I knew that he was a hawker—a man who went from door to door selling things that nobody wanted and couldn’t afford anyway, like magazine subscriptions, or bottles of cordial, or fresh cream from the dairy up the road. Hawkers weren’t welcome at our place because we had no money, so I said, ‘Sorry Mister, no-one is home, and I’m sick…’
Jo Boy and his family are really poor. The Great Depression is hitting them hard – Dad is out of work and there’s no money to be spared. SO when a knife-sharpener comes to their door, Dad tells him to go away. But Jo Boy is fascinated by the knife sharpener’s caravan and when he comes into some unexpected cash, he finds a way to help the knife sharpener and Dad at the same time.
The Saw Doctor is historical junior fiction from one of Australia’s finest authors of such works for children and young adults, Gary Crew. Crew offers a glimpse of family life during the depression, a time about which many primary aged children would be unaware.
The story is inspired by the Saw Doctor’s Wagon, which was used by the real saw doctor, Harold Wight from the 1930s to the 1960s and is now housed in the National Museum of Australia.
The Saw Doctor, by Gary Crew
National Museum of Australia Press, 2006