Past in a Pickle

AN old photo tucked away in the back of a drawer has revealed a stark West Perth of 50 years ago. 

Ian Hale owns The Backlot cinema down in the former industrial wedge of the suburb now known as the Pickle District. He was first given the photo by neighbour Andrew Kailis shortly after moving in back in 2014.

Amidst the chaos of moving in and starting up a cinema, Mr Hale says “I lost it, and I was devastated because I’d wanted to get it framed”.

But last month he noticed “my drawer in the bar wouldn’t close properly. I thought I’d have to get someone to come in and get it fixed”.

With a bit of perseverance he opened the drawer and discovered the photo tucked in there, and after sharing it on his social media channels it brought in a flood of nostalgia.

The 1970s photo shows the Kailis household – still standing to this day – along with a neighbouring house removed for a warehouse some years before the cinema moved in. 

The lush park behind The Backlot is barren, and the roads are almost entirely empty of cars. 

The district had been built up during the 1950s, but over time new roads came through, then the overpass and freeway were built nearby and by the 1970s it was just those two houses standing. In the past five or so years it’s started a new life as an arts neighbourhood hosting galleries including Stala Contemporary and the Holmes à Court Gallery and redubbed The Pickle District.  

Mr Kailis says the house has been in his family for 70 years and the photo was given to him by his aunt. It had appeared in the defunct Daily News back in the 1970s under the headline “Little House on the Prairie”. He says a figure in front of the cottage in the photo may be his mother, and he’s now hoping to unearth a copy of the article.

Mr Hale’s since had the photo framed (it definitely won’t slip behind a drawer now), and Mr Kailis has his own version blown up and block mounted to remember what the suburb used to be.

By DAVID BELL

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