Wednesday, September 24, 2008

(# 1) Tiger Territory Pre Teen Era (Part 1)



Molly my mum and the blob.
Mum was only 24 when this was taken. She reached 88 before she left a huge gap in our lives that never will be filled. Who knows, hopefully we will all meet again sometime in the future.

St. Brendans Annandale.
This was where my extensive education began. Extensive being it took a hell of a long time to pass by. Generally speaking, I hated school.

Oh my God!! The Nativity play.....Webber and Rice eat your heart out.

Jungle Jim. After Johnny Weismuller became too fat to play Tarzan
"Quick all hide in the plastic plants."
Sam Katzman, you've got a lot to answer for. If Sam was alive today he would be hired as Technical Advisor to Neighbours and Home and Away.

Batman and Robin 1940's style ( Or is it Fatman? )
"Holy Moley Batman, the dry cleaning shop's ironing leaves a lot to be desired."
"No Boy Wonder, it's not the suit that's wrinkled, it's me. If only I knew who Christian Bale's tailor is."The Harold Park Paceway

Long Jetty at Tuggerah Lakes.
Very few memories remain other than this was where my first away from home holiday was spent. All the family photos have long since deteriorated or have disappeared over the decades and like them my memories too all seem to be in black and white.

Koolewong on Brisbane Water

Woy Woy Wharf, the Seafood Cafe and Spikefest.


The village was made famous, some may say it achieved notoriety, by the much loved Goon, Spike Milligan, whose mum and dad resided near Booker Bay. Spike was a regular visitor to the region and enjoyed being there, despite some of his comments on the area, such as, " The world's largest above ground cemetary," and he claimed that if ever a Storm completely destroyed Woy Woy it would not do any more than 15 dollars worth of damage. He was a fighter for the preservation of local landmarks under threat of demolition and was instrumental in helping to protect sacred indigenous sites. The above photo shows markers of various residents, included is the marker of Spikes Dad on the bottom row. I wonder if they still celebrate Spikefest and walk backwards for Xmas?



Spike passed away during February 2002 aged 84 and is buried in Sussex UK.

His headstone reads in ancient Irish, 'Duirt me leat go raibh me breoite.' which translated into English says, "I told you I was ill." His opinion of passing on was fairly simple and straightfoward, "I am not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens."
Woy Woy has honoured him by naming a new bridge after him and a new addition to the Woy Woy Library is named 'The Spike Milligan Wing.'

God bless you mate, rest in peace.


An aerial shot of Woy Woy



This was typical of the view one usually had from the many holiday homes we used to rent. The above shot was taken at Woy Woy. The grass would not have been so neat and tidy all those years ago, however.

Wharf at Woy Woy

The old Glebe Tunnel

The Rozelle Tram Depot in the background

Inside the depot today there is nothing other than vermin and rubbish. It is owned by the Harold Park people who hope to develop the site, but it is heritage listed, why, God only knows? At time of writing it looks certain that more of those hideous blocks of flats will be erected and what was once an area with open parkland will be transformed into a noisy area of traffic chaos.
Since this was originally written the old raceway has closed permanently, the property has been sold and a 1 billion dollar housing development is planned for the site.




Since this blog was completed, the Mirvac Group has announced and published its plans for the Harold Park area. It plans to create a development similar to what has taken place in the suburb of Rhodes.
The old decrepit tram depot looks like being transformed into a modern shopping complex, if a new developer shows interest.
In all fairness it seems a lot of thought has gone into the proposed transformation, but then again, what the hell would I know? One thing goes without saying, there will traffic chaos all around the affected area.


Flats galore.

 





Entrance to shopping complex.  The old tram shed facade has been retained.




