Personal History

This text has had a major revision in March 2021, thanks to Dr. Wood’s family, and family history research by Sandra Rice.
I can now, as they do, call him Sam Woods!

When I started trying to uncover the man behind the gift of this box of films, I found there was very little online. You might as well look up a phone book. Woods L.S, Dr.,   Albury Phone 400.

Born before the turn of the 1900’s into a large family, with four brothers who were all doctors (just to confuse me). He died at home in November 1968, in the Victorian period house his father built, ‘Valetta’ in Swift Street, Albury.

When he was 29 he married Rita Russell, a nurse at the local Albury hospital. The house he lived in most of his life was built for his father in 1898 and was demolished in 1973, along with the ‘Burnley’ Private Hospital next door to make way for the now Albury Civic Centre.

Dr L.S.Woods notepaper with address

This is a current work in progress document,  this initial examination was more than enough to keep me interested. Was it a customary deference to authority that saw him being referred to as Doctor L.S or almost never Dr. Leslie S. in all the press records in Trove and medical journals? It took a military record search for me to find out his full name. Leslie Samuel Woods was certainly real enough as you’ll see from his films.  Now I know his family always called him Sam – I’ll go back to my sources and do a further search. He was the third son of an Albury doctor and he had three other brothers who were also doctors, so maybe it was just a family shorthand identification. Dr.L.S, Dr. E.W, Dr. L.G, and Dr. Jack. I had no idea when I started my research that I’d have to distinguish ‘my’ Doctor Woods.

His biographical details are over-shadowed by those of his famous doctor father – William Cleaver Woods.  (1852 – 1943) also an Albury doctor, who studied at the  University of  Melbourne MB,Ch.M.; and the University of  Edinburgh  MD, MS, Ml, FRPS (Edin) and who after graduating returned to Australia practising for a time at Beechworth, before moving to Albury. He was a pioneer of diagnostic X-rays and the first in the world to use X-ray therapy for cancer. This was at a time when seeing inside your body was clearly something that must have seemed ‘unnatural’ because the Albury Hospital board was not impressed and asked him to remove his “infernal machine” (I’d love to know the source of that quote, but this was a time when the football team in Albury you could play for, was based on your religion, divided into Catholic and Protestant teams). Cleaver married a local grazier’s daughter Margaret Grieve of Bungowannah, on the Riverina Highway, about 16 kilometres  north west of Albury in 1889 .

Margaret and William Cleaver Woods, (who became identified as just Cleaver Woods) had – according to what sparse biography you read, eleven children, nine who survived , six sons – Dr. Leslie Samuel Woods (Albury), Dr. John Grieve Woods (who lived in Broken Hill and was one of Rev. John Flynn’s Flying Doctors,  Dr. Robert Grieve Woods (who moved to Goulburn), Dr. Eric William Beresford Woods (practiced in Hay), there was a G. C. Woods (in Lockhart) and Norman Woods (who lived in Sydney). There was a Frank Woods (from Melbourne), and two daughters, Annie Margaret (Margery) who married a Claude Manning, Melbourne), and Mary Katherine Woods who married John Cecil Rice. Two sons predeceased him.

This is my attempt to redress the online documenting of that overshadowed son. I started with a Trove search of local newspapers of the time (especially when he was a country doctor in Albury). It doesn’t read as a continuous story, it’s just a scrap book of newspaper cuttings that are included because they relate to some of the films.

My Doc Woods – assembled timeline

Leslie Samuel Woods was born in 1896 and died at age 73 years, in  1968.

He attended Albury Grammar school and then did his medical training at Melbourne University. The ‘First World War’ started in July 1914 and Leslie enlisted when he was 19 and 5 months in Melbourne, on the 10th of May 1915. He had just completed the first year of medical training at Ormond College in March. He was sent to England to work in the medical corps at the Military Convalescent Hospital and just a month later, in April 2016, ordered to return to finish his medical studies.

His brother Eric WB Woods fought at Gallipoli, returned to complete medical studies, re-enlisted and fought on the Western Front as Captain. He was  awarded the Military Cross – Polygon Wood, November 1917

This led Sam to feeling that he hadn’t ‘served’ as his older brothers Eric and Robert both fought for the duration of the war and returned safely. He was 43 years old at the outbreak of World War 2 and unlikely to be accepted for that conflict.

