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The Studio

My early childhood, the years up to age seven when we moved from our home in Auburn Road, was filled with wonder, joy, and adventure. Just as Auburn Road and its environs held great significance, so too did Camberwell Junction, or ‘the junction’ as we called it, a six-way intersection busy with cars and clanging green trams and a traffic policeman standing in the middle of it all waving cars this way and that with his hand signals. It was also the location of Bonney Studios, my father’s photographic studio. The Studio, as we referred to it, was located on the first floor of the red brick two-storey Dillon’s building. Established in 1941, less than two years after my parents’ arrival in Australia, it heralded the formalization of what would become my father’s long working life as a photographer through which he would build a small but successful business until retiring in his mid-seventies. It holds a plethora of wonderful childhood memories.

The ground level of the Dillon’s building consisted of several shops including Braithwaite chemist and the ‘six-ways’ milk bar where I was sometimes permitted a treat when visiting the studio, usually an ice cream cone, or a ‘chocolate malted’, a chocolate flavoured milkshake with malt powder added, rich and delicious. All other businesses in the building were, like Bonney Studios, upstairs. On the right-hand wall of the small vestibule, the tenants’ post boxes were arranged in a neat grey grid. Sometimes as we entered, Daddy would use his special key to unlock the small steel door and retrieve his business mail before we set off up the stairs. After the first few steps, the broad, shallow stairway turned right, and just before reaching the top dog-legged left, leading onto a wide foyer which then narrowed into two corridors running at right angles to one another. Directly opposite the top of the stairs was the entry to the small reception area of Bonney Studios, with a couple of chairs and a small round table on which was displayed a sample photographic album. Behind this room stood the even smaller workroom where my mother and Mrs Lossell sat spotting, hand-colouring and trimming the large format black and white photographs with a guillotine. It was an amazing looking object —a heavy square timber base on the side of which was attached a long, weighty steel blade with a nicely rounded wooden handle. Whack whack off with their heads! Well, no, but it was a precision instrument for trimming photographs, and I loved its heft and appearance. The little workroom had one window which overlooked the desolate backyard below. As his business grew, he took another small adjacent room which became the work room enabling him to double the size of the once tiny reception area. Off the original workroom was the entry to the darkroom, the heart and magic of the studio.

I gently part the heavy black curtain and enter the darkness, nostrils immediately assailed by the distinctive chemical smells of developer and fixative. It takes some seconds for my eyes to adjust, as the only illumination is from the safe-light, red, weird and ethereal. Designed to protect unexposed photographic paper, it illuminates just enough for me to find my way in without stumbling and for Daddy and his assistant to work. Some might have found it spooky but to me, crossing the threshold into the dark red glow felt like an adventure each time. Look, there is the enlarger, hovering like a giant insect above a long bench. I do not yet understand its workings — to project light through the negative onto the light sensitive photographic paper; and on the bench, three shallow, chemical-filled trays, their liquid surfaces red.

Wearing thick rubber gloves and using designated tongs, my father places the photographic paper into the first tray containing developer, swishes it around by gently rocking the tray. I stand transfixed as the miracle occurs, an image slowly emerging on the floating paper. He uses the tongs to remove the print, placing it in the next tray, the stop bath, which will prevent the developer from further activity. He uses a timer at each step of the process. Ding goes the bell. I am not sure how much of the process he explained to me at the time, but I came to understand it decades later when experimenting with photographic paper and chemicals in my artwork. He repeats the gentle rocking. Using a different pair of tongs so as not to contaminate the mixtures, he transfers the print to the final tray of fixative which will ensure the image is permanent, ding, gentle rocking repeated before he removes the print. Adjacent to these trays is a deep trough with continuously running water which gurgles and bubbles — a quiet, soothing sound. Into this he submerges the prints to remove all trace of chemicals before he removes and pegs them to a line strung above. This is not my mother’s washing line but a parallel universe of sorts. I love being in here watching this systematic, careful and magical procedure.