TIGER TERRITORY....The early years

Molly and Bob were thrilled when a red faced blob of loudly complaining flesh entered their life in late January 1943. After a quick wipe over with a damp towel, preceded by the traditional but necessary smack on the arse, they both agreed that this screaming thing,despite slowly but surely turning yellow rather rapidly, was indeed worthwhile keeping. The family home back then was in Nelson St. Annandale with the rent being paid my mums brother, Uncle Jack. As the months rolled by and after numerous trips to the family GP, the blob started to resemble a rather cute, but extremely loudmouthed baby boy, whose loving parents christened Trevor. God only knows where that name came from as there were no other Trevors on either side of the family.
I have no idea how old I was, but there is an extremely vivid memory of lying in a cane pram parked in the sunny backyard listening to the clothes prop man plying his trade along Nelson St. Our next door neighbour Mrs. Russell called out to my mother and asked whether she had heard my first spoken words. No ‘Ma, Ma’s or Da Da’s from this little black duck, my first words were “Clothes Props.” This was a vast improvement on my very own son’s first spoken word which many years later happened to be “Shit.”
Boy, doesn't this bring back memories.
 I can recall standing on a wooden trunk looking out the front window and waving goodbye to my dad as he left for work every morning whilst chewing something rather rubbery. I assume it must have been my beloved ‘Doddy.’ Although still not much more than a bub, I remember recovering from my tonsils operation with some sadistic nurse constantly shoving spoonfuls of a foul smelling and foul tasting gooey substance into my cake hole. The thought of this still causes me to shudder even today.
I have no memories of playing in the street with friends during these early years, but my best friend Owen from up the street would spend nearly the whole of the weekend with me hammering tacks and nails into a small strip of leather provided by my father, who was now known as the ‘Old Pot and Pan.’ At least three or four times a year there would be a plague of flying termites. It was impossible to see the houses on the opposite side of the street, because of the numbers. All of us ankle biters would be out at early evening wildly swinging our ping pong bats and tennis racquets hacking a path through the swarming millions of these winged insects. We all knew it was a complete and utter waste of time, but who cared, it was fun. God only knows how many of these flying things were swallowed during our disorganized assault. The next morning the streets and pavements were literally ankle deep with dead termites.

Kindergarten

My Mum had to work so it was left up to one of my older female cousins to drag me off screaming to my first day at school at St. Brendan’s in Annandale. Things weren’t too bad at school, I quickly developed a crush on the young trainee nun who was our teacher and fell head over heels in love with an older woman student named Christine. Christine had only just turned five, God bless her little cotton socks. Infant school concerts were put on for the benefit of the masochistic parents forced to attend these productions, that added a whole new meaning to the word entertainment. I once sang ‘April Showers’ standing in a trough half full with sand, clad in a plastic raincoat and wearing a sou wester, while some idiot up a ladder poured water all over me with a watering can.


"You ain't heard nothin' yet."
During a Xmas concert I played Frosty the Snowman, seated on a chair, completely covered with a white sheet, while a dozen or so Shirley Temple impersonators danced and pranced around me singing out of key, whilst ensuring that not one of them was in step with the other. They then commenced to throw little white cotton balls at me, although I’m certain more than one was throwing boiled lollies that kept hitting me between the eyes.


"Oh my God, Frosty's down, I repeat, we have a snowman down."
Members of the audience were heard to mutter, “Oh yes, one more time.” When an encore performance was being arranged, at least one quarter of the parents went outside for a smoke. I’m certain some never returned. What had to be heard to be believed was the infants choir. Twenty odd or more little rug rats all screeching in a different key their own unique version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star completely drowning out the piano accompaniment provided by what was usually someones roped in mum. It was so pitiful that the Ten network would have most certainly signed them up for an appearance on Australian Idol. Thank God TV was still unheard of in OZ, because based on current trends, the choir may have been snapped up by one of our recording companies as well.


"I'm a star." Twinkle bloody Twinkle.
It was around this time that the layout of the old Annanadale house began to become a fixed memory in my mind. Despite the many decades that have flown by these memories have not dimmed, although the solid brick building today has changed considerably. I would have loved to have included a photograph of it in my blog, but it is almost now completely hidden from the street by the myriad of shrubs and trees that have completely taken over what once used to be a concrete footpath out front.

