sister Joan, and her older brothers, Arthur and Ross (seated).

This photograph was taken not long after Claire was born.

Claire was fond of telling the story of the day she was born. With all the preparations for her arrival, and the imminent birth, her mother commented that "I've never seen the house clear of all the men so fast!"

After Claire was born, her older brother Ross, looking up at his mother with his big brown eyes, said to her, "Gee, can we keep it?"



• Claire recalls that there were custard apple trees in her grandparents house at 57 Aherne Street.

One of her favourite fruits remained, throughout her entire life, as the delicious custard apple.



• Claire recalled in later life that all the trees in Barcaldine are called after trees.

Here we see Beech Street, looking north - one of Barcaldine's wide, tree-lined streets.



• Claire moved with her family to Barcaldine when two or three months old.

Her mother Gertrude, would have done the shopping at this store, and perhaps the other children remember Arthur Parnell & Sons general store in Oak Street?

Arthur and his sons sold motor spirit, and Mobil oil. Dr. Cook's car is parked in front of building. The Railway Hotel can be seen on the left. It was subsequently destroyed after this photograph was taken. It burned down in 1929. Perhaps the family was living there then?



• The Smallwood family had moved to Barcaldine because Claire's father managed the local swimming pool there.

Shown here in their bathing costumes are Arthur, Ross, Joan and Clair. We believe this photograph to have been taken about 1933. Claire was about five?



• The railway station would be the main method of travel in the days of Claire's childhood, if anyone needed to go "to the coast".

This is a view of the platform on the railway station at Barcaldine, Queensland.

The station building is made of timber, with a wide awning covering the platform. The station sign can be seen at the right of the image. Lennon's Railway Hotel can be seen in the background.



• Claire and her family moved to Ayr when she was about 3 years old.

They lived at Wilmington Street and Airdmillan Road, in Ayr.



• The Smallwood family was living in Ayr when this portrait was taken of young Claire.



• Claire's father had a nickname for each of his children.

Claire's nickname was "Clara Bow", after the famous actress of the time.

To posterity, film buffs, and historians alike Clara Bow will forever be the "It" girl… "the royal mounted policeman of sex who always gets her man" at the end of every film.

Granted many older fans who are still alive today remember her with love and affection.

She was often cast as a waitress, a manicurist, or a salesgirl. The ever plucky and ever resourceful Clara would predictably set her sights on the prize (a handsome male).

Armed with her natural vivaciousness, cunning, sensuousness, and irresistible charm, Clara's character would rise above her lowly station in life and obtain her goal. "Clara Bow lit up the screen as much as-if not more than-any other star in history. She is three-dimensional in her presence, and this quality projected onto her down to earth, regular-guy flappers, makes her seem terribly real and true to audiences." (Silent Stars by Jeanine Basinger, Alfred A. Knopf, 1999 p.448).

But like so many of the great actors of yesteryear, rumors and legend have a way of superceding the truth. They have a way of distorting the facts and thereby eliminating any knowledge of what made Clara the truly talented phenomenon that she actually was.



• Claire was about thirteen when this photo was taken of her at Airdmillan Road, Ayr. In the background was, of course, the family tank stand. All the houses in Ayr had a tankstand and a windmill.

Claire recalls that while the family lived in Airdmillan Road, they were waiting for David to be born. David was born while the family lived in Airdmillan Road, one fine Saturday late in June.

Arthur, who visited the site in his later years, recalls that there is now a garage on that piece of dirt.



• Claire trained as a hairdresser and followed this line of work from 1944 onwards for most of her working life.

She owned and operated her own salon in Nashville, in the northern suburbs of Brisbane. It was called Merindah, which Claire believed was an Aboriginal word for "beautiful lady".



• Bobby Witham was a friend of Claire in her younger days.



• This photograph of Claire was in the collection of her youngest brother, Charles. He always affectionately called Claire "Bella", and had inscribed the back of the photograph with this, his pet name for her.



• In about 1946, Claire's family moved to Sydney, leaving Claire in Brisbane. We believe this series of photos was taken at Villawood, Carramar, Sydney.

For some reason, Claire has had her photograph taken, on this occasion, holding a sheep.



• Claire can be seen here, sitting on a motorbike.

Apparently, she chose to shun the mere pushbike, seen leaning against the shed in the background.



• Chopping, chopping, always chopping.



• Claire is seen here, for some reason sitting on the chicken house, at Villawood, Carramar, Sydney.



• Claire is seen here with her sister, Joan, at Lakes Entrance, near Gosford, New South Wales. Is that a kitten to the left of the photograph?



• Claire and her sister, Merle, are posing neatly in the doorway, here at The Entrance, near Gosford, in New South Wales.



• Claire is seen here, glasses akimbo (she didn't even wear glasses!)

Her mother, Gertrude, is seen patiently standing with her. Why there would be five pairs of shoes sitting on the ledge is anyone's guess.

• Claire learned to drive in a car similar to this, a 1924 Summit.

