1932 Book; The Smith Family, Its work and story 1932
Post date: Feb 09, 2016 2:10:18 AM
The primary author gives an overview of the history, activities, values and psychology of the early Smith Family. There are two authors, the main writing the body of the text and another author for the Preface.
The book records few names. The first chapter with the title, "The Beginning of It", records five (5) unnamed businessmen (not Freemasons) returning from a trip via Parramatta Road and arrival at the Woolpack Hotel for a drink in 1922 "near Christmas". A conversation is recorded between a "jovial man" and the car's "driver". Prior to arriving at the Woolpack and while still driving on the road, the "jovial fellow" gives an account of what he has purchased for his son for Christmas - a toy monkey. The account focuses on "the jovial fellow", who later appears at the Orphanage as Santa, and the driver of the car ("an argumentative cuss like all his ilk") who in reply to the jovial man's "there isn't a kid who hasn't got something to look for at Christmas!" the driver says there are some who do not.... and how ".... the Jovial Man, within two or three days, was feeling glad he had agreed to join the committee of investigation instead of putting money on his opinion."
This of course differs from some accounts, where the men's the trip takes place on 24 Dec 1922. In the account in this book, it is days prior and the men organise and later six visit the "Home for mentally deficient boys at Carlingford" on 24 Dec 1922 giving a charming account of their visit with the Jovial Man as Santa wondering how he got himself into a very uncomfortable situation until the joy brought to the children becomes apparent.
"Like most of those kindhearted people who do good in this world, they were painfully shy and self-conscious, and the spectacle of these forty small, stolid boys, washed and brushed, and sitting open-mouthed, with a cynical look of unbelief on their faces, was not reassuring"
It later gives a the usual account of the Matron questioning who the men are and the final response of "We're the Smith Family - that's who we are!"
The critical reader may say this book, published in the tenth year after the business trip, is an advertisement of the work of The Smith Family, noting it concludes with a call to action; "And now - your part!" It certainly explains the goal and methods of the Family and it's value on anonymous and personal benevolence.
While the book does not specifically claim to be authorised by the Smith Family, the Preface describes the author in the Third Person and is presumably written by a Smith. The body copy is likewise written in the Third Person. As noted above, the Preface records how the author "was supplied with scrapbooks, annual reports, and documents for the purpose. He has, of course, ended up a Smith" indicating the Smith Family's support for the book and their indirect unofficial endorsement of the same. However there is nothing official within the book to confirm the Smith Family's involvement or endorsement of the book.
The Preface is followed by five chapters and a call to action at the end.
The Contents on page 4 show 5 chapters;
THE BEGINNING OF IT (CHAPTER 1)
ON THE ART OF SMITHING (CHAPTER 2)
SHORT STORIES OF THE SMITHS (CHAPTER 3)
ALL SORTS OF GOOD WORK (CHAPTER 4)
WHAT REMAINS TO BE DONE - WORK FOR THE MALNOURISHED CHILDREN (CHAPTER 5)
Chapter 1 runs pages 5-10
Chapter 2 runs pages 11-18
Chapter 3 runs pages 19-25
Chapter 4 runs pages 26-36
Chapter 5 runs pages 37-42
"And now - your part" is one page (page 43) while the Preface is one page (page 3)
The book has two pictures, page 1 and page 44 being the first and last page.
"And how - your part" has records the name as THE SMITH FAMILY JOYSPREADERS UNLIMITED at 81 Pitt Street, Sydney, Box 328-F G.P.O. and phone B3948
Chapter 3 & 4 contain subheadings which are
SHORT STORIES OF THE SMITHS (CHAPTER 3)
The Pensioner's Party
The Last Present
Tommy Tuckwell's Monument
The Musical Roller
A Party with an Admiral
The Hardness of Life
ALL SORTS OF GOOD WORK (CHAPTER 4)
The Smith Gatherings
Wireless for the Sick
For Hungry Girls
Boots ! Boots ! Boots !
The Ladies - Bless Them !
As mentioned earlier, there is no mention of Freemasonry in the book. Nor are there any conclusive hints of Freemasonry.