It was a two storey full brick home with the second story being an attic used for storage only. What made it different from the other terrace type houses was it had off street parking on the northern side if required. The front yard was a steeply sloped grassy patch with several steps on the left hand side leading up to a tiled verandah and entrance door. The entrance hall was around 30 feet in length and on the right hand side were four doors...Bedroom 1, the Attic, followed by Bedrooms 2 and 3 then into the Dining and Living room. Then came the kitchen complete with an old, but much used fuel stove as well as the gas range. On the left side of the kitchen was a walk in pantry with the rusting ice chest and a tiny bathroom with hot water supplied by a wood chip heater that sounded like a steam engine when fired up every evening.

In the right angled backyard there was the extremely large laundry and the outdoor dunny. Thank God the sewer was connected before I came protesting into the wide world. Next to the dunny was the old dust filled and covered storage shed referred to as the Stable. The wire clothes line ran the length of the yard and was held aloft by the aforementioned forked clothes props. This was eventually replaced with one of the ultra modern Hills Hoist Rotary lines. The front door was never used to enter the house. Family, other relloes, tradespeople, neighbours and all visitors would enter via the front gate on the house's right hand side, then up the concrete path and into the house through the kitchen door, that was always left open, even when the place was unattended. The milkman and the iceman would let themselves in, take their money off the kitchen table and if neccessary leave change. It was indeed a different world back then. One of my daily chores was to place the large wooden chocks in the gutter so my Uncle Jack could drive his little Morris Minor into the 15 foot wide section alongside the house, as there was no driveway in the kerb and guttering out front.

The mischief begins

Bob and Molly began having problems. Whose fault it was, I was too young to realise, suffice to say there was a separation followed by a divorce. It would be fair to say that things remained fairly civilised between all and sundry. Every Saturday morning Dad and I would travel by tram into the city and attend the State Theatrette in Market St. Every other weekend would see me on the 303 bus to Dolls Point heading for Rosebery, where the ‘Old Pot and Pan’ now resided with his sister Dorothy and her three daughters Maureen, Margaret and Valerie. I soon got to know the local wildlife and many an enjoyable weekend was spent getting into all sorts of mischief with my three cheeky cousins. We would go swimming and fishing at Ramsgate, to the movies at the ‘Marina’ and every now and then put on an impromptu concert in the back yard to entertain the local parents and friends. Three or four blankets thrown over the clothes line would act as curtains in between acts. The standard of entertainment was not that bad considering the cast and these concerts always attracted many of the neighbours when the word was spread around via the grapevine.


The old Ramsgate Baths.
At home in Annandale we would entertain ourselves in a way that would be unheard of today. Playing cowboys and indians with cap pistols and bows and arrows. The bows were made from springy bush and tree branches, while the arrows were lengths of dowelling acquired from a nearby timber yard. Knights of the Round Table was popular, with home made wooden swords and garbage tin lids as shields. My Mum and Uncle Jack couldn’t understand how the council garbage men could do so much damage to the bin lids. We would construct home made boats with paper sails and have races in the Annandale canal. The racing distance covered at least two kilometres. 


The Annandale canal.
State of the art racer.

We would take the football down to the local parkland and kick the living crap out of it by playing forcings back. At Camperdown Oval there were concrete tennis courts and the council office nearby would provide oversize bats and tennis balls and we would play for hours on end, then we would walk the two kilometres home, usually soaked in sweat. On each weekend it would be the double feature at the ‘Royal’ cinema on Johnston St. Saturday after Saturday there was a procession of kids aged from early teens down to 4 or 5 years old all heading up Booth Street, constantly being replenished by the crowds pouring out of Wells, Trafalger and View Streets, meeting up with the mob from Annandale, Young and Alfred Streets, as well as from along Johnston Street itself. All would end up watching with scornful disbelief as the serial heroes and heroines escaped from impossible situations and being aware that all of the 100 square feet of plastic green foliage, that represented the African bush in those ’Jungle Jim’ movies was slowly but surely being trampled underfoot and was much thinner than the previous week. It did not matter what part of the African continent our weekend heroes were in, each week they would always pass by the same philodendron whose leaves were becoming extremely worse for wear. 
Plastic plants.