One of the many almost successful attempts to build an Australian car in the 1920s. The Summit had an all-Australian suspension, claimed to turn "rough tracks into boulevardes". However, it cost more than twice the price of a Model T Ford and only 500 were built. It featured a 4 cylinder 3.4 litre engine, Australian-invented "Acme Patent Spring Suspension System", and its top speed was 80 kph.



• On the 12th November, 1948, Claire commenced work at The Sylvia Salon, 431 Ipswich Road, Annerley. Claire is seen here, only nineteen years old, with Lynda, a colleague at Sylvia Salon. They were obviously horsing around at the rear of the salon.

Claire recalls that they used to wash the towels for their hairdressing salon, and hang them on the clothesline (you can see it in the far left of picture). Claire remembers one night, all the good towels were stolen, leaving only the crummy ones.



• Claire is seen here with her boyfriend, John Weddell, at the RNA. (That's Royal National Association - the Brisbane Exhibition). Held every year, in August, at the showgrounds at Herston, Brisbane.



• The Panther motor bike that John owned is seen here, with Claire sitting on top.



• Claire is seen here, sitting either

(a) in John Weddell's bedroom, at "Myrilla", the home of John's parents, in Ekibin Road, Annerley, or

(b) in the bedroom of their Kelvin Grove Army Barracks, where they spent the beginning of their married life.

All entries win a prize.



• Claire spent her honeymoon at the Atcherley Hotel, in central Brisbane. The Queen Street site of the Atcherley Hotel was sold to make way for the new international hotel, The Marriott.



• Claire is seen here as the blushing bride.



• Claire and John are seen here, freshly-married.



• Claire's wedding day was attended by her mother and father, on the right of the photograph.



• The Marriott Hotel spears into the Brisbane skyline. Claire's daughter Maxine lived just opposite the Atcherley Hotel site, on the other side of the Brisbane River at Kangaroo Point, and was able to watch The Marriott being constructed.



• Claire is seen here in a push bike, of all things, outside the family home at 12 Purnell Street, Zillmere.



• In the house at Zillmere, No 12 Purnell Street, was a Lindberg Foster refrigerator, calendar, shelf with electric clock in background. This was the house where the first television set came into being for the children.

Claire can be sitting here in the kitchen, with the Lindberg Foster refrigerator in the background.



• Claire and John purchased the family home at 20 Nineteenth Avenue in 1962.



• The illustration here shows the land adjacent to 20 Nineteenth Avenue, as it was early in the family's residence. The beginnings of clearing the land can be seen on the right of the photograph, just this side of the white house on Beaconsfield Terrace.



• Well remembered is "The Day of the Big Fire" at the back of the family home.



• The land here can be seen semi-developed. The shopping centre can be seen as the white building on the right of the photograph, with houses being built immediately to its left. The foreground shows the fence of the set of three flats adjacent to the family home, and on the right, pencil pines and the Hills Hoist of 20 Nineteenth Avenue.



• Claire is seen here, at a family wedding, with her family.

From left, Arthur, Charles, Charlie, Merle, Gertrude, David, Joan, Claire, Ross.



• Claire made this headpiece herself, with the help of her sister Merle, for a family wedding in August 1964. She laughed when she recalled the fun they had, constructing it.



• One of Claire's hobbies was photography.

This vibrant photograph of the sun setting over the Glasshouses was taken by her, the year the family enjoyed a holiday at Caloundra. It was about 1966.



• In her lifetime, Claire was ready to take up any sort of employment. At one time, Claire worked behind the bar at Filmer's Hotel, Woody Point.

Owned by the Filmer family, it was quite a renowned pub in its day. It abounded with interesting stories, as told by Mrs Filmer herself, that for Mavis Filmer to secure a Bee Gees performance for her Woody Point Hotel was the promise of a bottle of Coke. This was a story Mrs Filmer would often tell as the young Gibb brothers rose to world stardom. Her own journey began more than four decades earlier.

Mavis Jean Long was born at Bowen Hills in 1921, and attended school at Fortitude Valley. She was one of Thomas and Jean Long's three children, along with older brother Gordon, who died in 2001, and her younger sister, Nancy. In 1937, when she was 16, her police sergeant father was transferred to Redcliffe, where she continued to live for the rest of her life. While employed at the local telephone exchange, the young Ms Long met Ken Filmer and the couple were married about five years later, in 1943.

They moved in to the Filmer's family pub in 1947 - the Filmer's Palace Hotel at Woody Point. Family was always Mrs Filmer's great love, but it was a love tainted with great tragedy. Ken Filmer was serving behind the bar at the Palace when he died suddenly from a massive heart attack in 1961, aged just 39.

Their only child, Leigh, was 16 at the time. Tragedy again struck Mrs Filmer twice in 1994 - Leigh was killed in a car accident in Victoria on 17 December and, just eight days later on Christmas Day, Mrs Filmer's partner, Alf Harbottle, died of cancer. Her sister, Nancy Hiscox, said Mrs Filmer dealt with those tragedies with strength and dignity. Mrs Filmer, who had run the Palace Hotel for 40 years after her husband's death, finally sold the landmark in March 2001. "If I was any younger, I would have kept it," she said at the time.



