Tapestry series no. 80

Date contributed: 19/6/2001

Contributed by Zoe Boyd-Law

I would like to acknowledge Miss Evelyn Hussey (Bud) Brown, born in Glen Innes NSW on 27 August, 1927.

Evelyn was always known as ‘Bud’ because of her pink and white rosebud complexion as a small child. She was an only child of a widowed mother, her father having died when she was only six years old.

Bud completed her secondary education as a border at N.E.G.S. Armidale. Next she attended Miss Hale’s Business College in Sydney and although asked to stay to teach shorthand she left college to begin a job with C.S.R. in July 1945. She began a degree course in English at Sydney University three nights a week, then added History. At the end of 1948 Bud resigned from her job at C.S.R. to become a full time student. She attended a short summer school of English Literature at Cambridge, and back in Sydney worked her way through university first as a temporary secretary to the University Registrar, Margaret Telfer, and later at Angus and Robertson’s Castlereagh Street book shop in university vacations.

After acquiring her Arts Degree Bud took up an appointment at S.C.E.G.G.S. Darlinghurst teaching English and History which she did for a year before taking an extended eleven month trip travelling to England and Europe.

Back in Sydney Bud was offered a non teaching position at S.C.E.G.G.S. but instead she joined Qantas. So in 1954 she began a love affair with flying and aeroplanes although her job was ground-based at a desk in the foyer of the Hotel Australia. She was responsible for interviewing and booking world trips for prospective passengers.

In 1955 Bud was sent with Joan Holdway to help the Australian Trade Commission in New York promote the 1956 Olympic Games, selling tickets and generally being Australian ambassadors. She appeared on the popular television show ‘Name That Tune’ and gave both Qantas and the Olympics great publicity. Other sales and promotional trips for Qantas included flying to a Tea Planters’ convention in the small Indian town of Jorhat in Assam, one to New Guinea in 1959 and another to Japan two years later. After eight years Bud applied to transfer to Staff Training or Outside Sales, but was refused. She felt this was because she was a woman. She resigned.

Next she turned to the television industry and through Harry Dearth became the first woman on the Channel 7 sales team, using television spots for selling clients’ products. A year later Bud was transferred to Artransa Park Studios to promote the sale of documentary films, once again a lone woman on the sales staff.

Two and a half years later Bud resigned to become the first girl in a previously all male public relations section of the Department of Main Roads, as assistant to the Public Relations Officer. She was responsible for writing newspaper articles, press releases and the Minister’s speeches for bridge openings. These articles required detailed research and deadly accuracy.

Bud had always wanted a business of owning and running a coffee shop. She heard that Centrepoint was going to be developed and decided to apply for a lease for a coffee shop there. Her old friend Ross Bonthorne designed the shop for her but in April 1971 Peter Howarth and Dennis O’Brien, the leasing agents, were most discouraging. They pointed out that Bud was an amateur with no catering experience and an outsider and that there were seventy or eighty applicants ahead of her. But after numerous letters, telephone calls, constant reminders and a statement that she would undergo training, Bud was granted the lease on 31st August, 1971.

Theoretical and practical knowledge of cookery had to be achieved in a short space of time, as the Galley level of Centrepoint was to be opened in September 1972. First of all, Bud enrolled in ‘Principles of Commercial Cookery’, part of the Hotel Management Course at East Sydney Technical College where she learned the intricacies of costing and all other aspects of catering. Next she obtained a job with the Public Service Association Club as a hostess for the dining room. She worked with waitresses, changing tablecloths, drying up silver washed in commercial washing machines and generally learned training in customer and chef relations. A part-time waitressing job at the Romance Coffee Lounge followed and then work at The Potts, a BYO restaurant at North Sydney. The last practical training was as kitchenmaid at The Medieval Centrepoint Coffee Shop which had already opened on Level 1.

The menus were next and Bud practised making waffles, especially corn waffles as a specialty, open Danish sandwiches, salads and pastries always with the motto ‘fresh, fresh, fresh’ as her guide. Continental and conventional breakfasts were to be served and of course the best coffee. So Miss Brown’s Tea and Coffee House was opened on 19 March 1973. So much tenacity and attention to detail paid off and the shop was a great success.

Eighteen months later Bud leased a shop in the lobby of the new Sydney Hilton Hotel, Miss Brown’s Flowers and Confections, opening in March 1975.

Although an American wanted to franchise Miss Brown’s Tea and Coffee House Bud was not interested and in late 1975 she sold the shop to the proprietor of The Medieval Coffee Shop who had helped her along the way. Bud had Miss Brown’s for just over three years with enormous success.

The passion for planes resurfaced and Bud studied aviation at the High Flyer Inn at Bankstown and did cross country training to obtain her pilot’s licence. She later helped at Mascot with the Fear of Flying classes as she wanted everyone to experience the pleasure she had had from flying.

The Hilton shop was sold in 1980 after five years of trading, also a most successful enterprise.

Finally Bud wrote a book of her life and experiences which she called ‘Coffee with Roses’ published in 1983 and this she hoped would be a guide for anyone who wished to set up a business of his or her own.

Her health was failing by then and although still a comparatively young woman, Bud died in January 1989. Her life had been lived to the full and at her funeral service at Christ Church St Lawrence the church was filled with people of all ages and all walks of life that had been touched by her special magic and great charm. She is certainly one of our special Australian women achievers.

As a memorial to her, the Bud Brown Memorial Scholarship for Second Year Opera Students was set up, funded by gifts from her family and friends.