Nostalgia alert: The things we bought for a penny

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the transition to decimal currency and for many here that brings back some sensational

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the transition to decimal currency and for many here that brings back some sensational memories.  We want to stir those memories up and have some fun with you.

My favourite is the old TV advertisement that ran in the lead up to the change to decimal currency.  The song was tuned to the tune of “click goes the Shears” and the words worked perfectly.  Anyone with a TV during the era knew it off by heart.

We talked about the memories of spending our pennies this week, and everyone chimed in.

“Used to save 12 pennies so I could go to the pictures on Saturday afternoons and have thrupence left over for an ice cream in a cone.  Earned the pennies doing odd jobs here and there.”

Lollies were a large part of the memories of pennies amongst over 60s, particularly at the time when decimal conversion happened when an apparent disparity between the two currencies gave children the ability to arbitrage.

“A shilling was 12 pennies but the decimal equivalent was 10 cents. So we would go to the shop with 12 pennies, spend one at a time so we could get 12 lots of lollies instead of 10. A cobber was a penny in those days….. Better to get 12 than 10. Lol”

And the memories of a different time come flooding back with everyone in Starts at 60 contributing their stories of old.

Liz Deakin said “with a penny I could buy one Cobber, one Freckle, four Rasberry Jubes, two Clinkers, one Gobstopper or if I had three pennies (thruppence!) I could buy a small ice cream. Sixpence or six pennies would get me into the saturday movie matinee. It used to cost a penny to use the toilet at Central Railway station. And Mum used to give me a penny for the plate at Mass on Sunday!

“You could get 8 chocolate bullets for a penny or 4 licorice blocks. You could also get a liquorice strap for a penny. They were flat and thin, and about 1 inch wide and 12 inches long. You could get the twisty ones but they were more expensive. I think I could also get a musk stick,” said Judith Morice.

Two a penny for licorice straps ,two a penny for cinnamon bars penny ice creams tray picks were put on trays and each stick of candy were a penny each .if you had a shilling you would get 13 for a shilling ,I penny for a packet of P.K. chewing gum. Life was fun in those days if you had a penny”, said Hazel McRae.

Judy Darby remembered the broken biscuits best.  “A penny’s worth of broken biscuits to munch on, on the way home from the pictures…always made sure that I had a spare penny.”

“A penny worth of broken biscuits, or a choo choo bar, or 4 clinkers, 2 licorse straps, or if you didn’t want to share you would buy a marshmallow sandwich. Oh wow were they nice…” said Helen Blake.

And Sylvia Bunton had some other memories.  “I used to get 1 shilling for afternoon matinee on Saturday sixpence in; threepence for ice cream at interval; and threepence worth of hot chips on way home.  What a treat mum and dad were useful but always managed Saturdays for me.   Sixpence in school holidays bought threepence worth of broken biscuits and threepence worth of speck fruit back in early 50s.   Those where the days!”

The day the currency arrived was momentous.  Everyone wanted to touch it.  “I remember my friends and I buying a packet of Fruit Tingles on our way home from Maitland Girls High at the kiosk at East Maitland train station with the old money to get some change in decimal currency so we could see it for the first time. exciting!!! We used to buy a packet of Fruit Tingles between us and share our favourite colours. Mine was yellow.”

And so today we want to reminisce the penny and pounds of yesterday.  How do you remember them?