“Dr Leslie S. Woods; third and youngest son of Dr. W. Cleaver Woods, of Albury, who completed his medical studies in August last, has (says the Albury “Daily News” been appointed resident medical officer to the Perth (W.A) Public Hospital , and sailed on the Katoomba for Fremantle last Wednesday. Dr. Leslie S. Woods served 18 months at the front. His two (?) brothers are also members of the medical profession, the eldest Dr: Robert Grieve Woods practising at Goulburn, and Dr. Eric Woods at Albury.”
Tue 12 Oct 1920  

‘From an Eastern exchange’:-“Dr. Leslie S. Woods, who, during the week, sailed for West Australia, where he is to to be a medical officer of the Perth Public Hospital, completed his medical course this year. Dr. Woods was a resident student of Ormond College. He was prominent in college activities, especially in sport. He represented his college in football, athletics and rowing. He interrupted his course to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force. Sunday Times (Perth, WA Sun 7 Nov 1920 

1921 saw him mentioned at an inquest in Perth into a  three month old baby’s death. (The mother apparently rolled and accidentally smothered it in bed while sleeping. He attested to the good character of the woman which helped to return an accidental death’ verdict by the coroner.)
The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 – 1954) Friday 12 August 1921

More dramatic and sensationalised was the report of the suicide of a man who said goodbye to his friends and family and drank a cup of Lysol disinfectant in front of them.  The West Australian (Perth, WA} Sat 13 Aug 1921 

In 1922 he left for England, and on his arrival in London in December, 1922, he was appointed one of the resident surgeons at the West London Hospital. Then he was reported as “pursuing post-graduation work in London, Edinburgh, Paris and Vienna”.

He worked his passage home and”returned from England this week as ship-surgeon aboard the ‘Largs Bay‘. ”
Albury Banner and Wodonga Express Fri 11 Apr 1924 

In 1925 his brother John was married in Melbourne. The newspaper social columns in the style of the times were interested most in what the women wore, and the table decorations. Open the link.

Orange blossom and ostrich feathers -click to open

At Scots Church, Collins street Melbourne, on Tuesday night of last week, Miss Lucie Munro (younger daughter of Mr. and Mrs.J. Buchanan Munro, of Gardenvale) was married to Dr. John Grieve Woods (fourth son of Dr. and Mrs. W. Cleaver Woods, of Albury). Her lovely old Limerick lace veil was draped round the head. It is 200 years old, and was lent by Mrs. E. Phillips (an old family friend), and was displayed to perfection over a frock of silver lame, inlet with a panel of silver lace frills. With a sheaf of water lilies on her arm, the bride looked charming. Making up the bridal procession were three maids Misses Dot Munro, Eunice Lock, and Margery Woods – in pretty frocks of delphinium blue georgette, the vandycked tunics being bordered with ostrich feathers. Their heads were swathed with turbans of georgette and silver tissue, and they carried beautiful sheafs of delphiniums and pink roses. Dr. Leslie Woods was best man, and Dr. Harold Worch and Mr. Geoff Woods groomsmen.

Thu 9 Apr 1925 Wodonga and Towong Sentinel.

A year later,  we assume that Leslie was back in Albury practising, (but I can find no items related to these years), and he himself was married.

Wedding Contracts 1926

“In honor of Miss Rita Russell, of Albury, who is shortly to be married to Dr. L. S. Woods, also of Albury, Mrs. Jules Lippmann, of Double Bay, recently entertained Mrs. Evans and the Misses Gilfillan, Lippmann, and Russell. Dainty posies were placed for each guest, and the table was charmingly arranged with heath, stock and sweet peas.
Albury Banner and Wodonga Express  Fri 1 Oct 1926

“A wedding was celebrated in Melbourne on Tuesday, 28th September, the contracting parties being Dr. L. S. Woods, third son of Dr. and Mrs. Woods,  of Albury, and Rita, only child of Mrs. Russell, of Sydney, and formerly a sister on the nursing staff of the Albury District Hospital. The bride wore a smart grey tailored suit.
Miss Erica Drury was bridesmaid, and was attired in a jumper suit of biscuit coloured crepe de chine, trimmed with oriental colouring’s. Mr. Geoff. Woods, of Wagga, supported his brother as best man.”

