DOCTOR CARVER SERVICE CLUB
100 GREY STREET, SOUTH BRISBANE
BRISBANE, QLD, DURING WW2
The Doctor Carver Service Club was a U.S. Army Canteen that was opened on 5 May 1943 for African-American soldiers in Brisbane during WW2. The Club had a pool room, ping-pong tables, cafeteria, bar, library, barber shop, showers and quarters for men on furlough and of course a 'swinging' dance floor. It was located at 100 Grey Street, in South Brisbane on the south side of the Brisbane River which was one of the areas reserved for African-American soldiers. The Dr. Carver Club was apparently located opposite the South Brisbane Railway Station.
The American Red Cross had taken over Laidlaw's building as 100 Grey Street, South Brisbane to establish the Dr. Carver Club. Robert Galland told me that the building had also been Delanies Hotel (or Delaneys Hotel) which later became The Manhattan Hotel. Robert said that next to the Hotel heading towards Melbourne Street was Warhings Chinese Shop. Can anyone confirm?
|Courier Mail, dated
Saturday, 17th April 1943, page 2:
SERVICES CLUB FOR COLOURED U.S. MEN
A new services club to be opened soon by the American Red Cross in Grey Street, South Brisbane, has been specially built for coloured members of the U.S army. The ground floor will contain two large lounges, recreation room, checking room, kitchen with modern equipment which will provide popular American dishes, dining room which will seat about 150 men, soda fountain, snack bar and writing and reading room with library attached. A large dormitory with hot and cold showers, hall with specially constructed dance floor and stage equipped with amplifiers, and a balcony furnished with cane chairs and coloured tables for the dancers, will occupy the second floor. The club will be known as the Doctor Carver Service Club, after the notable American scientist. Dr. George Washington Carver, who died in America at the age of 78 this year, said the club director (Mr. H. L. Hawkins) last night.
Australian Harry Hawkins was Director of the Club. He was ordained in St. Louis, Missouri and was a former welfare officer for the YMCA and the ACF in the Middle East. George Newton, a graduate of San Francisco State University and Al Hoosman, of Waterloo, Iowa, a Golden Gloves boxing champion in 1939 head the staff at the Doctor Carver Club in Brisbane. Al Hoosman, won at least 10 boxing matches while he was in Australia during WW2. He had initially been based in Mount Isa.
The club was named after the distinguished scientist George Washington Carver. Activities at the club included two dances and two movie nights each week. Sylvester Reeder, formerly of Washington, DC later took over the club.
Social workers Geraldine Randall, a classical pianist, and Rosa Maria Spears assisted with the recruitment of local volunteers to sew and mend clothes for the soldiers and to keep them company while they visited the club. Many of these volunteers were schoolteachers, social workers and women from the YWCA. Twenty local women including 6 aboriginal women joined the staff of the Doctor Carver Club. Aboriginal girls were encouraged to volunteer to be dance partners for the soldiers. Once accepted they were issued with Permits by the American Red Cross. Many of the 200 volunteers who worked at the club were whites, who got to know and trust the soldiers by living in the vicinity of their camp at Redbank outside Brisbane.
The US Fifth Air Corps Orchestra playing at the Doctor Carver Service Club at South Brisbane on 19 August 1943. Galvin Johnson, Missouri is holding the microphone. Miss Lila Draper is dancing with Private Bob Walker, New York City.
Associated Press reported the following on the Dr. Carver Club:-
"Newest and swankiest of three service clubs for American Negro troops has been opened. From the deep-cushioned leather chairs of its attractive lounge to the streamlined polished metal of its modem kitchen, the Dr. Carver Club is exclusive, 'out of bounds' to all white troops save those fortunate enough to receive special invitations. As one Army officer put it, 'those boys have been doing their country a great service. The clubs are just a token of our appreciation.'"
Eleanor Roosevelt visited the Doctor Carver Club on 13 September 1943 for about 20 minutes.
Itinerary for Eleanor Roosevelt on 13 September 1943
Photo:- via Lyn Guidry
Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt at the Doctor Craver Club on 13 September 1943
Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt made the following comment after her visit to the Club on 13 September 1943:-
"It is well run and very attractive, and the men seemed to be having a good time, but here, too, they are looking for more space. This city (Brisbane) is much overcrowded, and for all of our men hotel accommodation and food are difficult to find."
At one stage, the club invited Australian soldiers to visit that "other American Red Cross Club" to enjoy the best steak and eggs in town. Some French sailors had even taken up the invitation. The American Commander of Base Section Three heard about these "goings on" and called Jack Bond from the American Red Cross to his office and read him the "riot act". Jack informed the Colonel that he did not want to be part of a club in Australia that discriminated against Australians!!
Lance Corporal Kath Walker (Oodgeroo Noonuccal) is believed to have attended dances at the Dr. Carver Club.
The Doctor Carver Club moved to the Philippines in January 1945.
Does anyone have an photographs of this club?
Did you spend any time at this club during WW2?
"Black Roots White Flowers: A History of Jazz in Australia" by Andrew Bisset (1979) Golden Press, NSW
"Yanks Down Under 1941-45, The American
Impact on Australia"
by E. Daniel Potts & Annette Potts
"My Day" by Eleanor Roosevelt, The Courier Mail (Brisbane), 15 Sep 1943
I'd like to thank Veronica Fury for her assistance with this home page.
I'd like to thank Graham Clayton for his assistance with this web page.
I'd like to thank Lyn Guidry for her assistance with this web page. An elderly friend of hers used to visit the Doctor Carver Club during WWII.
Can anyone help me with more information?
"Australia @ War" WWII Research Products
© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 5 October 2003
This page last updated 25 January 2020