Business in these earlier years consisted primarily of portraiture and wedding photos. As weddings mostly took place on Saturdays, my hard-working father’s only free day was Sunday, a family day, perhaps an outing to the beach or countryside. On rare, treasured occasions I see him at work photographing Saturday brides in their billowy, flossy dresses surrounded by flower girls and confetti, walking down the steps of some church, someone’s fairy-tale but never mine. The portrait work, predominantly child portraiture, took place within the studio and required a separate space. Further along the corridor was a much larger room set up for this purpose with floor-to-ceiling sand-coloured velour curtains blocking off the natural light. Within it were large round metal studio lights attached to spindly-legged metal tripods and a large format camera with its concertina-like body, sitting on a wooden tripod; added to this setting, a variety of soft toys for babies and young children. A dais was set up upon which the child would sit, toy in hand. An image comes to mind of my father’s head disappearing under the black ‘dark cloth’ attached to the camera to block out light and in his hand the silver threaded wire cable he pressed to take the photo. Click. Oh, it was so much fun.

My father photographing a Saturday bride

The Market

There was another aspect of my father’s workplace that fascinated me. If his rooms sat along one broad corridor in which I rarely encountered anyone, another ran at right angles to it. At the very end it dog-legged briefly, leading to the external stairs which held the promise of another adventure. A straight steep flight down led to a small, somewhat dishevelled concrete yard with rubbish bins lined up against the fence for use by the tenants. A timber gate opened onto a bluestone-paved lane leading to the back entrance of Camberwell market. I sensed this was something old. Bluestone lanes had not been part of my experience until years later finding them commonplace running behind houses throughout inner city suburbs.

Established in the 1930s on a site that was originally a horse carriage factory, it later became the fresh food produce market I knew as a child, servicing the growers of the area and those, like my mother, who purchased fruit, vegetables and probably meat. It spread over what felt like a huge area with stands and stalls, somewhat shabby, dim and a little uneven underfoot. It was rowdy and bustling with life. Though details elude me, it was an exciting place to visit clutching Mummy’s free hand, her shopping basket in the other. Like all else, the nature of the market changed over time. A major fire saw it out of action for a period during the 1990’s after which it was given a facelift including a revamped entrance. In 1976 the market carpark became the Rotary Camberwell Sunday Market, a week-end institution with a reputation as being one of five or six of Melbourne’s best, featuring antiques, collectibles and vintage items. Many stall holders today are second and third generation family-run businesses, perhaps children or grandchildren of some of the very stall holders of our time, faces now long forgotten.


If The Studio was a wondrous and significant part of my memories of Camberwell Junction, so too was the continental delicatessen, few and far between in 1950’s Melbourne. Owned by a European Jewish couple, the Priester’s, we referred to it simply as ‘Priesters.’ Sometimes, instead of going directly home, my mother collected my ‘pretend brother’ Ray and me from Preshil, our school in the adjacent suburb of Kew, and we drove to The Junction in her Morris Minor, a photograph of which I have just discovered. On such occasions we might also quickly visit The Studio and the market, though this I do not recall. Mummy would park the car in Burke Road and off we now trotted to Priester’s deli. Perhaps Mummy is holding my hand, or is it is Ray? We push open the door and enter confidently, immediately assailed by the welcoming and familiar aroma of European foodstuffs. Side by side, Ray and I approach the counter. Even on tip toes we can’t reach the top. Our small faces tilt up to the counter and then, without fail, the ritual begins — Mr Priester greets us, Look who’s here, Jilly and her little boyfriend, he teases. He knows how to embarrass me already and goes on to make a gentle crack about how Ray and I will one day marry. Mr Priester leans over the counter and hands us something delicious, perhaps a dark chocolate with a hazelnut nestled within, or a pastry, each time a different treat accompanied by the boyfriend/girlfriend/marriage quip. We swallow our embarrassment along with the treat.

