Billy carts, newspapers and stars - Edmund's Story


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.