Emil Dan returns to his hometown, Gloucester

Memory lane: Joe White, Emil Dan and Grahame Holstein share fond memories of their old Gloucester Rural District school days. Photo: Anne Keen
Memory lane: Joe White, Emil Dan and Grahame Holstein share fond memories of their old Gloucester Rural District school days. Photo: Anne Keen

It's been about 65 years since Emil Dan walked down Church Street.

"The memories are very vivid," Emil said about his childhood in Gloucester.

His father, George started a clothing store with his brothers, Waddy (known as Bill) and Nicholas during the great depression. According to Emil, the Lebanese brothers started their trade in a van travelling from property to property, selling both men's and women's clothing and at some point they opened a shopfront in Gloucester.

"It was called W A Dan," Emil recalled. "Then later it became G A Dan, after Nicolas and Waddy moved to open a store in Taree."

Although the Gloucester shop has long gone, the one in Taree still has links to the Dan brothers.

"It's owned by my cousin, and it's now called Dan's Frock Salon," he smiled.

Emil was born in Gloucester in 1940, followed a few years later by his sister, Malvena. He vividly remembers living on Cowper Street across from the Easton family, then later living on King Street.

"I remember the sunset over the Bucketts when we lived on King Street," Emil said.

For former schoolmate, Grahame Holstein remembers being invited over to the King Street house to watch a movie and Emil charging sixpence for entry. The two shared a good a laugh about it, with Emil vaguely remembering trying to project the movie with a torch.

Grahame found out about Emil's visit to area through the Gloucester Rotary Club. Emil, who was a pharmacist for 57 years, contacted the Gloucester pharmacy to help track down his old neighbour and was put onto pharmacist and Rotarian Li Meng Wong. Li put out the word that Emil was looking to track down anyone who may remember him and Grahame answered the call, helping to organise a day in Gloucester on Thursday, March 21 to have a stroll down memory lane.

During Emil's visit, while walking down Church Street to snap a picture out front of his dad's old shop, the pair ran into Joe White, another former schoolmate. Joe has vivid memories of Emil's dad's shop as it wasn't far from his grandfather's butcher/baker shop. The three spent time reminiscing, sharing memories of afternoons spent in the old Majestic Theatre and talking about former schoolmates.

George Dan with staff members Hazel and Doris out front of the shop on Church Street in 1935.

George Dan with staff members Hazel and Doris out front of the shop on Church Street in 1935.

Emil's family sold the business and relocated to Sydney, where Emil finished his education. On Australia Day, Emil was awarded a Member of the Order (AM) for service to community health, pharmacy and to people with asthma and respiratory disease. Emil was an early pioneer in asthma research, developing formulas and devices to help manage the disease.