Robert Hammond was born in Alexandria in 1927. In his interview he talks about domestic work and industry; childhood work including helping his father with a milk run; local betting, sly grog, criminals and characters; World War II and American soldiers and many other facets of life in the ‘30s and ‘40s. In the excerpt below he recalls household refrigeration and shopping patterns in the 1930s.
It was only all little ice boxes in those days. They used to put the block of ice in the top in that little area, just about two shelves. They weren’t very high either but, of course, there was never much left over from the mealtime to stick anything in there, only maybe the butter and if there’s a bit of meat left over. There wouldn’t be much; that’d be all.
So would people mostly shop virtually on a daily basis?
I’d be sent around to Mitchell Road in Alexandria. The Scotts had a store ‘round there, people by the name of Scott, and I had to go ‘round there and get what they used to call a ‘pat’ of butter – I don’t know what that was, only about a quarter of a pound – and a quarter of a pound of tea and a loaf of bread, you know, things like that. None of this buying all quiches and all these ice creams and anything like that. Never even seen that, didn’t know what they were.
And people would mostly shop locally?
Yes, oh – no – on the Friday night there used to be a place in Botany Road Alexandria called Buttles, S.R. Buttles. They were a big store, like a warehouse store, but they had this shop in there up in Botany Road and Mum’d go up there and buy her groceries there, of course, with the help these relief coupons at particular times, because they’re not like money handout, it was only [for] food, make sure that you got the food.