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[Swanson1] Those Early Memories. 1944 - 1964 (The 1st 20 Years)

Hey swanson1 .... I do feel that you have been a little 'unkind' to me in your most recent comments you have made.

And no, I haven't been to France, nor do I speak French, like you have and, do.

But what I have done (I feel) is "LIVED" life to it's fullest, and (it does seem you are unhappy? Not satisfied?), I have no regrets whatsoever.

You might care to add your "critical" comment (a critique) on my own 'story' (so far) of my 1st 20 years on this world that we all share.

Please be sure to be objective, ok? :)



Born in 1944, my youngest brother Jeff (born in 1947), has given both my older brother Ray (born in 1940) and myself, a challenge.

Because we have been a family (unfortunately),that has spent little time together, Jeff now wants us to write the 1st 20 years of our lives-so we can all get a better understanding of that initial 20 year period of time, in each other's life.


For me it all started in Partanna Avenue in Matraville, Sydney Australia.

My many recollections of living at Partanna Ave, Matraville (1944-1952) include the tram stop across from the corner, that ran on the nature strip - with the trams running parallel to Bunnerong Rd.

They'd terminate at "Bushy hill" at what is the intersection of the start of Botany Rd, these days. Total Oil foundary was at this juncture.

The odd tram would go on from there to the round about at La Perouse and may then have done an Anzac pde run (through Maroubra Junction) to the city. Trams really were such a big part of my early days.

I was pretty obsessed with them. Scaling the tram from our stop, up to Bushy Hill (and back) was an early adventure 'memory' (a beginning) for me, certainly as a 4 or, 5 year old! (More on "scaling trams", to come.)

The Total Oil Foundary opposite "Bushy Hill".

Before Bushy hill and not far from 'our' tram stop were (now Heritage listed) Chinese market gardens that we'd often 'raid' (mainly carrots and the odd lettuce), from time to time. Playing in there (with the many green frogs living in the water boxes) was also, always a fascination.

That you could always see the garden workers (running out from their sheds) 'for miles', would always allow for such an easy escape! Stinging nettles grown around the perimeter - on the road-side (to keep people out), was an initial concern (a lesson) that we had quickly learned to be wary of. ("Mum...Look. I've got a sugar bag half full of carrots")

My memory goes back to when I was about 3 years of age. Our little semi-detached house (with the Wenmans living in a semi of the duplex next door), had a front porch area with a half brick wall enclosing it.

On one of the walls was a wooden meter box that had a hinged door that opened outwards from the wall. You had to hang onto it for balance so that you could see what was inside, while standing on the brick ledge.

In losing my balance one day, I crashed head first onto the concrete floor below. This fall had given me a pretty good sized purple looking 'egg' on my forehead that remained 'congealed' with blood for several months.

It was a Mr Collins (Mum did washing and ironing for the Collins family. Actually-I know Ray was 'keen' on Judy Collins, I think her name was?), who took me out to Prince Henry Hospital to have it lanced.

The Collins' lived in Franklin St & he drove a small panel van, possibly a Morris minor. As it was only a two seater, I was hanging on in the back going to and from the hospital.

I remember that our Dad worked at Dive's brickworks (see page 6) and would have lost his job, at the time of his trips back and forth from the Gladesville (mental) Hospital. (Ray has explained of this-of how he had acquired his sickness.)

I can also recall Dad dressed in his 'penguin suit' & his little 'regalia box' he carried as the Bradley family were very staunch Masons. Ironic when considering Mum having a strict Catholic upbringing - with her adoptee mum, 'Nana Waldvogel'.

Dad would often 'put on a blue' with mum, on his return from his Lodge meetings. Probably with the one or, two beers too many under his belt? What I do know is, that (as a result), Mum would sadly 'cop it' well and truly!

One of Dad's brothers (not sure who - Roy?) had a Mason's Regalia business in the city. I'd been in to there and seen it. Lots of different colours etc, for whatever.

I recall a barber (Crawley?) half way up a rise (in Partanna Av), down the way (where we'd cross a paddock to the Bunnerong Power House), end of the street.

He'd cut your hair in the front room. He sold smokes, too.

