James Long’s Ballarat factory became known first as the ‘Victoria’, but later as the Sunshine Biscuit Co., when his son Thomas turned it into a public company.
Other interests bought out William’s share, and the factory was operated for a time by Arnott Spilliers. It was rebuilt in the 1920s following a fire which gutted the original renovated Golden Gate Hotel.
Ash Long’s grandfather, Allan Leslie Long, was born on January 24, 1893, the first child of Arthur Henry Long and his wife Sarah Ann (nee Hill).
Allan wrote: “I had rickets and was unable to walk, suffering from colds and weakness, so my grandparents too me to see what they could do.”
“Being unable to always attend school, my Aunt Sarah taught me to read and do sums.
“From time-to-time, I was sent back to my parents, but this was put off time and time again and so I remained.”
Allan’s father, Arthur, worked in Maryborough, Victoria, and later as a commercial traveller.
“When my grandparents went to Portland they discussed the advisability of sending me back to my parents and the company of my brothers and sisters, and again the return was put off.
“I was then gaining in strength and was sent to the Portland State School, and when a private school started, I was sent there. But I think that my Aunt Sarah may be given credit for what education I may have had.”
Allan Long was placed in a solicitor’s office at his grandfather’s wish. He wanted to be a chemist but James Long over-ruled. Allan amusingly stated that his first job was writing his own summons for having been caught by a policeman for riding his bicycle on a footpath.
Allan’s knowledge of the Bible was keen. As a young churchgoer, he was asked to write questions to the local newspaper for his minister to answer. It was not long before the minister requested a ceasing of the questions as they were most difficult to answer.
Allan was very active in debating circles, being a member of a local society in his early days. He was also interested in chess and a good match for his father-in-law, who was a competition player.
Hypnotism was another area of interest, until one subject failed to come out of the hypnosis for some time. He would fascinate children by hypnotising a rooster, and seeing it in the same state some time later.
Allan had a bias against alcohol, and was secretary of a temperance society. As a grocer, his knowledge of tea and butter was well-known, and on many occasions was a judge at country fairs.
Signwriting and medieval writing were also gifts, and many times his signs for fairs stretched across main streets. Politics was an area of interest, and many disagreements were shared at one of his country stores with a customer, Billy Hughes – known as the ‘Little Digger’, and who was Prime Minister of Australia from 1915 to 1923.
Allan has an inventive and creative mind, enjoying the repair of clocks and other household items. If a part was beyond repair, he would set about making the part himself. This would take time and patience, and he would not be satisfied until the job was perfect. If a piece of furniture was broken, he would make a new part, shaping it exactly to the dimensions of the original.
He was interested in wireless, and it is understood he made one of the first crystal sets in Victoria, for his grandfather.
Allan invented many items including a new form of clothes peg, and indoor games for children.
Apart from his family, his greatest love was his garden. When the family first moved to their home in Heidelberg, he planned the garden and set out rockeries. When in full bloom, motorists would stop their cars and admire the grand display. His vegetable garden was substantial, and he kept the family provided at all times.
Allan met his wife-to-be, Althea Clara Clay, in his days at Portland. A young man was persistent in asking Althea to go out with him, or take her home. On one occasion, Althea and a nurse friend were bothered by this person, when Allan was present. Althea and Allan knew each other by sight, as they attended the same church in Portland. Althea and her friend decided to ask Allan to escort them home, which he did, and the courtship began.
Althea was born at Gorae, near Portland, on July 4, 1889, the fifth child to Charles and Ellen Norah Clay (nee Martyn). Althea’s sister, Edith, with assistance from sisters Nell and Chris, related the following:
“In her young days, as always, she was practical and very conscientious in her share of work, and Mother, with her large family, depended on her to a great extent.
“At quite an early age she showed a natural instinct foor nursing, and would cheerfully get up at night to attend any member of the family if sick.
“On leaving school, she went to Melbourne, where she lived with Mother’s sister and husband, the Crosbies. She gained entry as a student teacher to the Melbourne Teachers’ College, but later found that nursing was her first love. Subsequently, she began training at the Austin Heidelberg in Heidelberg, living with the Crosbies for several years.
“Eventually, she came home to nurse at the Private Hospital in Portland, and when Sister Brown retired, Althea ran the Hospital for several years as Matron.
