Life in Cabramatta Hostel for Peggy Pearson, 1961.
Peggy became a resident of the hostel in 1961,emigrating from Scotland. She later acquired a job there as a supervisor for around twenty years.
This section is Peggy's memories of life at Cabramatta Hostel in the early sixties, while still a resident.
They sent a bus to pick us up ...the bus was a double decker...they were puttin' us out in the bush... There was lots of different nationalities.My husband didn't like it here..and the kids wanted to see what it was like,but after they saw it they wanted to go back. Once the men got a job they had to start paying back the tarriff,they decided what you'd pay.My husbands wages were seventeen pounds a fortnight.He worked for the waterboard.So I had to get a job.No buses in those days ..you had to walk or go on a bike.
The men had to go to the shop and bought the big newspaper and looked through it in the dinning room..Me myself put my baby in the pushchair and walked all the way to Yennora looking for a job. And they said" If anyone asks you if you've got children, say no"..".Why but I've got four""Tell them no, or you'll get no job."
I worked in Busby spinning mill,piecing the ends of wool and there was no joins in it..many a tear was shed... come home sore.And the kids comin' from the school, they weren't liked at the school...When we were there you could stay longer,because they didn't build many houses in those days...Some people with six or seven in the family, stayed there for four years,because they weren't building big houses.
About 1200 people there...it was one of the smallest hostels. Once it was yours (the hut) you could do what you liked with it. But you weren't allowed to cook your meals.It was only like bedrooms .That hut had three rooms on either side.That was like two families ,or three if they were small families. You had your own door.
There was three kitchens,two dining rooms and an annex... (we would) hold dances once a month ..we used to get pieces of paper and mark the tickets how much they'd cost...take your own record and get somebody to play them...pay them maybe four pound to play these records,and everybody danced.Everybody helped. We made potato salad,there was everything, made out of the kitchen.The money you paid for your ticket, would go the booze...The dances were great.You dressed yourself up.(audio of dances)
At that time we had yugoslavs and polish and german..you learnt to speak them all. The kids had a hard time at school. Didn't like the British,spoke funny and stole everything belonging to them. I used to go up to the school..they loved me the teachers when they saw me coming...You had to buy your books here...they (her children) never came telling you what was wrong .We would have got them the books if they had asked.They just knew, well our mum can't afford it because we're in a hostel.They were understanding kids.
Some nationalities the scottish as well...used to complain about the food...You got roast pork once a month.Roast beef every Thursday, maybe saturday.There was plenty of food, but people had to make trouble.
My kids all liked the food, why should I complain.Some of them you'd think had huge expectations.It was only a stopping-off place.Nobody ever went without.Till the different nationalities came in and wanted their own food ,like spaghetti and these things.Lots of people rorted the system.They had jobs but didn't pay the tarriffs. Or would cary the food out to there other friends. Then it was we got a housing commission house. I would have stayed in the hostel.But your husband would say" We can't do that,everybody's gotta a house of their own." We made fun( at the hostel).Lots of people could tell you they hated the hostel ,but I could never say that.Even when I worked there, used to walk all the way from Villawood to Cabramatta.