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Going to the Shops, OR Life before Supermarkets.

Young Bondi folk may find it difficult to imagine a world without supermarket shopping. Surprisingly,there was a time when Bondi did not have a Cafe every few metres serving smashed avocado on Turkish bread washed down with double shot lattes. We didn't drive to the supermarket, we " walked to the shops".

  Supermarkets as we know them didn't exist although there was a kind of one in Oxford Street where we actually picked up the item and placed it in a little basket.It was  named " Greathead's Cash and Carry". Mostly, though Mum walked to the shops and carried the goods home in her large shopping bag.She paid cash for everything except possibly she ran a weekly account at the grocer's.

 Most residential streets had a corner store within easy walking distance.Sometime called a " mixed business" they sold the essentials, milk,bread and of course, cigarettes. They weren't allowed to sell newspapers and they were often closed on Sundays.

 Serious shopping went on at he local shops Seven Ways, North Bondi featured a grocer shop, newsagent, fish and chip shop, chemist shop (pharmacy ) three fruit shops,"Harry's" fruit barrow, a ham and beef shop and two butcher shops.  A little bit up the street was a garage and "Murnane'.s Cake Shop". The butcheries were something else, the floors were covered in three inches of sawdust to soak up the blood from the meat and was changed daily. One never entered a butchers wearing good shoes to save them from the sawdust. In the grocery, the grocer and his staff stood on one side of a wooden counter and his customers on the other. Nothing was pre-packed, " Arnott's" biscuits were taken from big tins,weighed and placed in brown paper bags.Fruit shops were generally owned by Italian immigrants, veggies were weighed on a giant scale then wrapped in newspaper. Waverley Council allowed a number of fruit barrows to ply their trade on footpaths selling whatever was cheap from the markets. Harry De Ruiter worked the one at seven ways in all weathers. His son, Ricky was a good surfer, moving to Hawaii and becoming a police officer at Waikiki. Sadly, Ham and Beef shops no longer exist. They sold ham,cheeses and processed meats like frankfurts and saveloys. The boss wore a white coat,he operated a large slicing machine that sliced pork fritz and devon sausage.He carved ham off the bone with great skill and dispensed pickled onions from large jars. The influx of European immigrants,lovingly referred to as " reffos ' brought with them more exotic tastes and opened " Continental Delicatessens" selling salamis and strong cheeses gradually consigning ham and beef shops to the dustbins of history.Fish Shops were almost always run by Greeks. Their busy night was always Friday's when Bondi Catholics who at that time were not allowed to eat meat on Fridays crowded into their shops. The staff at the chemist shop wore crisp white uniforms,the chemist could be viewed through a small window also dressed in a white   outfit mixing up potions and counting out pills. The chemist shop also doubled as the Kodak film dealer. You would drop in your roll of film,wait a couple of weeks and collect an envelope filled with black and white prints .

 For serious shoppers however the real action was at Six Ways. Located in Hall Street was a large "McIllwraiths" store selling smallgoods. Uniformed ladies stood behind large counters selling processed meats and exotic cheeses.There was a Jewish Bakery selling strange breads and cakes and a Kosher butchery across the road. Hall Street had "Hoyts"Pictures and all the major banks operated from large impressive buildings.There were no cafe or restaurants away from the beach as nobody ate out.

  So remember folk, next time you are in Woolies car park stuffing your pre packed shopping into the boot of the BMW later to have a coffee with our mates remember Mum and her shopping bag.

 

Al Scott

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