Joe

JoeFitz

‘I came from Lithgow to 5 Lower Fort Street in Millers Point in 1954, then to 43 George St North, a place they called the Counting House.

‘I then went to a rooming house with nine rooms run by Alice Auguston. Colonel Magee of Maritime Services Board promised Alice that, while she was alive, she could stay there. She lived to 93 but he kept his word.

‘Then, there were eight of us, half in their 70s, and we had to leave to find our own home. This caused panic. A week later, the Maritime chief met in Augies dining room and said that we could go into Public Housing as long as we went in twos, ie two people going in together.

‘It all worked out well with the Kelly gang doing all the removing of the furniture. So I was given the place where I am now, with a room next to Frank Humar. Down some stairs was Irishman Dan Kelly, a very holy man who had a Holy Hour each night of the week at 9pm.

‘If I had lived anywhere else I would not be in the St Vincent de Paul Society let alone be President. I joined the society in 1969 with Frank Humar and we became good friends. Also in the society was a Ron Bolan who worked with me in the GPO. So Ron, Frank and I became close friends. We would get ten to twelve clients a week wanting help paying gas, electricity other bills and needing food vouchers. There was always money from the poor boxes.

‘When asked if I wanted to stay in Millers Point, I say yes because it’s the community – the people we got to know through visitations. They look out for me now, keep me company, take messages for me. I have someone staying with me now while I get over this stroke. There’s the Harry Jensen Community Centre where I eat lunch and read, plus the Abraham Mott hall for meetings.

‘I attend the oldest Catholic church in Australia, St Brigid’s in Kent St, where our first Australian saint visited. The bus terminal is here with a bus shelter and the buses go all the way to Broadway. It is now 2015. Frank and I can be found at St Brigid’s (the local church) on Sunday both with walking sticks and old age.

‘I turned 84 the other week. I am the same age as Malcolm Fraser, who just died. I know it will be the end of me to move but they (the eviction officers) just keep at me.’