People Share Their Stories

Macdonaldtown Station was “amazing”: “from six o’clock, you would just see one stream of people, and they would be coming off the trains: firstly, going up to the hospital; to the factories up this end; or down through Burren Street, down past the public school; over the bridge at the railway; down over Erskineville Park, they used to walk across there. There would be thousands going to Metters of a morning, and then of an evening they’d all start coming back this way”. There were a lot of children in the area in the 1930s. His family had nine children and most of the houses “would’ve had four or five people … Everyone was poor. The two-storey places over the road here were just empty, open for anyone. All the lead was taken out of the roofs and sold.” The Depression saw his father employed one week in three at the brick pits, (where “doomies” slept at night), but he also was a careful gambler, supplementing the family’s income “to a great degree”, whilst witnessing police brutality and corruption. Terry had a pony, stabled near the railway in Burren Street: “I used to ride it around here … I’d go to Centennial Park, oh I made heaps of trips … I must have been eight or nine … because I was so light, I was considered jockey material”. The family home was always full of kids from school and the Catholic Younger Set: “On Sunday nights, my mother would be cooking for anything up to twenty-five people”. The family went to Bronte every Sunday for years, but during the war years “there was barbed wire entrenchments at Bronte; you couldn’t get easy access to the beaches”. Terry discusses the social makeup of the area, including the few Aboriginal families, who were “great people, because they were all in the football clubs, they were working in the councils, they were on the road gang, they were in the clubs …”

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