The book also mentions very few names. It does record that "Governor Generals, Governors, Railway Commissions, cobblers, politicians, journalists, musicians, broadcasting announcers .... every walk of life has its Smiths..." however there is nothing to say that "Smith" is been used as an adjective rather than denoting members of the organisation.
Central to "Smithing" is anonymity, however over the books 44 pages, we are given a few names, but scant detail. The name Tommy Tuckwell might be a Smith, but is probably rather given as an example of Smithing. Interesting he is described as an "Oriental" but may have been long dead by 1932.
In "A Party with an Admiral" pages 23-4 records a party on MAS Canberra "where 500 kiddies were entertained by the captain, officer, and crew, and shook hands with that doughy adventurer and writer of adventurers' books, Admiral E R G R Evans, the in command of the Fleet " but while Evans' presence is noted, he is not overtly claimed as a member of the Smith Family. Evans does not appear to have been a Freemason.
Sir Dudley de Chair is mentioned. He was Governor of New South Wales 1923-1930
Page 31 describes a large radio installation completed at "the big Coast Hospital... its turnover of 10,000 patients a year" where " ...a speedy installation of the radio equipment enabled Sir Dudley de Chair to declare the last section open on April 1,1930, before he left for England. Sir Dudley does not appear to have been a Freemason.
Page 44 records the books is "Wholly set up and Printed in Australia, by D S Ford. 44-50 Reservoir Street Sydney" but does not claim DS Ford as a Smith or the DS Ford donated the work, the business could simply could have been a contractor. DS Ford did publish some Masonic Works, but this hardly allows us to conclude he was a Freemason.
None of the names given in the book are known Freemasons.
So, from a Masonic perspective, the book is a step in elimination rather than confirmation of any Masonic origins for the Smith Family. Still, that perhaps is progress towards "The Truth"...
Reading the book was of great interest and certainly added to my view on the Smith's operations and history. It also revealed much about the thinking of the organization. I am now even more keen to read the earlier publication The Smith Family : bringers of cheer, makers of mirth, purveyors of joy. Sydney : Smith Family, [1924?]. Being an earlier publication, it is more likely to be closer to the founders than The Smith Family, Its work and story of 1932
For a moment, let's consider the hypothesis that the Smith Family was founded by Freemasons. If that was the case, then is it clear that the author of this book did not want the Smith Family to be seen as a Masonic Group. (And not forgetting there was a NSW Masonic Benevolence Society). It is also clear that other contemporary accounts examined so far do not link the Smith Family with any specific Masonic Lodge or group, but there are Freemasons who are working hard as Smiths - according to newspaper reports, one as a Founder..
It is clear the Smith Family's history tells that it was founded by men. This book clearly states that the discussion between .."five business men in their motor car.." returning "a little tired of their trip" gave birth to the Smith Family. I also note it does not say "business trip", does include a visit to the Woolpack pub (with early closing times back them, so afternoon at the latest, arrival at the pub also cut the discussion short) and they make an investigation over several days, and later visit the Home for Boys. This means the trip was not taken on 24 Dec as later sources report. The visit to the pub also to "wash away the dust of Baulkham Hills" does not mean that is where they conclusively came from, but certainly indicates they had been to or traveled through Baulkham HIlls."
In Chapter four in "Ladies - Bless Them!" P 33 & 34 we have an account of how females became involved in the operations of the Smith Family. Here it is retyped in full
Finally, it is, perhaps, necessary to say something about Mrs. Smith and Miss Smith. Do not imagine for one moment that the male Smiths went down on their knees and pleaded to these ladies to join them in their work. Rather it was their policy to keep what they were doing to their self-conscious selves.
But - have you ever tried to keep a secret from your Mrs. Smith ?
"James, where are you going to-night ?... "Darling, I am going to the Stadium"... "James, you know quite well that this is Thursday, and there is a no fight on Thursday ... and last week you went to the Capitol and came home with an enthusiastic description of a picture called "She Loves Me Not," which was being shown EXCLUSIVELY at the Prince Edward. ... Now, James, exactly - wh're - ARE - you going ?"
The real difference between the bad and the good husbands is that no good husband ever risks having to face a conversation like this, even in a worthy cause, so the wise Smiths told their wives confidentially what there were doing; and most wives, being good-hearted, decided to take a had in the game.
