THE STORYTELLERS

EVA KELLY AND CHRISTINE SPARSIS

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Christine Sparsis and Eva Kelly

Christine Sparsis and Eva Kelly

 

CHRISTINE SPARSIS: My mother immigrated to Australia in 1949.

OLEV MUSKA: Where from?

CHRISTINE: Cyprus, and married and had her family, hence I was born in Australia.

OLEV: How many people in the family?

EVA: Four kids and the parents - six all of us. Dad left us 1965.

CHRISTINE: Yeah, my dad passed away in 1965. She was in the shop from 1956 to 1976.

OLEV: And that was Kelly's Milk Bar, yeah?

EVA: Mixed Business - Kelly's Milk Bar.

OLEV: Mixed business? A lot of people remember it fondly, so, what did you do there, that was special?

EVA: The specials for milk shakes, for special sweets and chocolates and general thing, you know, and …

CHRISTINE: … good old milk shakes …

EVA: yeah, we tried our best, especially after my husband passed away. Everybody was more close to me …

OLEV: More supportive?

EVA: Yes, support us and makes me think back and say, “Thank God I have someone”. Thank God, its been now 47 years now, since then.

OLEV: And its interesting also why you came to Australia. What is the reason, do you think?

EVA: My brother-in-law was here first and he brought his brother and he decided to bring his mum and one of her sisters here. My husband decided to get … asked him if he can get someone he knows … it was time to get married, settle down, and they can bring a nice girl from there!

CHRISTINE: He just came with a photograph. (laughter)

EVA: I thought … my mother-in-law was coming, her sister-in-law was there, her brother-in-law and I thought it was OK … Make up my mind, packed up and left everybody - I'm coming. I tell you what, if I had my way, I can't do that again!

CHRISTINE: 19 was very young to pack up and leave your family!

Actually working in a shop has a lot to do … it teaches you, from very young, customer service, and that's something the children that come out of school these days don't really connect with. And, I mean, I worked with the coal industry and we serviced all the coal mines in NSW and I had a lot to do with communication with them and customer service, and I found that having that fundamental background in customer service played a big role.

OLEV: And you had a really hands-on …

EVA: It does help.

CHRISTINE: Yeah, it does help.

OLEV: I can imagine that a shop would just be a ‘twenty four seven’ exercise 'cause … were you living where the shop was is well?

CHRISTINE: Yes, upstairs.

OLEV: Upstairs and then come down, open the doors and in come the customers.

CHRISTINE: Seven days a week, from eight till eleven at night.

OLEV: Wow, and how did that impact? Was that something you got used to?

EVA: When we first started opening the doors - six thirty, seven o'clock till twelve thirty, one o'clock - 'cause the people used to stop for milk shakes, cigarettes, bread and these sort of things … it was people in and out.

CHRISTINE: I think the large shops, too, like Woolies and Coles have taken a lot of that, people go and get their thick shakes in the middle of the night at McDonalds. They don't stop at a milk bar anymore.

OLEV: Did you make hamburgers at the shop?

EVA: … we make some hamburgers …

CHRISTINE: … we trialled a few things like toasted sandwiches, breakfasts …

EVA: … we have coffee, cappuccino, espresso coffee, sandwiches - toasted … those sort of things - or scrambled eggs … these sort of things and it did help out quite a bit. But when its time to go, you gotta go!

Kelly's Milk Bar

The famous Kelly's Milk Bar

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.


>>> There is more to our story. If you can assist in filling in the gaps and/or providing photos, please email us