John and Dorothy McClure remember the Werribee of old – a time when everyone knew everyone and doing the weekly grocery shop was a social affair. Now 85, the pair tell Charlene Macaulay what the area was like when they were kids.
What’s your connection to Wyndham?
Dorothy: I was born here, in a house about three streets away in Mambourin Street. We grew up [in Cocoroc] along the Metropolitan Board of Works … my father worked there as a carpenter for over 30 years. I went to school at Cocoroc South, then came into Werribee when I was in year six and went to Footscray Girls School.
John: I was born in Brunswick and came here in 1948. [My parents] bought the land on Watton Street where Hungry Jacks now is. We had a carrying business back then, and we used to have depots in Melbourne.
When we got married, I used to deliver bread by horse and cart, and I used to do 20 miles a day. We used to leave the parcels at the front of businesses before they opened, you wouldn’t dream of having them stolen in those days. We’re now the last of the original businesses from back in the ’50s that are still family owned in Werribee.
How did you two meet?
Dorothy: My sister’s husband and John were friendly, and we just sort of got used to [each other]. We would go to the football, and in those days the footy was the local thing for everybody, and the only other local thing we had was the picture theatre in Station Place. We got married August, 1954, we’ve been married 63 years this month.
John: We have three boys – Robert, Ross and Ian – nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
John, you’re the longest serving member of the Werribee Lions Club. How did you get
I’ve been in it for 43 years, a very good friend of ours was in the Lions Club, and he’d been at me for a while to join. I wish I had joined years before. I went on and became president in 1980-81, and our Lions Club ran the biggest one-day country music festival in the state down at Werribee Park.
If there was one thing you could change about Wyndham, what would it be?
Dorothy: The traffic. We never had it, and there’s so much of it around now.
John: And crime.
Is there anything you miss about old Wyndham?
Dorothy: I miss the town it used to be. You used to go up the street and it would take you that long to shop because you’d see everybody and talk to them. Nearly everybody was related. But now, we can go up the street and come home and we haven’t seen a person we know.