Start with your father then, just tell me what you were saying before.
My father was a seafaring man – he was First Mate and he came out here on a sailing vessel with my mother’s cousin, who introduced them. They were then living in Prahran and after some few years they became friendly and they married, and once they were married they came out to Northcote. Dad went into business in 1885, in High Street, Northcote, opposite Bastings Street. He had a hay and corn store and wood and coal. There were seven children – we were all born in Northcote. While he was in business he had three different shops in High Street and he came down to the corner of Gladstone Avenue and High Street (where the Budget Office now stands) and he was there for many years, until he retired.
From the shop, and on the corner of Gladstone Avenue and High Street, when the 12 o’clock whistle went at the Brick Company, my mother would go out on the back verandah of our home in Kelvin Grove and look straight across to see my father locking the door to walk home for lunch and have lunch with her and the children.
They closed the shop on Wednesday afternoon and dad would take his two dogs and go fishing down in the Darebin Creek, or perhaps we would stay home from school and he would he would take the dray and he would take us up as far as Reservoir for a picnic, with old Polly in the cart. I remember that quite well.
Later we moved to Darebin Road, in 1901, and then as I grew older and went to work – I was the youngest of a family of seven – I went to work and I was a tailoress and I worked for Arthur Shands the tailor in Westgarth, and to save our money we used to walk to Separation Street to save a penny on the tram to go down to work, and often, if we were extra early, we would walk right down from Darebin Road down to Westgarth to go to work.
Wages were not very big in those days, and I started as an apprentice on 11 shillings per week and later, when I became a full hand and had done my apprenticeship, I got three pounds, five and nine pence. When in 1924 I was working I got 7/6d. to make a pair of trousers.
Later Arthur Shands and Bill Perrin built the Westgarth Theatre which was the only other theatre we had at that time until the Regent was built.
In my younger days there was a very nice little hall on the corner of Darebin Road and St. David Street, where we had many entertainments – mainly by the Pollard Theatre Company. We also had our Sunday School in St. David’s Street, which is Holy Trinity Church, and that was moved on a huge horse-drawn lorry, down to Shaftesbury Parade, where it now stands. The Pollard Group used to put on many little plays for us, and I think they were under the heading of the Pollard Theatre Company.
Their main performers were Mr and Mrs George Tutton. David Tutton is now choirmaster at St. Georges, East Ivanhoe. He is a grandson of George Tutton still in the musical business.
Kimberley Hall was our entertainment for many years until about the time of 1915 I think. Many functions were held there until it was demolished. Next door to Kimberley Hall was a very fine building. Nurse Hooper had her maternity hospital there and later Colonel (“Pompey”) Elliott lived there.
This interview was recorded by Don and Maisie Baker in the 1980s