One highlight was when a safari was attacked by, I kid you not, an African tiger and a herd of Indian elephants with large plastic ears. Isn’t Hollywood evolution marvellous?
Plastic ears.
Knights and nights

Every Xmas day the streets would be full of bikes, trikes, scooters, tennis matches, games of cricket, baseball and kids of all shapes and sizes belting the living daylights out of round and oval shaped balls. Back then a motor vehicle would only pass by every 15 minutes or so on average. Today my old stomping ground is almost as busy as a main feeder road with an almost constant flow of traffic. Down near what we referred to as the flats a small housing development began to take shape. Many, but not all, were against this small estate, but there were no confrontations as I assume most residents realised that it was inevitable that it would go ahead. On the pretext that we were visiting each other, a small group of night time terrorists were allowed out by their parents. The main purpose of these moonlighting activities was to slow down this housing development and hopefully have it’s construction terminated. Brick walls only erected that day, still with mortar not fully set, would be nothing but rubble the following morning. Enough timber went missing for a reasonably well built cubby house to be constructed on a vacant block of land along one of the back lanes of Annandale. Many of the local knights of Camelot would be seen brandishing Pacific Maple and Radiata Pine swords as they went about defending the honour of imaginary maidens and damsels in distress. I wonder how many of these damsels realised the weapons used to protect their chastity were once kick boards and flooring material. 


Excalibur.
Although the builders must have been frustrated by our clandestine demolition work, construction continued, albeit slowly and the estate was completed eventually.

Keeping abreast of things

When the tenants moved in their young offspring picked up some pocket money by charging motorists attending the Trots at nearby Harold Park two shillings i.e. 20 cents to park their cars on their front lawns. Others started charging a small fee for keeping an eye out for cars parked on the nearby streets. The motorists’ who refused to be extorted in this way would return to their vehicles after the Trots to be greeted with 4 flat tyres and a coin scratch along at least one side of the car and a message written in lipstick on the windscreen that read ‘Told you so.’ Whenever there was heavy rain or a king tide, the canal at the rear of the estate would become a popular swimming haunt, up until one of the unfortunate locals lost his leg to what they thought was either a bronze whaler or a tiger shark. Most of my gang of troublemakers had push bikes and we used to ride over to the White Bay Power House and swim in, what was known locally as the ‘Swiftie.’ This was where the warm water from the station poured out into White Bay after cooling the generators.
White Bay Power Station.

You could always count on a variable cross section of society to be in attendance at the ‘Swiftie’ day and night. Ages ranged from 8 years through ‘til the early 20’s, both male and female. Many of the girls, including the nubile ones, never seemed to bother with cozzies and even though I cannot recall that much skinny dipping taking place (it did though), not too much was left to the imagination when Tee shirt tops etc., knickers, bras and panties became soaking wet. It was at the ‘Swiftie’ I got to see my first pair of white pointers along with the odd map of Tassie and back then in the 1950’s it meant a lot to a saintly little devout Roman Catholic, snotty nosed mischief maker.




It had to be a warm evening.

Whether it was the warm water or not, I’ll never know, but I had to wait at least another 25 minutes before I could leave the water without being mistaken for a male ballet dancer in tights………..Nowadays I can only dream.

