Back in the 50’s what were the local shops we most relied upon – and indeed – were all that we needed?

The grocer, the green grocer, the butcher, the cake shop, the newsagent, the chemist. For other things – clothing, shoes, books, toys and sports gear you went into town.

McIlwriath’s Groceery, Victoria Road

The grocer was that vanilla-scented hive of affable service and gossip. The local street’s meeting place. Counters, shelves, everything in a packet, tin or bottle – but some things still in hessian bags and shovelled out into brown paper bags. And biscuits in tins. And lollies in big round jars – remember the snowballs? And ice creams and icy poles on sticks fished up from the bowels of metal fridges or scooped out and plopped on one of these cones towering in chimney stacks on the counter. And small bottles of soft drinks (cordials in Tasmania).

And the greengrocer and the smell of the place. A combination of fresh and dank – and the scales and the produce – so lovely you ate it with your eyes. And remember the fruit – how it was displayed? Sometimes, if I recall – a special week and a competition for the best display. And how the greengrocer and his assistants in their aprons twirled the paper bags when they put your selection in them. I tried that once but banged my nose with a pound of tomatoes! The cake shop – the smell of pies and pasties – and real cakes – and cream buns.

And the Newsagent with the papers and the weekly magazines for the ladies and often more – toys and board games and lollies.

The Butcher’s shop – and you knew he or one of his boys were real butchers if they were missing half a finger. And the aprons and the scabbards they wore with all their knives and sharpeners in them. And the sawdust and the white paper for wrapping fresh meat. Nothing came in plastic wrapping. And the meat on trays fringed with plastic parsley. Oh, the succulent chops, the rolled roast beef, the savaloys, the legs of lamb and the fresh mince straight out of the mincer; the fact that we could afford it, unlike today when you have to mortgage your house to buy some lamb chops! But I digress.

Paine’s Butchery, Concord Road

And the chemist – always in a white coat. Visiting the chemist had something of the aura of going into a church. Serious business. None of the cheap ghastly junk gift stuff that takes up so much floor space in chemist shop of today. It was always a very-reverent-shop. Ah!

And of course. How could I forget? Everyone’s favourite – the local Fish and Chip Shop. I don’t need to describe it – they are forever etched in our hearts, our minds, and our taste buds and sense of smell.

Give me our , now sadly gone, local shops anytime with all their personalities, traditions, smells and joys for the eye.

Pushing a trolley around a supermarket often brings me close to tears. And no dear check-out -chick, I am not having a nice day. I miss my local shopkeepers. Do you?

I came across this posting by Phillip Turnbull on the Facebook page of “Growing up In Australia 1940s, 1950s & 1960s”.  I hope it brings back many happy memories.

There are many interesting sites similar to this on Facebook where you can find out more about our history – why not check them out.


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