• In retirement, Mrs Filmer moved in to a waterfront unit opposite Suttons Beach at Redcliffe. Never happy to sit at home and enjoy the view, Mrs Filmer was involved in several clubs, including the View, mixed Probus and the Tuesday Ladies clubs. After two minor strokes, Mrs Filmer moved into the Ballycara retirement home at Scarborough in July 2004. However, she maintained an active lifestyle until 22 October this year, when she suffered a major stroke while at a mixed Probus club holiday at the Club Crocodile Resort at Airlie Beach, north Queensland. Mrs Filmer died at the Peninsula Private Hospital about six weeks later.

Mrs Hiscox said Mrs Filmer was a wonderful woman who would be sorely missed. Melbourne-based grand-daughter Sarah Duncan said she had fond memories of her holidays with her grand-mother. "Staying in the hotel, we'd play hide-and-seek in all the bars before the pub opened - we had a ball with Nan," she said.

Perhaps those who knew Mrs Filmer best of all were the regular patrons at her beloved Palace Hotel. Trevor Weber, 75, has been part of the furniture at the Palace "since I was allowed to drink" and had known Mrs Filmer since the 1930s. "She always had a lot of time for everyone, but she kept everyone in line as well," he said.

Friend Graham Jacob's association with the pub and Mrs Filmer went back 50 years. "Everybody respected her so much they'd do what they were told - there was never any need for bouncers," he said.

The Bee Gee's sister, Lesley Evens, said she and her mother last saw Mrs Filmer in September, shortly before she fell ill. She said Mrs Filmer always had a special place in the Gibb family's hearts. "She meant a great deal to all of us - she was always there and always friendly," she said. The Bee Gees' song, Immortality, was played at Mrs Filmer's funeral service at Redcliffe on 9 December 2004. She is survived by her sister, Nancy Hiscox, her grandchildren, Darian Filmer, 30, and Sarah Duncan, 27, and three great-grandchildren.

The illustration here shows an entry from the Queensland Post Office Directory of 1936. It lists The Palace Hotel as licencee Mrs L. Filmer, with Woody Point, Moreton District, as "a seaside resort on Moreton Bay" requiring "steamer or rail to Petrie, then daily coach 13 miles (fare, 3/-)".



• Claire was fortunate to be what she would have termed "a good sort". These fine legs prove that.



• Claire is seen here, relaxing on Bulcock Beach, during the family holiday in 1969.



• Claire loved her Triumph car. It was green, with a white stripe.



• Claire was the mother of the bride when her oldest daughter, Ellen, married in 1974.



• Joan and Bill would regularly drive to Queensland, to visit their relations, and to enjoy the warmer weather. They would call in to Claire's house, and enjoy a visit with her.



• Claire and Merle spent many many happy days at World Expo 88, which was held in Brisbane, from April to September 1988.



• Displayed hereunder are some of Claire's fine painting, of which she was very proud. This is the earliest we have of Claire's many paintings. Her home at Sandgate was a treasure trove of artistry.

Just click on the image to see its beauty close up.

Surf Beach, 1989.



• Green Vase, 1991.



• Flower, 1993.



• Feed the birds.

Tuppence a bag.



• Rosy Smile, 1995.



• Young Lass, 1995.



• Reeds, 1995.



• Roses, 1995.



• Wetlands, 1995.



• Cottage Window, 1995.



• Claire always said that she got her painting talents from her mother, Gertrude.

Gertrude is seen here, in her later years, with her fine painting "The Galleons".

It is believed that "The Galleons" now resides at the home of Gertrude's son, Ross.



• Church, 1996.



• Stairs, 1998.



• The Cottage, 1998.



• Fish Frenzy, 2001.



• Angel, 2001.



• Claire is seen here visiting her family in 1998.



• In 2002, Claire sold the family home of forty years at Nineteenth Avenue, and moved to a comfortable low-set, low-maintenance brick villa at Aspley.

Claire was able to pursue her favourite hobby of oil painting over a number of years after she retired. Her villa had a number of her artworks on the wall, others proving to be very popular with her two youngest grand-daughters, Georgia and Zoe. Claire attended a very popular Art Group at Zillmere every week, and she valued the friendship of the many close friends she made there.



• After her move to Aspley Court Retirement Village, Claire continued with her painting group at Aspley, and went on to produce many interesting and artistic paintings, such as the example here, Frogs, 2002



• Trees, 2002.



• Daisies, 2002.



• Along with Claire's move to her villa, she also purchased a new car, and could often be seen scooting around north Brisbane, to go on various errands, to visit children, and of course, to attend her beloved art classes.



• Sunset, 2003.



• Fish, unsigned and undated.



• Floral, unsigned and undated.



• Landscape, unsigned and undated.



• Reflections, unsigned and undated.



• Magic, unsigned and undated.



• Pears, unsigned and undated.



• Picnic, unsigned and undated.



• Snazz, unsigned and undated.



• Boat, unsigned and undated.



• Chooks, unsigned and undated.



• Ballerinas, unsigned and undated.



• Fairies, unsigned and undated.



• The Fence, unsigned and undated.



• Pumpkins.

This was the last painting Claire completed for her beloved grand-daughters, Zoe and Georgia.


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Claire married Living



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