Sylvie Wayman

Interview with Sylvie Wayman, 2 St. Bernards Road, Alphington – 5/4/1982

Now Silvie, just start off by telling me when you came to live in Alphington.

We came to live in Alphington 56 years ago, and we paid l, 000 pounds for a new home which was just built, we came into it new. There were paddocks all around, very few houses, you could walk across the paddock to the station.

Also, Glennis's had a big bluestone hay and corn store and grocery store where you could buy anything, it was there for years before that. Also there was Workley's butchers, not many shops, just a few shops, but mainly the identities were Glennis's and Mr. Benton also, he had the chemist shop then, and Workley's had a shop on this side and then they rebuilt and went to the other side. Glennis's were here for years really until they all grew too old and they just sold the property and it was pulled down.

Alphington State School wasn't here when we came and after we were here 6 months it was opened and we had to go there, and then had to go on from there to Westgarth to finish our Schooling.

There was a swimming pool built which we all loved as kids, which was part of the river, and there were sheds built, they built nice dressing sheds, and they had a little part divided off away from the river where you could learn to swim and our greatest thrill of course was swimming across the river, you thought you were great if you did that.

Then every year they held a carnival which was sponsored by Ben Alexander who was a well-known identity in Alphington, he owned clothing stores in Richmond and Northcote with his brother Sol, and it was a great event every year. There were marquees put up and they sold things and that was one of the events of the year, and they had special races. They had it all divided off with ropes across, it was very well run, and that was a great event for us.

Then round not far from us was Carlson's who owned the dairy and used to milk their own cows every day, I suppose they had quite a lot of cows, and they delivered milk to all over Alphington at the time. They had horses and carts and we used to go round with our billies and get our milk, it wasn't bottled then, there was no pasteurised milk. I used to go round and watch her milk the cows.

Then they wanted to build a Scout Hall so to raise funds, Carlson's allowed them to have their cow shed and they used to have bales of hay and we used to go every Saturday night and have community singing and it really great, we really used to love it as children.

Then of course pasteurisation came and they had to bring in the machines. But they always milked their own cows even though they pasteurised it, until Mrs. Carlson got too old. They are still identities in Alphington. One of Mrs. Carlson's daughters has an electrical business in Alphington. And then Eddie, he worked there until he retired and went up to a farm in the country.

Just around in Lucerne Crescent Mr. McGuiness lived, who was a well-known painter and painted George V, he went to England and was commissioned to paint him, and now in the Alphington School he donated a painting which is still hanging in the School.

My sister and I bought the milk bar in Wingrove Street and there was a mixed fruitery next door. We went there in 1939, the War started just after we went in there, and of course during the War there was a scarcity of sugar and everything was rationed and you couldn't buy sweets, you couldn't buy cigarettes, they were all rationed out, and of course all our customers we'd had for all the time we were there, we had to ration their cigarettes out each week and we'd just keep them on the shelves in packets and allow them one whenever they came in and they'd have to wait until the next ration came in.

Things were so bad that we had to do a bit of cooking just to keep things going really, and we'd go to bed at l o'clock and we'd have to getup at 4, and we didn't have an electrical beater and I used to cook sponges and beat them all by hand and the whole week-end was spent working, and it was really hard just to keep our heads above water and to keep the shop going.

Then I married Tom, and my sister, she went out, and then I had two shops to look after. I looked after the milk bar and I helped him in the fruit shop and then after twelve months I had Peter, so of course then we lived behind the milk bar for twelve months then we went to live with Mum. Then my sister took over the milk bar.

Gradually as time went on things got a little bit better. But when we went there we didn't have any refrigeration for ice-cream. We used to have one of the old-fashioned wooden ice cream boxes. They used to bring them in cans and they packed them all in with ice. After we were there a little while we hired one from Sennitt's which was really great after that.

Then I went into the fruit shop and I worked in the fruit shop, well Tom was therefor 44 years before he retired and I used to help him in that all the time after we were married.

We met many nice people over there – our shop was always a shop where people came in and loved it, and there was so much laughter came from our shop because everybody said it was just like home, they could tell jokes, and the women would all just come there and there would be screams of laughter coming from the shop. I'll always remember it really.

Tom was such a popular person and he used to teach all the young boys round about to drive his car. He used to have a little old-fashioned van, it had no sides on it, and all the kids used to come there and he loved them, and he used to take them all and teach them to drive, so many of the boys of Alphington. He saw so many generations of them.

I will never forget the day we got married, we didn't tell anybody because he said everybody would be coming congratulating him and he didn't want that, so we got married from the shop and we went to St. Kilda. Rev. Rainsford I think it was had the Church of England and he had gone to Port Melbourne by this stage and Tom always wanted him to marry us, so we went to Port Melbourne to be married.

I remember the next day – we didn't have a honeymoon and I had to come back to the shop the next day and open up the milk bar and he had to go to the market and I had to open the fruit shop. I'll never forget, this little boy came in, it was Billy Smith who owns the florist up in Ivanhoe and they lived in Alphington, and he went home past the shop – he went to Alphington State – and he went home to his mother and he said 'What do you know, Tom and Sil got married' and she said 'don't be stupid, they did not'. Anyway she came and I had a wedding ring on and it was just like wildfire, it spread all over Alphington that we'd got married.