Ah! Xmas and its trappings



 
Anyway, getting back to Xmas, the morning after the big fat bearded bloke from the North Pole had done his thing, the streets would be swarming with snotty nosed larrikins, both male and female. Just about everyone had something that could be peddled, pumped, prodded, pushed, dragged and in some cases, flown. For several days following Xmas it was not a good time for any adult to be out and about. Many an ageing old pensioner was forced to think fast and move quick to avoid being struck by a red Cyclops scooter or to prevent a Speedwell or Malvern Star bicycle from using them as a speed bump. After the several days had passed it was safe to venture outdoors, as nearly all the two, three and four wheeled missiles had been successfully transformed into scrap metal by their snotty nosed riders. It was now time to pay more attention to the indoor toys. Some of my playmates received Meccano sets and would construct massive great erections that Ferdinand De Lesseps would have difficulty in designing. Many of these engineering masterpieces were driven by little donkey engines full of water and were powered by lighting a small fire using small splinters and sawdust as fuel. At least that’s how I remember it from all those years ago. Castles would be built out of the three sets of dominos that one always ended up getting and then blown to smithereens by a toy siege gun capable of firing a wooden shell the full length of the hallway.
One year I was given my first train set. The track was a 1 metre circle and after winding up the engine it would then pull the tender and 4 carriages around and around and around. I thought this was terrific until my mate Bill down the street invited me down to see his train set. His one was all electric and resembled the red rattlers that were being used by the Government Railways. It was a Hornby brand and had at least three lots of four carriage trains that could be operated all together or separately. The track ran along the right wall of the hallway, through the living room, into the kitchen, then would make a U turn and return along the left wall and into the front bedroom through several tunnels and stations, then back to the start. I became Bill’s second best friend for quite some time, at least up until the day when the fuse box on the front porch disappeared in a puff of smoke preceded by a massive Ker-thump!!!


Mine.
Bill's.
Appreciating Xmas

The most enjoyable part of Xmas was getting up early and visiting the relloes and close friends with Uncle Jack. The first stop was always the Lilyfield ice works to pick up 4 blocks of ice. These would be brought home and two would be placed in the concrete laundry tubs and the other pair would be placed in the old gas copper. The two of us would then set out on our morning excursion that took in at least several pit stops. We would leave with several bottles of beer and a bottle of scotch and return with zilch. Uncle Malcolm and his good wife Pat would always be invited to Xmas lunch and what a feast that was. Back then everything was served hot despite the temperature nearly always being around 90 degrees F. There was turkey, chicken, pork and of course the perennial cold leg of ham. One thing Uncle Jack and I noticed when doing the rounds was how many families were beginning to give all the hot food a big miss and were swapping over to cold seafood. It took a while, but eventually our mob fell into line and lobster and king prawns were added to the menu. The meat was cooked the previous day and served cold with various scrumptious salads. One of my most vivid and fondest memories is that of the family being brought together and thoroughly enjoying a sumptuous banquet on Xmas Day.


The traditional leg ham has been a part of Xmas for as long as I can remember. It nearly always is the first food item purchased year after year.

Xmas Eve is when all the wholesale and retail seafood outlets are swarming with customers stocking up on prawns, oysters, crayfish, calamari, bugs and many other crustaceans. Oz is so fortunate to have such a variety. 


Typical Xmas fare.















A bob each way

Holidays with the family was always regarded as one of the years highlights. What was the family? There was , of course my mother Molly, Uncle Jack, who now owned the house, Jack and Molly’s brother Dave and my Aunty Kit who was Dave’s missus. In later years Aunty Kit was to achieve notoriety as the President of the North Annandale Ladies Dart Club and her sister Joyce was a record holding champion at Roller Skating. Sporting talent within our little family group was there for all to see. Joyce and Kit’s immediate family resided further down Nelson St. and on Friday evenings I was given the responsibility to collect money through the kitchen window whilst seated on the kitchen sink.


Cockatoo and Bet collector.  Setting up for the first at Harold Park.

This money would then be transported into a semi darkened room where several family members seated around a round table would be seen counting it, all the time listening to radio broadcasts of the Harold Park Trots. About every 4th or 5th week there would be a sudden rush of activity and shortly afterwards the local police would arrive just in time to join the living room full of known relatives and persons unknown, listening to the Friday night Hit Parade radio programme, or something similar. The big fat policeman known as Sarge was always helpful as he never left without a sample of the out of sight cash handed to him in either an envelope or a brown paper bag. I assume this parcel was given a thorough examination by some anonymous expert to ensure the contents were not counterfeit. Within minutes of the boys in blue departing, lines of people would magically reappear along the house’s side passage, as would the cheeky ankle biter on the sink and no one ever got to find out what the number one record was, as the programme was replaced by Ken Howard calling the 4th race at Harold Park.


Legendary race caller,  Ken Howard.


The old Harold Park Paceway.
Holidays, you beaut!