You can bet it was not very long under those circumstances before the Ladies' Auxiliary and the Younger Smith Set were in existence.
On page 24, there is mention of the "Girl Smith organizers" and an account of their good work.
Many organizations like Rotary were closed to women at the time, and it is interesting to note woman are very involved in the Smith Family from the early days...
The book reports that on 18 September 1923 the Smith Family came into formal existence with about sixty members. Quoting from page 12;
"On September 18,1923, the Smith Family came into formal existence with sixty members, and sub-title to its name to explain itself : -
Its objects were set out clearly:
"To maintain throughout the whole year the spirit of true charity, letting not the right hand know what the left hand doeth.
"To maintain a continuous campaign of good cheer and goodwill, to brighten the lives of the afflicted, distressed, sick and needy, and to restore confidence in those whom misfortune hath dealt with.
"To develop a centre of service so that the spirit of the Family shall radiate throughout the length and breadth of the country.
"To develop a definite interest in the other fellow."
This are the same goals (with one missing) in the copy of the Constitution I have, which you can read here. However he Constitution stored at that link has an additional clause omitted from the above which appears in the subject book. This reads
"To develop a definite interest in the welfare of, and to help in all ways possible, children who thorough misfortune are in need of the advice, help and care of a friend.
The above is inserted between the third and fourth clause in the above recorded in The Smith Family; its work and story of 1932.
For clarity, here is page
Via the National Library of Australia's "Copies Direct" program, I recently obtained an e-copy of The Smith Family, its work and story which carries the date of 1932. The book carries no copyright claim and even if it did, I understand it would now be in the public domain.The author is not recorded, but the Preface notes;
"With their customary modesty, The Smith Family did not write this little book themselves. They left it to someone outside the organisation, who was supplied with scrapbooks, annual reports, and documents for the purpose. He has, of course, ended up a Smith....
The activities of the Smiths were obviously to assist the poor. This can easily be viewed according to a political paradigm. The text refers to making people self reliant. Offering more than just presents at Christmas, the Smiths are also tending to the clothing and health needs of those they assist (including supplying tobacco; a document of its times). One comment did stand out from a political perspective. On page 41 we read "Good Health is the greatest cure for all the evils of the world. The best panacea for Bolshevism in content." This web site being a Masonic one and Freemasonry not engaging in politics, I will leave it at that but mention this because of the historical nature of the document and this interesting comment, particularly in the context of the inter-war years.. It is on page 41 is below;
In conclusion; there is nothing in the book to confirm the Smith Family was founded by Freemasons. If the book's account of the founding is true (and it is yet to be corroborated), although the men visited the Home for Boys on 24 December 1922 (a Sunday) the visit to the pub took place prior to the 24 December "near Christmas" of 1922. I understand for here, that Sunday trading in Hotels did not commence until 1979, so the traditional history of the pub and Boys' Home visit on the same day (Sunday) can be questioned, and the book gives a different account with the pub visit not less than "within two or three days" of the visit to the Homes, but probably within December. This fits more with the facts and is clearly stated in the book. Given the days of the early Hotel close (6 pm I believe), the men would have been traveling on a day of trade. It is possible they were returning from a Masonic Event, but likely the evening prior. You would think it would be unlikely to have a daytime Masonic Event in the morning, but it is possible. All we can say is there is nothing in this book confirming the oral history of Freemasons founding the Smith Family. However the book does describe "five business men" (page 5) present during the initial discussions and six "males" (on page 7, we have an extra man) visiting the Home, any and all who may, or may not have been Freemasons. However, never before have I noticed the extra male, it seems our five business man wasted no time adding another to their number and the Smith Family grew to become a Nationally significant organisation, and remains so to this day.
After consultation with the National Library of Australia, and speaking to the Smith Family itself, I was able to supply a copy to the family for their archives.
To allow other researchers access to this publication, it is attached below. Given it's size of 10 Meg, I may not be able to host it indefinitely. I supply it with a strong belief there is no copyright claim over the book and it is in the public domain having discussed the same with the National Library of Australia and briefly with the currently Secretary of the Smith Family where any claim would reasonably expect to originate.
See below for
Full PDF Copy of The Smith Family, its work and story 1932.