joy

John's Story

Image from www.oldclassiccar.co.uk

Image from www.oldclassiccar.co.uk

I was about 7-years-old and my younger brother was 5. We rode with our father in his 1930s model Morris – a very small car with a very small engine – south down Hoddle Street. It was a bright Sunday morning in the late 1940s.

We crossed Punt Road bridge and Alexandra Avenue and proceeded to climb Punt Hill. The car ascended about halfway then stalled. We had to back down a little to the gutter, then push the car out to do a U-turn to drive back down the hill. (The little car had a crank handle to start the engine, but in this case the engine would restart as the clutch was let out when the car gathered speed.) My father thought that, with a bigger run at the hill, we could make it. 

But alas, on the second attempt the car reached only three-quarters of the way to the top before we had to stop. This time, however, my father was prepared and he stopped the car before it stalled. We could then safely back down and turn around under engine power.

My father still thought we could make it, but was concerned that if he took too big a run at the hill we would pass through the intersection so fast that we may not be able to avoid a collision if another car happened to be crossing Alexandra Ave. (At that time there were no traffic lights at the intersection so, although there was not much traffic, it was too dangerous to speed through.)

Fortunately a pedestrian saw our predicament and indicated that he would wait at the intersection and attempt to hold up any cars travelling east or west along Alexandra Avenue while we sped past! 

With the way supposedly clear, we travelled back up Hoddle Street some 200 metres past the end of the bridge, then gunned the little engine and flew through the intersection. The car proceeded beautifully up the hill, slowing considerably for the last 100 metres, then finally crested. Great rejoicing!

Christie's Story

On Good Friday morning, working as a van courier (corporations who took my deliveries didn’t pay much mind to Christ or the idea of sacrificial death) I was waiting to turn right into Punt Road from Wellington Parade. In front of me Punt Road was banked up - stupidly, I thought, it was Good Friday for Christ's sake. I knew the roads. I knew the best ways for the different days and the different times of the different days, and this was Good Friday, a very different day, and this way was the right way for Good Friday, there was no doubt about it. So why all the cars? Why all the cars, and why were they banked up diagonally?

And then I saw it. A golden streak of pure joy zooming through the grey traffic in my direction. A little golden dog, clearing the lanes of the south bound traffic and beginning across the four north bound lanes, cars screeching to a halt one by one as it went, heading straight towards me. The dog's grinning face coming towards me, with ears and happy pink tongue flailing behind, seemed to cry: Freedom! Joy! Life!

And it didn't lose its grin as the tyre pressed its nose to its shoulder, flung it up in the air, and drove on. One car, with time to brake, didn’t, and then just drove on.

My van stalled as my foot left the clutch with the gears still in first. Out of the cabin I leapt, leaving indicator clicking away, door open, key in ignition, arrow gone green but no-one beeping me, seeing where I was going. I had my hand on my mouth and I ran in front of braking traffic without even looking, and crouched in the middle of the four lanes with my hands on the tiny twitching dog. No traffic moved. Everything was silent. The cars all just sat and waited and watched me. Watching me as I sat stroking the sweet silky head which gazed at me until the milk crept into the black of its eyes.

N.B. I don't know why I didn't write it down, but I remember after that a man about my age came running up, just after the dog had died, and we both picked it up together and carried it to the side of the road. He was a paramedic. He said, ‘I can do my job, and it’s no problem, but something like this...' and he choked up a bit, and then he said ‘It’s about innocence isn’t it. It just guts you because the dog was so innocent.’