Sunday, May 20, 2007

Motorists Corner

This building is on the corner of Marrickville and Petersham Roads. As you can see, it was originally an impressive and charming petrol station. Now it's an unimpressive and quite revolting Chinese restaurant, but more about that later. Marrickville was quite the petrol-head's dream in the 1920s. General Motors Holden actually had a car factory in Carrington Rd (I'll blog that soon) although it only operated from 1926 to 1931, closing because of the Depression. I like these bowsers, which look so personable with their fancy headgear and curvy, elegant hose-arms. So it's a sad thing that this is now the site of one of the few bad eating experiences I've ever had in Marrickville. It was back in 2001, so things may have improved (however, I will never know as I will never go there again). Let's just say bits of glass in dumplings, that my friend had to spend ages spitting out... not to mention there were open boxes of lettuce sitting on the floor in the toilets!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Ta-da! Here's the first installment of the much-awaited latest nerdy Marrickvillia project. Richard and I have got a whole lot of old photos of places in Marrickville and we're taking new pics of the same spots.

These "workmen's homes" were built in The Warren, probably in the early 1920s. The Warren is the bit of South Marrickville from Warren Road down to the Cooks River. In the 1800s it was the location of Thomas Holt's massive Neo Gothic mansion ("The Warren"), complete with a park stocked with deer. Many of the modest homes in the area have bits of the original mansion's sandstone in their foundations.

Mothers of Marrickville

On Friday as I was walking to the bus stop, up along Illawarra Rd, I passed my neighbour's mother. This neighbour and her husband are from Turkey and they brought her aged mother out to live with them and their three kids (in a three bedroom house) a few years ago. I've never really spoken to the grandmother properly as she has very sparse English. We pass on the street and smile and say hello. Sometimes she says "hot!" or "nice day!" and I agree with her. Once I had a garage sale and she shuffled into the front yard with a couple of her grandkids. They were interested in the box of pre-loved stuffed toys. "Eh, eh?" she said to me, holding up a raggedy elephant and a pink unicorn. "Fifty cents each" I said. "Dollar?" she replied, and I said "yes". "Dollar the lot?" she said, "yes" I said. Then her and the kids gathered up all of the toys. There must have been thirty of them. And it turned out she only had eighty-five cents.

Anyway, as I was saying, I passed her on Friday. It was raining a little and she was muttering to herself under her umbrella. I said a quick hello and continued up the hill then heard "me mama, me mama." I thought she was introducing herself. Goodness. I doubled back, smiling. "Me mama dead, me mama dead" she told me, softly pounding her fist on her black-clad chest. "I'm so sorry" I said, thinking that her mother must have been dead for decades. She nodded and stopped walking. "Sorrow," she said, "sorrow". And I suddenly felt the weight and force of her grief. We were silent for a while, standing under her umbrella. Eventually I just said "It's very sad."