Kate Dunbar was born in 1923 and came to Australia from England a few years later. In this interview she talks about her home life, her parents’ unsatisfactory marriage, her mother’s shop and her father’s unreliable employment. In the excerpt below she remembers the Depression of the 1930s.
My mother had a corner grocer shop and my father was unemployed at that stage so she more or less kept us in food and she worked very hard. She used to make pies and the factory people would come around and buy the pies for lunch and she’d cut sandwiches and she sold groceries. She actually went to gaol for half a day because she sold milk without a milk licence. Because the people around needed milk and there was no other shop around she just put milk into the shop and then they discovered she didn’t have a licence. And she was fined and being a very stubborn Welshwoman, of ancestry anyway, she refused to pay the fine so they said “Oh, well, you have to go to gaol”, so they kept her in gaol for a couple of hours and then let her go. But that was the number 10 Ferndale Street [Newtown and of course everybody was on the dole – if not on the dole it was just before Jack Lang introduced the dole – and very poor, everybody was very poor. The Depression was on then and there was some sort of food coupons. My mother used to collect these coupons and she would supply basic food. I remember there was a woman down the street called Mrs Rutledge and she seemed to have a multitude of children and I remember delivering a quarter of a pound of margarine or something to the door. Not butter in those days, had to be margarine, it was so much cheaper, and the margarine in those days was just awful, not like today.