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Gordon Lawton


Petre Street area late 40's early 50's

My family had the Petre Street Post Office from the early 30's to 1964. It was situated on the corner of Petre Street and Lyons Street. Today there is only the post box to mark the spot.

My play ground was mainly the "Oller" for which I have no idea where the name came from. This was the waste ground that ran from Lyons St all the way to Hunsley Street at the far end of Petre St. The "Oller" was, for us kids, a sports field where we would play cricket with oil drums for wickets and a piece of wood for a bat. In winter we would play football, the goals being 2 piles of bricks. Often we would have a battle with the sides being Edgar St kids vs Thorndon Rd kids, barriers would be built out of corregated iron sheets and old tin signs and we would just throw stones at each other. With todays standards this would be of great concern but to the best of my knowledge I don't remember anyone ever getting hurt.

During the summer months box carts better known to us a trolley's were built out of old pram wheels. Lyons Street being the most accessable hill to race down, then to turn right down Earsham Street then the long walk back again. Of course in winter time when the snow was around this course became our sledging track along with other streets like Kingston St, Jamaica St, Canada St, Carwood Rd and Carwood Lane. Most of which have now long gone. Smith's field being the ultimate sledging track but not for the faint hearted.

The steel works along Carlisle Street were also an illegal playground for the children of the area. Sneaking through a hole in the fence and entering the works via the old air-raid shelters we could watch red hot steel being rolled in the mill but all too often would be spotted by a workman and chased off. Further on the "Oller" after crossing over Carwood Rd there was a brick storage area for the steel works which provided some enthusiastic building of gang dens and also a scource of excellent clay to make hand warmers. These consisted of a clay container with a hole in the side at each end. Cotton waste, preferably old, used and soaked in grease or oil was set alight in the container and when we blew through the hole the waste would smolder and create lots of smoke as well as heating up the clay creating a hand warmer. Just below this brick storage area was an electrical scrap storage yard which we used to roll out empty cable drums and walk on them while rolling. It took a bit of practice but once the skill was aquired it was great fun. Once again we used to get chased off by the security guard and although we thought we were doing no harm, I have often wondered if maybe some damage was done to cable that was stored around there. I have never been able to work out how my mother managed to get me clean again after playing around the works as I'm sure I would have been covered in oil and grime and we didn't have a bathroom, just the kitchen sink.

Other pastimes in those days was getting a sack full of saw dust from Firth Brown's carpenters shop, at the bottom of Lyons Street, for our rabbit hutch. Playing around the static water tank, before it was filled in, located on the "Oller" roughly opposite Edgar Street and Thorndon Road. Particularly in winter when testing out the ice to see if it would support us. In later years going down to Gilleots Bakery at the bottom of Lyons Street to get a partime job, the best being a van boy on Saturday Mornings. For one Saturday we would get 10/- (50p) where as we only got that for delivering news papers morning and evening for six days.

Gordon Lawton
Renmark South Australia