The After Party and honeymoon.  After the ceremony the bridal party were entertained at dinner at Menzie’s Hotel. On Wednesday Mr. Geoff Woods entertained Dr. and Mrs. L. S. Woods and a number of friends at a delightfully-arranged luncheon party at Scott’s Hotel. After luncheon Dr. and Mrs. L. S. Woods left by the Katoomba for Perth, where the honeymoon will be spent. Amongst those at the luncheon were Col. Wilkinson (Albury), Dr. Eric Woods (Hay), Miss Munro (Melbourne), Mr. Geoff Woods (Wagga), Mr. Frank and Mr. Norman Woods(Melbourne), Dr. Worch (Albury), Miss Worch (Melbourne), Miss Drury (Albury), Dr. Ray Hennessy (Melbourne), Dr. Jack Witticar (cousin of the bridegroom), Miss Allen and Miss Tietyens (Albury) and Mr. G. A. D. Roxburgh (Albury). Albury Banner and Wodonga Express Fri 8 Oct 1926

His brother Eric died in August 1936 , and through the Obituaries in the local papers we learn a little more about Eric, and the whole family is listed, with the convention of the time to mention wives by their husband’s name .

In the tradition of printing public speeches for content in the local newspapers (and their reprinting across the country and city press, a loose syndication. It was cheap ‘borrowed’ content), comes this talk by Doc L.S. Woods to the Albury Rotary club. It was reprinted widely and commented on, once satirically in a Sydney paper. The improbable position of a doctor saying there are too may doctors I believe came from a deeper position of Doc Woods being one of four doctor sons. Was it a way to say his father Cleaver was overbearing in forcing him into being a doctor? He clearly had the benefit of privilege as a member of the wealthy society in town,  and the social respect that came with it. Was he just protecting his ‘turf’? Or was he somehow rebelling against this? Maybe he was defending his younger brothers who didn’t become doctors. This article was clearly printed from the transcript of the speech he gave (as were those on his comments on Hitler’s Germany below. He also gave that talk (and showed his films) to the Goulburn Rotary at the invitation of his brother Doctor Eric Woods when he lived there.

Overdone Professions

“It was hardly necessary for Dr. L. S. Woods, President of the Albury Rotary Club, in his recent address to members regarding the medical profession, to mention the fact that doctors are not necessarily numbered amongst the wealthy class simply because they have adopted medicine for a livelihood. The address by Dr. Woods was timely, since it drew attention to a subject which should ere, this have claimed the notice of thoughtful parents in making dispositions regarding their children.”

Cick to read the rest of his speech, it's a significant document in understanding him

“It was pointed out that on an average there is now one doctor in practice for every 1100 or 1200 of the population. Even in the olden days, when long journeys at a snail’s pace had to be undertaken to visit patients, the proportion would have been unduly high.
In modern days, when the motor car and the telephone do so much to reduce the time that a doctor has to bestow upon his patients, it is disturbing, to find that instead of the students in medicine being on the decline, they are multiplying rapidly, until it becomes a cause for wonder that ‘ambitious’ parents do not pause to reckon out the financial prospects for their ‘clever’ children who have been forced into the profession. It was time that somebody in a position to know issued a warning to parents and students to look well at the prospects before adopting a profession which Dr. Woods describes as having been overdone. There is a type of person to whom no warning can be issued that will tend to curb the ambition to have boys placed in the professions. Many a father or mother has been content to struggle along on a bare subsistence in order to gratify the ambition to have a son placed in one of the professions. With many of them it is a case of shabby gentility when there is not sufficient financial backing to establish them in life after they have gone through the University, and when there is a cramped field for their efforts. The duty of the parent is to think sensibly in the direction of placing his children in the way of a reasonably certain living. Why, for the mere sake of pride and social climbing, commit the boys to a station in life which it is so difficult for them to maintain?

There is less justification for make believe in life than there ever was. The changed circumstances of the world, and the altered standards, should have brought home to every person of normal outlook that the readiest means towards an honest living should be sought. If the professions are overdone — and there can be no doubt about that — there are hundreds of business divisions in which it is possible for a person of more than average education – and intelligence to make a living without forfeiting one scrap of his dignity or social standing.

