It’s a funny thing, getting older. One of the nicest things about it for me is knowing people for a long time. Living, or even just staying in Auburn since I was born, means that there are some locals that I have known for a very long time. One of the most important of these folk is Maxine, who has worked at our shop in Auburn in two stints for 25 years over the past 50+years!! We were both at primary school at the same time – she was in grade 7 when I was in grade 1, and I do remember her from then. She came into the girls toilets when I was on the loo as a little 5 year old. I didn’t know you had to shut the door to the toilet (we never did at home) and she laughed and told me what I should do. I was embarrassed as I recall!!
Well, Maxine retired from the shop just before Easter this year and I went up on her last day, as I couldn’t bear to miss it! She started work at the time of her 15th birthday in October 1968, working for mum and dad. She wasn’t so much older than we were at the time, so it was like having an older friend there, and over the years we had many happy times together. In those early days there were particular jobs to do – weighing and bagging potatoes and sugar, cutting up long rolls of fritz into shorter lengths, wrapping the sanitary towels in brown paper (can you believe it!!??), with initials in small letters in the corner to indicate what they were (eg SM for Super Modess and RM for Regular Modess). I can picture Maxine’s neat writing in my mind’s eye as I write this. We had little treats along the way. Very early on I think there must have been a broken packet of cashew nuts, which we loved and ate. From then on, for 50+ years now, she has given the family cashews for Christmas.
Max’s first stint at the shop was 10 years, and she left to have her family and do some other things. The birthday celebrations and Christmas gifts and following up with her children and us all continued on , and when mum and dad retired in 2005, Richard asked her if she would like to come back. She has put in 15 years since then and has been a real mainstay at the shop – so supportive of Richard, so reliable and hard working and loyal, and also so kind and good natured with everyone – the customers and the staff. She has helped train dozens of young folk who have worked at the shop over the years in after school jobs, some of whom have gone on to be on the regular staff. She has gone out of her way to assist people who have come in. She has been and is a treasure!!! I have very special memories of Maxine at the time of mum’s illness and death – her kindness and constancy during that time will always stay with me.
It was fab to be at the shop on Maxine’s last day – in fact I was her last customer. We’ve been missing her since of course – it doesn’t seem quite the same without her but of course life goes on and hopefully a long and happy retirement beckons for this very special family friend.