Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Local Shops

I feel a bit sad about our local shops, Chapel Street. Local shops for local people. The chick, well close to my age, told me that her father's store, Retravision, was closing for renovations. She did not tell me they had sold and were leaving. Gosh, on and off, I have been buying there for twenty five years from the same people. They knew me and gave me a good price up front. Suddenly they have gone. I feel some distress. She did not even say goodbye.

Near the corner of Chapel Steet and Malvern Road there was a pet shop. I used to go in there and dream of a cute puppy or a sleek cat. I checked it almost weekly to see which critter had been sold and what new ones had arrived. The row of shops was renovated and the pet shop stayed open. But now the shop renos are finished, the pet shop has gone. I could not believe it, just a blank glass window.

We have spent a few bob in the art supply shop nearby both aforementioned, and it is having a closing down sale.

One thing for sure, Chapel Street never stands still.


  1. I grew up there when it was a dirty slum. Imagine how I feel about it. Shocking. It's like Nauru becoming the Roman Empire.

  2. Nothing in Commercial Road, just a wind swept vacant street and an abattoir just north of the railway line was it? But there was Coles variety store.

  3. Coles, Foys, Maples, Reads (on "Reads Corner" -Chapel Street and Malvern Road, which I ran across diagonally as a five year-old and got ticked off by an old lady for it). There was Wally the Barber too, and a secondhand shop near Simmons Street where the bloke tried to sell us kids a walking stick he claimed had belonged to Jack Johnson. But most of all, there was the little Baptist Church in Chapel Street, now a bistro, awfully smart. Would you like to see my poem about it? It's very romantic.

  4. (I think he's gone to bed)

    (Hope so)

    (Counting to one hundred)
    Going on holiday
    Wish you well
    Hoping to see you
    Before I depart.
    You know that old Baptist church
    Chapel Street
    Now a bistro
    Awfully smart.
    I'll be out the front
    Hoping to see you
    Rum and coke
    Trams going past.
    Out the front
    Hoping to see you
    -Hide and seek-
    Trams going past.


    A nice little lullaby.

  5. The only abbatoir I've known in Commercial Road is the Alfred hospital, a notorious bloodhouse, where the local poor were treated like animals. I don't believe it's changed much, because middle-income's attitude to the poor will never change. But Commercial Road was lively, especially on market days, and the corner CES across the road always had plenty of customers. Our house was in Hazeldon Place, a tiny dead end street, and it was a little wooden joint with three rooms, no bathroom, and seven kids.
    Chapel Street has always thrived, way before I was ever there. The old man once said it was the biggest shopping centre outside the city, and it could be true. Reads was a huge department store at the time.
    East of Chapel Street the flatlands become the hills of Toorak. We used to stray through there as kids, never noticing an 'imbalance'. That happens later.

  6. There were no services at the Baptist church, it was more of a local community hall (run by Christians I guess) where kids played games, and entertainments were staged as well. I can remember having my face painted black along with a dozen other little kids before running down the stairs and straight onto the stage to sing Mammy for an audience of kids and adults.
    I'm glad to see the outside of the place is unchanged, and I've been in for a look and it's a bar now. All new, and with the old stage gone. There was a lane at the back and that's gone too, where one night we saw a bloke being strangled. That's what the drink does, we were told. And it's true. The most interesting bloke I've known destroyed himself with alcohol, and long before I realised he was a closet homosexual. A tragedy for him, and for me as well.

  7. I was walking on the opposite side of Chapel Street one day with a lady friend, passing the old Baptist, and I said to her: I'd like to own that building in the end, it's really what I want.
    She wasn't impressed. She liked sentimentality alright, but not when it took attention from her.

  8. I'm sorry for all these comments. I've stopped now.