My dad was Peter Millar. He met my mother – a McQuillan – while living at Galloway’s Hill. Her father had a dairy farm at Cannon Hill, and he worked very hard to have a school established in the area. When mum was 13 her mother died and being the eldest of 8 children, she had to look after them. After their marriage and when I was 13 months old, dad and mum moved down to Cleveland. They rented a shop just near the railway station at the Paxton Street Jetty. A lot of the property down from the Grand View Hotel was owned by a Mrs. Rooney. Mum and dad eventually built on the corner of Little Shore and Paxton Street (the building is still there today).
During World War II, when many American forces were stationed in Brisbane, many American personnel used to come down to Cleveland on weekend leave. They’d arrive by train at the station at the back of our shop. The Americans would head for the Grand View Hotel, where they’d stay for the weekend and have a good time. The proprietors of the Grand View Hotel at that time were Banko and Bair.
One day, an American serviceman, George Lippencott, came into our shop and asked mum and dad if they knew of someone who would give him a bed for the weekend. George was on General Douglas Macarthur’s staff, and was based in the AMP Building in Brisbane. George, being a Christian who didn’t drink alcohol, did not wish to join his mates at the Grand View Hotel. After talking it over, my parents offered him a bed at our place. We had a newspaper run and sometimes George would go out on the run to deliver papers for dad.
George was a devout Christian and he used to attend the Methodist Church here in Cleveland. Actually, he donated a crucifix to them. I think it is still there, but no longer on display in the church. George used to attend the church every Sunday that he was able. After the war, when he was leaving to go back home to America, he told mum that he had bought himself a pair of binoculars so he could watch the coast of Queensland until it was no longer visible. Mum corresponded with him after the war. His parents had a garden cemetery in Baltimore called Sunset Memorial Park.
There was an American Army camp at Victoria Point and, praise the Lord that they were there, because when dad had an accident and lost his arm, they were there to help. Dad had a utility truck and used to go into Brisbane once a week on Thursdays to get groceries for the shop from a company called QCT (Queensland Country Traders). He also went to the markets in Roma Street to get fresh produce. However, on this particular day, he also had with him granddad and a crabber, Bill Austin. The Austin Brothers were fisherman from our district. Granddad liked to have a drink – and so did Bill Austin – but dad could take it or leave it. On the way back to Cleveland, on the old Cleveland Road where it intersects with Creek Road, dad’s utility was side swiped by another coming in the opposite direction. Dad used to drive with his arm out the window, and unfortunately it was torn off. Fortunately, though, there was an army convoy coming up from Victoria Point, and they had a doctor who was able to render immediate assistance. He was then taken to the Mater Hospital. It was late in the afternoon, and I can still see our phone in the shop (it was mounted on the wall then) – our number was Cleveland 27 – and I can still see mum in my mind’s eye standing at the phone taking the call. She was a very brave woman. When dad did come back to work in the shop again, the local kids were very intrigued by his new appearance.
“What happened to your arm, Mr. Millar?”
“Well, I was driving along, and it just fell off, so if you can find it can you let me know.”
He had all the kids in the district looking for his arm.