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Gazette Article

Shirley looks back at 80 years in Artarmon

Shirley Storrier has lived in the same house in Stewart St, Artarmon, since 1932. She says the house today is basically the same as it was then. This is her story.

My brother Ray and I played with the neighbouring children on the vacant blocks – war games were popular, as well as billycarts and bikes.

I learned to swim at North Sydney pool, father taking us there by train. Later Balmoral Beach was a favourite spot, taking a tram from Willoughby. Grandmother Storrier would meet us at the beach and she always brought beautiful ham sandwiches wrapped in a damask napkin.

There was no television, so we listened to the radio. Sunday Night Lux Radio Theatre was a favourite. Ray and I would lie down on the floor in front of the radio and listen.

I learned the piano and my brother the violin. When visitors came, we were expected to play but Ray always said his ‘G string’ was broken so he couldn’t perform. Sadly, I still have the piano but do not play. Occasionally, I’ve lifted the lid and taken sheet music out but you just can’t start again, the fingers don’t act as quickly.”

Family holidays were mainly camping holidays, for a month at Lake Conjola. In the latter part of the war, we had a car because of father’s work – a second hand Dodge – and possibly the fourth car in the street. There was petrol rationing but dad was able to get petrol coupons through work.  We got our first refrigerator after the war – a Hallstrom Silent Knight.

My mother did not like the idea of having a toilet inside the house so it was downstairs for many years.

I went to Artarmon Public School and then Chatswood. I won a bursary to St Patricks in the city for the leaving certificate. I was 16 when I completed the leaving certificate and went to teachers college. 

After three years teaching, I resigned to go overseas. We went to London by boat [because] it was the only way to go. The trip over took six weeks, on a part cargo ship. The cargo was more important than the passengers but it was fun.

Back in Sydney, I rejoined the education department, completed a degree at night, majoring in history and did honours. More teaching posts followed, then Willoughby Girls High School as head of the history department, where I stayed until I retired in 1988. Retirement has involved charity work, travel, theatre groups, Neighbourhood Watch and family history.

* This is an excerpt of Artarmon's oral history about Artarmon that Katie Walshe and Adrian Alexander are collecting for APA's history project.

Courtesy of Gazette February 2012
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Shirley Storrier ... Artarmon's living history source
Photo: Katie Walshe





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