Our move to Sydney’s Kings Cross was decided the next day. It needed no considering really. We walked around the main shopping street, looked at the apartment of Kanimbla-Hall which Helvi really liked. She has always been able to see the potential in any of our homes. Perhaps that sense of good proportions and making the best of any given space as well as this undefined art of recognizing what makes things look good or awfully ugly. It seems to be the domain of a Finn. Perhaps it is also a genetic thing. I don’t think you can teach good design if the eye for the visual is absent nor make a good writer by teaching cobbling words together when they enter a brain better equipped for understanding Rock-a-Billy or galloping horses . The idea that we are all capable of doing amazing things if only given the encouragement together with being diligent enough and have the determination to succeed, might be over-rated. We do the best we can and the philosophy ‘and may the devil take the hindmost’ always a good thing to keep in mind. Just in case! (“or Love Lies a-Bleeding, 1611:)” Does it really matter? It is in the doing and we can all do, surely?
In the mid sixties, Sydney did have a few areas where multi- culture and a cosmopolitan life existed. Now of course almost everything has ‘a life style’, even buying a house or an electric knife sharpener, is imbued by its promise to ‘add’ to your lifestyle. The advertising world has managed to make us all fear in missing out on the promised land of the magic lifestyle and have hordes of people rushing to Harvey Norman and those Meccas of consuming, the shopping Malls. It is all proof on how we are goaded into leading our lives never quite fulfilled of having attained this desired ‘lifestyle’, while sinking somewhat deflated into our latest acquisition, the reclining sofa, while watching Neighbours on a three metre barking mad wide flat screen TV. It resists all our efforts, no matter how we shop till we drop and of course ‘drop’ we finally do. The ultimate ‘life-style’ finally achieved with ashes to ashes!
Kings Cross was the very heart of what life is capable of throwing up. There were artists, vagabonds, drug addicts, criminals and smiling red rouged but lovely prostitutes, mothers with babies in prams and some normal fathers. It was a friendly and safe place then. Perhaps still is! It had book shops, and a great butcher shop named ‘Hans Fleischmeister’ that sold continentals, including rookworst, sauerkraut, and marinated olives as well as prosciutto, preserved red cabbage and cooking apple in Hak glass containers and other strange and twisted looking delicatessen. On a Saturday morning the queue spilled over onto the pavement and the smell of this shop lured many to venture out of the apartment blocks like the town-crier of earlier times.
There were also nightclubs and strip joints, spruikers and American soldiers on RI leave from Vietnam or from wars somewhere. Many looked for romance but compromised with a hurried love for sale. We knew by sight some of the girls who scored a trick and nodded us with a smile. We were part of a world that still walked the pavements. A blushing fountain depicting a dandelion flower seed head was the very centre of our chosen domain and such a vibrant area to live in. It was surrounded by seats on which the book reading pensioners of the time could be seen reading or nodding. Sometimes both. The library and Franklyn supermarket were edged on this lovely little park. It was to be our home for a few years. Both of our daughters were born in Kings Cross and lived at our apartment.
Helvi transformed the apartment by lifting the ‘wall-to-wall’ under which we found a perfect hardwood floor which we partially covered with a rug. One of my paintings was hung on the wall together with a Finnish wallhanging- a wedding present-now hanging in our present home. We also replaced the crockery with the Finnish Arabia brand and bought a very nice set of cutlery in a wooden box made in Austria. The Bakelite radio and laminated kitchen table and bed-head replaced with nicer looking accoutrements. We bought a black and white small TV and watched ‘Pick-a Box’ with Bob Dyer and an excruciatingly irritating wife with the name ‘Dolly’ who would come on-stage to drool ‘Oh yes Bob’ in a strong accent, over and over again whenever she was beckoned by Bob. There was a world champion contest between the world’s best factual informed with also the most and best of the retentive memories at call on this Pick a Box. It was between an Australian named Barry Jones and a Finn. Barry Jones won and became a politician later on in life, which shows you how pure knowledge can be a bad thing.
These were our Kanimbla Hall years. Very good years they were too!