“wacka” A juicy rumour so important that an instant crowd of workers would gather on hearing the wacka alert whistle. No good ever came out of spreading a “wacka.”
“Like blowflies around a lump of shit” The Dago’s masterly description of a “wacka” crowd gathering and hovering around like eager to hear the latest gossip.
“Clicker” An archaic term used to describe a Leading Hand in the printing trade.
“The Long Weight” A joke played on an unsuspecting new apprentice who was sent off for a long weight. They would be left waiting for bloody ages, until the penny dropped. “Meggsy” Grunert fell for it ten times in a row.
“The Old Guv at KWR” Meaning the Old Government Printing Office in King William Road, Adelaide. It was knocked down by the Government in 1974. One hundred years of history down the drain for a bloody car park. A disgrace!
“The Netley Complex” The new Government Printing Office on Marion Road. Opened in 1974 through to the mid 1990s. Famous as the Home of the largest parquet dance floor in the Southern Hemisphere.
“Things will get better when we get to Monarto” Saying coined by Brian “Grubby” Hartshorne. Monarto was a bush area miles from Adelaide where half the population of Adelaide were to be relocated. It never happened.
“Artful Dodger” one of the young villans from Dickens “Oliver Twist,” also used by the “Flash” to describe a compulsive sickie taker, a work bludger and compo bludger.
“The Fish” Metal bar with a hook eye on the end, it was made of lead, tin and antimony and was fed by a chain into the Intertype typesetting machine’s casting pot. Apart from casting lines of type “The Fish’ were made into the most amazing range of fishing sinkers on the planet. This was illegal of course.
“The Minda Bus” a totally cruel term for anyone born in Adelaide and used to describe the Special Bus from the Adelaide Railway Station to Marion Road where the Old Guv day shift workers could be seen staggering and lurching their way down the steps of the bus.
“The Wayzgoose” Printers’ Picnic where the members of the Old Guv Chapel would travel to a picnic spot or hotel usually miles from Adelaide. Originally for men and boys the ladies and girls became part of the Wayzgoose program in the 1920s. Dinner, speeches, running races and novelty events were the order of the day.
“The Phantom Shitter” This man had the ability to block a loo with ONE continuous loop of poo. A long piece of printing wooden furniture was needed to break up the loop to enable it to be flushed away.
“The Rocket Room” Home of a monstrous vacuum driven delivery system which had a giant clear plastic rocket used to carry Hansard galley proofs across the ceilings of the Netley Complex. You could hear them rattling along a mile away just like the doodle bugs in the London blitz. Our older English comps scattered each time they heard one going over.
“The Log Cabin” A wooden add-on built between the comp room and machine room in the late 1970s. Generally populated with arse crawlers, “yes” men, bullshit artists and no hopers. It was where most of the Bosses were located.
“A Flash in the Pan” Infamous quote from the late 1960s by Brian “Jumbo” James, Govt. Printer and Frank Johnson, Printing Overseer and used by them to describe what they thought of the future of Offset Printing.
“Clang Out” When an old Comp retired his workmates would gather by their work stones and grab any metal object especially type galleys and small chases and proceed to belt the shit out of them creating an avalanche of noise to send our retiring comrade off in a respectful manner. With the advent of cold type technology the “clang outs” became a thing of the past.
“Follow copy out the window” Expression used to describe a comp setting exactly what’s in the copy even when he suspects it is incorrect. Playing it safe!
“Foreignee, buckey, foreign order” Job done done under the lap or under the counter using the company’s paper, ink and materials. Illegal of course, but endemic in the printing trade.
“It wouldn’t happen in Hot Metal” A painful and sad lament offered up by hot metal comps whenever the computer typesetter stuffed up. Eventually, this expression fell by the wayside as the new technology got better and more reliable
A Photo of the Adelaide City Baths taken in 1919 (SA Collections).
The Old Government Printing Office was right next to the old Adelaide City Baths in King William Road.
Both the City Baths and the Old Government Printing Office buildings have been gone for many years now.
A Slim and Great Aussie Swimmer, Dawn Fraser.
Adelaide entertainer and celebrity Big Pretzel in Vietnam, 1966.
Photo: The Crazy Horse Striptease Revue, Hindley Street, Adelaide in the 1970s where Big Pretzel danced.
When the weather was hot and it was Ladies and Girls day at the City Baths I am sure there would have been typesetters, comps and binders hanging their leering and sinful heads out of the ground floor window and lusting after the semi nude female talent on display below in the pool.
During the 1950s the centre of attraction was a young and fit Dawn Fraser who was training for the Olympics and was Sunbathing with her mate the equally young “Big Pretzel” a legendary singer, dancer and striptease artist.
A Photo taken by Paul Korff of the City Baths being pulled down.
It was probably out of one of the Guv’s windows that the late Paul Korff (Monotype Operator) who took the above picture peered down the lane just in time to see his wonderful little car which had just been stolen disappearing around the corner and down King William Road. Gone.