THE STORYTELLERS

BILL GREEN

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William Sydney Green

William Sydney Green

 

BILL GREEN: Mum and dad came out from Belfast in Northern Ireland in 1928. At war’s end, mum and dad bought the place in 2 Gallipoli Street, which was right down the bottom of Gallipoli Street, with a half an acre of ground. It used to be an old chicken farm. When we moved there, there were chicken sheds everywhere and we demolished them all and of course dad was a keen gardener, so he started by planting potatoes. He’d have a quarter of an acre of potatoes and the rest would be spinach, lettuce and that sort of stuff. And of course the kids, we were told to clean all the paths of the gardens and all that sort of thing before we were allowed to go out.

OLEV MUSKA: And, so, he had that Irish potato planting tradition?

BILL: Oh, yeah, yeah, there's photos there of us amongst the potatoes, the spuds. And then if you got lot … he used to give the neighbours a lot of things and … but if he had a good plantation of lettuce and spinach and things like that, he used to make us put them in wheel barrows and go round on Saturday afternoons selling it - door-to-door selling - out of a billy cart.

potatoes

OLEV: What do you recall of North Strathfield in those days?

BILL: North Strathfield … there was a lot of paddocks around, I know that. There was a dairy up on the corner - I forget the name of the street - at Homebush, which is … I think its the electricity commission or something’s got it now. But, no, we used to go that way. We used to go to the horse sales on Parramatta road near the Wentworth Hotel. The hotel's still there, but the horse sales are not. It was William Inglis Horse Sales. We used to go over there and buy and sell our horses, and the way we'd go, it’d be right up Correy Avenue and over what we called the ‘Black Bridge’ at Strathfield - North Strathfield - and on the right was CIC or CRC Engineering - that was all industrial along there, along the railway line - and we used to ride over to the sale there.

receipt

OLEV: So were the roads paved … like, Concord Road, was that paved?

BILL: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Concord Road was, but there was all the lanes around Concord and Mortlake - were all dirt. Yeah, they were all dirt.

OLEV: And, see, if you look at the shopping strip at the moment in North Strathfield, it still retains its distinctive architectural character.

BILL: Yeah, I haven't been there for years. I haven't seen that, but I got a shock today, when I drove down Wellbank - we call it Wellbank. I don't know whether they still call it Wellbank or not, but we call it Wellbank and we used to have some fun there of a Saturday night. We used to ride our horses up and tie 'em round the back lane and sneak into the pictures and they'd throw us out, so we'd go across the road and get all the rocks we could and throw 'em on the air conditioning ducting outside.

OLEV: So you were doing the trams and the pictures and …

BILL: Yeah, but if you could image where the picture show used to be - The Ritz - at interval, everyone used to come out and crowd into the milk bar, or the smokers used stand on the road and face the picture show and smoke. They were all out on the road. Yeah, something funny. And we'd come, you know, it’d be, I don't know, eight or nine of us come galloping up the street at interval with our horses and just sit there and talk to all the people and all the birds and all that sort of thing.

OLEV: Fantastic! So it had a real aura about it, didn’t it?

BILL: Oh yeah, yeah … yeah.

OLEV: There's certainly none of that anymore, is there?
 
BILL: No, and then I bought a sulky and my old horse was good in a sulky and Friday night we'd go out for a ride somewhere in the sulky.

OLEV: So that's a little carriage …

BILL: Yeah, we used to carry about three or four of us in it and used to have to have a light on the back, so we'd find where the Council was doing some excavating and we'd whizz off one of them lights and hang it on the back and then, on the way home, we'd put it back on the Council where they were diggin’. We used to borrow it. But, no, they were fun days. I can distinctly remember going over the ‘Black Bridge’ at Strathfield - North Strathfield - and my horse slipped on its shoes and it was in the sulky and sliding down the road on its back legs down on the ground. It couldn't stop and we had to wait until it did stop. But silly things like that …

Bill, his sulky and his mates

Bill on his paint horse

 

BACKGROUND

In response to community consultation, a number of local residents were interviewed and recorded. The sessions took place in December 2012 and February 2013 at Concord Library.

A short excerpt from each resident appears on this website. Together, they form a cross-section of insights into the wonderful community that is of and around the North Strathfield area.

The full interviews will be archived and available for borrowing at the City of Canada Bay Council Library Services.


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