as compiled by Geoff Cunningham
CHAPTER THREE - TWENTIETH CENTURY (Second half)
These were the days of the Swan Ink, the Dawson Steel nib, the Round Ruler and sloping desk for Ledger keeping manually. Indeed, everything was manually done:-
Hand written receipts
Double-sided carbon paper used to prevent, and on occasions, detect fraud.
Handwritten Day-books and Journals
All, as in years before, were hand-written and added daily without the help of an Adding Machine or other equipment, not even a Biro!
Receipts were issued in duplicate, appropriately stamped with either a 2d. or 3d. Duty Stamp depending on the amount. Separate deposit slips were made up at the end of each day for each bank account of – RENT TRUST ACCOUNT, TRUST ACCOUNT, N.M.L.A., COMMERCIAL UNION ASS.CO., FOURTH VICTORIA PERMANENT BUILDING SOCIETY and PARTNERS’ ORDINARY ACCOUNT. The daily takings then remaining unbanked were balanced with the cash drawer.
The rent and Trust Ledgers were then posted manually. Imagine a Trust account with over 2000 current clients at almost any time and requiring manual balancing monthly.
So much for the internal administration, the external salesmen were extremely busy in this period due to the heavy influx of “New Australian” families moving into Ballarat industries. Almost all sales were financed, either through the Trust account, by private investors, Solicitor’s Offices or Banks.
Having sold property to Mytton’s Ltd in Eureka Street for the manufacture of Stainless Steel Sinks and similar products, our office acted as weekly paymaster and collected funds from the Bank, placed the money in the worker’s envelopes and delivered it to the factory for payment. At the same time, having let office space to Harris Scarfe Ltd. of Adelaide, they saw fit to appoint us their Ballarat Agents.
In 1951 legislation was passed requiring Estate Agent’s trust accounts to be balanced on a monthly basis. Obviously mechanisation was necessary. It needed 17 days each quarter to manually achieve a balance of the 2000 odd operative accounts in Trust.
Probably the most important event of the year however, was the decision of Mr. Doepel to retire and purchase Dunk Island off the Queensland Coast and to develop a tourist resort. At the time, Mr. Doepel resided in “Redcourt”, a two storeyed Brick home in Drummond Street North consisting of 10 rooms, a number of separate outbuildings on a large freehold allotment. The sale realised 16000 pounds. The purchasers Mr. & Mrs. McKenzie conducted an apartment house. The home was eventually resold and converted to units and self-contained flats.
After many weeks of “night-shift” at “Redcourt” working through the ledgers with Mr. Doepel, Geoff Cunningham updated all accounts to the balancing stage and in so doing convinced both Partners that a mechanised accounting system was not only necessary but essential. The first purchase was a manual adding machine – a good start.
By the year 1953 we were ready to install the new accounting system designed by Geoff Cunningham on a Remington 124D machine adapted to suit our office requirements, and which in fact was the first mechanised accounting system in the State for Real Estate Trust Accounts.
Mention must be made of the misfortune suffered on Dunk Island by Mr. & Mrs. Doepel. The strain of building Holiday Shacks, Jetties, Clearing Jungle areas and the sheer hard work took its toll on both Eddie and his wife Ruth (nee TYLER) as both contracted chronic Asthma and in 1956 returned to Ballarat. Ruth died soon after, whilst Eddie survived until 8th May 1966.
EDMOND CHRISTIAN DOEPEL
Amateur Stage Magician
Keen fisherman and Camper
Many humorous stories could be told of Eddie, who seemed more interested in the Real Estate on the Murray River than in Ballarat. Many times he toured Australia and developed a keen interest in native animals and snakes. One Monday morning in 1950 after a week on the Murray River, he arrived at the office dressed in Khaki safari suit with a sugar bag over his shoulder. Eddie was greeted by Mr. Bill Taylor, Mr. Lilley and a Solicitor, Mr. David Aronson. What have you got in the bag, Eddie, snakes I suppose?, said David, Whereupon Eddie moved behind the sloping desk , emptied the bag on the floor and grabbed a 3 ft. tiger snake by the tail. He gently tapped David Aronson on the shoulder and said, “you were right David”. Nobody ever left the office faster before or since and he was still running as he passed Craigs Hotel. Many similar instances come to mind when one thinks of Eddie Doepel. Nevertheless as a JUSTICE OF THE PEACE he took his responsibilities seriously and served with dignity and distinction on the bench of the COURT OF PETTY SESSIONS as it was then known.