More Jaffa tales – and who remembers segregated movies?

‘Sooty’ suggested stories of Jaffas games at the movies was urban myth.

We recently made brief mention of the days when kids would roll Jaffas down the aisles at cinemas.

‘Sooty’ suggested this was an urban myth because he never saw it happen.

“I never knew anyone who rolled Jaffas down the aisle … Coke bottles sometimes got rolled, but we would not waste Jaffas. I believe the rolling of Jaffas is just another urban myth.”

Well, it wasn’t, and ‘The Phoenix’ was just one of many to tell us all about the Jaffa tradition.

“When we were kids we mainly went to the Grand Theatre, at the corner of Barrack and Murray streets in Perth. We dropped Jaffas and they’d roll all the way to the front, making a hell of a noise on the bare wooden floors. The Grand later screwed wood across the floor to stop the Jaffas. Carpet was a luxury for expensive theatres like the Mayfair on William St.”

‘Shirboy’ agreed. “I remember rolling Jaffas. I also remember when a group of us all leaned forward at the same time to laugh hilariously and the seats were not bolted down. We all landed on our bottoms on the floor.”


‘Buggsie’ went to the pictures as a kid and he recalls his cinema being segregated.

“It had boys to the left and girls to the right. Dressing up in drag started because of this. When Tarzan was on, all of us carried knives in sheaths hidden under our jackets. How would that go today, do you think? And we used to roll Jaffas down the wooden aisle, but only Jaffas that we lifted from the cinema cafe.”


Laurie lived in Perth forty years ago and recalls being a regular at the illegal gambling clubs. He wonders if they’re still there.

“They were in Northbridge, just out of the CBD. There were two or three of them, and you’d knock on a door and somebody would peer through a hole in the door to make sure you weren’t cops.

“If you got let in, you’d go upstairs and a few men, never women, would be playing assorted gambling games – roulette, poker, pontoon.

“If police arrived, and they often did, the people running the club would flip the tables over and everyone would stand around drinking coffee and talking.

“I never saw the police do anything, but they would have known exactly what was going on.”


Jeanette’s father went into hospital years ago and was forced to give up his false teeth to a nurse.

“She collected several sets of teeth and took them away to clean.

“When she went to give them back, she had no idea whose teeth belonged to which patient. It took ages to sort it out.”

And Bob was having trouble with his dentures, so he rang his dentist who told Bob he was having a few days off.

“I won’t be home today but leave them in my meter box and I’ll try and have a look at them for you,” the dentist said.

Bob did, but when he didn’t hear anything for a few days he rang the dentist and discovered he’d left them at the wrong house.

“You can’t imagine how hard it was to explain to the elderly Greek couple why my false teeth were in their meter box.”


The way life was, and MD used to do things as a kid that he doubts would be acceptable today.

“As youngsters, we would spend school holidays on, in or around the local creek. One was traversed by a railway viaduct.

“We would scale the concrete piers and lie flat in a shallow gap between the top of the pier and rails.

“Most locomotives back then were steamers and when they passed overhead, within inches of us, we were showered with soot, steam, occasionally sparks and water droplets. What a hoot it was.

“We also had a large discharge pipe outlet for storm water. We kids could stand upright in it and, armed with candles or battery torches, we'd venture some kilometres along until we reached the car park of a then flash new shopping centre where we’d pop our heads out of the culvert.

“One such occurrence resulted in a mother, her kids in tow, screaming blue murder.”

Do you have any stories to share with YourLifeChoices? Do you know any interesting characters? Do you have a milestone birthday or anniversary coming up? We’d like to hear from you. Email



    To make a comment, please register or login
    17th Jun 2018
    We also used to go down storm drains. Today I think someone was looking after us as we never considered what would have happened if there been a sudden storm which was not too uncommon there.
    17th Jun 2018
    In primary school we could run thru storm drains without ducking our heads.
    Star Trekker
    17th Jun 2018
    My brothers & I used to live in Brunswick (Melbourne) before the Tullamarine Fwy was built. We were able to swim & go yabbying in the Moonee Ponds Creek before it was cemented. We also ran Jaffas down the aisle at the Movie theatre in Reynolds Rd Coburg. Use bus fares to buy potato cakes and walk to & from high school to get them.
    17th Jun 2018
    Jaffas often dropped accidentally while trying to tear open the cardboard packet.
    After the top ones were gone little kiddie fingers couldn't reach the bottom. Also trying to pour them in the dark was difficult.
    It did happen. Wooden floor stepped at about five levels, so they did roll and drop a fair bit.
    17th Jun 2018
    At the onset of my 'teens' our family of seven moved from the burbs to a small country village and onto a hobby farm - such was a small holding then known. This small working farm comprised of 400 laying chickens, 50 roosters, 2 weaned piglets, 3 Jersey milking cows and a mean, lean and volatile (the family weren't acquainted to this fact) Jersey bull, agisted on the property by a local dairy farmer. This bull - Hector by name - was fitted with a halter to which a long chain was attached. We failed to understand the significance of the chain, however, circumstances soon indelibly impressed the need for it and as it ultimately transpired, we were extremely relieved that the bull was thus restricted.
    I coaxed my two sisters, one older one younger, to join me exploring our new domain and naively we traipsed down the hill heading for the river. Being city slickers, unaware of the need for caution when traversing a bulls' paddock, we were ignorant to the fact that the girls, by wearing shorts made of a loud-coloured luminous type of material immediately attracted Hectors attention. The girls, dawdling along behind me weren't quite halfway to a line of trees which I had almost reached when Hector decided to 'check out' the couple of new heifers traversing his domain. What started out as lumbering curiosity to him soon turned to frightening intent once the girls realized his gathering pace was going to intercept their mad rush to join me in relative safety at the trees. Between gasping for air - either as a result of screaming encouragement or hysterical laughter at the sight of two vivid blurs high tailing it across a paddock with a bull in full flight closing on them - in slow motion milliseconds it dawned on me that their problem was about to become mine also .
    In the headlong rush both girls had lost their footwear (thongs) which, although this hadn't affected their rate of flight, had resulted in badly cut, scratched and bleeding feet. That they only just beat the bull to the tree, behind which I was hiding, was a miracle which won some small and begrudging later praise from yours truly.
    I digress - the bull arrived in a cloud of dust and we three start running a circle round the tree, bull follows suit, two participants pee their pants (bull undressed), girls screaming, me likewise - encouragement (of course) and lo and behold, the chain proves to be our saving grace. Having looped around the tree it had over-ridden and locked onto itself which slowly, it seemed at the time, then limited the bulls movement to a standstill. Needless to say we made good our escape. Dad phoned Hectors owner who shortly thereafter removed him, the girls feet slowly and painfully healed, (the culprits) pee'd pants washed and for years afterwards visitors to the family were regaled with this episode. Much to the humiliation of the girls this oft repeated story created, I however won some begrudging plaudits for effecting their 'rescue'.
    Hector won a few years reprieve, earning his keep with a dairy herd and ultimately met his appointment with destiny at a local smallgoods abattoir. Neither of the girls pursued their natural gifts by participation in 'little athletics'. The author went on to high school cross country fame, sans pee'd pants.
    Lark Force
    24th Jun 2018
    Yes Jaffas were a good noise maker but when Coca Cola bottles become available the noise the fluted bottle made down the aisle beat Jaffas by a mile.
    One of my hoodlum mates worked at a Pharmacy wholesalers and one night bought a whole packet of "balloons?", well that's what I thought they were!!(Young and innocent at the time.)
    What fun it was blowing them up and launching them into the projected beam. This was the night I learnt what they were for. So funny to look back at the pranks we got up to.

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