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Growing up on Punt Road - Sue's Story

milkhorsecart

My family and I grew up on Punt Road (between Swan Street and the freeway) and our grandmother lived next door so we have many tales and memories:

* Milk was delivered by horse and cart through the 60s. The horse's name was Jedda and my sister and I used to try to wake up early so we could pat the horse. Mum would make us collect its droppings to use as manure!

* Mum used to send us to the yard to read the Nylex clock and then she'd reset every clock in the house to match (clocks weren't reliable back then).

* Back in those days you could actually cross Punt Road to get to the park with just a little care. Believe it or not we did this as kids, to go catching tadpoles in the Botanical Gardens.

* I remember hearing the roar of the crowd at the MCG on Grand Final day and, from our verandah, being able to see the crowds in the top stands. And of course seeing the fireworks every Moomba celebration.

* As a teenager I used to sell newspapers and lollies during the mad rush of the footy crowds through Richmond Station. How quickly we needed to tally the goods and dish out change before they raced off to catch their trains.

* The intersection of Punt Road and Swan Street used to flood in the 70s every time there was a downpour. Once, the high point of the water was at my mid-thigh level. It was so entertaining to watch passengers disembarking from the city tram (which could go no further), removing their shoes and rolling up their pants to wade to the other side.

* I remember countless car crashes as motorists tried to turn right into the Shell garage. It was tow truck driver heaven.

* My sister and I had a bedroom that looked out onto Punt Road – specifically the big park opposite Shell. The traffic hum (not quite noise) would let you know the time of day – and the weather. A swissshhh sound told you it was raining. Didn't want to get out of bed those days. I remember the headlights of the cars made a travelling ripple pattern at the top of the high walls in the bedroom. How they did remains a mystery to me. 

Image credits:
Courtesy of the State Library Victoria: www.slv.vic.gov.au
Milk cart with horses on country road
Date(s): [ca. 1875-ca. 1938]
Creator: Harvey, John Henry 1855-1938 photographer.
Copyright status: This work is out of copyright

Billy carts, newspapers and stars - Edmund's Story

stars

When Edmund was around 11-years-old, he lived on Hoddle Street with his mother. This was in 1942 and 1943. His father went away to the Second World War and never came back. So Edmund and his mother lived in a small flat on the corner of Hoddle and Victoria Streets. 

Edmund went to school at Yarra Park on the corner of Victoria Street, and he and his friends raced billy carts down the hill. Due to the petrol rationing, there weren't many cars on the road – people would save their petrol for the weekends so, during the week, the road was free for billy carts! You could get a lot of speed up on the hill – but Edmund never won the races because his friend’s cart had bigger wheels.

One day, a guy on a bike came along and grabbed Edmund's billy cart and disappeared up towards Smith Street. Edmund ran after him but couldn’t find it. He was devastated.

Each night Edmund had to be home by 5.30pm to put dinner on for his mum, while she worked in the city. What he didn’t tell her was that after school he would sell newspapers on the corner of Victoria and Hoddle. In those days it was a much smaller intersection. Trams still came down the middle and they were packed, with people hanging off the boards.

Edmund would sell papers to people as they got off the tram, or as he rode the tram up and down Victoria Street/Wellington Parade. But one night his mum came home from work early and caught him selling papers. He was in a lot of trouble.  

During the war there were blackouts at night. On summer nights, he would lie on the nature strip in the middle of Punt Road and look up at the stars. When the lights were on, you couldn't see the stars.