When we were young at Wacol, we had a man who brought around ice-cream in containers on the back of his truck and sold it in scoops which he put in bowls for us.
We also had a man who sold soft drinks from the back of his truck.
There was an ice man who delivered blocks of ice for the ice chest until we got an electric refrigerator.
A grocer, whose daughter went to school with us, would come down every week from Goodna.
One week he would pick up the order and the next week deliver it. There was always a packet of broken biscuits in it for us.
There were no milk or bread deliveries in those days.
Veronica Ross (nee McKenna)
I started work at 14 1/2 in 1971 at Biota Street Woolworths Variety Store – walked to work and back on Saturdays to begin with, then worked there after I left school, from 1973 until 1974, when I turned 18. And I loved it! We served from behind counters, and had to make sure everything was neat and tidy, and of course, the customer was ALWAYS right! When Layby was introduced, wow!
Then even more amazing when Thursday night trading was introduced – couldn’t believe that people could finish work, get home and have dinner and then GO OUT TO SHOP! I also worked at Franklins at the Civic Centre, circa 1981 – I used to love the Civic Centre because it was clean and quiet; not like now! I loved the pond that used to have the water dragon lizards – so did my kids as they came along!
The Civic Centre used to be the hub of Inala – people used to meet there, take their time to shop, have a go on the Lucky Wheel (most of my hope chest came from that!), and ENJOY shopping. I truly miss those days.
Dale Kerans (nee Philips)
Coming of Age
When I was in Council 1991 – 2008, during that time, as a member of the Jim Soorley led Labor Council, I was instrumental in bringing a developer to the able that eventually purchased and redeveloped, what is now the top portion of the Inala Civic Centre.
His name was Paul Novak, a principal of the then ‘Novak Tonkin Real Estate’ business.I had known Paul for many years and when he advised me that he and his partners had shown an interest in purchasing, I offered support to that effort. His vision was to redevelop it into what one sees today, ‘Inala Plaza’, a full enclosed, air conditioned shopping precinct, with major retailers as core tenants. I assisted him with the Town Planning requirements and the lengthy community consultation process he embarked on.
We commenced a 3 month long talk fest and asked the local community what they would like to have and how he
and his group could deliver their ambitions and desires for them.
Virtually what they asked for they got, the first for any development in Brisbane, where a developer worked closely and in partnership with a local community.
The community decided on the name, ‘Inala Plaza’, had the floral emblem of Inala, the ‘Eureka Bottlebrush’,
displayed over the southern entrance, as well as the shopping mix. Although today some of that shopping mix has changed, the ‘Inala Plaza’ building envelope has not.
In late 1991, we introduced the BCC public transport service to our area that the local community were crying out for, for years, and later with the combined efforts of Brisbane Transport and the State Government Department of Transport, we built the bus and taxi terminal on the eastern side.
That effort could never have been realised without the full co-operation of local legend Annie Fitzgerald, the owner of Inala Bus Service, with whom Jim Soorley struck a partnership deal to bring BCC public transport into Inala, putting to rest the State Government ‘naysayers’ who claimed it would never work, and would be poorly patronised, how wrong they were.
I was very proud of the fact, that not only was I, as the local Councillor for Richlands, able to bring about an important piece of infrastructure into Inala, but without the local community getting enthusiastically got involved and having significant involvement and influence into the eventual outcome, we would not see what we have today, a vital shopping community hub and shopping centre to use, shop in and enjoy.
And along with the Brisbane City Council Centre, Library and Community Hall, a co-operative effort between the 3 levels of Government by its 3 local representatives, we delivered an era of social and infrastructure change, with significant community based infrastructure improvements to Inala that were long overdue.
As a result, Inala and its sister suburbs, were no longer the forgotten communities south of the Ipswich Motorway, that administrations of all political persuasions or had forgotten.
Former Brisbane City Council Richlands Ward Councillor
Shopping in Inala, 1956-1967.
