Mosman Voices - oral histories online

Pat Gardiner and Laurie Huby

Interviewed by Zoe Dobson on 21 May 2007

Laurie Huby. I’ll start from Edward’s Bay Road, which was in McAdam Road. It became concreted over time. My father, whilst we were living there decided to have built a block of flats at 28 Stanton Road, a three-storied block of flats and it seemed to be built over a period from 1924 to 1925, those figures can be corrected, but from my memory that’s fairly right. I have memories of climbing up through the bushes and rough ground up to the Garden School. Now, the Theosophists, a religious organisation, owned this school and were responsible for the building of the Amphitheatre, and this was a large complex at the bottom of Stanton Road fronting Edward’s Beach Balmoral. I was about four years of age when I was sent to the Garden School because that was almost next door. I’d go through the bush where the flats were being built and prior to reaching five years of age I then went to Mosman Public School, Infants.
The Garden School is worth a mention in that it consisted of one very large two-storey building surrounded by lawns and trees. Their curriculum, as judged from my ancient memory seemed to be quite odd. The two Principals were also odd in my opinion. Miss. Arnold and Miss. McDonald, and their aim mainly consisted of watching lanternslides of Greek Gods, dancing out on the grass and the lawns, and ancient plays, you know, like the Iliad, and we learnt about Ulysses.

Zoe Dobson. And you were only about four and a half.

Laurie Huby. Yes, Ulysses from the Trojan War when he went to Ithaca and so on. It was very helpful in later life. No time appeared to be devoted to formal subjects, and these were the seniors, I think they went to something like the leaving stage, and learning was taken up with archery, javelin and discus throwing, tennis, canoeing and play-acting. The only pupil of note that I can remember was a girl called Shirley Anne Richards. We made it into the Australian films.
I’m uncertain when the school was demolished and Glen Carrin Avenue was put through the whole estate. I would say that would have been in about 1937.

Zoe Dobson. They had a particular dance didn’t they?

Laurie Huby. Yes, rhythmic dancing, I don’t know what that means but they all seemed to be dressed up in bedding sheets – crazy stuff.

Zoe Dobson. You remember the amphitheatre.

Laurie Huby. Yes, the latter part of the amphitheatre was when they didn’t know what to do with it. The Theosophists expected Christ to come through the Heads, but he didn’t, and so it was a nothing place for so many years until they let it out to show-people. On the weekends you could see vaudeville acts, plays, and all sorts of things.

Pat Gardiner. Yes, all the shops seemed to be a Spit Junction in those days. The butchers and McIlraill’s (sp), and Mr. Whittle – Whittle’s Hardware, he was quite famous. I think he was there for about 40 years. Everybody went to Mr. Whittle’s, and there were the two Miss. James’ who had a Garden Store; grandpa used to buy all his plants there he loved gardening. And there was a Mr. Davy who had a Ham & Beef shop, we used to go there.

Laurie Huby. On the top of Stanton Road there was a butcher on the corner, (indistinct) was the butcher there in my day.

Zoe Dobson. That’s the little group of shops at Parrawi Junction.

Pat Gardiner. No, at the top of Stanton Road.

Laurie Huby. Going into Stanton Road was a parking lot and there were four little shops, the butcher, the grocer, a fruit shop, and Mr. Ball was the one who sold cakes and lollies.

Laurie Huby. There used to be fruit trees everywhere and I can remember my sister and I were going down, away from Stanton Road, probably down Tivoli Street somewhere, and we went into one empty house that was for sale. We stole the fruit from there. Some neighbour must have told on us because the policeman came down and gave us a very long lecture. The policeman was generally known as ‘Long Tom’, he did everything in Mosman. Even when the trams were there he’d stand at Spit Junction intersection throughout the five o’clock rush, and he’d organise the trams down Spit Road. So the policeman was probably well known to us anyway, but we were nabbed, stealing fruit from an empty house.

Laurie Huby. In the early part of the Depression there was Old Ned who lived in a cave just off our block at 28 Stanton Road, and you’d see him in the caves down at Balmoral Beach too. That’s all we knew about Ned, there were all sorts of tales about him, an academic – all that sort of thing. But that wasn’t uncommon because Chinaman’s Beach got its name, it wasn’t Rosherville Beach as it is now, it was Chinaman’s Beach because of the Chinese Gardens on the flat down there.
There were a lot deadbeats and people out of work trying to eke out a living and building little sheds to live in. You didn’t know much about them they kept to themselves, probably a bit ashamed in a way.

Empire Day bonfire; Garden School

Ours (bonfire) was just off Stanton Road, which was a council common. There wasn’t a lot of fuel or big trees around but the garden School had a paling fence that went down our side near the flats and was mostly covered by low bush like tea tree. We used to peel the palings off the fence and take them over and put them on our bonfire.
There seemed to be one male teacher in the Garden School who assembled the pupils and as a ritual, they came every year and took the palings off our fire and put them back on the fence. We then had to go home, find newspapers and any other timber or rubbish, and re-build our fire for the nighttime.