Mum would 'tick-up' cigarettes there, that were 'black market' or, 'sold under the counter' - as ciggies were very scarce during and after the war years. Mum would send us up (often with a begging note) to get her a packet or, two. (BTW, 3x3's only had nine smokes in a small pack.)

I recall the scarlet box of the 3x3s, Capstan red and blue, Du Maurier, Ardath and Craven A as being among those that were available from time to time.

Whilst Ray smoked 'rolled up' newspaper with Peter Jackson (he tells of this-the Jacksons lived across the road from us), Graeme and I had our 1st smoke, being-a big fat 'Old Chum' butt discarded at the tram stop.

In those times (at Matraville) I remember the horse and cart bakers (Kuberes or, Tom's bakery) - horse and cart scrap metal buyers and cloth prop sellers- a straight tree pole with a fork - used to hold up a clothes line spanding across from one fence to the other, in most yards. (Before the Hill's rotary invention in 1945 ever became affordable.)

Botany Bay was like a magnet to all kids living near it, in those days. Fishing (in the turbines of the Power House for mostly small fish called Sweep, with the odd Leather Jacket) and from off the two piers - that were used for coal dispensers years before and were half broken down. You could get the odd 'fair sized' brim or, jacket off the old coal Piers.


(Pic of Bunnerong Power House and a coal train)

Pic of Bunnerong, with some Kids who appear to have 'wagged' school. it was in these waters (it was near the Power House turbine out-let) that I 'woke up' with a man on my back, doing the "Holger Nielsen" or, the HN method of artificial respiration. - I jumped up and ran away!

To this day I'm am ever so grateful to this stranger - a hero who had definitely 'saved' me from drowning.

(The coal piers in the back-ground - great for fishing off, back then.)

If you helped pull the nets in - with the "Fishos" (that worked the bay), you would get a fish or, two given to you - - and then you go home and tell your brothers that you 'caught them' off the Pier.

Those fish were likely to be four or, five hours old, before you finally got them home. Incidentally, we were 'bare-footed' wherever we roamed and if you happen to cut your feet, it was simply bad luck!

Still at Matraville...

I recall Mum taking us (Ray and Graeme-may have been there, maybe not - Jeff wasn't yet born), to the Sydney Cricket Ground to see the greatest in Don Bradman, I think it had to be. When we got off the tram that afternoon (coming from the City) at the Anzac pd Junction (see pic here) it was still a fair walk back to the entrance.

When we eventually did get inside the SCG (again, FREE- through the exit gates- with Mum's talking skills), only to be told .... 'He's out'!

(And what was an 'impulse' decision, from Mum?)

Mum's "Gift of the Gab"

Mum, with this same 'gift of the gab' got us into The Tivoli Theatre (after the half time intermission.) I recall Roy Rene on stage that day. Vividly! Yes, he was the famous Moe McCackie-Cop this, young Harry! (This excursion had to be around 1948-49)

I recall Mum late on a Friday afternoon at Paddy's Market (in the south or, the Haymarket area of Sydney) getting fruit and vege's pretty cheap or, for 'nix' (nothing), when stall sellers would hear her plea, to help her to .. 'feed the kids'! At Christmas time, I recall a chook or, two brought home in a string bag - then having it's head chopped off by Mum in the laundry and running head-less around our back-yard. (It's happened to many over the years, I know!)

Scaling Trams

(Shown above is a Photo of a typical old Sydney Tram - Destination Circular Quay Via George St.)

Scaling Trams is a topic that many younger people these days just cannot comprehend.

Many kids from those times did it. And as a four and five yr old (along with my brothers and many times "solo"), I'd "scale" Trams for miles!

..They could NEVER catch us "Beagle Boys"..(A comic character's name that we "wore" and I beleive - was one given to us from a milk run owner Les Luby, who lived in King Street, Mascot. Old Jumma, who also worked the milk run - called us "The katzenjammer kids", if I remember correctly. Les' father Stan, had the dairy on the corner of Picton Street, Mascot.

I worked the milk run 6 mornings a week, prior to going to school.

It was a 4.15am start (Tuesday to Friday) and 2.30am on Saturdays and Sundays! No wonder I would fall to sleep each day at school. The notes the Nuns gave me to bring home to Mum, never made it into her hands!

