I’m sick and tired of the flood of emails I get week after week from people desperate to convince me that Kingsgrove Pharmacy wasn’t always Kingsgrove Pharmacy. Today, we set the record straight.
I can’t really think of a more (over the counter) pharmaceutical suburb than Kingsgrove. You’ve got the surgery, the theatre-turned-huge Blue Cross Medical Centre, the Kingsgrove Medical Centre that relocated to Beverly Hills but didn’t change the name, the Kingsgrove Health Professional Centre…the list goes on.
What’s with that? I mean yeah, Kingsgrove makes us all sick at times, but this is ridiculous.
And on top of all that, up until recently you had Kingsgrove Pharmacy. When they left, they took their awning signage with them, giving the rest of us a glimpse into a less digital past.
Remember back when you had to get photos developed? How you couldn’t really take photos of anything risqué because your friendly local pharmacist might spot it and call the authorities? Uh, because I…er, certainly don’t.
Unless you’re a hipster, you’re not shooting on film anymore, and the pharmacies of the world that tried to branch out and give even more back to the community that took so much lost that revenue stream and were sent packing, just like Kingsgrove Pharmacy was.
Does every little bit count? Did I inadvertently and indirectly contribute to the fall of Kingsgrove Pharmacy simply by taking this article’s pictures on my phone?
Could an argument then be made that I’m running businesses out on purpose just for blog material?
I think that’s just about all we’ve got time for today, but here’s one last pill to swallow: did the Kingsgrove Pharmacist take their awning signage away to use again?
As you can see in this shot from our old buddies realestate.com.au, Kingsgrove Pharmacy let people know what it was from all conceivable angles. Rumour has it the roof’s sign can be seen from orbit.
After the last prescription had been filled, they tore it all down…except for the sign above the footpath. They didn’t even do that thing where they put it back in upside down and reversed.
I think they left it up so we’d remember them. They exposed the old sign to remind us how long we’d had them in our lives, and to appeal to that sense of retro we’re unable to shake. “Take a photo of this,” they’re saying. And we do.
We live in a world where, thanks to the ubiquity of digital photography, memories are fleeting. The way I see it, Kingsgrove Pharmacy has made a statement about that in their own subtle way.
Beware: no in-depth, lengthy history lessons today, no no. Today, we’re talking about leftovers.
Kingsgrove: a short distance from the eternal struggle between gridlock and bustle that is Stoney Creek Road lies the Kingsway. Or is it just Kingsway?
Breathe that in and savour it for a moment. It’s the Kingsway, as if once upon a time the tiny street in the middle of suburban nowheresville was intended as a way for a king. Not too far away is the majestic King Georges Road itself, so it’s not a stretch.
Sometime prior to 1948, powers that be (though I’m assuming not a king) decided that the Kingsway was suitably epic to receive a strip of shops, with the prime side facing Stoney Creek Road. The occupants have varied over the years, but are invariably interesting: a dodgy pizza place, a spy shop, the mysterious Rassan Trading, that damn doll hospital. But around the back, along the Kingsway, the shops aren’t as commercial…although they’re just as interesting.
A place specialising in large print books. An antique glass shop. I’m gonna say that one more time: an antique glass shop. And further along, this.
When I was a kid, these surgery signs instilled a feeling of dread. Surgery happened at these places, I thought. Surgery, a word that to this five-year-old’s mind meant that seedy doctor’s surgery in Batman where Jack Nicholson asks for the mirror. In any of these otherwise nondescript buildings, bad dudes could be having bullets pulled from their faces by shady GPs.
But the reality was a lot less interesting. British English dictates that the workplace of a doctor is a surgery (or a practice, but if the streets were peppered with little red boxes bearing the word practice, society would never get anything done), and since British English also dictated what we Australians did for a long time, surgery it was.
Whoever the current tenants are, I’d like to thank you. Thank you for leaving this little sign up in what passes for your front yard, either through laziness or a twisted sense of style. As soon as you see it, you’re forced to imagine all the sick people who would have attended this place in its heyday, the relief and sorrow that came with each pronouncement from the GP. The lives that ended, and the foretelling of new life.
