Elizabeth and John Fletcher lived in Glebe for 42 years, since 1973. Before that, Elizabeth was a student at St Scholastica’s Boarding School in the 1950s. Elizabeth’s earliest adult memory of Glebe is of a suburb full of boarding houses and ramshackle buildings.
Her best memory is of the Angelus bell ringing at noon and dusk at St Scholastica’s convent. The street where she lived then, Toxteth Rd, is the street where she lives now, in a house which was built in 1894. In 1994 she gave her house a 100 year birthday party with cake, 100 candles, and a jazz band. Changes in the street include ‘posher’ houses and emptier streets, because everyone is at work paying for their posh houses. There are fewer boarding houses and fewer interesting people.
What she misses is the absence of horses from Harold Park exercising in the local streets and park. She used to scoop up their manure for her garden and misses that!
Changes include greater wealth in Glebe and fewer poor people. Houses that were once decaying dumps have now been gentrified and cost two million dollars. There are fewer students because there are fewer boarding or shared houses.
Elizabeth recalls some colourful characters: ‘my husband used to volunteer with the St Vincent de Paul Society and look after homeless people. He found a man sleeping in a local park, took him to get some clean clothes from the St Vincent de Paul depot, brought him home for breakfast and then took him to his own home. Checking his food supply, my husband opened the fridge and found it completely full of beer, but no food. There was also a very large, tall woman known as ‘The Amazon’, who with her very small partner produced a very small baby. One day she mounted the local bus, holding the baby, her head almost touching the ceiling of the bus, and declared: “Which of you b….’s is going to give me a seat?”. Never have so many men moved so fast to offer a seat.’
What Elizabeth misses most is the former rose garden down in Jubilee Park near Hilda Booler Kindergarten. She also misses the experience of a full church on a Sunday morning. The things she welcomes are central heating, especially in an old house with high ceilings, and neighbours she has known for a long time.