Mosman Voices - oral histories online

Nancy Phelan

Interviewed by [talk at Mosman Library] on 28 June 1990
Subject: ,

Beauty Point was just bush. There was a dairy there, and the milk used to come to the diary at dawn in a cart in those great big metal cans and you put out the billy, and they’d put the money out too, which you wouldn’t do these days. It was really very rural and it wasn’t until quite late in the day that people started cutting up land and building houses up there in Beauty Point.

Up there also, further along towards Warringah Road towards the junction there was a place called Twilight Homes. It was fully of dotty old ladies (laughter) and they used to get out and they used to get into trams, and there was one we loved, our favourite. Her name was Miss. Bessy Boyce. She always told you her name, she said, ‘I’m Miss. Bessy Boyce’. She was a gentlewoman, I think she was related to a bishop or something, she was very genteel, but she used to get in the tram and tell everybody that she loved them. When the man helped her off the tram she’d say, ‘oh, thank you God, oh thank you dear, I love you, I love everyone’. She’d do this all the time, she was absolutely sweet, and so I loved Miss. Bessy Boyce, in fact I put her into one of my books, ‘Home is the Sailor’, I used bits of her there because she was a marvelous character.

As a matter of fact there were some marvelous characters about, people didn’t sort of … they weren’t trying to conform they were just being themselves you know. Life was very simple and nobody was trying to keep up with the Jones’s. So there were a lot of characters about and I loved watching some and sort of eavesdropping and watching and listening.

There was a mad boy who lived down the road. He was called ‘mad Dibby’. Of course we wouldn’t call them a mad boy these days you’d say something more tactful. He lived down at the lighthouse, there was a lighthouse, which, I think is now called ‘Rosherville light’, it’s a big snappy, flashing light down below Parriwi Road and he lived down there, and he was very picturesque. He had a very peculiar mother. I don’t think she was the full quid either, every time she saw my sister or me she used to scream out, ‘oh, the little girls have got loverly ‘air, they’ve got such loverly ‘air’. (laughter)

And then there was a character called ‘Sonny Strange’, a man with a purple face, he lived down on Chinamen’s Beach in a sort of shack and we used to see him weaving his way down the hill you know, across our gate and my mother didn’t approve of him at all.

He lived down there with a lot of very colourful ladies, and they used to scream in the night (laughter) and there were all sorts of things going on.