By Peter Walters.
It was autumn in 1964 when I was appointed as a trainee teacher to South Melbourne Primary School in Dorcas Street, South Melbourne. On Wednesdays and Fridays I’d walk out the back gate, cross over Coventry Street and spend the most of my sixty minute lunch break wandering the aisles of the wonderful, fascinating South Melbourne Market. At times my fellow student teacher, Susie, would join me and we took little time in finding the Dim Sim stall on York street, the queue wasting our precious time, after which we munched our way up and down the aisles, fascinated by the assortment of people, colours, clothes, food, and general wares.
One of our favourite places was “The Merchant of Fairness”, the second hand book stall. (it still is!). I remember buying a pair of brilliant shoes from the shoe stall in aisle B (?). They were brown leather with a sort of sponge rubber sole. Oh so cool! I remember wearing them back to the school and the kids saying things like “Hey, great shoes” and “Mr Walters you’ve been to the market!” Oh, there were many more; shirts, jeans, presents bought from the market over the course of that four week teaching round and I couldn’t wait for the market days and watched sadly from the playground across the road on non-trading days the grey forlorn shuttered doors and windows. And even these days, as I munch on one of those delicious delicacies from Mamma Tran’s, I sit on a bench and gaze across the road on to the back sterile façade of a Unit block where once upon a wonderful time there was the laughter of children in a playground next to a magical market.
Thank you to the author Peter Walters for sharing his memories with us. Peter is still a regular to the Market, visiting every Friday.