The biography of Oscar (Os, Opa) Kloeden as a young man written by his grandson!
Birth and Schooling
Oscar Mackenzie Kloeden was born on 17th September 1926 in Rainbow Victoria, 80 miles North of Horsham. He was raised in Pella, eight miles out from Rainbow. He was one of five children. His father - Friedrich Emil Kloeden (known all his life as Emil) - lived in the only house in Pella and was also the only teacher at the Pella school. There was only a house, a school and a church in Pella. ln those days most kids did very little education and so the school only taught - as did most schools in those days - from what they called year one to year eight. Emil Kloeden married Bertha Mackenzie and they had five kids, two girls and three boys - lrma, then Edgar, Arnold, Elva and finally Oscar (my grandfather was the youngest).
In 1934 Oscar and another girl (Elma Keller) were the only ones to have a perfect attendance record at the Pella school. Another girl (Desma Drendal) missed 185½ days in a 204½ day year. Missing school was frequent in those days because of the distance which had to be travelled. Sometimes when Oscar went to Rainbow High he would "cheat" by taking his father's car. He dropped it just out of Rainbow and rode his bike the rest of the way so he wouldn't get picked up for underage driving! This doesn't seem a bad idea because if he rode his bike all the way it would take him over an hour to get to school. Of course when Emil found his car to be missing Oscar would have gotten a plenty of beatings.
One of Oscar's favourite lies was when he and his friends told Mr Kloeden (the then principal and father of Oscar) they were going to take the horses down for a drink at the river. Of course the river only flowed once in a blue moon so it was just a scam to have a smoke! He has since quit.
When they were young the kids didn't sleep inside the house instead they slept on the veranda. Since it was incredibly cold on winter nights and incredibly hot on summer nights you can imagine they would get up early!
As kids they used to make hockey sticks out of mallee wood and just hit a ball around. Another game they would play was rounders (like softball).
It was amazing the number of different ways kids would get to school in those days. Some kids would ride bikes others would ride horses and some even came in gigs ("those sort of trolley things they tie to horses at the trots") but of course the rich kids came in cars (have times changed?).
And to finish this chapter Oscar says "It was damn terrible, [having his father as the teacher] because we were set as an example; we got our fair issue of the leather strap!"
The next stage of Oscar's life began when he left Rainbow High. After Rainbow High, which went up to year ten, he did his Matriculation at Hamilton. After his year there Os came to Adelaide. Originally his family came to South Australia because the town of Pella died and there were no children for Emil to teach. They moved to Balhannah.
For a while Os lived there but then moved to Adelaide to find work. He worked at Farmers Union (milk) for twelve months before moving to the Taxation Department. When he turned eighteen he had to go off to the Second World War. He enlisted in the Air Force where he was an "air radio operator” which basically meant he had to give weather details and record the positions of planes and things like that. During the war he was stationed at Merauke. Previously owned by the Netherlands, it is now part of Indonesia. Surprisingly for a radio operator, Oscar did not hear about the end of the war before many people back home. He was sailing up the river Po and only got back after the news had broken.
Oscar is a much travelled man. He has been to basically anywhere you could name. In his time Oscar has travelled to: the Pacific Islands (during the war), China, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea (where he flew over the jungle in a helicopter without a bottom!), many places in Europe including the British Isles and Scandinavia, and New Zealand. He has been to New Zealand many times as his daughter now lives there.
After the war and before most of those overseas adventures, Oscar returned home to Townsville and was discharged from the Air Force. The Taxation Department was the next place he worked at. The job in the Taxation Department lasted about another year before Os reenlisted back in the Air Force. He was in the Air Force (the second time) for two years when there was nothing much for him to do so a friend talked him into joining the Postal Service. Believe this or not I'm telling you the truth when I say that Oscar reenlisted in the services again (this time the Army) in '53 as what they call a Civilian Officer. By the time he retired in June'85 Oscar Kloeden had received the title of Civilian Major.
When Oscar first came to Adelaide he was only 15 or 16 years old. He used to board at a house with some of his mates. Now this sounds great except that he received only 25 shillings a week at his Farmers Union job but rent cost him 30 shillings. To make up the difference Os washed bottles at the Woodroofes factory, put comics in the Sunday Mail and even worked as lolly boy in the cinema. As the lolly boy he walked down the aisle during the interval carrying a tray of sweets held on one hand above his head.
But on to the more important stuff. When Os first came to Adelaide he boarded at a house down the street from the Ey's house where Betty used to live. Her father was a mechanic so Oscar and his mates used to take their motor bikes down and they would chat with Mr Ey. Often Betty would return from her dates to find Oscar having a nice meal with her parents (he apparently got on well with them). Betty (Oma) later told me that she got tired of Os hanging around so she just went out with him. Os and Betty married in 1950.
After their marriage, Betty and Os lived in her parent's house. It was difficult to get houses after the war. Their son Paul was born in 1952, and their daughter Anne in 1954. They were able to buy a war service home in 1953. When they first moved into their home they did not have paved roads for about a year. The Kloedens lived in that house on Kingston Street from 1953 until 1992. In that year their daughter Anne went to live in New Zealand and Oscar and Betty moved into her house in Glengowrie. They have lived there ever since.
Important years in Oscar’s Life
1926 Born in Rainbow Hospital
1942 Moved to Adelaide
1944 Joined the Air Force and fought in WWII
1945 War ended
1950 Married Betty Ey
1952 Paul (his son) was born
1953 Os and Betty moved into their first house
1954 Anne (his daughter) was born
1984 His grandson Emil was born
1985 Oscar retired from the Army (as a civilian major)
1986 His granddaughter Hanah was born
1992 Moved to Glengowrie as Anne moved to NZ
1998 His biography was written