The Satur­day shop ...

Ladies were do­ing it for them­selves

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - RUTH SPENCER -

So near and yet so far. Well-dressed ladies grimly pre­pare for the or­deal of cross­ing the road to the beauty salon and hat shop. With no aid from ze­bra cross­ings or traf­fic lights, they’ll be run­ning the gauntlet, a safe ar­rival by no means as­sured. Very aptly, just down from the hat shop, a large sign ad­vo­cates “SELF HELP”. Ladies, you’re on your own.

Self Help was more than just ad­vice to pedes­tri­ans. Self Help Co-Ops or “gro­ce­te­rias” were a pre­cur­sor to super­mar­kets, of­fer­ing qual­ity gro­ceries at cheap prices, pro­vided you chose and wrapped your own goods and car­ried them your­self to one of th­ese many, many cars. Prior to their ex­is­tence, you’d tell the gro­cer what you wanted and they’d get it for you, pos­si­bly hav­ing their “boy” and his enor­mously bas­keted bi­cy­cle de­liver it. There were fears that the typ­i­cal housewife would suf­fer from the loss of her sparkling in­ter­ac­tions with the gro­cer, and that she’d re­sent not be­ing waited on; the housewife, how­ever, re­doubtable fig­ure that she is, has mud­dled through some­how.

Gro­ce­te­rias gave way to super­mar­kets, which have the ben­e­fit of carparks. This melee of cars, buses, lor­ries and trams is not for the faint-hearted. In the 50s Broad­way was al­ready han­dling more than half of its cur­rent 40,000 ve­hi­cles a day. A hun­dred years be­fore this pho­to­graph was taken, farm­ers drove their stock up Manukau, Great South, or Remuera Roads to the “New Mar­ket” for live­stock, which is how it got its name. This means of course that if you do end up in a car ac­ci­dent on Broad­way it’s a gen­uine stock-mar­ket crash.

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