Mosman Voices - oral histories online

Margaret Joan Holmes

Interviewed by Margaret Holgate on 17 November 2000

Margaret Holmes. A small grocer’s shop – there weren’t any Supermarkets whatsoever.

Margaret Holgate. Were there many grocery shops in Mosman, or only two or three?

Margaret Holmes. Most of my groceries I got just from a little grocer nearby.

Margaret Holgate. Did he deliver?

Margaret Holmes. Well he would have, yes, if I had too much to take in my basket. We had a fruiterer a few shops along from me. Spit Junction had several draper shops. There’s just Lovell’s there now, which used to be Minty’s. Around the corner was a rival, Line & co, there were two there, so if you couldn’t get it at one you could go to the other.

Margaret Holgate. I can remember those. There was a Coles wasn’t there?

Margaret Holmes. That’s right, there was a Coles along there, but it wasn’t the kind of Supermarket that they have now.

Margaret Holgate. I don’t think they sold food in those days. It was a sort of sixpenny store.

Margaret Holmes. A little odds-and-ends sort of shop it was. And then there was a beautiful chocolate shop, Kerslakes that made the chocolate on the premises. The most wonderful chocolate you could imagine. And Mr Whittle of course, well he’s a chapter in himself. The Post Office at Spit Junction used to be on the other side of Spit Rd. It was where The Garrison is now. Mr Whittle was just opposite it, where the Post Office is now. That was a most wonderful hardware shop you could possibly imagine, stacked from floor to ceiling with every conceivable kind of thing needed. He was wonderful. There was not this multiplicity of flower shops, and that kind of thing. I can’t recall any actual florist shop. There were quite a few bootmakers that did shoe repairs. There were watch makers.

Margaret Holgate. People used to have things mended didn’t they? They don’t anymore.

Margaret Holmes. And then you had the kind of people who came round to your home to mend things, we had a scissor man who used to come about twice a year. He would sharpen all your knives and sharpen your scissors and screw up anything that had got a bit loose. Then there was the man that came and mended chairs, or other things. He’d re-seat a cane chair if it had worn out, or he’d put new little things on the bottoms of the legs to stop them scratching the polished floor. He used to come about twice a year. There was always some odd little thing for them to do. And the clothes prop man – calling out ‘clothes prop’. He had these long wooden boughs from the bush, straight boughs with a fork at the end carried over his shoulder and if you wanted a new clothes prop you’d buy one from him.

Margaret Holgate. There were no hills hoists at all?

Margaret Holmes. Oh no. They were quite a new thing later on.

Margaret Holgate. A great Australian invention actually.

Margaret Holmes. The dressmaker was another thing. There were lots of little dressmaker shops where you could buy the material and have her measure you and make up the dress for you, or the children’s clothes, if you weren’t making them yourself.