More about Nundle, 1930-40s

17 Jul

More things my grandmother remembers of her childhood in Nundle. Her uncle Cecil Reichel and Kitchener Hall, who ran a garage and milk bar-and-lolly-shop respectively, used to set up at the Town Hall as a cinema every now and then, at the very end of the 1930s. Perhaps every six months they’d show a Charlie Chaplin reel – they’re the only ones my grandmother recalls playing, anyway. They watched silent films even though the talkies had hit the cities some years beforehand. If she remembers rightly, Nundle didn’t even have electricity then. Her enterprising uncle and partner must have had a generator to play Charlie Chaplin at all. The kids would all cram onto wooden benches up the back, and one of the sensations that still strikes her was the after-dark cold once they poured from the Town Hall – the whole town and surrounding district. She and the woman looking after her at the time would head up the hill, breath steaming, away from the gaslight of the hall into blackness.

As well as the occasional medicine show, busking actors would sometimes set up in the oval beside Nundle Town Hall. My grandmother remembers men playing ukeleles or guitars, and a clown in the full Grimaldi outfit: white face, red cheeks, frilled neck, suit covered with spots, performing comic tumbling and sleight-of-hand routines. Sometimes these strolling actors would set up a tent on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon; sometimes they would simply rig up a stage and perform in the open, every kid in the vicinity milling round.

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