BARRY LUMBY, a reader of this magazine, reminisces of times past in the Hills district during the 50s and of starting his real estate business in the 1960s
“I was looking at the photos you had of the Castle Hill Theatre. I am 71 years of age and grew up in Pennant Street where the shopping centre is now. In the 50’s the cost to get into the movie was 20 cents and maybe 10 cents to spend. One way to get in free was a boy to take an eel in with him, let it go and yell snake. When the movie was stopped and the theatre cleared everyone went back in including the “eel boy”. A Miss Swan was the ticket seller on a Saturday and she would “police” any suspicious bags, get caught and you were banned for a month. That worked.
The Police Station was on the corner of Showground Road and Pennant Street. Not much traffic on Showground Road in those times. I could lie on the road and listen for a car coming—however the Sergeant looking out his window thought otherwise. Down he came on his motor bike. gave me a kick up the rear end with the words “You get on home and I will tell your mother about this”.
On the corner of Showground Road and Gilbert road (was called cemetery road) where the tennis courts are there was an old wooden shack of three rooms and only one window with no glass. Bang Bang lived there. A dirty old man in dirty clothes and stunk. He would walk to the shops at Castle Hill. We boys were terrified of him as we believed he ate little boys. He would point two fingers at us and say bang, bang, bang. You see he was shell shocked from the war. A Mr Tipper who owned a general store in the main street would give him broken biscuits to eat.
The general rubbish tip was in Gilbert Road and the locals would just dump any rubbish they had in the bush there. If it was putrid they would just burn it. The best billy cart wheels and metal steering system from old toy cars could be found there. Well I found one, strapped it to my bike and home I went along Showground road, very pleased with myself but the load was too much and I came off, knocked out. When I awoke late in the afternoon I was being carried by the boy eater BANG BANG. He carried me home and then walked home himself from the end of Pennant Street to his dark hut in Gilbert Road. Mum helped me write a thank you note to Mr Bang Bang. Terrified I delivered it to a table in his hut and ran away quickly. About six months later the Police Sergeant turned up at home. I was 10 years. Bang Bang had died and the condition he was in made it necessary he be buried on site where those tennis courts are today. The Sergeant thought we might have been related as the only possession they found was the letter I had written to Bang Bang six months earlier.
In 1968 I opened a Real Estate Agency in Pennant Street. I was 22 years. I got a call from the Shire Clerk J B Mercer to come to the Council Chambers to talk to him and the Shire President Bernie Mullane. Baulkham Hills Council (The Hills Shire) was after a new site for a new, bigger Council Chambers and they picked the corner of Showground Road and Carrington Roads. I knew the women who lived there. Problem was she would not sell.—Mullane said we will resume the property. Problem was the law said you could not resume from a War service woman. “We want you to find her another home—and we want this conversation confidential for forty years.” We shook hands and I got neither financial benefit nor payment. I was authorised to offer the lady an above market price of $17,000 for her 5 acres (2HA). I got her a place at Vineyard and kept my word with Council.
In 1970 the family property and land in Pennant street was rezoned and I got all the owners in a one big group to sell together to Lend Lease ( Where the shopping centre is now). $17.50 A Sq Metre.) We had 1.25 acres( $216,000) big money at the time. Moving to Kellyville on the main road in 1970 for the next 40 years- ( weatherboard home commercial $26,000) Building blocks for $4000.) My Daughter Katie Lumby and her husband Will Hampson now carry on that business at Dural under the name Lumby Hampson with me as the photographer!!.”
Don’t forget to contribute your memories and also any old photographs that you would like to see published in this magazine’s “As We Were” section.