In a recent phone conversation with Ray, I remind him of this, and he laughs. He then tells me that on one occasion when we were there, a rabbi came into the shop to buy ham — absolutely forbidden for religious Jews, as pork is amongst foods considered not kosher (not prepared according to the requirements of Jewish law). Whatever possessed him? We giggle over the phone, and I am reminded of another funny story which my mother loved to tell — her grandmother in Vienna, an observant Jew, who also purchased ham, but when challenged exclaimed, ‘but this is kosher ham!’ Although my family was not religious and we ate bacon, pork and ham freely, we never failed to enjoy quips about Mama’s grandmother’s ‘kosher ham.’

I no longer remember whether my mother spoke with Mr Priester in English or German but as we small ones are busy with our treat, Mummy is buying cheeses — edam, gruyere, white cream cheese which he scoops from a large container and which will be reborn as a baked cheesecake; and ‘smelly cheese’, disgusting to my still untrained palate. Next, frankfurters, leberwurst (liverwurst), pariser and other sliced sausage, saure Gurken (dill pickles), rollmops (pickled herring), nuts and dried fruits, and bitter dark cooking chocolate, a large lump hacked off from a great block, for many wondrous chocolate cakes, and a treat for Carl, the neighbouring Andrew boy who adores my mother and is a regular in our house. Nothing is pre-packaged; all is cut or sliced freshly and wrapped in white paper. Her basket is filled. Bye bye, two small children lead the way, Mummy follows, back into the car and off home to Auburn Road, a ten-minute drive. Out we hop, Ray runs down the lane to his house and his mother Lisl. His father Fritz is still in the lingerie factory he owns, and will, like Daddy, be home later for dinner.

I am perplexed. Memory is fretful, fragmented. Once again, I find that in writing this memoir, places and events mysteriously emerge, a process akin to the images emerging on the photographic paper floating in the trays in my father’s darkroom. I can see Ray with us at Priesters in the early 1950’s, but I don’t see him at the market or in the studio? Was he there? I determine to ask him. And as I mull upon this I am reminded of my visits to his father’s factory, Grete Lingerie.

Grete Lingerie

I can clearly picture the building in Armidale in which the lingerie factory was located, both its exterior and interior. It was a few kilometres from where we lived, from my father’s studio and from Preshil, the school to which both Ray and I went. Let me take you there. The factory, like my father’s studio, is on the first floor of a large two-story red brick building with shops below. The entrance is centrally placed and gives onto a wide staircase which doubles back on itself. At the top of the stairs on our right, a door leads directly into what feels like an enormous light-filled room with timber flooring and row upon row of seamstresses sitting at their sewing machines and the brr brrrr of the machines as the garments whizz along under the jumping needles. Shards of cloth litter the floor beneath the sewing trestles, huge bobbins of cotton whizz in a circular motion. It is another exciting place to be, the only factory I have seen. We are always welcomed, not only by Fritz, Ray’s father, my ‘other father’, and his business partner Gretl, but also by some of the women on the sewing machines. Perhaps the presence of a couple of little kids enlivened the monotony of their working day, though it felt like a happy work environment.

Of course, to a small child the world seems very large and I now wonder how ‘enormous’ this workroom actually was, how many women worked there, and who they were. It prompts me to call Ray again. In the same conversation he confirms that indeed he frequently came to the studio and the Camberwell market with Mummy and me. I go on to ask more about Grete Lingerie and what he remembers of our visits there and another refugee story unfolds, that of his parents, a story I had not known. It is striking that we children who grew up together as almost family, have never talked with one another about our parents’ respective stories. And as I broach the subject with one or two others, I hear them express regret that they had not delved further into the stories of their own, now long dead, parents. Did we all suffer from the tyranny of silence, the trauma of our parents playing out in diverse but recognizable patterns, passed on generationally?

