15 December 2022

New Griffith carpark named after iconic Polish immigrant shoemaker

| Oliver Jacques
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Tom Jasnos in a cark park

Tom Jasnos at the new carpark named after his father Eugene. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Griffith City Council will name a newly constructed Railway Street carpark after the town’s iconic boot maker Eugene Jasnos, who ran the well-known Griffith Shoe Repair shop on Banna Lane from the 1950s to the 1980s.

Mr Jasnos exemplified the Australian immigrant success story, moving to the Riverina from Poland after World War II with no money or English language skills, before building a successful brand that was recognised across the region.

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“He arrived in Mossgiel [a small town near Ivanhoe] in 1951, with his wife Ernestine,” son Tom said.

“He didn’t speak a word of English. He learned from reading newspapers, he’d look up words and translate them.

“When my mum went to Hillston to give birth [to me], there was no doctor there, so they had to come to Griffith. They saw all the water here, they thought ‘This looks alright’ and decided to stay.”

At first, Eugene worked for shoe shop owner Peter Calipari, before starting a business on Banna Lane that quickly became an institution.

Shoe repair shop in 1950s

Eugene Jasnos’s shop in the 1950s. Photo: Supplied.

“He used to get farmers from way out who’d bring in their cowboy boots to get fixed up,” Tom said.

“But his favourite customers were the women – he’d get the ladies coming in who had stepped on a crack on the street and would repair their heels on the spot.”

The shop closed in the late 1980s after 33 years in business, leaving a big vacuum in town.

“There is nobody in Griffith that repairs shoes anymore. You’ve got to take your shoes to a dry cleaners who send them off to Wagga and Leeton.”

The family also ran a business called Griffith Tuck Shop, which prepared lunches for Griffith high, public and infants schools.

Eugene passed away in 2004, while 93-year-old Ernestine now lives in Canberra.

Old photo of Eugene Jasnos and children

Eugene Jasnos with children Tom, Johnny and Sonya. Photo: Supplied.

Council decided to name the carpark (located behind the Griffith Post Office) Jasnos following an application from the couple’s granddaughter Yana Williams.

Two more new carparks on Railway Street will also be named after iconic Griffith figures.

Next to the police station, there will be the Stevenson Carpark, in honour of Bob Stevenson, who built Stevenson’s Blue Metal Quarry in 1942. In 1956 he established Ready Mix Concrete, the first company of its type in the Riverina, which continues to this day as JJ Stevenson & Sons. His daughter, Kay Mitchell, who made the application to council for a carpark to be named after her father, was Griffith’s Princess of Wool in 1963.

READ MORE Griffith’s Princess of Wool relives her past glory

Behind Griffith Court House is the new Eardley Carpark, named after Fred Eardley, who arrived in the area in 1920 before opening the first haberdashery store in Banna Avenue.

“Council, as the local road naming authority, recently resolved to use the names Jasnos, Eardley and Stevenson for the three new carparks in Railway Street in recognition of the contribution each of these families have made to the development of the Griffith CBD area,” Council Director Economic and Organisational Development Shireen Donaldson said.

“The carparks have been designed to manage overflow parking in Banna Avenue and provide shaded carparking options for staff of Banna Avenue businesses and shoppers.”

“The newly named carparks have street numbering to assist with location finding, in addition to the use of the nearest cross streets (i.e. Railway and Kooyoo or Railway and Ulong) to assist emergency services first responders should they ever be required.”

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