Sign Language – The Lost Stories of Local Shop Signs by George Catsi
Opening Thursday 2nd March 6pm for 6:30pm start
During the 1940s Annandale factories and warehouses stored munitions and manufactured equipment for World War 2. This activity made Annandale a military target. Air Raid shelters were erected to protect workers, school children and residents…more
1940s Annandale: A Short Walk is the sixth book in a series which delves into the history of Annandale. Each book covers a decade of of Annandale’s History in the form of a self guided walk around the small suburb in Sydney’s Inner West.
“Escapologist” Darcy Dugan came to live in Annandale in the 1940s.
The end of the 1940s saw the amalgamation of Annandale, Balmain, Glebe into the Leichardt Council.
Marghanita da Cruz has been gathering an Anecdotal History of Annandale since 1998. In 2010, Marghanita began guiding historical walks around Annandale and publishing these as self guided illustrated walks.
Photograph Back Cover: Tony Grech, 25 August 2013
A crowd of 80 gathered at Balmain Town Hall Meeting Room for the launch of Jacks’ Story
The outcome of a Local History Grant from the former Leichhardt Council.
A well received publication on Jack’s story growing up in Balmain. With the assistance
of Rural Writer, Journalist and Author Asa Walquist, Jack has become a local star over night.
The book has been the top seller at Brays book four weeks in a row.
You can buy the book from Balmain Library or Brays Books rrp $15.00
Over the past four weeks, the book that’s been Bray’s Bookshop’s best seller has been a home-grown autobiographical memoir authored and privately published in paperback by a local octogenarian, John ‘Jack’ Thomson, whose entire life’s been spent in and around Birchgrove.
The book’s titled ‘Jack’s Story: Growing Up in Balmain’ and it’s on sale for $15:00 from Bray’s, with surplus proceeds from the sale going to the Children’s Hospital at Westmead.
Of Scots descent through both parents, Jack’s initial connections were with Campbell Street Presbyterian Church.
He married a local girl at St John’s in Arthur Rix’s last years as rector.
Having had some help with editing and design, Jack’s book is a fluid and engaging read.
Its narrative reminded me of Dickens’s novel, ‘Hard Times’, though the prose is in contemporary language – and Jack’s story is actual and unfolds in the antipodes.
While the hardship that Jack experienced in childhood would seem implausible to the minds of today’s younger generation, it was all too common during the Balmain peninsula’s harsh interwar years, when the local population exploded to some 31,000 plus people, of whom most were squashed into overcrowded tenement housing.
(As head-lice abounded when bathrooms were primitive, meningitis killed innumerable children – as did tetanus, diphtheria, and tuberculosis.)
Jack’s father was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when Jack was aged four.
He was committed to Callan Park Hospital for the Insane, where he stayed for the rest of his life and, according to Jack, very well looked after.
Jack’s working mother (on two thirds of a male wage) contracted tuberculosis and died when Jack turned nine.
Jack – effectively an orphan – was reared by a neighbouring family who’d taken him in (and that kind of neighbourly action was by no means isolated at that time).
His life progressively improved and he wrote his autobiography primarily for his grandchildren’s benefit but it’s been absolutely extraordinary the extent to which his book has captured the attention of a wide and diverse audience of readers.
One of the misspellings that has persisted into a reprint is that of Wally Pinerua, who operated a Darling Street pharmacy – at least until the late 1950s.
What made this pharmacy unusual was the huge red neon illuminated sign over the footpath awning.
Pinerua’s predecessor had bought Bayer’s patent for a prescription drug, heroin hydrochloride, which was highly effective in managing intractable pain in terminal cancer patients and patients who’d suffered severe trauma through injury or surgery.
As the addictive properties of the drug were well known at the time, dispensaries kept it under lock-and-key.
As the R & R boys on leave from the war in Vietnam used the drug recreationally, heroin thus became a prohibited narcotic.
Another misspelling is the name of the nearby general store, Gourlies.
History Week at the Watch House
Evans Street Free School Mothers Club 1938
Join us for the opening this Saturday at 2:00pm
Saturday 3 September 2016
Come and read the stories of individuals, families and communities living near one another and their connections to the churches, local sporting groups,schools and most importantly parks.
Add your story or special memory of an event to the number already there whether you have lived in Balmain, worked in Balmain, played sport in Balmain, swam in Dawn Fraser Pool or simply visited Balmain.
Join us for the opening this Saturday at 2:00pm with wine and nibbles
The exhibition will continue on Saturdays 10,17 and 24 September 11:00am to 4:00pm
and Tuesdays 6,13 and 20 September 11:00am to 1:00pm
Meet the author of Jack’s Story
|John Thomson, known to his many friends as Jack, has spent all his life in Balmain. Born in 1927 Jack remembers the days of the Depression, when kind greengrocers put aside “specs”, fruit which had spots on it that they gave to hungry children.As well Jack’s childhood had it trials.
Jack will be attending the Watch House at the Exhibition Opening and will sign any sale of Jack’s Story from 2:00pm Saturday 3 September.