Our Place: Stories of Surry Hills, Darlinghurst & Paddington - Biographies

Our Place - Stories of Surry Hills and Darlinghurst - Pat Wright Biography


Pat was born in 1929. “When I think of Darlinghurst, I think of excitement: police cars on the move and the ambulance”; the police would stand out in the weather, hanging onto the doors [of the Black Mariah, when the … criminals, were inside. Pat thought her father was a better father than a husband: “If I’d had Dad for a husband, I would’a killed him. I would’a stuck a knife in him! Yet, my mother idolised him. It was always ‘Georgy Love’”. Pat lived in Ryder Street: “There were police pimps there and also one lady in particular, … she’d go down Oxford Street and get the girls for the men … I didn’t really know what they did”. The ‘ladies of the night’ were down in Campbell Street, near Little Riley Street, near Goodchap Street, and they were also down in Goulburn Street, just down from Crown Street, and “the ladies’d stand at the door, and they’d have sleeveless blouses, and skirts that barely covered their bottom, and that was bad”. Pat would be clouted if she stared at them! Tilly Devine “was a beautiful woman”, who had “cream golden hair”, and travelled in cabs: “I don’t think she was a prostitute, she was more a gangster’s moll, and she did a lot of good work”. On the corner was a hotel called The Wedge, and it did the best business Sunday mornings – sly grog: “You’d knock on the door, a lady puts her head out the window, looks … puts the beer down, grabs the money”. Pat, when she was older, would go with friends to Ray Segar’s Dance Studio, and also Paddington Town Hall and the Australian Hall in Elizabeth Street, for dancing. The Catholic Youth Organisation was important; they’d go to the fights, the wrestling or the pictures. Pat’s parents got the Labor Daily: “My father, without him realising it, had Commo ways, yet if you said that to him, he would near kill you. We had a photo of Stalin framed on the wall”. Pat remembers the controversial play “Love Me Sailor’, which was performed at Rushcutters Bay park, as no-one would put it on in a hall.