My days of violence are behind me, I like to think. I was quite the firecracker back in my youth, and Wagga Wonga Primary School knew it. Hattie Borden made the mistake of making fun of my stockings, so I knocked out six of her teeth. It beat the previous record (when Archie Mason knocked out four teeth in a freak draughts incident) by a whole two teeth. I was quite proud of that until I grew up a bit and realised that there are better things to be remembered for.

And while property advocates in Melbourne are now running around everywhere, I like to think that I at least had SOME part in helping the industry along. My pretty older sister wanted to be a real estate secretary (women couldn’t be actual agents back in those days). At that time I adored my sister and it was my life goal to do whatever she did. No internet back in those days, obviously, If you wanted to buy a new home, your options were limited to looking in the newspapers and having an estate agent TELL you what it looked like. Then you could go and look at the property yourself, of course. My first ‘business’ was Helena Naismith’s Friendly Home Advice Agency. Think of a buyers advocate, but a lot less formal, you didn’t have to pay for the privilege and I had no real training or expertise. People would contact me, I’d run along to the place where they wanted to buy and I’d give them a full run-down of the lovely houses I found, preferably over tea. I only ever got about eight customers, mostly friends and family (then that one fellow who fancied me and was using it as an excuse for us to chat). Anyway, I did that for a while before my pretty sister moved into her nursing training. Naturally, I dropped the buyers advocacy stuff and took up full-time veterinary services, with a focus on disabled rabbits.

And lo and behold, decades later, look at all the property advocates! Trustworthy, Melbourne-based…and I can’t really prove that the original idea was mine. Still, I like to think the spirit of Helena Naismith’s Friendly Home Advice Agency lives on, in the modern era.

-Helena

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