Marie Shehady shared a flat in Millers Point as a young working woman and later returned with her husband when they purchased the lease to a boarding house/residential. They remained for thirty one years. In her interview she talks about her tenants, schools, mothers group, fundraising, socialising, Christmas parties; daily work of running a boarding house; local atmosphere; the ‘battle of the landladies’; leasing and sub-letting arrangements; neighbours; shops; family life; picnics; and the importance of religion to her life. She regrets the loss of character and facilities in the area, increased traffic, pub crawls, changes to built environment and the relative absence of children. In the excerpt below she describes some of her tenants.
This interview is part of Housing NSW’s 2005 Millers Point Oral History Project. The City of Sydney acknowledges the State Library of New South Wales as the archival custodian of the project and digital preserver of the masters.
Well that was quite an experience and we had a lot of different types of people living with us, but we were quite selective. I remember saying to my husband, ‘I don’t really want anybody in here that drinks,’ and we’d only been running this place for about three weeks and one Saturday my husband came up and said, ‘There’s a gentleman knocking at the front door and he is interested in the attic apartment, but he’s drunk.’ I said, ‘Oh, no, we can’t have anybody in here that drinks,’ I was a bit of a wowser as far as alcohol and still am. So I went down to tell this man that no, the flat had been let, and I took one look at his face and although he was swaying in the wind I thought he had such a nice kind face that I relented, let him have a look at the flat, and he stayed with us for twenty-five years.
Needless to say every Friday from then on, from the time he took the flat, he would come home drunk, with a chocolate in his pocket because I’d had children in the meantime. By the time he got home from the pub and handed the chocolate over you could wring it out. But he was a dear part of my memory and he will always have a place in my heart.
We had a few kooks there, like one guy who used to hang his socks on the lampshade to dry. Another young guy who had obviously never used an electric oven stuck in a can of soup, lid on, and we had wall-to-wall soup. We had nurses, we had a plastic surgeon’s nurse, we’ve had a private investigator, we had artists, we had every type of person that you could imagine and I’ll never forget any of them. It was very sad after thirty-one years that we actually moved on.