Ray’s parents, like most, were unable to practice their professions in Australia, caught in the trap of their European qualifications being deemed insufficient. And like the rest, their resourcefulness is put to the test. Their story differs in some significant respect from that of my parents. In 1937 Fritz and Lisl fled from Vienna to Yugoslavia where Lisl’s family owned a business. Hitler did not invade Yugoslavia until 1941. Therefore, unlike the Austrian and German Jews who were already seriously affected by the presence of the Nazi regime, they were able to leave. Resourcefully they hid money in their snow skis and smuggled it out of Yugoslavia arriving safely in Australia in 1939. With capital behind them they could purchase their maisonette soon after arriving in Melbourne. Ray’s mother Lisl, trained as a pharmacist in Vienna but unable to work as such in Australia, finds employment in a factory making calico bras. Here she meets Gretl Schreiber, a fellow Jewish refugee who is learning the skills of cutting. Fritz, a lawyer in Vienna, finds employment as a cutter with Kayser, making gloves for the war effort. After a time, Fritz and Gretl hatch a plan. Together they will establish a small lingerie-making business. The room I later know as Ray’s bedroom in Lisl and Fritz’s two-bedroom maisonette ‘down the lane’ from ours, becomes the workplace for the fledgling business. After spending all day in their respective jobs, Fritz and Gretl now work at the new business in the evenings, Fritz cutting and Gretl sewing.

In 1944 they rent the big factory space in Armidale and Greta Lingerie enters a new phase of its life. They purchase second-hand bench machines driven by electric belts, some imported from the U.K. There are several rows of machines accommodating some fifteen or twenty women. Were they immigrants, I ask. To my surprise he names three of them, fellow emigres and family friends of both his and my parents. The remaining women were Australian.

When I mention how welcomed I always felt on our visits to the factory, he retorts that the women, especially the childless Gretl, who together with her husband Robert were also family friends, spoilt us. If we happened to visit on a Friday, we were indulged with cakes purchased weekly from Fleisher’s, a continental cake shop established in 1939 by Czech Jewish emigres which continues to this day though under different ownership. He remembers the Apfelstrudel (apple strudel), Pflaumenstrudel (plum strudel) and Vanillekipferl, a small crescent- shaped almond biscuit originating in Vienna, sprinkled with vanilla sugar. The Vanillekipferl shape mimics the crescent moon of the Turkish flag, its celebratory origins dating to the 1683 defeat of the Turkish army by the Austro-Hungarian Empire when evidently the pastry chefs went wild! Now we all go wild with the pleasure of these treats.

The Lolly Shop

Just as continental cakes and chocolates were part of my European heritage, lamingtons, pavlovas, blocks of milk chocolate and lollies were the Australian equivalent. My mother never strayed from her European sweets and cakes but my father, a true sweet tooth, was less purist. He augmented my mother’s cakes with plain sponge cake brought from Herbert Adams near The Junction and had a predilection for Violet Crumbles which I later adopted. But in early childhood my Australian playmates were treated to a large white paper bag full of lollies at the weekend, and while I certainly did not aspire to that, I enjoyed and was permitted an occasional foray into this realm.

A small shopping centre at the intersection of Auburn and Riversdale Roads was a three-minute drive or fifteen-minute walk from our home. On the corner stood the quintessential Australian hotel, a fine Victorian building, and near it, a milkbar which typically sold newspapers, bread, milk, ice-creams, milkshakes, icy poles (popsicles) and lollies (candy, in American jargon). Sometimes, after Mummy collected Ray and me from school, we made a short stop there. She gave us a few coins to buy lollies which we considered a treat as they were entirely different to what we had at home — chocolates with soft centres or a hazelnut hidden within, chocolate coated orange peel, or Pascall fruit Bonbons. Until this moment I assumed these Bonbons were European as they were tangy and accurately tasted of the fruits represented on the beautiful and sophisticated packaging, different from any other sweet packaging I saw. I now learn they were produced in Australia but originated in the court of Louis XIV. The company clearly wanted to retain a European sensibility in this product. In any case, such sweets were typical of many details which marked us as different from the Australian families amongst whom we lived. Other examples included the Sunday roast – ah how I loved the smell of it wafting in from the Andrews next door; and Friday night fish and chips which many families, especially Catholics, ate for dinner; and meat pies which were generally relished. None of these were part of our central European food culture and my mother prided herself on ‘never once’ in her very long life eating a meat pie or chips!

