Saturday, 5th November, 2016
By Emily Roberts
Aunty Elaine, mum, Ms E, or just E. These are a few of the nicknames that Elaine Davis has picked up from working at the Black Lion Inn for over three decades.
After 31 years at the Black, Aunty Elaine has called it a day. She will have her last shift today.
“I’ve been doing barwork for 45 years, I started here in 1979,” she said.
“Then I left and went to Sydney. I came back in 1985 and (owner Geoff Luke) was advertising for a drive attendant.
“He said when can you start, and I’ve been here ever since.”
“My first few years I worked in the drive thru and then moved into the bar.”
Elaine has seen a lot change during her time behind the bar.
“There have been heaps of changes. Things are more restrictive now.
“They have stricter service of alcohol and we don’t do late trading.
“The way people drink has changed.
“It used to be a lot of beer and spirits but now you see a lot of the younger lads drinking cocktails.
“In the old days you never would have seen that.
“You’ve still got a few beer drinkers. But other than that, the drinking habits haven’t changed.”
Elaine said she’s received a few nicknames over the years.
“I’m mum, Aunty Elaine, Ms E or just E. I get a lot of mum and Aunty Elaine.”
She’s also renowned for not being shy about barring people.
“In the old days I used to bar people because people behind the bar ... deserve respect.
“But now the young ones amaze me, they’re not as much trouble.
“In the old days, you could get away with more.
“You didn’t serve someone if they were falling off their stool and the regulars could drink a fair few.
“But now you really have to cut them off.”
Elaine has many memories that come to mind over her time at the Black.
“There’s been so many incidents.
“I had one guy (no names mentioned) from the Truth office who I barred just before New Year’s Eve.
“And he walked back in here with a mask on and I just knew it was him.
“I said ‘You’re barred, get out!’ ... he thought he could get away with it.
“I remember chasing one guy up Bromide Street after he knocked off a chair.
“He dropped the chair in the laneway, I think because I was gaining on him.
“I was fitter and younger then.
“We used to have the Hammer and Tap (dances) I don’t know how they would fit everyone in the bar.
“But they still found room to dance.”
Elaine said she will miss another BDT staffer who frequents the Black.
“Keegan, I love him, I’ve known him for a lot of years.
“I’ve had to throw him out on the odd occasion.”
Elaine said working with owners Geoff and Leonie Luke has made the time worth it.
“I’ve had wonderful bosses; you wouldn’t stay if you didn’t have wonderful bosses.
“The Luke’s have treated me like family, I’ve watched them go from kids to adults and having kids of their own.
“You don’t realise how much you can squeeze into 30 years.”
The time for retirement was due, Elaine said.
“It’s mainly due to my age, I’m nearly 65.
“I’m starting to slow down.
“The boys help me a lot on the drive thru, but it’s not fair to them.”
Elaine said she makes sweet potato baskets for a few of her regulars at Christmas and this year she will be able to sit and enjoy them with her regulars.
“I’ll be coming back in for a drink.
“If I don’t come back in to see Peter Black - he will be disappointed.”
Black Lion Inn colleague, Rob Butler said work won’t be the same without Elaine.
“We brought her a bunch of flowers; it brought her to tears,” he said.
“Every Thursday night she would cook for everyone who worked.
“I’ve been working with her for nine years. You get to know each other’s routine and you get things done.
“I will miss her, things will change; we will just have to wait and see.
“It’s going to be different without her.”