This was before we headed off to Boys' Town and I earned good money. Half of which, was paid in "board". Ray (he mentions) then worked for a number of years for the Luby family delivering milk off the horse & carts (Tommy an ex-trotter-was my favorite horse) and finished with his own 'run', at one stage.

The scaling of a Tram happens to be one of my strongest memories of those early years. At times, I would go only as far as St Agnes School in Perry Street, Matraville.

I was kind of a bit of a loner in a lot of things that I would do or, a next "trick" that I could get up to! Ray and Graeme were at school. - Jeff was still only a baby so I could 'go missing' without a reason for any concern. And I always found my way back home, right?

I do recall wandering off very early one morning (maybe it was two streets up-in Australia St?) and came across a fruiterer who was just about to head into the markets. He had 'cranked up' his old flatbed waggon. I asked if I could go with him, wherever he was heading. He took me. So here I was sitting up in an old truck-no doors, no other protection-heading into the Haymarket, with someone I barely knew!

That truck was like one of this vintage! (A 1919 model with no doors)

But, back to scaling' rides on those old toast-rack trams.

The "trick" was to jump on the running board (shown above) just as the tram was about to take off from a regular stop.

The tram ticket conductor would be doing his job down the kerb side. All kids who did this dangerous practice would be out "facing the breeze" on the opposite side of the tram and (of course), any oncoming trams from the opposite direction - to the where your one was heading.

This required hanging on extra tight and "tuck in" (plus brace yourself), while the other tram passed by. On occasions, the driver of the passing tram would sound his "clanger" alert, to let your driver/conductor know, that they had an extra/s passenger/s or, a few more.

My longest "solo" run (I can recall, as a 4/5 yr old) was from Partanna Ave, Matraville to just past Chelmsford Ave, Botany. (The Baby Health Centre)

"Scaling" for me was always an almost full day involvement as (at times), it took hours to get back home and several Trams to do so.

Once you were "spotted" on that opposite side, they would then stop the tram and scoot you off. Meaning - a wait for the next tram to come along may have been quite some time.

Later on (when living at Mascot), at times we would "scale" Trams (in this fashion) to and from the Police Boy's Club at Kingsford. Getting on and off at the Gardener's Rd and Moloney Street, Intersection. Certainly on our way home, as we'd spend any money we had, in the milk bar at the Kingsford Junction.-There were the odd (smart) tram conductors who would let us travel free to avoid any chance of us falling off.

We never ever considered this as being dangerous with the knowledge that if you held on tight enough, how could you fall off? - Trams would belt along at around 45kms/hr is my guess. We had no fear.

[At the school] The "Nuns" would stand me on the class room table up the front & jokingly tell the kids that the "Inspector" was on his rounds, and that I was looking for any "truant" children "wagging", or, were not attending school.

My two elder brothers (Ray and Graeme) were enrolled & I guess I was simply wanting to be with them in those early years. They would often "wag" school and we'd all go off fishing together for the day - in the "turbines" of the Bunnerong Power Station.

As dad was 'in and out' of "Gladesville" times were so tough for a "solo" Mother of three (soon to be four) and in our bringing a feed of fish home from the Power house (mostly 'oil-filled' little sweep) that we could have for dinner that night - meant that there never was the question asked, re; no school attendance on that day.

Mum would "scale" and "gut" them and put all of the remains through the hand mincer (heads & all) and with onion, bread crumbs, salt and pepper added & rolled in plain flour), would make the most beautiful fish rissoles you could ever taste! Well, much tastier than the dripping on toast that was a standard meal in those tough times.

There were no benefits those days. Just after the end of the war years (wherever possible), our Mum would do the odd cleaning/ironing jobs to earn money for the table.

It was in the last year at Matraville that "Starkey" (Bob) came into our lives. He moved in and Mum virtually saw him as a provider and a means of keeping a roof over our heads. Things went along pretty well (I guess) until Bob bought a house (15 Hicks Ave), where we moved to, in Mascot. Where we were to live, in 1952. - Bob who was a beer drinker, so suited Mum- as she could knock back plenty, for sure!

