Tag Archives: milk bar

From one hand to another…

I’m so thrilled that, Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar has now been translated and published in braille. In a way, the story is completing a lovely circle in travelling from my mind to be written by hand then to be read by hand and to another mind.

Thank you to all those at Braille House who made this possible. It really feels very special! 💙 Zoe xx

[Image descriptions: Image 1: blue book cover with braille along the spine and a black and white photo of Joe and Francesca and their little boy, Remo in front of their 1950s milk bar.
Image 2: a braille alphabet.]

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Milk Bar… open 7 days

Thinking of all those volunteering and working over this time when many get to take a break. It still amazes me how my grandparents opened their milk bar and fruit shop 7 days a week from early morning ‘til late at night with only two days a year off – for 20 years straight! And then ‘scaled back’ to 5 days a week for the following years.

Nonno Anni worked for 36 years before his first holiday and Nanna Francesca wasn’t far behind. It makes me feel blessed and so grateful to write for a living, something I dreamed of from when I was 7 and found out the stories that I loved writing could actually be a job.

Thank you for your lovely comments and messages throughout the year. It is always wonderful to hear from you. Fingers crossed I have some book news I can share with you in 2020! In the meantime, whether you are working, volunteering or taking time out over this time, please stay safe and all the very best for the coming year. Tante belle cose! Zoë xx


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sign of the old shop…

In this photograph of my family’s fruit shop and milk bar in its earlier days, it’s apparent how it began very modestly with my grandparents standing on the footpath in Ann Street selling produce from a ‘hole in the wall’ before they expanded the space to include a milk bar. Visible in the top left is some of the sign that hung over the footpath from around the early 1950s. It was white with ‘milk bar’ in red Perspex letters and lit up at night.

Below is the only part of the sign we managed to salvage after Brisbane’s 2011 floods (and happens to be the bit seen in this photograph taken almost 70 years ago!) It might be broken but it’s one of only a handful of items my grandparents kept when they closed their milk bar and with now no trace that it ever existed, it seems lucky to have this piece left.

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From 6th June, 1946…

Annibale, Francesca and Remo outside shopToday it is 70 years since my Italian grandparents, Nonno Anni and Nanna Francesca signed the lease on premises to start up their fruit shop and milk bar in Australia.

And so began many years when they opened the shop from 7am until 11pm, only the two of them working there (with a baby in tow) and closing just two days a year at Christmas and Easter.

Thinking of them with much gratitude for all their hard work and sacrifice to make it such a success.






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Milk bar glassware, circa 1950s…

milk bar glasswareOriginal, circa 1950s glassware from Nonno Anni and Nanna Francesca’s milk bar… milkshake glasses, the glass for the homemade orange drink and the bowl used for ice cream sundaes and fruit salads.

Built to last, once they were used everyday, often banged down on the milk bar counter and washed ready for the next customers. Funny how time changes objects – these days I keep them in the ‘good’ glass cabinet in the lounge room – smiling.


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Inside the milk bar…

Annibale behind counter in the shopNonno Anni behind the counter of the milk bar – one of very few photographs taken inside. Great to see the milkshake machines to the right. It is difficult to decipher some of the brands of sweets, cigarettes and biscuits around the counter though I can see Mars chocolates {first made in 1932}, Violet Crumbles {since 1913} and a sign for Peters ice-cream {since 1907}.

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milk bar glass, circa 1950…

milk bar glassAn original glass {circa 1950} from Nanna Francesca and Nonno Anni’s milk bar. These were mostly used for my grandfather’s sought-after, homemade orange drink but customers would also request milkshakes in them too if they preferred glass to one of the metal canisters.

The milkshake flavours available at the time were chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, custard, lime and caramel, with chocolate always the most popular. The only flavours I had in the house to make this one were maple syrup and vanilla bean, which turned out quite delicious. And yes, that is an old-style, waxed paper straw!

Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar

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Joe’s milk bar, circa 1950s…

Annibale and Vitale in milk barOne of the very few photographs taken inside my family’s milk bar in the 1950s (and also one of my favourites). Nonno Anni is behind the counter and Bisnonno Vitale is leaning on it.

This is the era when my grandparents were working 7am-11pm, 363 days a year at their fruit shop and milk bar. My great-grandfather Vitale helped out at the busy times yet continued in his own job at the Brown and Broad sawmill beside the Brisbane River in Teneriffe.

Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar



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New life between beautiful old walls…

Laidley old bakeryRecently, I have been travelling in southwest Queensland for research for the next book. In the main street of Laidley, I happened across this beautiful old building that was originally a bakery when it was built back in 1905. It is currently empty and seemed to be being renovated inside. Lovely how so many country towns value and utilise their historic buildings. Seeing the words ‘Soft Drinks’ in faded paint across the glass over the front entrance, I could not help imagining turning it into an old-style, 1950s milk bar…


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Milk Bar in the Regent Theatre, Brisbane circa 1936…

Regent Theatre milk bar{image courtesy State Library, Qld}


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