I distinctly recall mentioning family holidays. During the Spring and possibly the Autumn vacation, there would be a mass exodus to regions north. Long Jetty, Woy Woy, Koolewong, Point Clare, Ettalong and Umina were the popular hot spots, anywhere either on or near the water. My memory of the holiday homes we rented at the time all appear to be of dark dingy places and of bed mattresses that felt like smooth river stones wrapped in a thin cotton sheet. Within an hour of arriving, Uncles’ Jack and Dave would vanish and shortly afterwards would return to the jetty out front with a 4 metre clinker built fishing boat powered by a single pot Blaxland and Chapman putt putt. The old leather strap around the cast iron flywheel to start the engine and a screw driver to short circuit it to stop. Ahh! modern technology at its best.


2.5 hp B and C Putt Putt

The rented house would nearly always have a large galvanised water tank that supplied us with water for cooking, drinking and bathing. There was always an electric stove in the kitchen, but many coins were needed as there was a meter that had to be constantly fed to maintain the supply of electricity. We always brought along our Metho stove that was used more often than not. Bath time required the bath tub to have 4 buckets of cold and 2 of hot water tipped in. The water was heated in the bucket by using the old Metho stove. Sometimes three of us would use the same bath water, with me being last in. I discovered all those years ago precisely what was meant by the term ‘grey water.’ Visits to the dunny were kept to a minimum as it was necessary to zig zag ones way through the spiders, cockroaches, centipedes and multi coloured fluffy things that resembled flying eyelashes that would be seen darting all over the yard. It was bad enough during daylight hours, but at night, forget it. As well as the aforementioned there were orb weaving spiders the size of cricket balls with webs one could catch fish in. Bushes and tree branches would shake rattle and roll as some unidentified creature of the night traipsed through them. Night owls continually kept on asking, “Hooo?” despite being assured, “It’s me stupid.” At any moment one expected either Bela Lugosi or Christopher Lee to appear from behind a rustling bush and say, “Gut eefferning.” The journey was bad enough, but what was waiting at its end was even more terrifying. Twenty five or so metres from the rear of the house, hidden away in the darkest corner of the property was that unique Australian icon, the outdoor dunny. Even on the darkest night all one had to do was to follow ones nose. The shed was full of camphor balls, or something similar to disguise the methane gas producing odours that emanated from this heritage listed structure.


An Aussie Icon.
Who needs coal burning and atomic energy to produce power, simply bring back the outdoor dunny. During daylight hours all sorts of creepy crawlies would be seen residing in or taking short cuts through the dunny along with the odd dreaded red back spider. Rays of sunlight would pour through the many gaps in the loose fitting weatherboards that the outhouse was constructed from. During evening nothing was noticed moving, but was quite often felt climbing up ones leg. One was never alone in the good old Aussie dunny. Every once in a while one was tempted to gaze into the dunny pan to determine just how full it was……a really bad move. The contents were beyond description and many a time I chundered my way back to the house. The pans were only emptied by highly skilled council employees once a week, who would sneak in during the early hours of the morning to perform their dirty deed.
Forget about the bodily functions, there were plenty of worthwhile things that I remember quite clearly about these holidays. The local food and drink always seemed to taste much better than the city equivalent. The vegetables were more flavoursome, the fruit either juicier or crispier, the local ice cream and soft drinks tasted great and the milk that came in square shaped bottles was much, much creamier. Every day, weather permitting all bar Molly would be seen drifting along Paddy’s Channel in the clinker boat with handlines dragging across the sandy or weedy bottom. There was never an expedition that ended without at least a dozen or so fish in the wet sugar bag. This was a mixed lot that included flathead, silver bream and whiting, with the odd flounder thrown in for good measure. Even though Mum was not a keen fisherwoman, she would still enjoy the occasional outing and was just as successful as we were.
When Mum and Dad went their separate ways, mum agreed to Dads request that I be raised as a Catholic. At home in Annandale it was a short Sunday morning stroll to Mass, but on hols mum had to attend with her saintly little son as Jack and Dave would be bobbing up and down somewhere on Brisbane Water hoping for a feed of fish.

