Anthony Hordern's and Sons, Brickfiled Hill, Ian Kirby's Memorie




A poem by

Page launched 20th May, 2013




“Going Up?”  he’d enquired to Mother and me.

I tugged on Mum’s skirt……“ Look there Mum, did you see

this man, has strange legs? They are truly not real!”

The look Mother gave me, then gagged my appeal.


“First Floor,” he’d announce in a voice loud and strong.

“We’ve Drapery, Fine Fashions, then moving along,

“Haberdashery, Mercery, Hats, Boots and Shoes,

Crockery and Glassware and Toys if you choose.”


“There’s Ribbons, Embroidery and all Fancy Cotton.”

(The fact he’d no legs was then briefly forgotten)

“Ladies, we’ve Gloves of both Cloth and of Leather.”

The list was quite endless. I wondered if whether,


there was ever a Store with such stock on display

that could offer adventure in such fine array.

And that man “Standing” tall with such honor and pride

The Pilot in charge of our Fairytale ride.


It was back in the “Forties” when I met this man.

In Hordern’s Great Store. (‘twas the  Government’s plan)

to reserve this one job for those  soldiers  who’d lost

their path to employment – an amputee‘s cost.


No real chance for work, nor a true, sense of worth.

This task gave them purpose  - their own  place on Earth.

 Like a Store tourist guide with his pride on display

He proclaimed what was featured on each certain day.


Notwithstanding the gawking and each “legless” joke

He embodied their Motto - “The strong, ancient Oak.”

This tree had stood proudly on south Camden Hill

Its message a symbol - a chance to instill  -


“While I live I will grow.” He had given his all

And that voice from the past such a rallying call.

Whoever would guess that this building so great

would suffer a crushing , embarrassing fate?


For in mid Nineteen Eighties, that great famous Store,

lay demolished  and wrecked. No, a great store no more!

And a quite poignant piece in the day’s tabloid sheet.

“World War One’s amputee - found deceased in the street.”


It told of a farm hand - a tall strapping lad

who, with a few friends  and the urge that they had

then signed  up to join with the Thirtieth Battalion.

No plans for reward, nor a hero’s Medallion.


For he and his mates, ‘twas their pathway, (their station)

A rampant desire to serve for their Nation .

Protecting her safety, to risk life and limb

with a true, moral patriot’s duty from him.


Then, with destiny meddling in this fellow’s path,

and with medical problems  - a grim aftermath.

Pneumonia took toll on his way to the War,

so a stint out in Cairo.  Not ideal for sure.


He recovered, then sent to the grim fields of France.

Devoid of adventure, bereft of romance,

In those horror filled trenches struck down with gangrene,

there his feet became rotten, infection obscene.


And thus it was so, that he lost both his legs.

Discharged from the Army - his hopes in the dregs

of despair -  future dreams at a low.

Would he ever be mobile? – He just did not know.


So, this man and his “Store”, were now myths from the past

And a permanent message, for years that would last.

Had he taken his life in a heartbroken mission?

How had he died? Was it natural attrition?


“While I live I will grow.”  Yes a cruel tale of fate. 

For that store’s faithful servant - allegiance first rate

had no matter how long he had lived must have known,

that what happened in War he would never have grown.


Not in Inches nor Feet -  but self- worth could abide

where this job ensured dignity, honor and pride.

So, it seems when “His Store” fell in ruin and in failure

We lost a true hero who served for Australia.


Vale, Horderns, the Store.  Pride of all Sydney Town.

Not only for Locals but World Wide renown.

And Vale to that Farm Hand, a true loyal recruit

 In both full Army kit, or a pin striped, serge suit.