Having a ball in Oakey

Buffalo BallI came across a whole folder of cool stuff today. I almost gave myself whiplash looking through it, as I went from one thing to another, thinking “that’d make a great story…oooh look at that….” Eventually my eyes landed on Beryl and Allan Vohland’s tickets to “The First Grand Buffalo Ball”. The tickets read Olympic Theatre which I’m relatively certain is a typo and should have been the Olympia Theatre (which I’ve mentioned in several previous posts). I’ve seen photographs from a variety of balls in the area, including the show ball and the highland ball, but what on earth could a Buffalo Ball be? Off I go on another random hunt through newspapers and databases to find the answer to this most puzzling question.

Well it turns out that there was a Buffalo Lodge here in Oakey (lodge 189), similar to the other “Friendly Societies” which I have talked about in previous posts. While trawling through years of newspapers looking for some information about the ball I’ll admit that I got side tracked when I saw the headline “Free Beer in Moree”. I may have been 80 years late, but in 1935 the new Criterion Hotel in Moree gave out free beer for two hours to commemorate its re-opening after the old hotel was burnt down.

That about summed up the interesting things I found while looking for information on the Buffalo Ball and so I read a little further down the ticket to R.S.S.A.I.L.A. (what a mouthful for an acronym). You know how you see an acronym and you can’t help but try to fill in the blanks? You see ATM and you think Automatic Teller Machine or Asynchronous Transfer Mode depending on your background. But stare as I might, I couldn’t even begin to guess what the R.S.S.A.I.L.A. could be.

On the 6th of June 1916, a conference recommended the formation of The Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia (RSSILA) whose goal was to represent the interests of returned servicemen by lobbying government and providing welfare services. Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria were the founding member states, with New South Wales admitted in 1917, Western Australia in 1918 and the Australian Capital Territory forming a branch in 1927.  The tickets for the ball have R.S.S.A.I.L.A.  on them and so I dug a little further and found out that in 1940, the name of the League changed to the Returned Sailors’ Soldiers’ and Airmens’ Imperial League of Australia (RSSAILA). In 1965 the name changed again, to one that most people are familiar with, to the Returned Services League of Australia (RSL). Two more minor name changes occurred, in 1983 to Returned Services League of Australia Limited (RSL) and in 1990 to Returned & Services League of Australia Limited (RSL). The objects of the League remain relatively unchanged from its first incorporation.

Now this is all very interesting, but it doesn’t answer the most important question. Are the different coloured tickets (red and blue) purely visual or is it one for men and one for ladies? That’s all I’ve got this week see you next time.

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