So, there we are, Ray about six and me aged five, stepping up into the milkbar, money in hand. Tip toes again, we carefully inspect the array of colourful lollies under the glass counter. Ray goes first, pointing here and there, requesting a penny worth of this and three pence worth of that until his money is accounted for. When my turn comes, I simply point at two or three selections and hand my money to the man behind the counter. My mother, throughout her life loves to say how, right there and then, she understood that Ray was the one with business acumen, not I. She read people well. The business world was not for me.

A Trip To Town

Going into the city with Mummy was always special as it was an infrequent occurrence. Two aspects of the experience stand out from early childhood years, the tram ride and going for coffee and cake. We are on the tram for some time before it crosses the Yarra River in Abbotsford. This is where my antennae are raised as I look out for Skipping Girl Vinegar on my right. She looms large, both literally, as she is thirty-six metres high, and in my little girl’s imagination as she skips deftly over her skipping rope in her smart red outfit with white socks and black shoes, hair flying. This is an icon of Melbourne, and I now learn that it was possibly the first animated neon sign in Australia when erected above the vinegar factory in 1936, promoting the brand. A little investigation informs me that the origin of the connection between vinegar and a skipping girl is a skipping rhyme, usually ‘salt, vinegar, mustard, pepper, if I dare, I can do better…’ to which the rope would be spun faster. When the building was demolished in 1968 the sign was removed but resulted in a public outcry and a smaller version was reinstated on a different building. Through ownership changes, demolitions, maintenance issues and running costs, Skipping Girl has survived as a cultural icon and was given well deserved National Trust and Victorian Heritage status.

After a few more minutes we are rattling our way on the gentle incline, the last stretch before approaching ‘town. Victoria Parade, as this section is called, is a sixty-metre-wide dual carriageway through the centre of which the tramlines run; it is bordered on each side by low hedges. Beyond the hedges, a continuous row of magnificent Elm trees, old and proud, run through an always green grass verge. Freestanding Victorian villas and Victorian terrace houses line the parade giving it an elegance though some are perhaps a little run-down, their grand heyday behind them and predating the revitalization of the inner-city suburbs of Melbourne still to come. Together with Royal Parade in Parkville, and St Kilda Road, it was and remains one of Melbourne’s great treelined avenues, all Elms.

As I sit next to Mummy on the hard, slatted timber seat we are surrounded by a babble of fascinating languages; immigrants like my parents but I know they are not speaking German. ‘What language are they speaking?’, I ask Mummy of two women seated nearby. ‘Italian’, she replies unhesitatingly, but it could also, on another occasion, have been Greek as these were the two largest non-English speaking immigrant groups of the 50’s and I could not yet discern the difference. But I was certainly tuning into it, my interest in languages undoubtedly stemming from my own cultural and language background and experience; probably genetics come into the mix as my mother was a gifted and trained linguist, with a classical European education in which she had studied both Latin and classical Greek. She had completed her Doctorate in German literature in Vienna and subsequently also became fluent in French. It would still be some years before she took up Italian in which she also became fluent. 

One reason for a trip to town was to attend my sporadic orthodontic appointments in a building in Collins Street, the most elegant of the city streets, especially the tree-lined section near Spring Street, known as ‘the Paris end’. Collins Street had a few small, expensive shops – clothing, leather goods and the like – and was also the location of the ‘exclusive’ department store, George’s where we sometimes ‘window-shopped’. But for buying clothes or to see the famous Christmas window displays it was to the large department store Myers that we went, en route walking through Melbourne’s famous lanes and arcades with their beautiful, light-filled architecture, paved flooring and other embellishments. It was the Myers sales that drew her. A crowd of people would await the opening of the doors and rush to get in. I remember feeling embarrassed by my mother determinedly pushing her way amongst them. Perhaps it was they who, after completing their shopping, went to its always crowded but iconic cafeteria; but not us.