Mr. Jones, he had the butcher shop next door, he knew that we were getting married. It was a lovely little block there, there used to be a grocer shop too.

Of course there were hard years, it was really always hard work in our shop, but we sort of held our own. Tom used to do a delivery in his little green van all around to all the people in Alphington, deliver three times a week and go and pick up their order and take it back to them, he was always welcome into anybody's home in that area.

Sol Alexander was the sponsor of the Northcote Cricket Club and Bill Lawry was Captain of the Cricket Club and used to coach the boys there at Northcote. That's where I think he started his cricket, and after that he went into the State cricket, then became Captain of Australia.

Alphington had a good amateur football team and one of the identities was Duncan Wright who then later played for Collingwood, but while Duncan was playing for Alphington they became premiers that year. Alphington have still kept up with the amateurs and still fielded a team for all those years, they've been premiers I think 3 times since I've been here, with Duncan and once when Peter was in it. He was the first one to kick 100 goals, my son Peter, he kicked over100 goals one season.

Outside the Alphington station was Hamilton's who'd been there 80 or more years and Nell Hamilton, who was a dancing teacher, used to teach the young girls. Every year at the Church we had a concert and Nell Hamilton used to teach the items for the kids there, and also we always had an anniversary at the Church once a year and so many of the children were chosen to sing a hymn and the stage was built in the Church and the Church was packed to the doors. We had it for two Sundays and we'd have three services a day and they'd bring out special Ministers to preach and it was always so popular you could hardly get a seat in the Church.

Nell Hamilton is still teaching dancing after all these years and still has concerts over in Kew. Myrtle Hamilton won the Bowls competition for years and years, she was President of the Ladies Bowls and won the premiership of the bowls for many years.

Some of the old identities living in Alphington were Len Widgraft who played football for Fitzroy and Jack Moriarty who was a champion goal kicker for Fitzroy, and the Coventry's, two of the Coventry's lived in Alphington.

Another identity in Alphington was Inspector Donnelly, who was married to one of the Twomey girls and their sons played football for Collingwood also. They are well-known identities, the Twomeys, in Alphington.

The paper shop in Alphington was owned by Sherwoods, and a well-known identity was Josh who used to deliver papers for Sherwood’s, and he also lived in Alphington and he ran Alphington like a policeman, everybody loved him and took no notice of him, but he used to go round at night with torches over the park just to see if any couples were parking in the park. He used to go to the station and the trains at that stage used to shunt at Alphington station and he used to direct the trains to make sure they were on the right lines.

Mr. Sherwood bought him a bike to deliver his papers and he came to his death by the bike, because when he left Alphington he was riding the bike down a hill and his coat caught in the wheel of the bike and he went over the top and was killed.

When our fruit shop was first started Tom loved the children so much, if there were any apples with a little mark he'd put them aside and the kids used to calla after school to see if there were any specks, and the children told each other at school and it became so big that we had to stop it because we wouldn't have had any business at all.

Most of the older residents of Alphington will remember Tom and Silvie Wayan when they had adjoining shops in Wingrove Street. There was a little community shopping area where the residents enjoyed to swap yarns and have a laugh together. There was a butcher shop there too, it is the same today three shops serving well the people who did no have cars to drive to the big supermarkets.

Silvie and her sister bought the milk bar in I949 and the second world war started just after they moved in. It was a bad time for business as a lot of things were rationed. It was hard to buy sweets and the regular customers for cigarettes had their ration put on the shelf and they would get a packet whenever they came in and when they ran out they would have to wait for the next ration.

Things were very bad so, Silvie and her sister decided to do a bit of home cookingjust to keep things going. They would be us at 4 am. making sponges by hand been use they didn't have an electric beater.

Gradually as time went on things got a bit better At first they had no refrigeration for ice creams, they had an old fashioned wooden ice cream box. The ice cream run was delivered in cans and packed all around with ice. Later on they hired a refrigerator from Sennetts which was really great.

Tom had the fruit shop next door. Tom and Silvie were married, now Silvie had two shops to look after, until later when their son was born and the sister took over the milk bar.

Sylvie will never forget the day they got married, they didn't tell anyone because they  didn't want everyone coming in an congratulating them. The next day they were back at work, the two shops to be opened and Tom to the market.

Sylvie says ' I'll never forget; this little boy came in, it was Billy Smith whonow owns the florist shop in Ivanhoe, they lived in Alphington then.

He went home and said to his mother ' What do you know, Tom and Sil gotmarried 'and she said 'Don't be stupid they did not. '... anywayshe came and I had a wedding ring on and it was just like wildfire, it spread all over Alphington thatwe'd got married. '

They met many nice people who loved to come into the shop, everybody saidit was just like home. They could tell jokes and there would be screams of laughte rcoming from the shop.

Tom was such a popular person he used to teach all the young boys to drive his car,it was a little old fashioned van with no sides. Tom did the deliveries in that, three times a week,he would pick up their order and then deliver it.

He was always welcome in anybody's home.

Tom loved the children so much , when the fruit shop first started if there were any apples with a little mark he would put them aside and the kids would call after school to see if there were any ' sneeks'. The children tole each other at school and it became so big that they had to stop it because they wouldn't have had any business at all.

It was a lovely little block, Mr Jones he had the butcher shop next door, end there was e grocer shop too.