Bev Karonidis was born in Redfern in 1936. In her interview she recalls many aspects of life there including close family relationships, the experience of World War II, the Methodist Mission, ethnicity, children’s work, the Australian Labor Party and household entertainments. In the excerpt below she recalls the excitement when Wirth’s Circus came to town.
They [Wirth’s Circus] came every Easter to the park. The hotel across the road used to be called The Star and they had a verandah upstairs – it came right out the width of the footpath and under that it had a horse trough. We’d wake up, oh, probably about five o’clock in the morning. We’d hear the rattling noises and you’d get up and rush and look out the window and it’d be the elephants. They didn’t use trucks; they pulled into Alexandria goods yards by train, and then the elephants would pull up the other animals and all the equipment up to the park.
This is Exhibition Park?
Yes, at [what is now] Prince Alfred [Park] there. And we’d watch them go past. And there was no water down there, apparently, because they’d bring up the horses and the elephants twice a day to the trough across the road so we’d get sort of a free show, you’d see all the animals come up. Then every night after tea you would go for a walk down the park and walk ‘round and look at the animals, and talk to the circus people who we thought were rather wonderful. On Good Friday you would take a mug with you and line up and you would get ginger beer and a free hot cross bun and go in and then they’d put on a small circus for you. I remember it being said that they thought we were deprived so they’d give us a free show. All over Easter the Salvation Army put up a tent on the other side of the park and they would come down over Easter outside the hotel there with their band. We all thought it was wonderful. Everyone came out to watch the singing and they’d come ‘round; if you’d stand at the front gate and they’d collect money. And then we’d all go down on Good Friday and sit in the tent and watch. I don’t know why we went to religious ceremonies.