We had a much better place to go. It was further up Bourke Street, and if Christmas was approaching, we walked past the huge Father Christmas who beamed down from his position above the entrance to Foys department store nearby.

It was coffee time for Mummy. I still hear her words reflecting upon early days in Australia where you couldn’t even get a decent cup of coffee. Place yourself momentarily in Vienna of the 1920’s and 30’s with its famous coffee houses and delicious pastries and cakes, its brilliant music and art museums, so cultured and sophisticated; and then 1940’s and 1950’s Melbourne where all this was yet to flourish. You can imagine her delight when Melbourne’s first espresso bars opened in the mid 1950’s, Pellegrini’s and The Legend in the city centre, and one or two in Lygon Street Carlton with its many Italian migrants. But it was The Legend which I most associate with these early childhood trips to town with Mummy; Pellegrini’s was more a family affair, sometimes also later shared with family friends.

The Legend

Situated at the Spring Street end of Burke Street, I remember nothing of its interior and everything about our culinary experience there. We sit down at a small round table; Mummy orders her ‘real deal’ Italian macchiato, dense black espresso coffee with just a splash of milk, and hot chocolate for me, rich and sweet. Then the pièce de resistance, the pastry we will share, a thick layer of airy custard cream sandwiched between two layers of crispy, flaky pastry, unadorned but for a snowy topcoat of icing sugar. The waiter places the plate in front of us accompanied by two dessert forks. I no longer remember whether it was Mummy or I who broke the surface with the fork, a surprisingly challenging process, cutting its way through the ‘thousand layers’ of fine pastry. But it has left an abiding image as if it were yesterday — a cloud of icing sugar rising, poof, like vapour before settling, and the accompanying paper-like crinkle and crunch as fork forces its way through the delicate pastry layers, and the sensual textural contrast and delicious flavour of these fine buttery leaves and the fragrant pale custard cream. My mother never referred to it by its Italian name, millefoglie, nor its better-known French name, mille-feuille, both translating as ‘thousand sheets’, but by its German name, Cremeschnitte (cream slice) commonly associated with the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and still found all around that region. Its exact origin is unknown but it existed in 16th century France

Those 1950’s immigrant men

That the name of the café was so ingrained in me remains somewhat of a surprise and I am suddenly possessed to see if I can garner any information about it. The marvel we call the internet does not let me down though I certainly was not expecting this, that our famous ‘Italian espresso bar’ was established as a milk bar by a Greek immigrant in the late 1930’s, taken over by his grandson in 1955. Nonetheless it was amongst the first in Melbourne to import an espresso machine, along with Pellegrini’s. I am further surprised, given what I now read and by the accompanying photographs I find, that I have no memory of its remarkable interior. The owner had employed sculptor Clement Meadmore to design the new café/milk bar and artist Leonard French to paint the abstract murals which adorned the walls. Its Modernist colour, terrazzo flooring, coloured stools and diagonally patterned fluorescent lighting raised the bar for café design in Australia and attracted not only workers in the city, shoppers, theatre and cinema patrons, but also Avant Garde artists including Arthur Boyd, John Perceval, Fred Williams and Clifton Pugh. It would be many years before I understood the significance of this cultural icon and the eminent artists involved in and surrounding it with whom I later became so familiar.

The style and food offerings of The Legend reflected both Italian and American culture. It served milkshakes and sundaes but also cappuccinos, and Cremeschnitte! It was at the vanguard of a new breed of cafés that were popping up across Australia and perfect for Mummy and me for our morning or afternoon indulgence.

