Harry Brennan was born in 1949 and came to Alexandria, inner city Sydney, when he was seven. He grew up in family of twelve children, another four having died in infancy. In his interview he describes working class life and his father’s early death. He also recalls his widowed mother’s political involvement and her work as a barmaid and factory worker, and many aspects of childhood including entertainment, Cracker Night, the Speedway, and children’s paid work. In the excerpt below he remembers selling newspapers as a boy at the workshops at the Eveleigh rail yards, which once dominated the local landscape.
We used to go and sell papers and I used to sell papers at Eveleigh Workshop. There was Eveleigh 1 and Eveleigh 2, and in those days you could put a hundred papers down and walk up to the next place and pick up the money from the other hundred papers, and go back and pick up the money from the others. People used to put the money down and pick up the paper and always leave the money.
And what about the other local kids?
Most of them were selling papers. We used to hop on the tram and sell papers on the tram going down to St Peters or going down Botany Road. Sometimes we’d go into some other paperboy’s area and we’d have to settle it.
And the tram drivers used to just let you on?
Well, if you hopped on a bus or a tram you used to be able to walk straight through: “Paper!”, “Yes, thank you”, and then you’d get off at the next stop or a few stops down the road. I remember when we were selling papers we used to put a lay-by on a Chinese meal. We used to leave a shilling every day at the Chinese shop and on Friday night all the paperboys’d get together and we’d have a banquet, so we used to lay-by our Chinese meal, at the Canton in Botany Road.