Where Was Your Local Corner Shop or Deli?

If you’re a baby boomer who grew up in an Australian city or country town,  just the mere mention of the words ‘local corner shop’ or ‘corner deli’ will instantly bring back a flood of wonderful memories!

There was a local shop (in some states referred to as the corner deli) on almost every second corner in every suburb and they stocked everything from milk and bread to shoe polish and sewing needles. This little shop was the beating heart of many communities, as well as a source of local gossip and an income for the families who ran them.

In the 1950s and 1960s we were a less mobile community and most of the shopping was done close to home. There was a local butcher shop with sawdust on the floor and a kindly butcher who always had a slice of devon (or fritz) for all the kids who might be out shopping with mum. There was the local hardware store, a hairdresser and greengrocer and most other perishables were delivered daily by the milkman, baker and iceman.

Kenny Peplow shared this photo; “Dad’s FJ taxi outside the local deli around 1958-1959.” The taxi was parked outside the corner shop at the time”.

But the corner shop was where you could find most of the essentials of daily living and ‘extra’ grocery items and they continued to play a role as an important fixture in our communities until the mid 60s.

Many little shops were built onto the front of a premises, which also acted as the family home, and as they lived on site, the owners and their families would stay open until 9pm during the week and all weekend, even after church on Sunday.

Corner shops were magical places full of strange aromas and wonderful surprises! Cheeses came in wheels and were cut by slicing with a cheese wire. Fresh ham came on the bone and was sliced by a meat saw. Most of the fresh produce was sold in small quantities, as needed. Sugar and flour came in sacks and was carefully measured out into brown paper bags. Fresh milk came in bottles and cream was ladelled out from a milk urn into your own bottle or container, which you took to the shop.

You could also buy tuppence worth of lollies, choosing from the range behind the faded glass display case, which included conversation lollies, red and green umbrella toffees on a stick, liquorice blocks or a packet of sherbet fizz. There was Peters ice cream in either single or double scoop cones, or a square raspberry ice block in a square cone (they were also tuppence).

Many corner shops also had a jukebox installed and served ice cold milk shakes and became a regular hangout for teenagers after school or work.

The motor car and the spread of the supermarket chains saw the gradual demise of the little corner shop. Many continued to trade on into the 70s and even the 80s but with the arrival of the big suburban shopping malls, the final nail was hammered into the coffin.

Roger Ray shared this photo of a derelict corner shop boarded up and probably awaiting demolition

Driving around our suburbs and towns today, there are still reminders of the days when the corner shops reigned supreme. They are mostly boarded up now, some are still used as family homes, but they stand as a reminder to a fascinating part of our lives, growing up in what I believe was a very special era.

The local corner shop is a special part of our childhood memories and an important part of our history as a community.

If you love nostalgia join me on a trip down memory lane with a copy of my best-selling book Australia Remember When. Almost 250 pages, crammed with photos, memories and stories of growing up in the baby boomer years from the 40s to the 80s and beyond. Join me as we celebrate growing up in what was a very different era, when kids roamed free, parents and teachers were obeyed, discipline was an accepted part of life and the world seemed a simpler place. RRP of the book is $34.99 (plus postage) and can be purchased from Shopify, just to the right of this story.

When the Bread Came by Horse and Cart

I remember before supermarkets and sliced bread in plastic bags, hot, fresh bread was delivered, unsliced of course, by the baker in his horse and cart.

It may be a trick of nature, but it doesn’t seem all that long ago that the baker’s horse, a large, gentle creature that needed no guidance and was loved by all the neighbourhood children, would slowly clip-clop up and down the street, following the baker on his daily round.

I may be remembering the scene through a child’s eyes but life seemed so much more innocent, simpler and slower back then.

The delivery man’s only tool of trade (aside from his knowledge of the round) was the large wicker basket filled with warm bread and covered with a clean white linen cloth.

The baker’s cart was always brightly painted, with the name of the bakery painted on the side while the interior was lined with wooden shelving on which sat perhaps hundreds of loaves of crusty bread, all baked fresh that morning. The delivery man’s only tool of trade (aside from his knowledge of the round) was the large wicker basket, into which he would place the still warm bread and cover with a clean white linen cloth. Each morning the aroma of fresh bread would fill the street along with the smell of the horse and occasionally the odour of a large steaming heap of horse dung, an extra bonus for dad’s vegie patch.

The horse seemed to know exactly when to stop so the baker could refill his basket as he ran from house to house, delivering a loaf or loaves into a bread tin, left on the front veranda. During school holidays all the kids in the neighbourhood would wait at the end of the street and a lucky one or two would be chosen to hold the reins of the old horse as he slowly meandered along the road. Sometimes too there would be a fresh yeast bun from the basket for the children waiting patiently for their turn.

It’s sad to think that in this day and age the baker would probably be under suspicion for some crime for touching a child as he lifted him/her into the seat behind the horse, plus there would be the possibility of litigation should a child happen to fall or be in any way injured.

