Recently I came across a wonderful letter from my late father-in-law, Alan Conolly. In the early 1960s he was travelling the world for Silk and Textiles, the Hobart based company he worked for. Silk and Textiles was founded by Claudio Alcorso in Sydney. The factory relocated to Tasmania in 1947, taking advantage of the State’s cheap hydro electricity. At its peak there were 1,400 employees.

Manly born Alan moved with the company, and bought a modest home in Rosetta with his wife Jean. The couple’s two children were born in Tasmania.


After a period in Hong Kong Alan had flown on to New York, and was clearly missing his wife and young family.

I found a postcard of the Hotel Seymour dating from around that time;

The hospitality extended to Alan when he arrived in the city was extraordinary. He wrote of having been taken to lunch by an executive of Klapman Mills (located in Virginia). ‘He took me to a restaurant called Forum of the Twelve Caesars, which is supposed to be the top restaurant of New York Very nice and the service is terrific, but I’m glad I didn’t have to pay the bill. Then last night I had dinner with the New York manager of Sandersons, Ron Quartly, at the Waldorf- Astoria.’


The Forum of the Twelve Caesars was an amazing restaurant, and certainly accepted as the city’s most opulent and expensive. I have included a link to an article about it at the end of this piece. It had opened in 1957.

Oddly enough a section of the menu from 1962 is currently listed for sale on Ebay.

Things were far more simple back home, although it seems there was champagne on festive occasions.


The 1962 letter and several similar ones were wonderful for Rob to read as an adult. The example below was posted from Canada. Alan obviously had trouble finding a post office and resorted to putting coins in a dispenser.

There were more stamps on the back!

By now the family had moved to Sandy Bay. It was beautiful home, but Jean was still virtually a sole parent.

In 1963 there was a rare trip to Hong Kong for the whole family.

Rob’s sister Judy 2nd from left, Alan centre, Jean 3rd from right, Rob, far right.

Silk & Textiles was taken over by Dunlop in 1970.

Rob had grown up barely knowing his father. He was only 22 when Alan died from a heart attack in 1973. aged 52. Sadly, Alan’s marriage did not survive all those separations, and of course he had lived such a different life. In the late 1960s he moved to Sydney.

The following photo is of father and son on Sydney Harbour circa 1970, sailing on Alan’s yacht, Rani II. Rob was then at university in Canberra. Jean had remained in Hobart.

Rob and his father Alan on Sydney Harbour.

For an article on The Forum of the Caesars, CLICK HERE

  1. What lovely snapshots of family history can be left for descendants through letters. What a working life too for Allan. I love textile history. I attended the Strathfield School of Textiles Sydney for a year in 1983 to pursue some weaving interests.
    Really enjoyed this article.

    • Pauline

      Thanks so much Josephine. We still have an old hand printing block from Silk & Textiles. I very much regret not meeting Alan.

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