News & Events

The sticking power of Pam

October 1, 2020

Pam Wanless knows all about the importance of connections and resilience, possibly because of her grandfather who invented Clag glue.

The Liscombe House resident has always prized the relationship with her family with whom she speaks most days by phone. In between time, there is a lot of connecting going on through the many different activities taking place at OCAV’s aged care facility.

Pam moved into Liscombe House in 2014, initially into the Anne Jeffrey wing where she was joined by her late husband, Neil. Now, her home is in Liscombe Wing, and she could not be happier.

She came to Liscombe House from Rushall Park, where she lived for around ten years. Before that she was based in Eltham where she was the founding librarian at the then new Eltham College P–12.

For her, those were good days.

“I loved being a librarian. I have always enjoyed reading and books and it seemed a natural fit,” Pam said.

Today she remains a staunch advocate for libraries.

“They are a vital part of the community. They are there for people to go to learn about new things, to borrow and browse books, and to be a connecting point for people,” she said.

Which brings us to Joseph Angus, her grandfather. He trademarked Clag, the general-purpose adhesive, in 1898 at his manufacturing base in Nicholson Street North Fitzroy.  The exact composition of the original paste is unknown but is thought to have been starch-based.

On the other hand, according to history, Australia’s favourite glue had its origins in the time of the Roman Empire when the notoriously violent Emperor Caligula created a prototype version of the household substance from the crushed bones of Christians.

True or not, the fact is that Pam’s grandfather was responsible for the quintessential adhesive which has been used for school projects, scrapbooking, and gluing extremities together for the past 120-plus years.

Pam does not use the glue nowadays but she keeps herself busy playing bingo, doing quizzes and keeping her mind working. She is often found knitting rugs. She cannot remember who taught her to knit but she knows it was not her mother.

“She was the eighth child and very spoilt, and not one for teaching,” Pam said.

One thing which stands Pam apart from most people is her handwriting. It is neat, and she continues to use ink and a fountain pen just as she did at school. She laments the fact that younger people don’t write by hand these days. Her handwriting skills are frequently called on by Lifestyle Coordinator Mandy Williamson who has happily delegated the job of writing residents’ birthday cards to Pam.

And even then, Pam is not done. Each week she sits down with pen and paper to write to her penpal, OCAV volunteer Margot Yeomans. She says the letter writing connection has been important to her over the past five months, and has developed into a good friendship.

“I would like it to continue for as long as possible, until one of us cannot anymore,” she said.




Josephine Katite may be a long way from Kenya, where she was born and lived until 2005 but the experience of looking after her elderly grandparents is very much with her every day in her work at Liscombe House.

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