From memory the bread man came every day as bread back then had no preservatives and after just a day or so would be stale. That’s when mum

Equal opportunity employer. Sometimes the baker was a lady, but the bread was always fresh and crusty

would make her bread and butter pudding with raisins, served with hot custard, I can almost taste it now!

As far as I’m aware, bread delivery by horse and cart continued on in some Adelaide suburbs until the 1970s. Gradually though the horses were replaced by bread vans which also eventually disappeared from our roads and now most people simply purchase their bread from a supermarket.

Do you remember the baker delivering bread in his horse and cart?

If you love nostalgia join me on a trip down memory lane with a copy of my best-selling book Australia Remember When. Almost 250 pages, crammed with photos, memories and stories of growing up in the baby boomer years from the 40s to the 80s and beyond. Join me as we celebrate growing up in what was a very different era, when kids roamed free, parents and teachers were obeyed, discipline was an accepted part of life and the world seemed a simpler place. RRP of the book is $34.99 (plus postage) and can be purchased from Shopify, just to the right of this story.

Remember Free Milk at School

Back in the 1950s the Australian Government introduced a scheme for school children to receive free milk. I think the idea was that it would ensure that all Australian children would be getting fresh milk and a good dose of calcium each day.

The idea might have been fine but in practice there were a few problems. The truck delivering the crates of milk to our school would normally drop it off at about 9.30am and recess wasn’t until 10.45 (from memory). So on a hot Australian summer’s day, the milk would go off. No refrigeration was available and yet the teachers made you drink the milk, off or not. Put my wife off milk for years.

I’ve posted on this topic on the Australian Remember When Facebook page in the past and its created great debate with lots of comments from readers.

Primary school children drinking milk made available free by the school milk programme in the early 60s.

Darryl Barreau wrote “After being spotted by a milk monitor tipping out the “off” milk in the drain, a teacher paraded me before her class (not my own) each morning and whacked the back of my legs with a ruler. That went on for 4 or 5 days trying to get me to apologise, until I told my parents and Dad had a little chat with the Headmaster. Ahh, not so fond memories of milk in the late 50s/early 60s.”

Some of our posters recalled the scheme had also been introduced in England; “I recall the rich(ish) kids at our school bringing chocolate powder to mix with their milk. I was promoted to milk monitor but was sacked after one day for locking the other monitor in the milk shed. And Maggie Thatcher axed the milk scheme for the over 7 year olds in England in ’71 to save money. The press at the time labeled her ˜Maggie Thatcher the Milk Snatcher”

Another remembered; “lining up to accept the sunny boy type contained milk!! I often still remember that smell, I would run to the back of the line continuously until they were all gone!!!”

One poster had happy memories; “I remember this, but our milk was frozen and was always fresh and we had to supply our own cups. On a hot day our milk thawed out and was still fresh. During winter our milk was put in a fridge that some parents donated to the school so our milk was just right for drinking. In the end we used the fridge during summer time as well and didn’t have frozen milk anymore”!

And to prove it wasn’t all bad, yet another person remembered; “I have some very fond memories of the free milk for me at Cairns in the early 70s. Couldn’t wait till little lunch. Always participated in risky

Not everyone hated free milk at school.

sports and never broken a bone in my life. They should reintroduce this at schools. Might help the dairy farmers as well. Win-win”.

I must admit I was never a big fan during those school years but fortunately it never put me off milk as an adult. My wife gags at the sight of me skulling a big glass of milk, she was put off milk forever by the “Free Milk for Schools Program”

The free school milk scheme lasted until the early 70’s and was scrapped.

Interesting thought by our last poster suggesting it should be re-introduced today. It would certainly be a big help to the local dairy farmers and I believe there are a lot of kids who don’t t get much of a breakfast, might be a way of improving school kids general health.

What are your memories of school milk?

Share the memories of your own childhood with our other readers by recording your comments in the “Comments” area below. Comments may take up to 24 hours to appear.

If you love nostalgia join me on a trip down memory lane with a copy of my best-selling book Australia Remember When. Almost 250 pages, crammed with photos, memories and stories of growing up in the baby boomer years from the 40s to the 80s and beyond. Join me as we celebrate growing up in what was a very different era, when kids roamed free, parents and teachers were obeyed, discipline was an accepted part of life and the world seemed a simpler place. RRP of the book is $34.99 (plus postage) and can be purchased from Shopify, just to the right of this story.

Sweet Memories of my Childhood

I’m sitting here remembering some of the lollies we used to have as kids back in the 50s to the 70s.

There were Fags of course, the cigarette lollies that we used to buy in little packets and walk around pretending to smoke, like dad. Fags were renamed Fads back in the 90s and the little red tip was abolished so they were just a long white stick. I think you can still buy them today

Haven’t had a Polly Waffle for years and Violet Crumble is definitely not the same anymore

I remember Columbines that came in a long blue packet and each lolly was individually wrapped in a blue silver paper. Jaffas were made by a company called Sweetacres and came in a cardboard box. They were ideal for rolling down the aisle of the local picture theatre during the Saturday afternoon matinee.

