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Clothing and Dress > Socks

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Football socks worn by Beatrice Bush, 1990 - 1995
zoom image
Beatrice Bush with newspaper trolley

Images: 01 02

Object statement
Football socks (pair), acrylic, worn by Beatrice Bush, White Bay, New South Wales, Australia, maker unknown, [China / Taiwan], [1990-1995]
These football socks document the working life and conditions of a newspaper seller in Sydney between 1971 and 1996. Their significance comes from their association with paper seller and local White Bay celebrity Beatrice Bush.

For 25 years until 1996 Beatrice Bush sold newspapers seven days a week from the traffic island at the intersection of Victoria Road and The Crescent, White Bay, Sydney. Her weather-beaten face, small stature and eccentric attire were known to the estimated 70,000 vehicles which passed daily. Her resilience and endurance to constant traffic, petrol fumes and extremes of weather endeared her to locals and passers-by. Beatrice's long association with the area and support for local rugby league team the Balmain Tigers, evidenced by her trademark Tigers football socks, contributed to her status as a local celebrity. For many locals she symbolised old-style, working-class Balmain where struggle and hardship were offset by village life, community and family. Beatrice's life inspired songwriters, filmmakers, sculptors and painters (see object file).

This acquisition documents the practices of a Sydney newspaper street vendor just prior to the demise of this tradition. Until the late 1990s the daily metropolitan newspapers relied on a combination of newsagents, sub-agents operating from milk bars, convenience stores and small shops, and street vendors to sell their papers. Many of the street vendors were older people who contributed to the vibrancy of the inner city and provided a personal service to their daily customers. The vendors often worked up to 15 hours a day and many of them had held the same spot for 20 or 30 years. Like Beatrice they were used to working hard and needed the extra money to survive.

Many older sellers lost their jobs as councils upgraded facilities for the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Permanent newspapers kiosks were installed at prime city locations to replace vendors' milk crates and trolleys. Today newspaper sellers lease kiosks from the local council and have contracts with the major newspapers. Council regulations were also introduced at this time to restrict the sale of goods at traffic lights, thereby preventing the sale of papers at Beatrice's old site. These changes have largely destroyed the practice of old-style street selling that was once common to Sydney's inner-city streets. A number of independent publications like "Green Left Weekly" and "The Big Issue" are still traded on the streets by authorised vendors.

These football socks were worn by Beatrice on her paper run. Beatrice wore many layers of clothing to protect against the chill, early morning winds blowing from White Bay. Beatrice was known for wearing Balmain Tigers footy socks. She always wore the socks pulled right up to the knee. As well as keeping her warm the socks showed her support for the local Balmain Tigers team. Glen and Phillip Bush donated them to the Museum.
The socks were made as merchandise for the Balmain Tigers rugby league football club. It is not known where the socks were made. It is likely that they were produced in China or Taiwan between 1990 and 1995.
For 25 years Beatrice Bush sold newspapers seven days a week from the traffic island at the intersection of Victoria Road and The Crescent, White Bay, Sydney. As the traffic lights changed red Beatrice would spring to her feet with a stack of daily papers under her arm to sell to stopped motorists. Her weather-beaten face, small stature and eccentric attire were known to the estimated 70,000 vehicles which passed daily. Her resilience and endurance to constant traffic, petrol fumes and extremes of weather endeared her to locals and passers-by. Beatrice was a favourite with the media who gave her the nickname the 'Duchess of White Bay'. To her husband Frank and Rozelle locals she was known as Beattie.

Beatrice Olive Bush was born on 18 January 1925 in Rozelle and spent her early childhood in White Bay. Beatrice was one of eight children. She left school at age 14 to work in a handkerchief factory in Rozelle, later working as a machinist and seamstress. In 1957 she married Frank Bush and they had two sons, Glen and Phillip. Beatrice worked as a dressmaker until her teenage son Glen quit his paper run in 1971. Aged in her late 40s, Beatrice took over the White Bay run to earn extra money. Each day Beatrice rose at 3.15am to begin the first of two daily shifts. From 4.30am-8am and again from 1pm-5pm Beatrice would walk the pedestrian island at the start of Victoria Road selling papers with her catch phrase "'erolds [Sydney Morning Herald], small ones [Daily Telegraph], Suns 'n Mirrers". After finishing the round about 11am Beatrice would go to her Annandale home to do housework before returning to sell the afternoon papers. On three separate occasions Beatrice was hit by a car. Beatrice is estimated to have sold 5 million papers.

On cold days Beatrice would wear up to five jumpers, several skimpy cotton dresses or skirts and several pairs of socks all topped by an old fur or jacket. She wore sandshoes or boots and carried a money bag and coin dispenser around her waist. Beatrice's layers of second-hand and over-sized clothing resulted in strange, mismatched outfits. Beatrice rarely spoke, instead smiling and waving to her regular customers. It is thought that her shyness was caused by a speech impediment derived from a childhood accident. Beatrice could not read the papers which she sold but each day she took home a Telegraph for her family.

After her husband died Beatrice moved in with her son Glen who lived at Macquarie Fields, near Liverpool. She continued to get up at 4am so as to catch the first train into the city and her work. According to White Bay newsagency owner Steven Chan Beatrice loved to work and used the money to supplement her pension. Beatrice continued selling papers until she was aged 72. She sold her last paper on 19 September 1996 and died six days later of heart failure. Beatrice's coffin was surrounded by newspapers and her newspaper trolley. Her funeral was attended by family, locals and former customers. Her ashes were thrown from a walkway over Victoria Road, White Bay.

Beatrice's life inspired songwriters, filmmakers, sculptors and painters (see blue file). In 1984 folk-singer Judy Small wrote the 'The White Bay Paper Seller' in honour of Beatrice Bush. The words of the chorus are:

And the pennies that she makes will help to fill the pension void,
For it's not the love of working keeps her constantly employed;
Seven days a week she's there just to earn her meagre pay
By selling daily papers on the corner at White Bay.

These football socks were worn by Beatrice on her paper run. Beatrice wore many layers of clothing to protect against the chill, early morning winds blowing from White Bay. Beatrice was known for wearing Balmain Tigers footy socks. She always wore the socks pulled right up to the knee. As well as keeping her warm the socks showed her support for the local Balmain Tigers team. Glen and Phillip Bush donated them to the Museum.

 This text content licensed under CC BY-NC.

Description
Football socks (pair), acrylic, worn by Beatrice Bush, White Bay, New South Wales, Australia, maker unknown, [China / Taiwan], [1990-1995]

Pair of long acrylic Balmain Tigers rugby league football club socks. The socks feature gold and black horizontal stripes with a white heel and foot area.

Made: 1990 - 1995
2005/90/13
Production date
1990 - 1995
Width
140 mm
Depth
4 mm

 This text content licensed under CC BY-SA.
Acquisition credit line
Gift of Mr Glen & Phillip Bush, 2005
Subjects
+ Retailing
Short persistent URL
Concise link back to this object: http://from.ph/349915
Cite this object in Wikipedia
Copy and paste this wiki-markup:

{{cite web |url=http://from.ph/349915 |title=Football socks worn by Beatrice Bush |author=Powerhouse Museum |accessdate=2 October 2014 |publisher=Powerhouse Museum, Australia}}


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