I remember shopping with my mum back in the 60’s. Remember when if you wanted meat, you went to a butcher shop. If your shoes were buggered, good old mum would take you to the shoe shop. Vegies came from the fruit shop, hammers from the hardware shop and musk sticks and cobbers were in a glass cabinet at the milk bar. Shopping back then was regimented. Mum didn’t drive. So a shopping expedition for us meant a trudge along the street pulling a shopping jeep. The supermarket was a place in American tv shows, our equivalent was the good old Self Service! I remember when the shops closed at five on weekdays, and twelve on Saturdays. Oh yes I remember. Pubs closed at six and didn’t open on Sundays. A big w, was just a capital letter. 7 and 11 were just numbers, and a hole in the wall, meant a job for dad and not something you got cash out of.
It’s hard to believe but somehow mum’s like my mum managed to keep her brood fed and heeled within the time restraints of those old shopping hours. There wasn’t much point in deciding at ten o’clock Sunday morning you needed a tin of paint to freshen up the windowsills. Because the hardware guy was probably having bacon and eggs prior to leaving for a drive up to the Dandenongs. Back then just as shopping was regimented , families had to plan what they needed for the weekend. Because at lunch time Saturday the shopping week did end.
My how times have changed. We’ve inherited the American supermarket. They sell meat and hammers and socks and beer . They’re open from six in the morning till twelve at night. But when I look around at the shoppers down at the local Woolworths, they all look short of time. I wonder how they’d cope if they had to buy thier whole grain organic microbiotic thingys by lunchtime Saturday. Just imagine Saturday arvos with empty streets. Shop assistants of riding bikes and milkbars being the only place where you could get a packet of fags.
A little while back my daughter Holly needed a few things for a uni assignment she was putting together. It was eight o’clock on a sunday night and she asked me would I take her down to Big W, to pick up the required supplies. When I told her that the said shopping barn closed at five on a sunday my young one couldn’t quite grasp why that could be. I’ve mused on it since and realised that shops being open all hours is to people these days just a given. We’ve got used to the convenience, the fact that we don’t have to think ahead and that if we fancy some Sarah lee ice-cream at ten pm, Coles have it covered.
A good mate of mine, ‘Big Baz,’ recently spent a Sunday cooking sausages outside our local Bunnings. The outdoor barbecue is a great way for local clubs and service groups to raise funds and it gives ravenous shoppers some fuel to propel them through the aisles of hardware heaven. In an eight-hour shift, big Baz and his mates cooked up 700 sausages in bread! I dips me lid to the fundraisers. And I must admit that I’m partial to a snag after buying a shifter, but I’m astounded to think that many people flock to a hardware shop on a Sunday!
I’m often told by my offspring not to keep rambling on about, ‘ The good old days.’ They laugh at me because I call an ATM an autoteller. When I talk about walking around Lygon street Carlton on a sunday and daydreaming in the windows of the closed shops, they really do think I’m from another planet.
Sometimes I miss those empty streets. Miss the Golden Fleece petrol station. Butcher shops with sawdust on the floor. And my old mum and her trusty jeep.
Thanks to all of you for reading each week. Your encouragement and comments have been a real gift. If you have the time click on the bubble at the top right and tell me your shopping memories. Till next week, Much Love, Baz