I personally wouldn’t want to live there (too creepy), but it’s nice to know that the experience is possible.
Many summers ago, this Kingsgrove location sold beach fashion to anyone who wanted to spend their summer catching rays and swimming in the sea. You can of course tell by the moronic tags and terrible Family Guy flavoured graffiti that that’s no longer the case.
It’s very telling and very sad that modern society has chosen the insular alternative of an air conditioner over cooling off at the beach in summertime. Which would you rather do?
The third time’s a charm for this place. It’s more entertaining if you imagine the history like this:
EXT. KIDS CLOTHES WAREHOUSE – DAY
A bold, shiny new sign gleams from the top corner of the warehouse. The owner stands outside, waiting for the delivery of his first shipment of stock. His assistant emerges from inside.
ASSISTANT: The supplier just called to say the shipment should be here any minute!
OWNER: Great! We’re gonna make a killing!
The truck chugs up the road and pulls in. As the assistant signs for the order, the stock is unloaded. The owner notices it’s nothing but ladies clothing. He holds it up for the assistant to see.
OWNER: You idiot!
EXT. LADIES CLOTHES WAREHOUSE – DAY
A bold, shiny NEWER sign gleams above the doorway of the warehouse. The owner finishes tossing the last of the Kids Clothes sign into the skip as the truck drives up the street towards the warehouse. The assistant gingerly emerges from inside, holding an order slip.
ASSISTANT: Uh, boss…the shipment…I’m sorry…
The owner shuts his eyes and sighs.
The truck pulls up. The driver opens the back door, and hundreds of shoes pour out.
EXT. THE SHOE DEPOT WAREHOUSE – DAY
The biggest, boldest sign yet sits above the doorway. The Ladies Clothing sign has been halfheartedly spraypainted over. A sign sits in the front window – it reads ‘ASSISTANT WANTED’.
The powers-that-be have decided that Kingsgrove needs more residents, and you know what that means. HIGH RISE.
Now I know what you’re saying. You’re sitting there saying ‘Yeah, they’re building a high rise. So what? What’s so special about this place?’ What’s special about this site will require a bit of a cheat – taking the Google Street View time machine back to 2009 – but I promise it’ll be worth it.
See, what used to be at this location was a string of old, derelict shops, each more interesting than the last. Around the back, in Mashman Avenue, was a run-down block of units, and beside that, the Mashman Pottery (a resident since 1908). All of it is gone now, including the pottery, to make way for some faceless high rise apartment buildings completely devoid of character. This character:
We have the Cecille Salon, the Kingsgrove Snack Bar (best food in town!), and finally and most intriguingly, FJ’s Pizza. Take a closer look there at FJ’s…who’s that holding the pizza?
Could that be…what it looks like?
This place has been burned into my retinas for a long time, so when it was knocked down earlier this year, I wasn’t going to let it get out of appearing here. In fact, I remember when this place opened – in 1990. Someone, most likely FJ himself, thought they could get away with painting a Ninja Turtle on the side of their pizza place in the hope that kids would see it and automatically assume it was Turtle-endorsed pizza. Well…in at least one situation, they were right. Problem is, by 1992 the TMNT were has-beens, and people sure weren’t coming here for the pizza.
It’s hard to say exactly when these shops closed, and thanks to the animal magnetism of the FJTMNT, I never really paid them much attention even when they were open. With prime real estate right beside the train station, you’d think at least the snack bar would have cleaned up. Now, it’s just being cleaned up to make way for the glass tower.
Doubtless there’ll be a new wave of shops here beneath the skyscraper, but they won’t have this kind of character. The lineup also included what looks like a Chinese restaurant, Hair Enterprises, and a State Bank branch on the corner. I imagine that the Rich Uncle Pennybags style property developer sat it out for years, buying each of the shops in the strip until he had the Monopoly and then BAM – bulldozer time. Hair Enterprises was likely the last to go – it had an eight digit phone number.
It’s just a memory now, along with the best food in town, ladies knitwear, and the Ninja Turtle who never let go of that pizza. Vaya con Dios, FJ-tello.