Dr Mosbacher 

Once a year through my childhood, my mother, who, unlike my father, had excellent teeth, bundles me off to the dentist in the beachside suburb of Elwood. We drive in our trusty Morris Minor. It seems a long journey before we pull up in front of a white stucco two-storey building, four flats in the complex, one corner of which is curved. I don’t yet know that this is Art Deco architecture or that architecture will become of great interest in my adult life, but the image of this building is embedded in my mind. Mummy holds my hand as we walk up the concrete steps with its red steel railing, ring the bell and are ushered in, probably by Dr Mosbacher himself, or maybe his plump wife who perhaps took the role of receptionist. I no longer remember.

Immediately upon entering, the pungent smell of cigar smoke assaults me. It is repugnant, though expected. It is also familiar beyond this context because within my parents’ close circle of friends is one cigar smoker though I cannot recall who it was. Whenever he visits the odour of cigar smoke clings to the curtains and permeates the lounge-room for a day or more after his departure and it is always a topic of family discussion. As a small child, this lingering, unpleasant smell was almost as objectionable as a wounding remark made by another family friend, Peter Watkins, son of my pretend Nana, about our beloved family dog. Although I cannot recall the exact comment, I suspect it was sardonic rather than unkind, as Peter was well-known for his witticisms which clearly eluded me as a child! Nonetheless, cigar smells and perceived insults to our dog left me less than fond of both men.

I liked Dr Mosbacher who I felt was kind despite the offensive cigar smell. Like my parents, he was a 1938 ‘Hitler refugee’, the term my mother used to describe their status. Many of their friends, graduates of universities in places such as Vienna, Berlin and Prague, had trained and practised as professionals in Europe. In the case of doctors and lawyers, registration to practise in Australia was almost impossible, irrespective of their qualifications, skills and experience. They had graduated from world-class institutions several hundred years older than any this country possessed but were required to return to university, often to undertake their entire studies again. This was largely due to protectionism and prejudice. Interestingly, my reading indicates that European trained doctors were well supported by Australian patients who believed their training was superior to that in Australia. These refugees, including my parents, escaped from Europe by the skin of their teeth, arriving here without money or assets, and a return to study was, for most, not an option. I don’t know the back story which enabled Dr Mosbacher to practise as a dentist. That the practice was located within his home, was undoubtedly unusual even in the 1950’s, obviously driven by economic considerations — in New York, my cousin Ellen’s father, a doctor, also had his surgery within the family home for the same reason.

Amongst my parents’ friends were many others who, like Dr Mosbacher, were professional people in Europe, quite a few of them lawyers. Now in Australia they became importers of coffee and nuts, a magazine rental distributer, owners of a clothing shop, a shoe shop, clothing wholesalers, and Fritz Magid, the owner of a Greta Lingerie, to enumerate a few I remember. I never heard that any of them resented the loss of their profession though I am sure many must have missed it; like my parents, they were grateful to have survived and to have found a haven here and were resourceful and intelligent enough to reinvent themselves and make a good life in Australia. One of the wives, mother of the eminent moral philosopher Peter Singer— best known as the founder of the Animal Liberation movement—took up her medical studies again in Australia, becoming a doctor; her younger sister who had missed out on university study in Europe, enrolled at Melbourne University in her fifties when her son Michael was a student there, and made a successful career as a social worker. They all worked hard and my father certainly put in punishing hours.

If Dr Mosbacher’s cigar smoking was memorable, so too was one other incident. I required an extraction and as he approaches, syringe in hand about to numb my mouth, I became terrified. I prided myself on how well I managed injections in the arm but the thought of a needle in my mouth was more than I could deal with. I was unable to be persuaded to cooperate. The tooth had to come out; the option was explained to me. I decided to take my chances without injection and the extraction proceeded. Enough to make one shudder now but curiously I have no memory of great pain or distress. Clearly it left no trauma and no fear of dental treatment thereafter so I must have managed it at the time. Perhaps I was simply a tough little kid! In all, this incident, the iconic Art Deco building and the vivid olfactory memory of the all-pervading cigars my childhood dentist enjoyed are as alive today as they were some seventy years ago.