In the days before supermarkets
in the 1950’s produce auction houses
along the street from the wharves,
auctioneers opened up at 4 am for
the big Monday sale to take in
produce to sell to greengrocers and
fruiterers from suburban shops.
On Sunday nights Chinese market
gardeners parked laden trucks
outside on the street, slept there.
At 4 am they surged in through
unlocked doors, over bare planked
floors covered in fine earthy dust,
jostling each other with Chinese
shouts at the tops of their voices.
Aiming for the best auction places
they wheeled in sacks and boxes of
potatoes, cauliflower, other vegetables,
each kind to its own long bank.
Over the road fruit was wheeled
on to the floors from boats in the
lighter basin behind, boats laden
with fruit from the south, from
tropical islands neat the equator.
More fruit rolled off trucks
from the orchards out west.
With each bank lined up while
store men patrolled, gardeners
and auctioneers rushed off for
breakfast. From 8 am the
auctioneers’ staccato calls filled
the air, greengrocers, fruiterers,
wheeled purchases to their trucks,
to sell in little suburban shops.
By 11 am the frenzy was over.