Fun-filled days of the past

As told by Graham Bradbury in 2005

I’ve worked for 46 years in Wodonga. I began school at State School No.37 in High Street. I left school at 13 years and seven months, when my Father said I would probably learn more working than I did at school. He was correct.

The town has changed so much since I was at school. Push bikes are one example of that. The railway gates would close after school and lots of push bikes would have to wait for the train to pass.

We had great times when we were young. We’d ride bikes on the weekend from Wodonga to the Wodonga Creek to swim, swim at Norieul Park in the summer months, swim at the Water Works and on to the Weir, all in one day. The Army used to have a very good swimming hole at Little River (Kiewa River), and after a swim there, tired out, we would continue home to Wodonga. That was our Sunday.

Then I worked with Arnold’s grocery store, on the corner of Jack Hore Place and High Street. My father told me “When you go there you will be apprenticed, so will be expected to see that you keep the shelves full. If you don’t keep them full, you’ll be in trouble.” I used to have to weigh shell grit, wheat, bran, pollard and potatoes, everyone had chooks in those days, and I kept the shelves full. After three months, Bill Marshall, whom many of you would remember, offered me an apprenticeship in his barber shop. I was happy to take the job. I thought I knew everything, but I didn’t know anything! Some of the things that happened there educated me fairly well.

There was tobacco rationing in those days, when we didn’t have the anti-smoking publicity. A lot of men would get cigarettes and tobacco rations. Being fairly green, I would have to put all these packets of tobacco in paper bags with names on them. There was pipe tobacco as well as fine-cut and ready-rubbed. I didn’t know the difference between fine-cut and flake-cut. So I put all the flake-cut into bags that should have been fine-cut. At the time I thought I was going to get the sack, because the boss said a few ‘fancy words’ and all these people were bringing back their wrong tobacco orders. That was all part of the deal in those days.