Smiley Family History
Phillip Alexander Smiley 1907-1998
Francis Smylie/Smiley 1689 → Hugh Smiley 1723 → William Smiley 1757 → Hugh Smiley 1785 → Shepherd Parkman Smiley 1828 → Thomas Alexander Ward Smiley 1867 → Phillip Alexander Smiley 1907-1998.
Born: 16 February 1907, Kapunda, South Aust
Died: 16 April 1998, Melbourne, Vic, age 91
Occupation: Building trades
Married: Marion Grace Tootell, 25 Sep 1937, Vic.
Phillip Alexander Smiley was the seventh of the eleven children of Thomas Alexander Ward and Marion Harley (Bunn) Smiley.
As Phil's father shifted the family often to cater for his work as a boring contractor, his childhood saw him living in a variety of locations and he attended a number of schools.
Not long before his birth, his parents and four older siblings sailed from Victoria to South Australia where Tom was working on drilling for artesian water at Kapunda, in the state's north. Phil was born at Kapunda Hospital but spent his first few months living in a tent with the rest of the family.
Along with his siblings, Phil attended Brighton Road State School at St Kilda. As a young adult, he travelled to Canada and on his return to Australia, on 25 September 1937, he married Marion Grace Tootell, who was born at Coburg in 1910, the daughter of George and Marion Elizabeth (Smith) Tootell [click on photo to see a larger image].
Phil and Marion had two children during the early years of World War Two, but Phil enlisted in the Army on 9 February 1942 and served 2 1/2 years before being discharged from an Army construction company. It was during this time that he bought his first piano accordian. He was completely self taught, but his playing was enjoyed by fellow soldiers in the Middle East and New Guinea.
Two more children were born (one did not survive) following the war.
Early in his working life, Phil was in partnership with a George Lamb, and Smiley & Lamb for many years manufactured, sold and fitted fibro-plaster sheeting for wall cladding. They had a factory in Newton Street, Richmond, across the road from the Richmond Brewery.
When the partnership dissolved, Phil became a residential builder and built many contract and 'spec' homes across Melbourne's eastern suburbs, particularly in the Mount Waverley area, known then as Syndal. These included the family's home in Bluff Street, Hawthorn, and a family beach house in Hinkler Street, Mt Martha. Both homes were long-term residences for the family.
He was one of the first builders to relocate old houses to new sites - his first from Malvern Road to Pepperell Street, Syndal - using large trucks capable of backing under a jacked-up house.
Just after retiring from building, Phil volunteered to go to the Aurukun mission in far north Queensland for two months where homes were being built for aboriginal residents. At the end of his tenure, a few of the locals took him camping at a popular river site. It was extremely humid and Phil said later he appreciated the cool breeze blowing down the river. He couldn't understand why the aboriginals put old corrugated iron around their swags, thus cutting off the breeze. The next morning they laughed at him and said he was silly sleeping out in the open as there were many crocodiles in the river!
Like his father, Phil had a wonderful sense of humour and he entertained his family and relations with many stories and anecdotes.
Phil died on 16 April 1998 in Melbourne, aged 91. Marion lived until 1 April 2006, and was the last of her generation for this branch of the Smiley family. She was 96 when she died.
Children of Phillip and Marion (Tootell) Smiley
- Beth (born 1939)
- Tom (born 1941)
- Joan (born 1945)
- Ray Smiley (1951-1951)
Reflections of Phil Smiley
The following notes were provided by Phil and his family in 1992:
When I was born in South Australia, Dad was a mining contractor of some kind. He travelled around a good deal, making reports, I think.
In Melbourne we lived in Inkerman Street, St Kilda. We had a butchers shop, a two storey building.
I went to St Kilda State School which was near St Kilda Town Hall, on Nepean Road. I went there with my sisters, and to get to school we would walk down Inkerman Street.
The trams at that time (around 1912) were cable trams and they had a channel under the road where the trams would clamp onto a cable.
One time we came home and heard that Dad had gone to Westbury Street to look at a house which he thought would be a good buy. So we moved out of our place into the Westbury Street home. It had huge gum trees at the back with swings on them. The Inkerman Road home had no space to play but this had a proper backyard.
But it wasn't long before Dad found he could sell the Westbury Street house and make a bit of money. So he sold that one and bought another house in Hotham Street. So in a period of seven or eight years, we lived in three different places.
Dad had a car, I think it was a two cylinder Metz, and one day we were going out along Dandenong Road. It was a very steep hill and very sandy, and the car, which did not have a lot of power, would not go up. So Dad turned it around, put it in reverse and backed it up the hill.
My father had said that if I wanted, I could go to Wesley College, but I said I did not want to go but that I wanted to go into the building trade. It was probably a stupid thing to say but I was so keen to get out and work.
I was always making things in the stable at the back of the house. I had a little bench there and I always used to be fiddling around making things. I was good with my hands and was always making things.
I went into the building trade early. Around this time, Harry (Wilson) and Doris (Phil's oldest sister) had applied for and got into the wheat business. Being a returned man, Harry applied for and got a farm at Tempy, near Ouyen. It had only a small, two-roomed bungalow on it. I had only just got into the building trade, I would have been about 16, but I went up there and put an extra two rooms on the bungalow.
We had to put up a tankstand, which was to have a new 2000 gallon tank on it. When we were still waiting for it to rain, I was going past it one day when I heard a noise. I climbed up and looked in the empty tank and found a mouse had fallen in. I decided we would have to get it out, and after a lot of attempts to lower a mouse trap on a string (it would go off as I tried to lower it) I finally got it down. I had it tied to string. When I next checked, the trap was still there - it hadn't even gone off - but the mouse was gone. It had climbed up the string and escaped.
I wandered around by myself and spent a lot of time in Canada. A friend Alan and I used to go to the YMCA gym and we were walking out one night and off the top of my head I said "I think I'm going away." When he asked me what I meant, I said "I think I'll go to Canada." I don't know why I said that, it was just off the top of my head and I said Canada.
He asked me if I was 'dinkum' about going to Canada, and I said yes. He had no family and he said he would go with me. We ended up both going and he married and stayed on there. While there, I sold brushes for a living.