The day has gone when people must of necessity look upon the professional man as belonging to an exclusive social caste. Everything depends on the man himself and the measure of success he is able to achieve. Specialised education has no claim to ascendancy over ripe experience that has not been derived from the Universities. There is dignity and credit in any successful effort. The world to-day, acclaims the successful man, where the success is the expression of that man ‘s character, and the character is to be admired. The democratic conception of life has wiped away many of the senseless fripperies that were formerly assumed to create a social caste irrespective of the merits of the case. There is to-day just as much credit due to the successful grocer or tailor as to the man who has made good in the professions, and although the instinctive ‘snob’ will always contend for a special niche in the social scheme, sentiment is entirely against him where there is nothing more than the University degree to support the claim.

Parents fail every day with the designs for their children because they insist from the very cradle of the boy that he should become this or that when he grows to manhood without any regard for the lad ‘s capacity and inclinations. Father is a lawyer, and it is concluded that the son must of necessity be a success in that profession. The boy is driven against his inclinations to enter a profession, when his mind may all the time be on motor cars or cattle dealing. The misfits in the professions are mostly the young men whose own inclinations have never been studied, but money has been placed upon the scales to decide what the boy should do with his life.

The same money applied to placing the boy in a business for which he has a natural aptitude would bring its own reward, where failure is the almost invariable experience in the other case. Swank and pretence only too often spell ruination for boys who, if allowed to develop naturally, may have been successful and happy. Where no consideration is paid to the natural desires of lads, parents deserve the disappointment that so often falls to their lot.
Unfortunately, however, where failure has to be admitted, the boy is blamed, when actually the mischief has been done by the parents.”

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.) Thursday 20 September 1934 p 7

Albury Grammar School

Mr. E. A. W. Logan, head master of the Albury Grammar School, in replying to the toast of “The School” at a dinner of the Old Albury Grammarians last week, proposed by Dr. L. S. Woods, the president, said that a school was judged by the men who passed through it.

Speaking of the value of education, Mr. Logan declared that the days of “enough education” at a small age were gone, for every man, whatever his calling, was better for knowledge. However, small in numbers the college might be, it always was his aim to foster the traditions of the great public schools. “We are not doing our jobs,” he said, “unless we inculcate into students a realisation of the obligations they owe to this great land, and to serve the community in which they live, not only well, but willingly.” Mr. G. B. Wilson, the founder and first head master of the school, was accorded an ovation. He ruled the school from 1887 to 1928, and among those present were some of the boys who were under him in the early days of the school.

He made special reference to the great work being done for the school by the president (Dr. L. S. Woods), and the hon. secretary (Mr. H. J. Simpson), old boys of Albury Grammar School, are to be found all over the Commonwealth.

BY THE OUNCE Sale of Vitamins In Future ? 
In an address on “Food and Health,” at the Southern Districts’ Conference of the Agricultural Bureau of N.S.W., here today, Dr. L. S. Woods, of Albury, said scientific chemists had been able to isolate vitamins, and the time would come when they would be sold over the counter at a few pence an ounce.
The Sun (Sydney, NSW ) Tuesday 20 October 1936 p 19

Old Grammarians’ Ball
ALBURY, Friday – The fifth annual Old Grammarians’ ball, held in St. Patrick’s Hall to-night, was the most successful social event organised in connection with Albury Grammar School. There was an attendance of more than 400 old grammarians, who came from many Riverina and north-eastern centres, including Albury, Wagga, Corowa, Holbrook,Henty, Culcairn, Yerong Creek, Rutherglen, Tallangatta and Corryong. The hall was artistically decorated in maroon blue, and gold, the grammar school colours, peach blossom, and replicas of school badges …
Profit from the ball will be devoted to the O B Wilson memorial oval, associated with the grammar school.
Before the ball the annual Old Grammarians’ dinner was held the chair being occupied by Dr L S Woods president of the Old Grammarians’ Association.
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) Saturday 12 September 1936 p 18

Australia’s Birth Rate
The need for re-opening Australia to immigration was dealt with by Dr. L. S. Woods, president of the Albury Rotary Club. With a declining birth rate, he said, and the volume of unemployment in Australia he estimated the probable limit of population in Australia to be 8,500,000 unless outside people of a desirable quality were encouraged to come here.
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.) Thursday 23 April 1936 p 4 

In Albury, it seemed as if Leslie was the obvious heir apparent to Dr. Cleaver. From what I can tell from the movies, he and Rita went to Europe in 1937 for the Rotary Conference held in Nice with his father and mother(?). They travelled through France, Amsterdam, Germany and Hungary.

