I have been ‘decluttering’ as we move into our new house. One item that nearly went into the skip was an old, glass covered wooden tray. Apart from accumulated dust and dirt it had one seemingly unsolvable problem, The gold braid trim under the glass had broken.

The only reason I hadn’t thrown it away earlier was that it had a little engraved plate mentioning my husband Rob’s maternal grandparents. They lived in Adelaide during the World War II. I decided I should at least make an effort to ‘rescue’ it.


I scraped off the felt backing to reveal the screws. Oh dear, there were so many and they were incredibly difficult to shift.

Fortunately, when I managed to take out just one row, the glass slid out.

It had kept the inlaid wood in perfect condition, so that was a bonus.

The tray with glass removed.

But what was the story behind the tray?

The wonderful Australian newspaper archive TROVE provided the answer.

Fifty young business girls, average age 20 – have started a Get-Together Club, which runs fortnightly dances for servicemen in the Norwood Town Hall.


Moving spirits behind the idea were two sisters, Jean and Lila Atkins….To entertain servicemen is the main object of the club, but as soon as it is on a firm financial footing it hopes to contribute to the Kensington and Norwood patriotic funds. Members pay an annual subscription and bring along supper. They help to serve it too, with Mrs H. Atkins, mother of Jean and Lila, supervising in the kitchen. On the night of each dance a few hostesses go along to the Allied Forces’ Information Bureau and shepherd servicemen out to the hall. (News, Adelaide 1944)

One handsome pilot who went along with his mates Jack and Stan was Alan Conolly. He had already served for several years in the Middle East, with the A.I.F. The trio became great friends with the Atkins and were entertained at the family’s lovely home ‘Malinda’ in Leabrook. There were supper dances and tennis parties, but unfortunately the tennis court has long gone.


The three young men later presented their hosts with the inlaid tray. And do you know what dear readers? After the war, Alan married Jean.

A presenter of the tray, Alan Conolly.

Harry and Linda Atkins are pictured below with one of their grandchildren. It may even be my Rob. 😊

The tray’s bone handles needed a bit of a clean up before the protective glass went back in. I didn’t worry about repairing or replacing the braid, because I think it looks better unadorned.

It must be at least fifty years since the tray was used, but it certainly will be now. What a great thing it has the protective glass. If my cocktails or coffees spill it won’t matter!

The restored tray.
  1. Just beautiful Pauline. Well worth the effort and I am sure it will be used often.

    • Pauline

      It’s going to be a cocktail tray Karlyn. We have inherited a lot of treasures from the 1930s and 40s.

  2. What a lovely, lovely story!
    So glad a) you didn’t throw away the tray and b) you discovered the story behind it. It looks beautiful now and obviously is a family treasure.

  3. You are so lucky. We had a very similar one in our family, it always sat on the sideboard. I was not in a position to store family treasures at the time so it was given to my brother at some stage – and goodness knows what happened next – I fear he did not appreciate the inlaid woodwork and probably just discarded it.

    • Pauline

      Yes Nancy, I’m sure so many were thrown out as old fashioned. We have inherited so many items from the 1930s and 40s that our new home is being designed around them. I’ll post a story when it’s finished. 😍

  4. Wow, that tray is fantastic!

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