A deeply humane figure

My father, Charles "Chic" Phillips, began work at Fletcher Jones in Warrnambool in 1947, not long after he married my mother, Isobel Grayson. Born and raised in Sydney, he was the eldest of three children.  He left school at an early age to help provide for their working-class family, who were struggling during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Then, like many of his friends, he joined the army after the Japanese military attack on Darwin in 1941. He subsequently served in New Guinea where he caught malaria, which almost killed him.

These were difficult days but he met my mother, fell in love and settled down in Warrnambool and began raising a family in circumstances far different to those in which he grew up.

For my father, who lived through the dark days of the Depression and the war, finding an employer like Fletcher Jones, and one with such an enlightened attitude towards his workforce, must have been like a dream! These were happy times for us.  How can we forget the extraordinary Christmas parties in the factory gardens - the food, the music and the laughter of hundreds of happy children.

Dad rose through the ranks at FJs, became a section supervisor (he appears briefly in the "Fabric of a Dream" movie) and in the early 1970s was sent to Mount Gambier to establish a new FJ factory in that city. He worked as FJ’s Mount Gambier Manager until his sudden death from a heart attack in 1978.

Dad had the utmost respect for FJ who was a deeply humane figure - something very rare then and now in the tough, cut throat world of clothing manufacturing. He was very proud to have worked for FJ’s.  He was always keen to tell us about each new advance being made by the company and he was deeply appreciative of the friends he made there and the economic security it provided our family.   

Story by Richard Phillips

 

FJ's Pleasant Hill Warrnambool (late 1960s) - (left to right) my father, Chic Phillips, Neil Symons and Horace Verey.  Photo: Richard Phillips
 FJ's Mt Gambier (1975) - left to right - Horace Verey, Neil Symons, my father Chic Phillips (Mt Gambier Manager), Dick Tongue (gardener).  Photo: Richard Phillips
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