Saturday, August 23, 2014

When Memory Lane has been renovated

Its not always wise to visit the streets of your past.

They may seem smaller and less sparkly than you remember, but sometimes, even worse, they look exactly the same.

To explain myself, I spent last weekend with my sisters (Sister T and Sister D) playing in the suburb I grew up in, Cronulla. I haven't lived in the Sutherland Shire (it wasn't called "The Shire" when I was there) for almost 18 years.  But last weekend I had a bird's eye view from the sixth floor of the Rydges Hotel.  Even with the rain and the black clouds, the beach was still beautiful.

Of course the first point of call was the lounge downstairs for a quick cocktail then, after way too long getting ready, we took ourselves down the mall and found a trendy bar that wouldn't have looked out of place in Newtown or St Kilda. It was furnished with beaten up old wooden furniture with a feel of Southern Moonshine. The bar was very hipster so we sat in a quiet corner to have a drink. OK that's quite different to what we would have done 20 years ago but even more telling that time had definitely passed, is we were ordering food - shock horror - and sadly had to bring out reading glasses to read the menu.

But we couldn't sit still, as usual, and went out to find some music. We headed towards the RSL where a lot of nights were spent dancing at the Friday night disco in our youth. It was now about twice the size and unrecognisable - or as Sister T said "walked down memory lane and discovered its been renovated". And there was no music!  We had heard there was music in Gymea so assumed it was at the Tradies' so hopped into a taxi - nothing will stand in our way of a night of dancing.

Turned out the Tradies' had also exploded into a glass and steel monolith - and no music. The night was turning into a dud.  We were all dressed up and nowhere to boogie.  Luckily the reception guy at the Tradies' told us about the Vinyl Room which we had heard rumours about earlier.  This sounded right up our alley and it was only a billionty metres down the road (well it felt like it in high heeled boots).  Upon approach our dim dark memory was awoken and we realised it was a bar we used to go to way back when. After paying the door girl a whole five dollars(!) she said yes, its been there even before she was born (hurrumph) and it was called Cascades. It all came back to us and in unison we said "Oh God, its Catch Aides!!" Well that's what we all called it in the 80's.

It was a desperado type pick up joint but because they played all our favourites we always ended up dancing there all night.  Even our brother was known to lurk in the corner.  And yes, they still played all our favourites and everything else from before 1990.  At that stage, around 10pm, there was only a handful of mostly single males there but it soon filled up with dozens more drunken, dancing dudes. And some girls.  And of course we ended up on the dance floor as well.  Its easy to dance when you know all the words.

The next day was a late breakfast in the mall, shopping for stuff to wear that night (Rundles is still there!) and reminiscing about shops that had disappeared - like the toy shop, the pie shop and Jolly Rogers. Three staples as a kid.  I remember saving up my pocket money to buy a piece of tiny, wooden reproduction doll's house furniture each week, then it would be treating myself to an apple pie with cream and as a teenager buying my very own records (or cassette tape) - my first was The Chipmunks (I was so cool).

We spent the afternoon at Northie's in Old Joe's which is a reproduced Milk Bar that was situated next to the old Cronulla Worker's Club over the road - now torn down and fancy restaurants in its place.  They've put in the stuff you would expect like a pinball machine and Space Invaders game table (I wonder if they had come from the old game parlour, Flashez, where I used to spend all the change I pinched from Mum's pokie money?).  There were old photos of Cronulla, a Jackson surfboard (Sister D's husband used to work at Jackson Surfboards in the seventies, so had to take her picture in front of it of course) and retro furniture - which I loved so much I Instagrammed it.


Besides the Kettle of Tea With Norma (a very tasty jug of cocktail goodness), the best thing at Old Joe's was a ping pong table.  It's taken over forty years but I think I may have found my thing. Its a sport that I both really enjoy and I'm quite good at it.  Sister T and I spent so long playing table tennis, Sister D was able to pop over to the hotel for a Disco Nap.  We had so much fun we're thinking of buying a ping pong table.  Or just getting the net to stick over the dining table.

That night Sister D had a school reunion at The Taren Point Hotel so Sister T and I tarted up got dressed up again and went looking for somewhere to eat.  We ended up meeting some friends at the Cronulla RSL for dinner and stayed to hear a band called Too Many Guitars which were a group of teachers who played pretty good covers (even fitted in a couple dances, even though my feet were still killing me).

The 'old girls' eventually turned up and there was more dancing.  It was still pouring rain by the time we left so three tired 'ladies' huddled under an umbrella and hoofed it back up to our room.

The next day we donned our very bright matching hoodies (a coordinated rash online purchase a couple of months ago) and hit the mall again for breakfast which for some wanky reason was served on a square slate tile similar to what I used to have on my kitchen floor (have you ever tried to eat poached eggs off a tile?). We did drew out our grumpy old ladies card and asked them to be brought back out on plates. They won't forget us in a hurry.

I kept forgetting that we looked like a very unfit sporting team on their end of season weekend away and wondered why everyone was giggling at us. At least we could find each other - we stood out like very bright dog's balls!

Have you had a recent run down memory lane? Has it been demolished or spruced up since you were there?  Have you ever looked as ridiculous as these three?

 "It's a Bird Thing - you wouldn't understand"

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