Damian Galluzzo (image: Margaret Cody)

My earliest memory of Glebe is being around four to five years old and sitting in an apple box in the fruit shop. I remember the fruit shop and going down to the butcher, Paul Hancock, for sausages, and telling him I never got fed and him giving me some to take home. And I remember being with Mum and Dad (Melina and Frank) in the shop, going back round to where the kitchen was in those days and putting the sausages in the vertical grill with the paper on. Lo and behold the kitchen caught on fire!

This shop was different then. The kitchen and dining room were at the back, and upstairs were four bedrooms for seven kids. Joe and I were the youngest.

Galluzzos has been established since 1934. My grandfather Salvatore Galluzzo came to Glebe in 1926 and worked in a fruit shop on Glebe Point Rd near Mitchell St for eight years.

My Dad Frank arrived in Australia in 1934 with his mother Catherina. He met my mother, Melina, in Australia when he arrived. Then we bought the premises where we are now, at 187 Glebe Point Rd.

When I was growing up I remember Glebe Point Rd as a busy strip: there were Westpac and Commonwealth banks, two supermarkets, a butcher, a deli and the original Gleebooks. Fuzes the chemist was on the corner and also the Post Office. Since then it’s become harder for small businesses. The introduction of parking meters has also affected us. Then Broadway Shopping Centre developed and it became even harder for other avenues to keep going. Transport is now better in Glebe with the 370 bus and the light rail offering easier access for visitors and staff.

The socioeconomic mix has shifted to become more middle class with more students and young people; there are not so many working-class people living here. Lots of public housing is being sold off but the people all go to Broadway anyway so there is not much of that traffic for small businesses. There are also more boarding houses for students, close to the university.

Colourful characters I remember include Max with his crutch, always drunk at the bus stop. Whenever Mum went past he would say ‘hello’. Then there was Carol who always asked for a dollar and sometimes got aggressive. Kevin was a big Tigers fan, very ‘out there’, expressive, very Italian and proud. And there is Jean, a bright spark who is 96 and still keeps us on our toes. Thelma used to work here. She was ‘old school’ and called a spade a spade. She worked even when sick and would help anyone.

The biggest changes I notice: in the 1980s there was a bustling restaurant trade and you couldn’t move for traffic. Before Christmas last year there were at least four empty shops on this block; and at least 17 all up in Glebe Point Rd. This is due to the arrival of Broadway and to landlords raising rents because of higher overheads. It is a struggle which creates a domino effect. Upkeep is neglected because of high overheads.

I miss what what’s gone because of the changes: such as being able to walk down the road at night time and see a lot of people, and I miss the local interaction with other shopkeepers. Many were family-based. For example Sonoma was formerly a hairdresser called Rivoli. Le petite Tarte used to be a fish and chips shop and Tobacco was a fruit shop run by Mr and Mrs Choo.

All of us kids played in the back lane and we all lived above the shops. I welcome better transport, but parking meters have killed Glebe Point Rd. People get free parking at Broadway. Also, smaller shops are seasonal and so the hot or cold weather affects our trade. However, we are still here as a long-running family business, part of the history of Glebe.

Note from Margaret Cody: Melina Galluzzo died in 2005 and Frank Galluzzo died in 2010.