By ALECIA PINNER
THE Journal has been
flooded with visits and calls from locals who have wanted to share their
memories of William Maxwell (Max) Curtain, a popular Dandenong
community figure who died late last month.
Mr Curtain, who died on Saturday, July 27, aged 91, is best remembered for lending an ear or a hand to anyone in need.
Saddened by children drowning in Dandenong Creek more than 50
years ago, Mr Curtain acted to prevent it happening again by putting in a
pool in his backyard in Wedge Street. He gave swimming lessons to
youngsters, who in return taught the next group how to swim.
From the pool grew swimming, water polo, synchronised swimming and life-saving success for many locals.
Mr Curtain’s two-hectare block eventually became a fully fledged
sports and social centre, including boxing and basketball. He bought a
bus to move young teams around and held dance classes for parents to
keep the families together.
The Wedge Basketball Club still operates today, and former
president David Crutchfield remembered those whose lives had been
improved, and recalled sharing many stories at Mr Curtain’s 70th
As a drainage contractor, Mr Curtain brought migrant workers to
Dandenong and Doveton after jobs dried up on the Snowy Mountains Scheme
in the ’70s, Mr Crutchfield said. “This table of older men had tears in
their eyes when they said he brought us out to Dandenong and gave us
work and our families flourished because of it. Their grandchildren were
running around in the hall.”
Mr Curtain’s son Ray, 28, was lost during Cyclone Tracy.
His wife, Betty, died years ago, and he is survived by daughter Robyn.
lost a second well-loved community figure, also on July 27. Kenneth
Allan was farewelled at a service at the Trinity Uniting Church in
Dandenong last Friday. Mr Allan, who was 85, served as a councillor in
Dandenong between 1981-88 and as mayor from 1985-86.