Beverley Hunter (former councillor on South Sydney Council) was born in 1935 and grew up in Chippendale in a house occupied by five generations of her family. In her interview she talks about her wharf labourer father’s war-related Tuberculosis; daily working class life in the area; childhood entertainments; factory work; social life in hotels; friendship; and the swallowing of the suburb of Darlington by the University of Sydney. In the excerpt below she discusses the convention of shopping on ‘tick’.
Mostly it was the kids that did the shopping and everything was ticked up from one week to the next, you had it on tick; and when they paid the bill then immediately they started ticking up for the next week. We also had order men who came around and they collected money and if you didn’t have the money that week you’d tell him you didn’t have the money and you’d catch up next week, and that’s what you did: you lived on orders and you lived on tick.
There was no surplus money around at all and you’d see some people that couldn’t afford to pay: they’d be peeping through the window to see if he was coming and they couldn’t afford to pay so they didn’t pay him that week, but they’d probably like all the others catch up. I remember the order man always saying to me that the most honest people are in the poorer areas, that it’s the richer areas that you can’t get the money out of them, the order man always said, but the poorer people, if they don’t pay this week they catch up next week. But that’s how everybody lived was on tick, everything was ticked up.
Anywhere else you went, the butcher shop down on our corner, everybody lived ticking up their meat. So when they got their wages, all they did – and this went on to when I was rearing my children too – we always paid the bill every week and then started ticking up. No one had any surplus money, just everything got paid from one week to the other and there was nothing left. Even when my kids’d have a birthday party, I used to go over to the shop and I’d tick up a couple of bottles of soft drink, a few lollies, bag of lollies, and maybe a few biscuits or something to make them a little birthday party for that day.