Intangible Heritage Workshop. 3rd Conversation: Diana Catchlove

Diana lived in a rented home on the corner of Morphett Road and Sturt road. She was on a block where there were vineyards and almond trees. During our conversation together, she recalled many of the wonderful businesses and community members who defined Marion when she lived there. Marion’s essence was expressed tangibly through the vineyards and fresh markets which operated by people you knew by name, which created a real sense of community business.

 Memories of Marion

Diagonally across from her, Mr Thomas and his family owned and ran the local dairy. Diana recalls Mr Thomas taking her for a ride in his horse and track. He also taught her how to milk a cow by hand as a child- they didn’t have mechanic milking systems in those days.

Where the KFC is now, a market garden used to exist. Diana recalls Mr Stewart and his family who sold flowers. There were a lot of markets going up to Marion and South road. Diana said it was lovely to have fresh tomato and cucumbers; a sentiment similarly expressed by many of our participants recalling early times in Marion.

Across the road where she lived there was a vineyard and vacant block: ‘you could see the trains heading in and there was a harness racing practice track for the horses in the area.

Diana told a story of her cousin and some friends using rifles one day. A bullet from her cousin’s gun hit a clod of soil in the ground, ricocheted and went through the window of a house nearby and ‘he got in a lot of strife from that’.

‘There were so many vineyards and groves from that area and it’s really sad now to see so little vines in the area’, Diana lamented. Hamilton’s winery was on the corner of what was then known as Adelaide road (now Oaklands road) and Morphett road.

Prior to Sturt Creek development, Diana recalls having played  up at the creek on Sturt road which was ‘such a pretty area in the days before Sturt Creek was cemented’.

Despite the wonderful farmers markets in the suburbs surrounding Adelaide these days, the feeling is not the same as living amongst the market gardens. Today; rather than the market gardens, numerous vineyards and family businesses; Marion is defined by the Westfield shopping mall and housing developments.

Diana worked in nursing and ended up going to KI to work in a hospital for a period of time before returning to the mainland to live in Brighton at the end of 1980. She is glad she has known some of the history of the Marion area and notes that current youth wouldn’t realise how different it was and what it was like back when she was living here. And she means this not just in a physical landscape sense, but also in terms of community. People looked out for one another, knew each other by name. You knew your neighbour well.

 Changes in Marion

I asked Diana if she could trace the changes in Marion to a particular time. She felt that the 1950s was the era of change where more shops began operation. Butchers, green grocers, even her father had a deli at Marion at one stage. After the war, people started to build and the housing trust built a lot of homes also.

Diana’s family shopped across the railway line, where Mr Bourne had the grocery store. Mr Bourne sold broken biscuits at a reduced price after the war, when everyone was struggling. Another participant mentioned previously in a group discussion that in earlier days most things in shops came from bulk by hand- such as cheese being cut from a block, biscuits from a jar, butter from a knob. Something that has definitely changed, in an age now where everything comes pre-divided and packaged and merely scanned by the shop worker.

Mr Landon was the butcher, and one of his staff would deliver the meat in a horse and cart.

Mr and Mrs Howard Miller owned a green grocer and their son Kevin would help occasionally (who went on to become an international opera singer!). In the 1950s Mr Foxwell used to deliver groceries in his van in person.

Post-war poverty

Post-war life meant that people didn’t have money. They built basic homes, lived frugal lives. Diana’s household welcomed an electric fridge around 1949 which was a big event in her household. She recalls her mother using a copper, ringer and wash trough before they had a washing machine. Reckitt’s blue was used to whiten the clothes back then, something I had heard of before but not known much about. ‘Lots of kids these days don’t know what a copper stick is…or scrubbing board,’ Diana chuckled.

Diana’s family had an electric fridge around 1949 and that was a big event in her household. Her mother had a washing machine but prior to that it had always been washing using a copper and ringer on the wash trough.

My discussion with Diana was an enlightening one. I walked away feeling like I’d learnt more from her than just her heritage and ideas of heritage. There was clearly a Marion culture back in pre- and post-war times that was very supportive and personable which Diana recalls. Thank you Diana, it was a pleasure.

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2 thoughts on “Intangible Heritage Workshop. 3rd Conversation: Diana Catchlove

  1. Hi Nessa

    Thank you for loading this record of interview. I enjoy reading about the lives of people in those years, but I’m glad I was born later. The grocery store was run by Mr Bourne, not Born.

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