Hookers and Prosciutto

By gerard oosterman

Even in the 1960’s, Potts Point and Kings Cross next door, had a rather bohemian tinge to it. It was a happy mixture of hookers and poets, criminals and cafe habitués with some of the best delicatessen in the whole of Australia. A butcher shop with all sorts of European condiments, smoked hams and jars of anchovies, prosciuttos and home- made sauerkraut, rookworst et al, and with a fragrance that permeated the pavement outside which one could only have found either in Budapest or Vienna. I think the shop was named ‘Hans Continental Meats’ or something and the customers were lined up from morning till night. From memory, Pott’s point and Kings Cross were also an area where some shops were allowed to be open after 6pm, which in Australia was groundbreaking for the time.  We loved living there and for me it came closest to living in a kind of Piazza Garibaldi of Naples.

The apartment that I had bought in 1963, cost $ 9.500. It came fully furnished and even had a Bakelite radio, all crockery and cutlery, small gas operated fridge. The bedroom had a curved bay window and the queen size bed had a bed head and foot end of the imitation wood laminated variety, very popular for the time and now sought after by collectors. The floor was carpeted by another Australian favourite phenomenon ‘wall to wall’. It could not look worse. The whole building had been used in the past by a company for daily rental as a kind of inner-city hotel but without restaurants or services. While I went about re-building the decorating business with printing of letterheads and matching envelopes, buying a car and connecting with previous clients, my wife started to make our living quarters less like a place whereby couples would have a quick horizontal folk dance and more like reflecting our own life. The ‘wall to wall’ was the first to go under which we found a delightful hardwood floor. We stained it a darker colour and put a Finnish hand-woven rug on it, which we had bought from Artes Studios in George Street, Sydney, together with some strongly coloured material to re- cover a simple settee. We re-painted the whole place and hung some of my paintings and wall hangings that we had been given in Finland


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