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2005/90/17 Hat, cotton / plastic, used by Beatrice Bush, White Bay, New South Wales, Australia, made by Newcastle Hats, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, [1988-1990]. Click to enlarge.

Hat worn by Beatrice Bush

Made 1980-1990

This sun hat documents the working life and conditions of a newspaper seller in Sydney between 1971 and 1996. Its significance comes from its association with paper seller and local White Bay celebrity Beatrice Bush.

For 25 years until 1996 Beatrice Bush sold newspapers seven days a week from the traffic island at the intersection of Victoria Road and The Crescent, White Bay, Sydney. Her weather-beaten face, small stature and eccentric attire were known to the estimated 70,000 vehicles which p...

Summary

Object No.

2005/90/17

Object Statement

Hat, cotton / plastic, used by Beatrice Bush, White Bay, New South Wales, Australia, made by Newcastle Hats, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, [1988-1990]

Physical Description

Hat, cotton / plastic, used by Beatrice Bush, White Bay, New South Wales, Australia, made by Newcastle Hats, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, [1988-1990]

Blue cotton sun hat with a wide brim. A cotton cord with toggle is used to fasten the hat beneath the chin. Printed on a tag on the inside of the hat is the text: 'Large'. A red, white and black woven patch sewn onto the front of the hat features the text: 'HIRE/ KENNARDS'.

Dimensions

Height

60 mm

Width

345 mm

Depth

385 mm

Production

Notes

The hat was made in Australia by Newcastle Hats. It is not known when the hat was made. It is likely that it was produced between 1988 and 1990.

Made

1980-1990

History

Notes

For 25 years Beatrice Bush sold newspapers seven days a week from the traffic island at the intersection of Victoria Road and The Crescent, White Bay, Sydney. As the traffic lights changed red Beatrice would spring to her feet with a stack of daily papers under her arm to sell to stopped motorists. Her weather-beaten face, small stature and eccentric attire were known to the estimated 70,000 vehicles which passed daily. Her resilience and endurance to constant traffic, petrol fumes and extremes of weather endeared her to locals and passers-by. Beatrice was a favourite with the media who gave her the nickname the 'Duchess of White Bay'. To her husband Frank and Rozelle locals she was known as Beattie.

Beatrice Olive Bush was born on 18 January 1925 in Rozelle and spent her early childhood in White Bay. Beatrice was one of eight children. She left school at age 14 to work in a handkerchief factory in Rozelle, later working as a machinist and seamstress. In 1957 she married Frank Bush and they had two sons, Glen and Phillip. Beatrice worked as a dressmaker until her teenage son Glen quit his paper run in 1971. Aged in her late 40s, Beatrice took over the White Bay run to earn extra money. Each day Beatrice rose at 3.15am to begin the first of two daily shifts. From 4.30am-8am and again from 1pm-5pm Beatrice would walk the pedestrian island at the start of Victoria Road selling papers with her catch phrase "'erolds [Sydney Morning Herald], small ones [Daily Telegraph], Suns 'n Mirrers". After finishing the round about 11am Beatrice would go to her Annandale home to do housework before returning to sell the afternoon papers. On three separate occasions Beatrice was hit by a car. Beatrice is estimated to have sold 5 million papers.

On cold days Beatrice would wear up to five jumpers, several skimpy cotton dresses or skirts and several pairs of socks all topped by an old fur or jacket. She wore sandshoes or boots and carried a money bag and coin dispenser around her waist. Beatrice's layers of second-hand and over-sized clothing resulted in strange, mismatched outfits. Beatrice rarely spoke, instead smiling and waving to her regular customers. It is thought that her shyness was caused by a speech impediment derived from a childhood accident. Beatrice could not read the papers which she sold but each day she took home a Telegraph for her family.

After her husband died Beatrice moved in with her son Glen who lived at Macquarie Fields, near Liverpool. She continued to get up at 4am so as to catch the first train into the city and her work. According to White Bay newsagency owner Steven Chan Beatrice loved to work and used the money to supplement her pension. Beatrice continued selling papers until she was aged 72. She sold her last paper on 19 September 1996 and died six days later of heart failure. Beatrice's coffin was surrounded by newspapers and her newspaper trolley. Her funeral was attended by family, locals and former customers. Her ashes were thrown from a walkway over Victoria Road, White Bay.

Beatrice's life inspired songwriters, filmmakers, sculptors and painters (see blue file). In 1984 folk-singer Judy Small wrote the 'The White Bay Paper Seller' in honour of Beatrice Bush. The words of the chorus are:

And the pennies that she makes will help to fill the pension void,
For it's not the love of working keeps her constantly employed;
Seven days a week she's there just to earn her meagre pay
By selling daily papers on the corner at White Bay.

This sun hat was worn by Beatrice on her paper run. It would have provided sun protection. Beatrice often wore a hat on the job. Glen and Phillip Bush donated it to the Museum.

Source

Credit Line

Gift of Mr Glen & Phillip Bush, 2005

Acquisition Date

23 March 2005

Cite this Object

Harvard

Hat worn by Beatrice Bush 2019, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 20 August 2019, <https://ma.as/349919>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/349919 |title=Hat worn by Beatrice Bush |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=20 August 2019 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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