Jaffa tales – and segregated movies

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 [email protected]

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YourLifeChoices Writers
YourLifeChoices Writershttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/
YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.
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