                    
This meant catching the local bus to the nearest RC church and listening to the parish priest waffling on ad nauseum during his overlong sermon. Many a time I would have to wake Mum up at the end of the Mass so we could return home.

 

It must have been hard at times having a devout Roman Catholic ankle biter residing in a house full of heathen Protestants, particularly when the heathens were South Sydney Rabbitoh supporters and the devout Tyke barracked for the Balmain Tigers.

Ilka Street

Another place I used to visit was my Aunty Kit’s at Lilyfield. It was only about a 15 minute walk from the Nelson St. house, but once there it seemed as though it was miles away. Aunty Kit was married to my Uncle Dave and they were renting the Lilyfield house, which was in a high geographic location and provided one with a wonderful district outlook from the living room’s rear window. Aunty Kit would quite often take me to Coogee Beach, where I ended up teaching myself to swim in the rock pool. We would also travel all the way out to Parsley Bay, somewhere along the southern headland in Vaucluse. This was a harbour pool with a huge mesh net keeping out the Noahs’ and other large bities.


Coogee Beach.














Parsley Bay.
Sometime around 11 am. the bakers van would pull up outside the Lilyfield residence and Aunty Kit would purchase a fresh loaf of bread that was still more than just warm. It smelt fantastic as well. I loved her freshly cut sandwiches, but thank God she did not own a sandwich shop. Her bread slicing had to be seen to be believed. One end of the bread would be 1 centimetre thick and the other end at least 6, if the bread was not so fresh these slices could be used as door stops. They had to be eaten from the thin end as ones mouth was not capable of opening wide enough to tackle the thick end.
An Aunty Kit special.

Fares please.......oops! sorry 'bout that.

I made friends with some of the local kids and a considerable amount of time would be spent playing in the park at the end of the street. We would go walkabout down to the railway bridge and sneak into prohibited areas and place pennies on the train lines and wait for the train to completely flatten them. We were very easily amused. Another trick was to place ones ear on the railway line and listen for an approaching train. It was amazing how quickly a train would suddenly appear from nowhere and it usually was only 15 to 20 seconds after removing ones ear from the track that the train would pass by. If ever Kit and the other parents became aware what we were up to, it would be boots up the bum all round, but they never did.


This is what the pennies looked  like before they were carefully placed on the track after our sensitive ears told us a bloody great train was approaching.
The end result.


I used to sit on the wall alongside the railway line near Jubilee Park at Glebe with my Annandale mates and behave in an identical fashion. We used to walk along the tracks through the railway tunnel that went all the way through to almost Pyrmont or Ultimo, a distance of around 1 kilometre.


The Glebe end.
The Ultimo end.

More than once we were forced to run like hell when a steam engine belching thick black smoke would enter the tunnel when we were only half way through. Almost next door was a council tip and alongside that was the Rozelle tram depot.



One piece of trivia has stayed with me throughout the years. Why was the Rozelle tram depot in Annandale and the Annandale timber yard in Rozelle? There never seemed to be anyone in authority present in the depot and a considerable amount of time would be spent pretending to be tram drivers and conductors on the many parked trams. I think it was Jim who discovered how to drive one of these trams. We had approximately 200 metres of track to play with, so up and down and back and forth we would go, up to an hour or more. This went on for several weeks on and off until one day more than a dozen employees all in uniform appeared out of the blue and began chasing us along the track screaming abuse. The three of us leapt from the still moving tram and scarpered off up Nelson St. The last thing we saw as we hurriedly left the depot was the tram reaching the end of the track and failing to stop. The following day there was an article in the Sydney newspapers referring to a runaway tram that had left the rails and authorities were experiencing difficulties returning it to the depot from the nearby Tip. It was alleged that three boys seen running from the depot may have been responsible.
 

OOPS !


1 comment:

GoldenOldie said...

Hi Trev,
wow I love your writing style and you stories about early life in Australia.

Being an 'Inner City Kid' (Alexandria) I relate to a lot of your stories. I am also part of a facebook group called Remembering Sydney and I am sure they would all love to also read your stories. https://www.facebook.com/groups/603159593052049/ that is the link if you are interested.

Regards

Ray Cooney

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