by Sally

I returned home one night to find a notice pinned to my front door to say there was to be a telephone call that evening from New York!! One was personally advised in those days as calls were booked ahead. I waited excitedly for the phone to ring and eventually it did and it was John Pancoast, the Director of Sloanes offering me a position with the company, in the Bahamas. He was opening a new branch on Nassau and wanted me to be his assistant. A very lucrative sum (at least by Australian standards), was offered to me. I was to be there as soon as possible! My parents were aghast, but I booked my flight to New York and after a frantic week, flew away to a new chapter in my life!

The great day arrived and I boarded the plane for the two hour flight to Nassau and stepped out of the plane into searing heat accompanied by overpowering humidity. I was taken to meet the other members of our new enterprise and found, to my delight, that we would be working from a very grand and attractive early Plantation style house in the centre of town. Surrounded by tropical gardens and a short walk to the beach, it really was paradise. John and I were to have our offices in the garden in what was originally servants’ quarters, whilst the main house was to be used as a showroom. The top floor was being occupied by our sponsor, Maude Owen-Marsh.

Sloanes was not allowed to open in Nassau as it was a British protectorate and so our official name was Maude Owen-Marsh Interiors, agents for WJ Sloane International. Maude was a great character, a Canadian by birth, she had come to live in Nassau as a companion to Lady Oakes, after her husband Sir Harry Oakes had been murdered in suspicious circumstances! Maude had stayed on after the Oakes family had left. She had also worked for awhile for the Duchess of Windsor. She was blonde, bright and buxom with a great sense of humour and loved a dirty story. Lady Bancroft was also one of the staff of our official grand hostess. She really pottered about with a duster impressing everyone with her impeccable manners and her gracious English voice. We also had Dianne McKinney who was to be our secretary, although she typed at the rate of three words a minute! Dianne was quite beautiful so we forgave her, her typing ability….

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