"Grandfather Jacob and three brothers arrived from Germany in 1865. I understand they were aged in their teens to early twenties and unaccompanied. They prospected for gold from Western Australia to Omeo (Cassilis) and southern NSW. Jacob and brother Daniel, who had married sisters (the Boyd sisters), took up farming land in their own right adjacent the Tambo River at Upper Tambo in Victoria.
They selected this land in 1875, prior to marriage in 1878. Both marriages resulted in families of eight children, and each family comprised four boys and four girls. Jacob named his farm "Rheinhoff". He is recorded as having worked very hard for the community. The four brothers were talented musicians and formed the first band in Bairnsdale.
Grandfather Commins was a successful barrister and solicitor in Bairnsdale. He raced several racehorses in the area. He lived on a farming property, with grandmother, called Emerald Hill and they also owned an adjacent property called Mern. My memory of the area is limited, but I recall my father putting me on a train to Bairnsdale where I was picked up and driven to Emerald Hill in a horse drawn jinker. The train trip started in Melbourne as we now lived at Jolimont adjacent to the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The few memories of my trip to my grandparents were of the hundreds of rabbits along the road (Sandy Lane) from Bairnsdale to Emerald Hill. They covered the lane on approach, moved off until we passed by, and then moved back again. The roadside was covered in bracken fern so I presume there was a picking of grass on the road. Another memory of this visit was learning to ride the farm pony called Pasha and having to hold a racehorse by a halter whilst he grazed on the lawn. Being a lively horse he promptly stomped on my foot – I was in agony for many days. Not very exciting memories but as I was only six years old they are things still in my memory some 70+ years on.
As mentioned we lived at Jolimont, moving there from the Bairnsdale area when I was about four years old I think. My mother died the day before my second birthday as the result of childbirth complications. My Aunt Dorothy (Commins) was looking after me and my two brothers – Charles James seven years my senior and Henry Adolphus (Rowley) five years older. It was a great sacrifice by her. The Great Depression, which was worldwide, was beginning. They were extremely tough times for everyone – very little work and no welfare although I think there was a handout of food for the hungry. I, however, never went hungry. Later on the Government had a scheme called sustenance which provided a very small payment for pick and shovel work on roads etc. My father kept things on track for food and clothing as he had rented a two-storey place and sublet part to another family, and he also had some work as a night watchman (security guard).
I commenced schooling during this period at the Yarra Park State School adjacent to Punt Road, Richmond. From Jolimont we moved to Carlton as the house rent was cheaper. Income was obtainedthe same way – letting part of the two-storey house to others. This was in about 1930-31. I went to the Faraday Street State School which was opposite the house. We moved to Parkville (near the Zoo) 2-3 years on and I still attended the Faraday Street School.
During these years at Carlton and Parkville I would sneak off to the Carlton Football Ground on Saturday afternoon for "home" games. I never had a penny but there was a kind man who always let me crawl under the turnstile and in to the footy for free. After a short stay at Parkville we moved to Reservoir in about 1933. My father managed to buy a house there as they were very cheap. Reservoir at that time was looked upon as a remote area. My father earned a living running cows and sheep on the hundreds of acres of vacant land around us. My two brothers were now in jobs and the depression years were almost at an end. I went to the local school and then to Preston Tech in 1937 and early 1938.
Not being a scholar I began looking for employment during 1938. Work was becoming easier to obtain and I obtained a position at a Malvern Star bike factory in South Melbourne and owned byBruce Small who, some years later, developed the Gold Coast canal estates from swampland. He also became mayor of the Gold Coast Council. I did not stay long at his bike factory as it was tough and repetitious work, and I left and secured work at Wittners Shoe Stores warehouse in Collins Street, Melbourne. It was reasonably satisfactory but after some time there on the advice of my brother I left and obtained work at Daniel Scott an engineering workshop at Port Melbourne next door to Port Melbourne Football Ground. I did a five-year apprenticeship as a fitter and turner, another job I did not like greatly – particularly the 15 shilling ($1.50) starting rate. The redeeming feature was that I could train with Port Melbourne Football Club in winter and in summer I trained at foot running (5 nights). Not much time for a social life but I enjoyed the training and fellowship. Of course soon after starting my apprenticeship the 1939-1945 War started. When my course finished in 1944 fitter tradesmen were urgently required at the railway workshops in Ipswich, Queensland. You had to have a permit to change positions in the war years but I had no trouble in transferring as the work entailed building and repairing locomotives for "war effort" classification work. The locos were used for troop and food transport etc, mainly to North Queensland, and of course the suburban train network only had steam engine locomotives.