Looking back, I don’t really know how we managed the shopping in the late 1950s and early 1960s as shopping hours were very restricted and both my parents worked full time. We were a family of six, refugees or displaced persons, who arrived in the ‘Roma’ in December 1950. My father, Bolek was Polish and had fought for the Allies in Tobruk and later in the RAF in England, meeting my mother Gerda in Cloppenburg, Germany in 1946, when the British occupied northern Germany.
My brother Chris and I were born in Germany but soon after our arrival at the Wacol Migrant Camp, my two younger sisters were arrived and there were six mouths to feed. In 1956, when we moved to Inala, our elderly grandmother, Maria came out from Germany and lived with us for three years making a total of seven living in a tiny house, by today’s standards, in Frangipani Street.
Her presence enabled Mama to work full time as a nurse at the Goodna Mental Hospital, where Papa also worked whilst completing a BA degree as an evening student at the University of Qld. He was a very busy man.
In the late 1950s, there were two shopping centres close by: Magnolia Street and Lavender Street.
My mother, a wonderful cook, used to shop for groceries at the Four Square store in Lavender Street on her days off but later, when we were older, often left a list and money in the kitchen cupboard and one of us would shop when we got home from school. But we had to be quick: the shops would shut by 5pm and at noon on Saturday, so we couldn’t dawdle.
Magnolia Street had a Milk bar/ deli which was open after hours, a fruit shop and in the 1960s, a very good Dutch butcher fronting Archerfield Road, who sold a great array of smoked meats. My husband, Robert still remembers the ham sandwiches that he ate at my place after a night out, before the long drive back to Sandgate in his Holden.
Dr Whyte, our GP also had his surgery on Magnolia Street but probably the hub of the community was the Post Office just around the corner in Archerfield Road. It was an agent of the Commonwealth Bank and my grandmother had her German pension wired to the post office once a month- she often bought us Have a Hearts on pension day.
Needless to say most of the community in our part of Inala relied heavily on the services offered at this post office, not just to deposit and withdraw money or mail parcels and letters but for emergencies when the phone had to be used to call an ambulance, as hardly anyone had a phone.
My father was a great gardener and converted our rocky patch of ground in Frangipani Street into a wonderful vegetable patch, supplying us with produce for most of the year. We also had chickens and ducks as was the fashion in those days and so had eggs and our Christmas dinner. As well, Dad had Polish friends who had poultry farms in Darra and Richlands and in the summer we ate our fill of the grapes from Zerlotti’s farm on Progress Road in Richlands. However, both my parents liked to shop further afield.
They went to Brisbane by bus and train at least once a month to buy coffee at Basils in Adelaide Street and shopped for clothes and shoes at Mc Donald’s and East, Finney’s, Allan and Starks and McWhirters in the Valley. My mother also bought materials at Bayards in George Street and furniture at Trittons. She had very good taste, having grown up in Dresden and loved porcelain and classical music records. Dad often rode his bike to the Deli/milk bar in Darra to buy salami and unsalted butter or to buy fish from the vendor plying Ipswich Road. Later, he used to buy fish in the city, often mullet which he loved but I loathed. My parents returned to live in Germany in 1967, after dad graduated with a BA and Dip Ed and lived there for twenty years. I married early in 1968 and moved to Melbourne so I never shopped in Inala Plaza but sometimes, in the mid-1960s, we shopped at Biota Street, waking there and back along Azalea Street…but again, because of the restricted trading hours, we never had much time to browse.
And in my late teens, on Saturday mornings, when I had my Teachers Scholarship money, I loved going into Brisbane.
My husband would accompany me and Ben, prior to Matt’s birth, to the shops for the majority of supplies on a Saturday morning as I did not drive. We did the bulk of our shopping at Woolworths and Barry & Roberts. Errol was an employee of Barry & Roberts, Queens Street store therefore would have had a staff discount.
Once Jack the Slasher opened, we shopped there as well. When the boys were still quite young, I would push them both up to the shops to buy supplies. Specially if I had to take one or both to the Community Health Centre. That activity was certainly a very good workout. The children from Richlands East State School enjoyed the walk to the shops wearing their Easter hats they created every year they took part. It was a fun and happy occasion for all involved.