“So devoted was she to her parents, brothers and sisters, that at one time or another, each member of the family if very sick, became a patient at the Hospital under her loving and capable care.”
Nell said that when young, Althea loved running messages, and would be prepared to go anywhere to act as a messenger.
Chris said Althea dearly loved the element of fun, and recalled that when Nell and Perce Robins were keeping company, Nell would stroll up the drive at ‘Latimer’ to meet him. One night Althea decided to play a trick on Perce, and was greted by Perce, thinking it was Nell. Althea was a clever mimic, and her aunts with their different mannerisms were the subject of her amusing but harmless mimicry.
(Christina Cock [née Clay, December 25, 1887 – May 22, 2002] is recorded as the oldest verified supercentenarian in Australian history. She was aged 114 years, 148 days when she died. She is the oldest Oceanian person of all time. At the time of her death, she was the second- or third-oldest person in the world.)
Althea was a great lover of horses, and was a competent horsewoman. Together with Beth, they won many championships. Althea once rode through a bushfire to get assistance. The horse was a rebellious one, but being a capable horsewoman she managed to get through the alarm, although it was a frightening experience.
Althea was a markswoman with a rifle, no doubt trained by her father who was a crack shot. On many occasions, she had to shoot or frighten kangaroos, rabbits or birds which threatened her father’s crops.
Althea’s love of poultry lasted a lifetime. She was very capable and artistic with embroidery, crochet and knitting. She would always be knitting for her children or grandchildren.
Summarised by her younger son, Alan C. Long: “She was also a great cook and nothing would be a task for her to cook one of her children’s favourite treats. Along with Dad, Mum had a great love for the garden, and often assisted him with the planting and maintenance.
“Her life was full of devotion and love for her husband and family. Also, she adored her grandchildren and was, more or less, personally involved with their problems and well-being. If any member was sick she was the first to offer advice and help for their recovery.
“She was indeed, one of nature’s finest ladies, and the world can ill-afford to lose such a marvellous personality.”
Allan and Althea were married on April 5, 1920, at Auburn Methodist Church, by the Rev. Mr hunt. Their first child, James Wilcock Long, was born at Numurkah on June 8, 1921. Violet Althea (‘Girlie’) was born at Eaglemont, Melbourne, on October 13, 1925. Alan Charles (often referred to ny relatives as ‘Mick’ or ‘Doolan’) was born at Williamson St, Bendigo, on November 15, 1931, next door to the grocery store operated by his mother and father at the corner of Calvin Street.
During the early years of their marriage, Allan managed grocery stores in Victorian country towns. Around 1929, they had saved enough to establish their own grocery store in Bendigo, Victoria.
Their wise business ability was evidenced. Within a short period they bought two more stores in Bendigo: one by Lake Weerona, the second opposite the Fire Station.
We now come to a point that clearly affected their future. Had they not put other people before their own needs by being so kind and generous, they would no doubt have been very wealthy people.
Their wealth, however, can be measured more by their great character than by monetary means. The economic depression period affected everyone. Some to the extent that many people were unable to feed or clothe their families.
Allan and Althea were distressed to see their friends and customers so affected. Son Alan continues: “Their own well-being was set aside for the sake of others, and it was arranged by them both to make up bundles of food, and for Jim and Girlie to place these bundles of food on their friends’ doorsteps and hurry away so that these people would not know where they came from.
“As this sacrifice of goods went on from some time, they had to pay for which they not getting any return, and it became a reality they were soon deep in debt. Dad, being a person without reproach, was emotionally upset by this situation and his health was affected. On medical advice he was ordered to get away from the situation and start afresh.”
Their move to 21 Florence St, Moreland, was in 1938. To help pay debts incurred in Bendigo, Allan became a commercial traveller for a grocery firm, and in his spare time made snowballs for a Moreland grocer. He used a hand beater for this manufacturing operation which would have been exhausting.
Later, they purchased a shop and dwelling at 151 Sydney Road, Moreland, and although warned by several business people that they were on the wrong side of the road to attract business, they went ahead and opened a confectionery and milk bar.
Half the shop was partitioned, so that Allan and Althea could manufacture marshmallows and toffees, toffee apples, barley sugar, butterscotch and boiled lollies. The hours were demanding; starting manufacture early in the morning, opening the shop at 9am, and closing around 11pm. They soon attracted customers and there was a great demand from wholesalers for their well-known snowballs and ‘biffs’ (coloured snowballs). Another product was ‘Rocky Road’, made from marshmallow, peanuts and chocolate.
