health

Meet Brigitta, the 1960s rollerskating waitress who 'never spilled a drop'.

For a brief period in the early 1960s, the bar at Perth’s His Majesty’s Theatre attracted international media attention for its rollerskating hostesses.

Brigitta Suba (then Brigitta Bruijnesteijn) was one of the two servers who laced up white boot skates to work in the restaurant and bar.

“It was about ’62 and I used to nurse at Princess Margaret Hospital and the girls and I used to go skating at the Tivoli Garage in Hay Street at night,” Ms Suba told 720 ABC Perth.

“One night a gentleman approached me and introduced himself as Mr Stump, the publican at His Majesty’s Hotel, and said he had just started skating hostesses and would I come and see him.

Dutch newspaper clipping from September 4, 1962, about the rollerskating waitresses in Perth. (Supplied: Brigitta Suba)

"This is what I did and there was another girl called Nora and we both became the first skating hostesses in the world."

Born in the Netherlands, Ms Suba was an experienced ice skater, but rollerskating took some practice in the beginning.

"I got better as time went along," she recalled.

International media stars

The skating waitresses soon attracted international media attention and were featured in a British Pathé newsreel which showed them at work.

"Mr Stump got newspaper clippings from Scandinavia and Germany and all over and he put them in a huge frame in the hallway," Ms Suba said.

The clippings display appears today to be lost.

But the His Majesty's Theatre museum does hold an old Christmas Day menu from the hotel with the two hostesses on skates on the front.

"About two years ago one of our backstage crew was doing some running repairs and he lifted up the carpets," museum historian Ivan King said.

"What did we find under the floor boards? A rusty old rollerskate, and that is now part of the theatre museum."

Never spilled a drop while on skates

Ms Suba said that during her spell as a waitress on skates, she never once spilled a drink.

"I came very close because in the lounge behind the bar, the young men used to really hope that we would trip," she said.

"There was a fish tank at the back of the room and I could see myself ending up in there all the time, but I didn't.

"We had to be very cautious and continually check the floor. I can absolutely say I can never remember spilling a drop."

The experiment with skating hostesses was short-lived and after about nine months Ms Suba moved to a new job as a flight attendant with MacRobertson Miller Airlines, which later became part of Ansett.

But her memories of the job are happy and she recently returned to the bar in the theatre to share her story.

"I think we treated the job as fun," she said.

"Nora and I used to have little competitions in the hallway to see who could skate faster."

This post originally appeared on the ABC and was republished here with full permission. 
© 2015 Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved. Read the ABC Disclaimer here
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