Changes – a poem by Connie McKenna (2001)
One time I knew everyone in our street,
But it isn’t like that today.
Today all our neighbours are strangers.
And they want it to stay that way.
If you meet a neighbour in the street,
And stop to bid them a time of day,
They don’t even acknowledge your greeting,
But just go busily on their way.
In years gone by when you met a neighbour,
You stopped for a while to chat.
The neighbours we have in our street today,
Just haven’t the time for that
It wasn’t long after we moved to Darra that I began working at the local newsagency after school and on weekends. The reason I landed this job was a friend of mine from Inala was looking for a job and applied to the owner of the newsagency. Unfortunately for her they did not have a vacancy for a full-time shop-assistant, but they did need a casual one. I asked my mother if I could apply and got the job. For this reason, I was familiar with the shops along the main street. At that time, in addition to the newsagency, there was a Post Office, a Commonwealth Bank, Roy Nasser’s Chemist, Reznicoff’s Delicatessen, Pino Zerlotti’s shoe shop, Lenny Coward’s butcher, a snack bar, Vidanovic’s drapery, Hooper’s supermarket, a fruit shop just to mention a few. Across the road from the Darra State School was Choi’s convenience store.
The Torbey family built new shops on the corner opposite the train station and the newsagency moved to a larger space. The Torbey’s opened a new menswear store in the space and Vietnamese opened the hot bread shop. It was a very popular shop and often they sold out of their famous bread rolls early in the mornings on the weekends. Five rolls for $1 was a bargain.
Even as a teenager, I recognised the opening of K-Mart in the new Centenary Shopping Centre was the beginning of the end for these local shops who could not compete with the low prices delivered by the new super-store. While some people still wanted to support the local businesses, who had been around for years, the promise of low prices and different varieties of goods would draw the customers like bees to honey.
Major shopping centres were popping up in many Brisbane suburbs. I recall when Indooroopilly Shoppingtown first opened, they offered free buses to bring customers to shop in their new centre.
I recall a visit to the local butcher (Lenny Coward) after discovering Italian cooking and buying the Leggo’s Italian Cookbook (which I still own) and asked to buy 250g mince. He looked very surprised and asked what I needed that much meat for, suggesting that maybe I was having a lot of people over for a barbeque. He then proceeded to weigh it out and showed me a small handful of mince. Having not had much to do with purchasing meat, I was quite embarrassed. However, I still laugh about it today.
The drapery did well from my purchases. While I did buy some clothes from them, it was more the purchases I was making towards my glory box. I bought towels, sheets and other linen and put it away. Many of the towels lasted many years as they were good quality and I still have some to this day.
When I was first working after leaving school, I remember going into the deli to buy something to eat with my boyfriend. He suggested a sandwich, I thought he was crazy, wondering why you would buy a sandwich, thinking surely you would just go home and make one. That was the first time I bought ‘shop made’ sandwiches. It also reminds me of the first time I was with someone and they bought a bottle of water… I had never heard of anything so silly. Now it is quite common to purchase bottled water.
Once I got my driver’s license, I stepped in and took the place of my aunt after she passed away from cancer, looking out for my grandmother. As my grandmother (or my mother) didn’t drive, I took her when she needed to go anywhere she couldn’t get to on the train. The local shopping centre close to her house changed many times over the years and as shops closed, she would need to travel to a larger shopping centre. When we shopped for groceries with her, we would share the trolley. Her shopping would be in the front and ours in the back. She liked to still maintain some independence and even when her eyesight deteriorated, she would have write out her shopping list and we had to translate it. Sometimes we had to ask her if she remembered what she had written but mostly, we could work it out even when the pen hadn’t been working for the majority of the word or she wrote one word on top of another.
When my daughters were young (perhaps 3 and 5) my father had taken them for a walk to the local Cut Price Store and asked them would they like a treat. The older suggested bubble-gum. When asked by my father if they were allowed to have bubble-gum they assured him that I often buy it for them. Of course, this was not the case. My younger daughter proceeded to chew the gum momentarily and then swallowed it. He was also the one to introduce them to McDonalds.
