At the pictures in Earlwood: John Howard’s recollections


The Menzies Era
The years that shaped modern Australia
By John Howard

Published by Harper Collins
RRP $59.99 in hardcover
ISBN 9780732296124

I was just having a look at this book, which has been on my review shelf for a few months while I’ve concentrated more on the military history titles that have proliferated recently.

And then, opening it up, I saw this chapter: At the pictures in Earlwood. How could I have missed it!

I was raised in the neighbouring suburb of Bardwell Park and went to the Earlwood Public School, albeit a bit later than John Howard, who is older than me by more than a decade. He was probably just finishing up at the public school when the eldest of my six brothers was starting there.

But I do remember the Mayfair picture theatre and I remember the Earlwood that John Howard knew. I remember where the Howards lived (the house is no longer there). Mrs Howard bought newspapers from me as I did my newspaper round through Earlwood to earn pocket money.

This is the scene setting of Howard’s Menzies Era. I’ve always maintained that you could trace Howard’s political philosophy to those early days and the experience of his father’s business. Self reliance was everything. ‘No government had helped my father with his business,’ he writes.

Menzies dominated the government he led from 1949 until Harold Holt replaced him in early 1966. As it turned out the longest serving prime minister was to be replaced by one of the shortest serving prime ministers, with Holt’s disappearance in December 1967.

Howard covers the period in some detail and it is interesting to revisit the many pivotal events of the period. At 707 pages, this book was clearly a labour of love for John Howard who admired Menzies and his achievements in shaping post-war Australia.

The paperback edition will go on sale in September and there is an e-book version also.

The Mayfair picture theatre went the way of many suburban cinemas, closing in the 1960s.

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