There was gob-stoppers and conversation lollies, all-day suckers and fruit tingles. We used to buy licorice blocks (they were called something else back then), four in a square and from memory they use to cost 1d. There was Hoadley’s Polly Waffle and the original Violet Crumble bars, Minties and Fantales came in boxes not plastic or cellophane bags. There was Wrigleys Juicy Fruit and PK chewing gum in little packs of four pellets and from memory they were tuppence each.

Tex Bars was another favorite of mine and although I’ve searched for Tex Bars online, I don’t think they’re made anymore.

There was sherberts that came in a white packet that had a licorice straw and MacRobertsons made the original Freddo frog, barley sugars, Cherry

Remember conversation lollies, a great favourte from the school tuck shop.

Ripes and Old Gold chocolate. Allens had Tootie Frooty and Steam Rollers in those little cylinder packs and they also made packets of Coconut Quivers

There were Choo Choo Bars and Red Skins, White Knights and Milko, Life Savers came in all sorts of flavours including Musk.

And remember going to the corner shop to buy 6d worth of assorted lollies in a bag? You’d get a big bag, enough to keep you going all afternoon and one massive sugar hit!

Then there were home made lollies too including toffee apples. stickjaw toffees, toffee in patty pans, Russian toffee and coconut ice.

They’re just a few that I can remember, I’m sure there was a lot more. How on earth did we escape with any teeth left in our head?

What was your favourite lollies when growing up?

Share the memories of your own childhood with our other readers by recording your comments in the “Comments” area below. Comments may take up to 24 hours to appear.

If you love nostalgia join me on a trip down memory lane with a copy of my best-selling book Australia Remember When. Almost 250 pages, crammed with photos, memories and stories of growing up in the baby boomer years from the 40s to the 80s and beyond. Join me as we celebrate growing up in what was a very different era, when kids roamed free, parents and teachers were obeyed, discipline was an accepted part of life and the world seemed a simpler place. RRP of the book is $34.99 (plus postage) and can be purchased from Shopify, just to the right of this story.

Remember ‘Tuck’ Day at School?

Remember the brown paper bags for school lunch orders?

When I was at school we never had anything quite as fancy as the printed paper bags, back in the 50s and 60s if we ordered from the school canteen, we wrote on the plain brown paper bag.
When my children went to school in the 70’s and 80’s they would fill out one of these brown paper bags for lunch orders and then the lunch monitor would take them off to the school canteen so they could get it back to the classroom for lunch.

The mum’s all helped out on tuck shop duties and the money raised went to the school. Photo from the book Australia Remember When

 

The canteen would be staffed by volunteer parents (my wife did that quite often as our children grew up) and they’d make sure the kids got their lunch bags filled with whatever they wanted. The children who were the lunch monitors would come in just before lunch to pick them up and they’d all be happily chatting away while they waited for the lunch ladies to get their class’s lunch box for them.

Most of the school canteens actually made money for the school and the profits were used to purchase extra equipment like movie and slide projectors, tape recorders and other teaching aids that helped in the education process. There would also be regular fund raising days when parents would make big batches of toffees, coconut ice, Russian toffees, toffee apples etc, and kids were encouraged to buy the home made treats to raise extra funds for special events.
These days of course its all about healthy eating and there are now strict Government guidelines as to what kids should and shouldn’t be having for lunch. I don’t disagree with that, especially considering that many kids now buy their lunch at school almost every day and are far more exposed to heavily processed foods and soft drink than we were when we were growing up during the baby boomer era.
Remember when sandwiches were wrapped in greaseproof paper and that paper was used over and over again

When we went to school  (we’re talking 50s and 60s here) buying lunch at the tuck shop was a rare exception rather than the rule. At that time in Australia most families survived on one income and buying lunch at school was considered a rare treat, maybe once or twice a month. Most times we took lunch to school, maybe Vegemite sandwiches or jam. On a Monday we would probably have had cold meat and tomato sauce sandwiches, leftovers from the Sunday roast. My mother used to do a great silverside and I can still taste her silverside sandwiches, wrapped in grease-proof paper, placed in a paper bag with a banana or apple for afters.

And we had to bring the paper bag and grease-proof paper home which would be re-used next day and the day after that! On the rare occasions we were able to buy lunch I would have a pasty with sauce and a berliner bun (which were renamed Kitchener buns in South Australia).
What are some of your own memories of ‘tuck shop’ day at school?

Share the memories of your own childhood with our other readers by recording your comments in the “Comments” area below. Comments may take up to 24 hours to appear.

If you love nostalgia join me on a trip down memory lane with a copy of my best-selling book Australia Remember When. Almost 250 pages, crammed with photos, memories and stories of growing up in the baby boomer years from the 40s to the 80s and beyond. Join me as we celebrate growing up in what was a very different era, when kids roamed free, parents and teachers were obeyed, discipline was an accepted part of life and the world seemed a simpler place. RRP of the book is $34.99 (plus postage) and can be purchased from Shopify, just to the right of this story.