The Old Albury Grammarians’ Association elected Mr. R. Richardson (Wodonga) president, in place of Dr. L. S. Woods, who resigned prior to going abroad.  
Albury Banner and Wodonga Express Friday 9 April 1937

“Dr. Leslie Samuel Woods, M.B., B.S., was appointed to be Visiting Surgeon to Albury Gaol, ‘ Dr. W. C. Woods, resigned—from the date of commencing duty.  Fri 7 May 1937 
(And when the Albury Gaol was closed, Fri 16 Jul 1943, his tenure there was terminated.”

Dr. L. S. Woods, of Albury, has sailed for England, and after seeing the Coronation will, do a post graduate course before returning to Australia. During Dr. Woods’ absence. Dr. Goldberg, of Melbourne, will act as locum tenons.
Albury Banner and Wodonga Express Friday 12 February 1937

“Dr. L. S. Woods, of Albury, who has returned after visiting London, Berlin and Vienna, where he did post graduate work in general surgery and diseases of the eyes, said this week that he had found much to interest him in England and Europe. Besides his studies, he attended the world Rotary Conference at Nice, at which, there were 7000 delegates.”
Albury Banner and Wodonga Express Friday 27 August 1937

Experiences of an Albury Doctor Abroad 1937

“In Germany the people seemed happy and contented. There were many soldiers to be seen. They were fine types, their uniforms fitted well and they looked the part. Beyond certain money restrictions there were no embargoes placed on the tourist, and indeed tourists were made to feel most welcome. The hotels in Germany were all that could be desired, while the night life in Berlin compared more than favourably with that in Paris.

Hitler had undoubtedly won his name because of the manner in which he had reduced the unemployment figures.
This seemed to be his big point, a matter that had struck peoples of neighbouring countries. The object of Germany was obviously to make itself self-contained. Research workers had overcome many difficulties, principally those of rubber and oil. Synthetic products would be available in the very near future, and the country would soon have all the oil it needed.
Spain was closed to tourists and seemingly everyone else. Britishers could not secure a passport to go to that country during the present crisis. The only way to get into the country would be per medium of a plane, and then with considerable risk. Men in London, and perhaps the women, too, appeared to be better dressed than elsewhere, and there was a feeling of coming prosperity about the city.”
Albury Banner and Wodonga Express Friday 27 August 1937

And that reporting and this accompanying film Berlin 1937 is where I believe he became a documentary filmmaker. There’s all the new home movie mistakes, panning around and back (called ‘hose-piping’) but as soon as he had the chance to watch the films back when he returned home, that stops. When we see that in subsequent films, it’s almost a sure sign that wife Rita or someone else took those shots.
This has a short minute or so of Agfacolor where the swastika banners and armbands leap out from the faded colour. This may have been an 8mm reel change, mid the “Hitler Parade” or from a second camera. There are light flashes from an end of reel. (3.31sec in). The Berlin sequences end with a Finis title, then becomes Potsdam and cover the Rotary conference he and his father were attending. Thank you again for all those the titles Sam.

Sub Menu
Doctor Woods – Part 1.  Who are you L.S.Woods?
This is what I’ve found from archives and contributions, from the reports of general meetings of clubs and societies, obituaries, autopsies, published  fame and notoriety, and things he’d probably like to forget – like the Pyjama Girl Case.
Doctor Woods – Part 2. Albury 
Looking at the town of Albury and linking its events to those that are in two films, Views around Albury and 
Shots at Random  around Albury
Doctor Woods – Part 3. Becoming a Filmmaker
His first cameras, learning the craft, titles (thank you) and then losing the rigour and becoming a home movie maker. Splices and dirty edges.
Doctor Woods – Part 4. A country doctor’s life
The family movies. The people he clearly loved, what interested him – (which at the end of his life – Merimbula with his fishing mates )