Wendy Lawton (nee Ross)
Up to Dads death in 1960 he was the last independent produce milk vender in the greater Brisbane area, also milking cows were tested for T.B. and our herd was the only herd that never had a cow condemned. Dad put that down to the cement works and the lime on the grass also where the cattle were kept was on a hill the highest point between Brisbane and Ipswich.
I will can tell you a few stories regarding paper boys also as we all worked the area in the early mornings, most were around my age and they would like to aim the folded up news paper’s at me if I happened to be in a house yard. I would hear the paper whistling throw the air and had to duck or be hit.
Allan worked for the PMG and delivered telegrams, Kevin also worked for Parker and Snider at Oxley for some time delivering groceries, well that is quite a story as his parents thought he was at school.
In the early days before refrigeration, milk was delivered twice a day after each milking it was called Fresh warm milk.
The milk was delivered by horse and cart, Dad had a great palomino horse called Goldie, she would move on to the next stop when she heard the gate of the previous house close or take off as soon as she felt you stand on the step on the milk cart.
The milk was taken to the top of the front steps or back of the house, whatever the house wife desired, sometimes for the elderly the milk was taken to the back of the house and put into their container then left on their kitchen table or put into the ice chest, in those days the customer was always right and their money was left with the container or milk billy.
I remember once when I was on the late afternoon run , it was winter raining and I was wet cold and hungry I went up the back stairs and smelt something cooking I said “that smells nice” and the lady Mrs Bowclares who lived near the state school said “it is only onions cooking” I was starving.
Later years the milk was run over a cooler then put into our cold room, then the milk was delivered only once a day, in the early mornings. We never walked we ran or jogged, if you had to jump out of the cart when the horse was moving fast then you had to run in the same directions as the horse was going otherwise you would fall.
In the early days a couple of hawkers had their base in Darra, they had covered wagons pulled by two Clydesdales, they used their Darra properties only as a base, they travelled around the country selling all sort of wares, [ like a shop on wheels] to isolated farms and stations.
Billy Britain who started Brittain’s brick works would walk along the rail line to Oxley to collect the work men’s wages then walk back to the brick works.
I also often walked that stretch of rail way line, I could never work out if it was better to walk along the line or try and step on the sleepers, as both were difficult.
After delivering milk, it put me off having a laundry at the back of the house where you had to walk through the laundry before entering the house as I disliked walking over peoples dirty washing that was spread all over the laundry floor. I can still remember one lady who always had dirty cloths lying everywhere.
Some early glass milk bottles can be quite valuable as collector’s items. Some up to a thousand dollars but they must be in good condition.
June Ross (nee Bremner)
I grew up living above the roller skating rink and public swimming pool on the corner of Serviceton Avenue and Sycamore Street. I remember as a little girl in the 1960s that we used to listen for the bell of the vege man and the baker then head downstairs and out to the street to see what Mum would buy from them.
The vege man used to roll up the sides on the back of his small truck to reveal boxes of fruits and vegetables displayed much as they would be in a shop. He had some scales he would hang from a hook, into which he would put the fresh produce then tip it into paper bags, which he put into a cardboard box. He would write down the prices on a piece of paper then tell Mum how much it was. She would pay him, and he would reach into a kind of apron that he wore and get her change. As with the permanent fruit shops, the man would always give us kids something for nothing – maybe a mandarine or he’d cut up an apple or give us a little bunch of grapes each. He would always offer to carry the box upstairs to our flat, but Mum would only take him up on it if it was very heavy.
The baker used to drive around and ring a bell too. We loved to see his display, which always smelt delicious! He had loaves of bread, bread rolls, apple turnovers, custard slices, lamingtons, finger buns, etc. I liked the finger buns with pink icing and the butterfly cakes the best. Whatever Mum bought from him didn’t last long because it was so nice and fresh that we would want to eat it up fast.
Yvette Giannake (nee Galtos)