The Nostalgia of Thames (Part 1)

'The Nostalgia of Thames' is a prose-poem included in the Pollen Street - Jellicoe Crescent to Mary Street (west side) photography collection by Barry Murch.

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The Nostalgia Of Thames.

Turn the clock back to a time when we once drank Grey & Menzies 'Lime', sucked sherbet through straws from Whiteheads, ate lollies from Lewis's store, and candy from Jack Collin's shop - his sweets one loved to score.

 In our mind's eye, let us wander into shops like Galloways, The Thrift Store, Bongards and Hetheringtons with its millinery displays. Let's buy our meat from Reddy's where men on sawdust tread, and we'll sample Palmer's Toffees and watch Santa's nodding head.

And we'll once more buy our groceries from Woods or Wallace Supplies - sniff new baked bread from Scotts - and the Quality Inn pies.  We'll munch into fruit from She Cheongs and have a mixed grill from the Den - maybe Fish and Chips from Antonovich's or the Ritz now and again.

And as we turn the clock back we’ll roam the Coloured Sands and wander in and out of stores Batemans, Coakleys and Burrets too – also Jorgensens and Courts just to name a few. Let’s swing around the Barbers poles painted red and white and blue – Alf Robinsons, Johnstones, Donnellys and Emmet Montagues.  Buy shoes from Ezywalkens, from Danbys or McPhail and Ganley’s too – or be photographed at Clark’s – sit down and smile among his props.

We’ll stand and watch the one armed man from Mary Street on his rounds – the Deli Man his horse and cart and we’ll hear the clang of milk-cans – the Milkman at the break of day – just after the ‘Night Cart’ has slipped quietly away.

Oh let’s all have lots of fun skipping through Thames Central’s arch, then file into school and keep in step to ‘Colonel Bogey’s March’.  And in the Primmer’s Room we’ll sit legs crossed on coconut mats while listening to Miss Williams spell D.O.G.S and C.A.T.S.

As we turn the clock back let’s watch the Claxton Factory girls and Judd’s and Prices men spill out onto the pavements on bikes or else on foot… the women all a chatter, the men all grime and soot. Some of us did hail a taxi from Jackie Corbett’s Stand or fill up at Gordon Mincher’s with the ‘Big Tree’ brand. We could quench our thirst at a drinking fountain – there’s always one in sight before our trip to Auckland in a bus of Leo White.

On Friday night we’ll dress up posh – and just wander mingling with the shoppers in the Main Street – and we’ll listen to the Sally Band beneath the chestnut tree: - the cymbal clang and the singing with the drum beat from Herbie. Come Saturday a matinee at the Kings or Regent Theatres where eating jaffas we would watch the serials and nothing could be better… And in the evening won’t we think that it really is grand – foxtrotting at the Majestic to Herb and Eilleen’s Band.

Once more we will wonder what goes on behind the windows painted white – of Billiard Parlours and Hotels where ‘Men Only’ have the right.

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