Foppish yellow flowers drip off the choko vine as it winds its way over the rusting corrugated iron that serves as a back fence. Lanes in working class Sydney in the 1930s were dotted with choko vines, mulberry trees, chook houses and pigeon lofts. Susannah Place in The Rocks is a perfect example of that poor urban landscape. Housing was basic and shoved together. Sanitation was a tin emptied weekly by the ‘dunny man’.
Women were poorly educated, married early and had larger families that are fashionable today. The evening meal (tea) might consist of a rabbit stew bulked up with wedges of choko, followed by bread’n’butter pudding or runny custard from a packet of Foster Clarke’s powder. Children thought there were kings and queens when able to take vegemite sandwiches or fairy bread to school for their meal in the middle of the day (dinner).
The head of the household might find a day’s work on the Hungry Mile wharves. This was no more than a day-by-day proposition. If he was lucky with a day’s work, Dad would knock-off at 4 o’clock and rush down to the local pub to knock back a schooner or two of Resch’s Draught or Toohey’s Old before the end of the 6 o’clock swill.
By the time he got home, Mum was onto her third or fourth Bex Powder. The next morning, they both needed a dose of castor oil to help unclog their systems and prepare them for more of the same.
I am down the South Coast, swimming and walking at Merry Beach, then to the Four Winds Music Festival at Bermagui. I return late Monday.