The hub of the town

“The hub of the town was the Whiteway Theatre, that was the main attraction, and you had to book a seat on a Saturday night. It had three sections – you had up the top which was the most expensive, and directly underneath, and then out the front which was peanut alley. There weren’t a lot of really well off people around. My father was a labourer at the steelworks and he also liked his beer. So, us kids, if we wanted to go to the movies on a Saturday afternoon, had to be innovative enough during the week to scavenge three big glass drink bottles because you took them back to the shop and you got tuppence back on each bottle. Unless you could get sixpence together you didn’t get to go to the movies. My brother and I used to scavenge in the week to get three glass bottles each so that we could get sixpence to go to the movies on the Saturday at the cinema. If we got any more than that sixpence, we used to be able to have a lolly at interval or put some aside in case we never found any bottles the following week. Because you got two pennies for a large bottle and a penny for the small bottle. Parkinsons Drinks or something they were called. We used to scavenge everywhere. Even after the movies were over when the lights were going on and the usher was shoo-ing everybody out, we would be upping the seats all along the rows just to see if there were any spare bottles we could pick up off the floor. Others did it. We were very organised though…”

– Peggy Stransky, 21 November 2015

Photo – interior of the Whiteway Theatre 1950s – from the collections of the Wollongong City Libraries and the Illawarra Historical Society.