Life at ” The Cross.” (Auto-biography)

Fountain at King's Cross

Fountain at King’s Cross

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!

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26 Responses to “Life at ” The Cross.” (Auto-biography)”

  1. bkpyett Says:

    I treasure the Arabia ware that we have, it holds a special place for both of us. I had the brown and white dinner set and Chris had the blue and white of which we have a few pieces. Thanks for the memories. The dandelion fountain is also a very special one!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      We have since increased our Arabia crockery pieces by scrouncing around at Vinnies and other charity shops. Amazingly, view seem to know the value of those pieces apart from their beauty.


  2. Carrie Rubin Says:

    I like your paragraph about consumerism. I think the older we get, the less we want things. We start to see them as just one more object we’ll need to get rid of down the road. The hubs and I are trying to cut down on accumulations, but with kids still in the home, things always seem to multiply.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Often, within a year or so the items so keenly coveted end up on the nature strip for collection by the local council. Have you noticed how many perfectly good mattresses end up on the nature strip in front of the houses? Are they the result of bitter relationships being fought on those conjugal beds?
      Of course, TV, fridges, and lots of bicycles end up getting chucked out. As a kid I never saw bikes left on the road-side, was happy to get a glass of cordial on my birthday.


  3. nonsmokingladybug Says:

    Times were different then, not just in Sydney 🙂


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I liked it when I had some money to treat myself on potato scallops wrapped in the Daily Telegraph. I would eat them after work but before going home seated on a bench near the railway station. An added benefit was that I could read the wrapper as well as eat its contents.


  4. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    Much different times here only a few years ago..

    Liked by 1 person

  5. rod Says:

    I agree with you, we don’t all have the capacity to do everything. I can’t draw. An artist friend tells me EVERYONE can learn to draw. This has not been my experience so I do not believe her. Another excellent post – or should I say ‘chapter’!


  6. gerard oosterman Says:

    I took piano lessons when about forty or so for some years. Also bought a good professional quality piano and a metronome. I was the despair of two teachers and could never even reach a beginners level. I tried and tried, did not give up till it was almost costing me Helvi.
    I felt never happier when I finally threw in the towel. Piano playing was not to be.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yvonne Says:

    My husband, 3 children and I stayed in the People’s Palace (Salvation Army) when the ship we arrived on dumped us in Sydney. (October, 1966). Maybe we passed you and Helvi on the streets of the Cross as we wandered about, wondering if we had made agood decision!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. gerard oosterman Says:

    You had three children in 1966, while our first one wasn’t born till 1968. I think the People’s Palace might still be around. How long did you stay there and how did you go those first few months?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yvonne Says:

      We soon figured out that the big city of Sydney wasn’t for us, so we headed to Adelaide. I remember we had to change trains at Albury-Wodonga (different gauge tracks), and there were 5 of us in a little couchette, with 2 bunks. Some of us (I don’t recall who!), slept on the floor. In the morning we approached Adelaide, and I thought we were looking at beautiful heather on the hillsides. I found out later it was Patterson’s Curse, and we became quite familiar with that persistent weed. The first few months were quite a shock to us, but we were young and optimistic.


  9. Julia Lund Says:

    “We were part of a world that still walked the oavements.” Love that description. I also love the dandelion fountain. Does it still exist?

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I think the foutains still exists and so do the walkers on the pavement. But…after 2am it might get a bit dicey. You know, the drunks all hyped up, spoiling for a fight.
      It still has a bohemian tinge and I think that is a good thing..


  10. Says:

    I love the dandelion fountain and I love, even more, the picture of you three on the beach – fabulous dungarees.


  11. gerard oosterman Says:

    Thank you Hilary,
    I had to look up what dungarees are but should have asked H. She actually made those. Helvi’s memory is amazing. The little girl is daughter Nr 2.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Big M Says:

    You made the best of a Sydney that seems to be from a Ken Slessor poem. Now I neither recognise, nor like it. As you can probably tell, I dip into the word stream of Oostermemories for an occasional refreshing drink. Nice work Gez, another word painting.


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