Early Memories

A long time ago, in fact right back to my earliest memories, life for me was very comfortable. Then again I must have been lonely, because I created for myself a friend, a ‘Frankie Nissen’. My goodness Frankie, was very naughty boy, full of mischief, and the perpetrator of all the bad thing that happened around our home. He broke things, and saved me many times from getting into trouble. He even took the wheels off my bike, and he was even responsible for taking the family clock apart. I must have made him sound very convincing as my parents were always itching to get their hands onto him, send him on his way with a flea in his ear and told never to return, and as well to teach him a lesson. As always, when they hunted for him, he had just taken off and left for his home. Where? Up Mount Cargill that’s where he lives. I must have sounded very convincing, it took a long time for my family to discover he was only a figment of my imagination. I know I have must have been a precocious child, after being told that Santa Claus had brought my bike down the chimney with all the other presents, I was immediately found measuring the fireplace and declaring that the bike was far too big for that to happen.

There was always a lot of activity going on in our suburban streets. Meat was delivered by our Butcher ‘Geof Robertson’ on horseback. Resplendent in his jodhpurs, polished leather gaiters, and a basket of meat swung up on the saddle. His delivery was cross country as he rode across sections and our gardens. He never dismounted, but made his presence known by loud cries of, ‘Yar Yip’. As well, the baker who was also busy ‘clip clopping’ around the neighbourhood daily selling hot fresh loaves from his horse and enclosed cart. His was a silent delivery, and the bread he sold totally different to what we expect today, very tasty with a crisp crust, and if no one was watching the chance to pick out an offering which was a delicious treat. The bread was not at all like the soft soggy offering we expect today. Even the names and size of these loaves have now fallen into disuse. (Barracouta, Square Pan, were a couple I remembered) Milk was sold loose, you supplied the receptacle to receive it in whether it be a billy, or a recycled golden syrup can. It was also delivered in the main by horse and cart, but one vendor George Poulter had a one ton truck that must have dated back to before World War One, and even then a vintage vehicle. It was painted white, with a huge brass radiator, brass head lamps and gear lever and hand brake mounted on the running board. All the brass was polished and sparkling, a wonderful sight in the sun. The Council also had a fleet of blue carts all pulled by a single draught horse, and among other tasks they were the collectors of ashes and other household refuse. I can still hear the noise their iron clad wheels made as they rolled along crushing the gravel on the roads. Everyone’s ash buckets all seem to come from the one or two sources. The Harbour Boards dry docks, or the Union Company Shipping Company Base. There they had all started their former life as paint containers which was supplied in drums. A visit to Dry Dock or Ship Yard by a ship would require some hundreds of gallons of paint being splashed around, with no worry what to do with the empty containers.

Groceries were also delivered after an order had been solicited earlier by an employee. On payment a receipt was issued, these were kept and valued as they had a redeemable value of something like 2.5% providing you sent them on more groceries. Should you have decided to make a personal visit to the Grocer’s shop you were waited on by an employee. Your order was filled from his bulk supplies, very little in this grocery world was available ‘prepacked’. The Grocer and the Butcher shops were both notable by the fact that the floors were covered with an inch of sawdust. This sawdust trick was also repeated in the bars of the Hotels. Paper bags were generally used, but sometimes a ‘Poke’ was made by rolling up a small sheet of brown paper on the bias forming a cone. The bottom was then sealed by twisting the paper and the top folded over.

Our post was delivered by a Postie who signalled his presence by a blast of a pea whistle. Telegrams were another important form of communication and delivered to the door by a boy. Telegrams remained a popular and convenient method of sending messages and money around the Country and even International right up to the introduction of Electronic devices. The young may consider that ‘Texting language’ is new, but this is not so. Then Telegrams were costed at so much a word, ( I seem to remember it was about a minimum of twelve words for about fifteen cents, and this included the address) so the idea was to abbreviate the message as much as possible without loosing the sense of your message.

Very little money in early days was lent by the trading Banks for the purchase of private homes. This service was taken care of by the Savings Banks, Building Societies, and various Lodges formed by the Friendly Societies who also looked after the Health services, which included our Doctors and Chemists, people paying only a nominal fee with the Lodge picking up the balance. Then it was very much of the case of looking after yourself, and it was found to be a very efficient system too.

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