Customers came from far afield over the weekends to buy novelties such as chocolate-coated animal shaped marshmallows.
During World War II, their elder son Jim became old enough to volunteer for War service and joined the Army. His brother Alan said: “It was a sad time for us all when he was sent to the Middle East for 18 months.”
At this time Allan applied for the position of Manager of a Tarax Bar in Swanston St, Melbourne. The Managing Director, Mr Pethard, from Bendigo, interviewed Allan. Mr Pethard said he regarded Allan’s experience as a grocer made him the most qualified for the position. The job involved the management of meals for customers, the soft drink and milk bars. Apart from this position at night into the early hours of the morning, he still found time to manufacture.
Allan was able to become an agent for Tarax with the family shop in Sydney Road. Tarax was then an exclusive soft drink, and Tarax bars were by appointment. Up to this stage, Althea and daughter ‘Girlie’ were managing the shop, with assistance from Alan when he came home from school.
There was a large passage at the side of the shop and Allan made large bins to hold many dozens of bottles, into which he would chip blocks of ice. This was apart from two large shop refrigerators.
At this time, Tarax brewed non-alcoholic drinks called Tarax Stout, and Bitter. There was never a short supply of chilled drinks, and it was not unusual during hot spells to see customers queued outside the shop, waiting to be served after the customers inside the shop had quenched their thirst.
After Jim’s return from service in the Middle East as a Sergeant, he was promoted to the post of Warrant Officer II at the Bandiana Workshops, near Albury.
It was here that Jim met his future wife, Marjory Lawrence. After their marriage, and Army discharge, they lived with Allan and Althea until buying their first home at 42 Rene Street, East Preston.
Allan and Jim decided to go into partnership with the confectionery, and a factory was built at the rear of the Sydney Rd shop. The business was named ‘Golden Ray Sweets’.
The business was quickly expanding and Alan recalled: “It was decided to move to a larger factory, and at the same time another house had to be bought, which was at 62 Glenard Drive, Heidelberg.
“In 1949, a larger factory was available nearer home in Banksia St, Bulleen, and it became a real family family business with us all working there.
“After a short time through national events, supplies were hard to come by, unless you were willing to pay double the price through other channels. Dad did not believe in this type of business, and it was mutually agreed that the business should disband due these circumstances.
“For some time, Dad and Jim used the factory equipment for making outside furniture and flywire screens. This equipment was the timber used for the frames of trays in which flour was used for moulding snowballs.”
Allan was appointed a canteen manager for the Australian Paper Manufacturers at Fairfield. At a later stage when Jim was an executive for Standard Motors at Port Melbourne, the position of Canteen Manager became available, and Allan was appointed.
His ideas for efficiency were well received by the Standard company, and staff and management were most upset when he decided to retire. He was very compassionate and any essential operation that was oppressing would find Allan rotating staff, and he would take a turn himself.
Allan was always active in his retirement with the maintenance of his home, garden and repairs to any objects of the family.
About September 1972, Althea became ill and was sent to hospital for treatment. It was realised that her condition would not improve, but her determination and devotion to be with her family was very strong, and she was allowed to come home.
After some time, her condition worsened, but she so dearly wanted to be with the whole family on Christmas Day. After Christmas she was getting weaker, and after some deliberation she agreed to go to a private hospital. Her determination to love astounded medical authorities. She died peacefully in her sleep on January 8, 1973.
Althea’s passing was a deeply sad moment for all her family, but there are many happy memories which will last a lifetime. Allan waver very brave after the family’s loss, but it was evident that he was fretting over the loss of his mate of over 50 years.
Like her mother, Girlie was so devoting to her father over this period, and without her he would not have been able to bring himself to being interested in his hobbies.
Like Althea, he was proud of his heritage, and delighted family members by relating many tales regarding members of the preceding families. In march, 1975, Allan had an operation. It was the first time in his life that he had been a patient in a hospital.
His operation was successful, but his general condition after a few weeks was getting weaker, and he was re-admitted. After a week he came home. When July 4 came – Althea’s birthday – his loving memoires were apparent. His interests were not as they had been before.
On August 6, 1975, he was admitted to Austin Hospital, where he passed away peacefully his sleep the next day. Allan and Althea were re-united on August 8, 1975.