Too many hyphens and inverted commas. An edit!

untitled Scheyville



The photo is not mine.

An unforgettable memory etched in my mind was the generosity of the Australian government run Camp in the availability of unlimited supplies of food. It was all free and copious in quantity. The first few days we ate in the very large food hall. You picked up the food by queuing at the kitchen counter with a large plate. You ate what was ladled out. It was mainly very large enormous mutton chops, still glistening in fat with peas and a mountain of mashed potatoes. Sometimes it was sausages and pumpkin. You then carried the full plate back to large tables that had knives and forks already spread out. You sat on benches. We would all tuck in with a vengeance.

You can imagine, most migrants were from post or still on-going war ravaged countries. Hungarians, Czechoslovakians and Bulgarians, many with university degrees. There were refugees who had escaped from German extermination camps that had already spent years roaming from camp to camp in Europe. They were true refugees. Many also from Holland and Germany, Italy and Greece, today classified as ‘economic’ refugees. All of whom were hungry and now in the Promised Land. This Scheyville food hall fed a hungry Europe as never seen before. Some straddled the benches with plates clutched between thighs instead of sitting at the table, so as to be closer to the plate or perhaps of fear the food would get stolen. One large Bulgarian man would chew on his mutton chops pulverising the chop- bone with bare teeth. I looked on in amazement. He did it to impress his country fellowmen much to their amusement and laughter. After the solid food was eaten, one could again tank up or take seconds in the form of a jelly. The jelly was aeroplane jelly. A favourite ad on the radio was ‘I love aeroplane jelly’.

I used to grab slices of bread for afters, scooped up large quantities of IXL jam available on every table in giant gallon jars. It had huge chunks of real fruit in it. It was lovely, fancy being able to take as much as you liked? Surely Australia so far was everything that it had promised and more!

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14 Responses to “Too many hyphens and inverted commas. An edit!”

  1. Dorothy brett Says:

    Hi gerard, I think if you could ask your parents it wasn’t entirely free. Or rather it was until the migrant started a job, but even then it was a very low amount called a “tariff”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      The food was free. I can’t remember ever getting a bill after eating. The food was alright and nutritious but not something you would get a bill for. I think some kind of rent was paid after people started working. At Scheyville no one could work. It was just too isolated. We only stayed for a short couple of weeks.


  2. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    Interesting. The photo appears to show just men, but presumably it was for all migrants.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Perhaps the photo is from before 1956 when lots of single men arrived in Australia. The 10 pound Pom!
      Dutch migration was at a peak during 1956 when we arrived. Even so, there were many single men. It was hard for those men to meet suitable women. Dance venues were often full of doe eyed lonely men and very few women. Wearing glasses and having a foreign accent were no accoutrements for getting a dance.

      Liked by 1 person

      • hilarycustancegreen Says:

        My brother was a £10 Pom in the 1960s. He was in the Australian target-rifle team for a year or so, but then he married his English sweetheart and and she refused to go to Oz, so he became English again.


      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Your brother probably made a wise move. The English found it much more difficult to adjust than the continental Europeans. The ten pound Pom migration failed as many returned. It was then that the PM decided to open the doors of Australia to Europeans. Of course, the White Australian policy was in full swing excluding anyone coloured. The Italians and Greeks were considered white and the PM at the time thought ‘they were just a little bit brown.’


  3. roughseasinthemed Says:

    Sounds – and looks – a bit like school dinners.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Patti Kuche Says:

    I can almost smell the mutton . . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Curt Mekemson Says:

    Probably heaven to a starving person. Quantity not quality seemed to be rule, but then quantity was probably what everyone wanted. –Curt


  6. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    I an just imagine all the hungry people tucking into the free food. Some had probably not seen as much food before. Wonderful salvation, and good introduction to Australia.


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