My beloved Paddington: Reliving the memories of my childhood suburb

Apr 14, 2023
Source: Getty

I have many fond memories of that quaint, Brisbane working man’s suburb before it evolved into the “trendy” Paddo, of today.

My family didn’t have a lot in the way of money or possessions, but hey, neither did the majority of our neighbours or friends, and because of that we had no concept of “the haves and have-nots”, and our lives were unspoilt and, for the most part, very happy.

The homes in our suburb, were mostly of a simple weatherboard construction, with iron roofs, and in many cases, urgently in need of good paint. 

Because of Paddington’s undulating terrain, some homes were built with a set of wooden steps at the front, some with steps at the back and some with steps front and back. So many times, I ran up our back stairs, missing a tread, skinning my shin, and trying to get upstairs before the boogie man caught me.

Many deliveries, be it daily or weekly, broke the boredom of the suburban housewife.

Ice came with a yell “Ice man” and a block of ice, grabbed securely by a large scissor-looking tool, was rushed through the front door, and deposited on the top of the ice chest. 

The “milko” collected empty glass milk and cream bottles in the early hours of the morning (left out on the front step or landing) and replaced them with the cream topped bottles of milk, which actually tasted like milk, capped with foil. The ‘milk money’ was left out under the empties, in payment for the magical appearance of these bottles.

Our garbage was collected, by the “Garbo”, tanned, fit men, with the quintessential knotted hankie atop their sweaty heads.  Running up and down the streets, picking up full garbage bins of rubbish, slinging them over their shoulders, chasing after the truck and then depositing your bin, with a crash boom bang, back at your gate, albeit with a fresh dent or two. 

Freshly baked high-top bread, with a nut brown, crunchy, crusted top, was delivered by the ‘baker’, his dutiful horse pulling the fully laden cart uphill and down dale to satisfy the hunger for this simple delicacy.

The chipped, green enamel dripping tin, sat on the back of our Kooka gas stove, which was set in the corrugated iron recess of our small kitchen. Dad would cut himself a thick slice, and slather it with (what he considered) the tasty, roast mutton-flavoured drippings, that were poured into that tin, by Mum, every Sunday.

To this day, the smell of a Sunday roast brings back cherished, childhood memories of my beloved Paddington.

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