Jim Low - singer/songwriter

Back to Childhood



Next to the theatre was a glass-fronted shop in which were displayed coloured pictures from films "coming soon to a theatre near you". I quite often stopped on my way home from school and looked at these. Next to this was the local barber's shop, the inside walls of which were covered with photographs of horse races. You paid your money across a counter crowded with tobacco, cigarette papers and packets of Craven-A. The slogan for this brand of cigarettes was "they never vary". We changed it to "they never very good", unintentionally mocking the new phrasings our young ears were now starting to hear with the increase of immigration to Australia after the Second World War.

Mr Clancy, the barber, would always give my brother and me a packet of chewing gum when we paid for our haircuts. My mother believed that this was his way of handling the embarrassment she believed he must surely have felt for the regular increases in the price of haircuts. I just thought he liked seeing children happy. He and Mrs Clancy had no children of their own.

All these places are now just memories, demolished along with many others. The hotel, newsagency and delicatessen at the top of my street were raised to the ground. Frank Delandro Car yard and Service Station went, the place where my father traded our beloved old Ford, with the 'dicky' seat, for a new second-hand Zephyr Six, like the ones driven in the popular British police television show “Z Cars”.

On the Pacific Highway I can still remember the smell of the oil that used to waft from the garage workshops near the Orpheum and the milk bar next door where we used to go after the picture shows.

We caught the school bus at the top of our street. The bus stop was just in front of an old house occupied by an elderly couple. We called them Ben and Bella. These were not their real names. I think my father affectionately christened them these. You were "safe" if you caught the morning bus before Ben and Bella appeared at their door. I wonder what happened to them? There was a fish and chip shop nearby too. On a cold winter's day, on the way home from school, you made sure your pocket money stretched to a couple of scallops. Many sights, sounds and smells from my childhood fell victim to this new expressway.