Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Displaying  a  famous piece of  national  confectionery, long since forgotten, with a "grotesque name"-Normeys- promoted by  a  colourful  and   dynamic  Australian  entrepreneur  , is   Jo Brandt ,  above,  an   exceptional  woman,  whose  funeral service  will  take  place  in  the Uniting Church,  Nightcliff ,  Darwin, on  Friday . 

More than three decades ago schoolteacher Jo and  her husband , Ron , the minister  at  the  Nightcliff  church  at the time , founded  an op shop.  From a small beginning  it  grew into an  operation  which   today  not only  services  the Darwin area but  sends clothing, shoes, books, and  learning  materials to Aboriginal communities   down  the  track  and  across  to Western Australia .

Regular containers  go  to Timor Leste , where   children's footwear , school  pens and pencils ,  early reading material , school   folders   are  in demand .Warm clothing  is provided   for   psychiatric patients  at   Darwin  Hospital. Books  go to  prisoners and   refugees  in  detention ; toys to  kids  behind  wire .

A team of  dedicated  volunteers  sort   donations and  keep the op shop and associated popular coffee shop  running .  Jo Brandt  supervised the  running of  the  shop for  decades  and  only stepped aside  as  she  battled  cancer,  still  attending  work  sessions  when  able  to  do so .

A  tradition  at  morning tea  is  that volunteers often bring along a  cake, biscuits,  or some other  unexpected  treat .    Sometimes  a  volunteer  gives  notice   of   an   intention  to  bring  something  special or  unusual  to  the feast .  One  day Jo Brandt announced in my hearing  that  she would bring along  NORMEYS . On  hearing this, my ears  pricked up  because I  consider myself  as  something  of  an  abnormal  expert  on  NORMEYS  because  of  my obsessive  collecting of   unusual  items  for  Little  Darwin, including old sheet music , which  mention NORMEYS .

In 1920 , C.J. " Jack " De Garis, Director of  Publicity for the Australian Dried Fruit Association, Mildura, Victoria, with  a seemingly  endless flair  for  grabbing  public attention,  pushed  consumption of  the  "Good  Little Normey Lolly." In 1920 he ran a full page  advertisement in  a  magazine  extolling  consumption of  dried fruit  and Little Normeys .

 A pilot , he  used his biplane to promote Sunraysia dried  fruit, founded  the provincial newspaper , The Sunraysia Daily , which  pushed  The Good Little  Normey. De  Garis said  the confectionery became so  popular  that every poor unfortunate boy or   man whose name was Norman  , who  came into  public notice , was called The Good Little Normey.

This applied to famous men  such as Norman Brookes, the Australian Tennis champion and   artist Norman Lindsay  , whose pictures of  volumptuous  nude  women , long before Rupert's P3 girls ,  caused  controversy.

True to  her word , Jo brought along  to  the op  shop a batch of Normeys made from sultanas , raisins , almonds and walnuts , looking like rumballs. She was raised on a  farm at Irymple  in  Sunraysia  and said Normeys were  popular throughout  the district. She and her husband were a wonderful team -true  salt of  the earth  Christian  individuals . - Peter Simon , bin emptier, book  browser and morning  tea  glutton .