I returned to Victoria at the end of 1944. I had further stints with several engineering firms – Braemar Hot Water Services at Abbotsford and British Shoe Machinery in Fitzroy, and a couple of others. I married Jean Alice Wilton in November 1945 and we lived at Reservoir in a house purchased for 300 Pounds ($600). It was a solid three-bedroom home and purchased with the proceeds left to me after the death of my grandfather Commins.
In 1947 I obtained work as a carpenter for a firm building hundreds of houses for the Housing Commission at Reservoir. There was an acute shortage of houses and the building trade was booming following the end of the 1939-1945 War, during which no houses were built. After a couple of years I worked with another builder, Frank Watson, who was a good friend of ours.
In 1952 we moved to a dairy farm at Kawarren, south of Colac. We sold in 1955 and moved to Colac where I again did building work until obtaining employment with the Lands Department at Colac in 1959, and then had positions at Apollo Bay, Avoca, Woomelang, and then the Clunes District where we lived at Creswick mainly until I retired in early 1980.
We moved to the Gold Coast, Queensland in July 1980 and lived at Tugun, Currumbin before moving to our present address at Twin Towns Resort, Tweed Heads".
"Born 20 July 1922 at a private hospital in North Carlton. Named Raymond Frederick but always called Fred because a cousin born sometime after me was also named Raymond, and to avoid confusion hence Fred.
I had two brothers - Charles (James), 7 years older and Harry (Rowley) 5 years older. My mother (Frances) died in 1924 at childbirth. My maternal grandfather (Charles Commins) was a Barrister and Solicitor in Bairnsdale and owned several racehorses. My grandfather and grandmother lived on anacreage property (many) on the outskirts of Bairnsdale (Emerald Hill). My other grandfather (Jacob) was born in Germany (Bavaria I think) and came to Australia with three other brothers when only youths and eventually settled in the Tambo - Bruthen area and farmed. They were talented musicians and had their own band, playing at various local dances and similar functions.
Shifted to Jolimont alongside the MCG about 1927. Rented a two-storey property and sub-let part of it to get some money as the depression was beginning to set in. My Aunt Dorothy kept house. Commenced my schooling at Yarra Park State School in Punt Road Richmond. Shifted to Carlton about 1930 and again rented a two-storey property and sub-let. Went to Faraday St. State School opposite where we lived. Again shifted this time to Parkville - two-storey house and sub let again.
Next shift was more permanent - to Reservoir about 1933. Bought a house and my father made a living by running a few cows and sheep on the thousands of unoccupied blocks of land. Went to Reservoir State School and then on to Preston Tech.
Started work in a warehouse of Wittner Shoes Collins St. Melbourne, then to Malvern Star bike factory in South Melbourne. On to Daniel Scott Engineering in Port Melbourne in 1938 where I served a five year apprenticeship and worked on until I went to Ipswich, Qld. and worked in the railway workshops (1944). Returned to Melbourne and worked at Braemar Engineering (Richmond), Gill Engineering (Preston), British Shoe Machinery (Fitzroy). Liked neither factory nor engineering work and managed to get a job as a carpenter near home (Reservoir) with a firm called Wells Brothers. (some connection with A V Jennings). Left and worked as a carpenter with Frank Watson (Watson and Yorke) Regent, then three years on a farm at Kawarren. On to Colac and built spec. homes.
Joined Lands Department and worked in Colac, Apollo Bay, Avoca, Woomelang, Clunes (1958-1980).
Played football in my youth for Reservoir and West Footscray including two or three premiership wins. Also did foot running for a few years".
These ten best ever Carlton players were selected by Fred in December 2004.