Still at Matraville

The kitchen table was surrounded by banana boxes as chairs to sit at the table. We were always made to sit at the table for a meal and were taught manners (by Bob) and it was always a must, to say "please" and "thank-you" and..."may I leave the table now, please?" I also remember the "fun" grace (and we chanted it), that we boys would take in turns our chance to say, at the time:

"2 - 4 - 6 - 8 .....Mary's at the cottage gate....2 - 4 - 6 - 8 .....Bog in - don't wait"! We could then start to eat with our knives and forks and always, with our elbows "tucked in". :)

Poor Mom she did it so tough, those days. We have joked at our odd 'get-togethers' now, of losing track of the many "Uncles" we saw come and go (there were a couple or, so for sure), in those oh so hard times for Mum, back then.

Mum was clearly determined to keep us together as the one family. It just wasn't to be. - She was such a champion our Mum and sadly, she died at the young age of around 45 yrs. [God bless our Mum.]

Those reading this who can go back to these times, from 'Matto' - may just remember a Nun, Sr Philomena (I think it was?) in or, around 1949, 1950 being at the St Agnes School, in Perry Street, Matraville!

(Records do show that in 1949, it was a Father J O'Sullivan [Jim] being named as - 'building the [new] Church and School in Perry Street, and it was named St Agnes'.)

Yes ...It was there (in Matraville), that we lived in a modest rented semi detached home in (6-8?) Partanna Ave (until 1952), and prior to our (as mentioned) moving to Hicks Ave, Mascot. Mum & her four "beagle boys". Jeff (born in Matraville - 1947 and under the protection of his brothers), was still 'finding his feet' when we moved to Mascot in 1952).

(More to come)


Jeff has made mention of some of the (later) notorious men who had attended Boys' Town, during the period (1956/1960 - 5 years), that I was a border with both Jeff and our brother Graeme. Graeme (was 18 months or, so - older than myself) had left for work at the Rural Bank (later to become, Westpac, in Martin Place, Sydney)

I recall a former highly distinguished NSW Police Detective, Inspector Michael Drury who in 1984, an attempt was made on his life. Drury is described as being 'an untouchable' - in that he was a straight Cop!

I can recall vivardly (Jeff has mentioned him) the backpacker murderer, Ivan Milat. He was a reserved character who always had a wry smile & had little to nothing to say, at any time. He was 'a worry', for sure. But did no one any harm, from my memory of him.

Yet another (a proper psychopath too), was John Regan. - He was a proper 'bully' and there were a number of times (I recall), that I had to 'pull him into line' for his standing over younger boarders.

Now Regan had already gained a bad reputation before he had reached the age of 20 (in the Darlinhurst, King's Cross areas) and I will never forget a meet-up with him one Sunday afternoon, in Sydney's Domain.

It was always interesting (around this time - the early 60's) to spend an afternoon (called, 'Soapbox Sunday'), listening to a range of speakers spruiking to reasonably good crowds that always gathered. When you heard a group heckling and laughing, it was worth a stop and listen. For the seasoned speakers, they knew it would all depend on how well they could spin their story and 'work the crowd'. (With the Vietnam War 'on the boil' at the time, there was never a dull Sunday spent in 'the Dom.' Just to hear "Webster" speak was always worth a visit.)

My John Regan 're-union' was a typical warm Sydney Sunday and I was with my girl friend, enjoying all the usual fun and games. I recall we had just bought an ice cream. We (that's John and I), locked eyes together as he was coming towards us, on the bitumen roadway - He was in the company of (I recall this ever so well), a young Michael John Darby.(I've often wondered to this day, of these strange bedfellows!)

His face was unforgettable. Being an Australian Army Officer (at the time - and I'd heard him speak somewhere, before this day), had stuck in my mind - and had made me think of our own brother Graeme, who himself had graduated as a Second Lieutenant from the Army's Portsea Officer's training College, in Victoria.

I knew I was facing trouble. Not that I couldn't have still 'smashed" him there and then - on the spot! Hell ... I mean ...This is a fellow who had already (even at this stage), gained a reputation of being a murderer!

He confronted me. "BRADLEY" he said he got a good hold of my ear. "You used to screw my ear like THIS, at Boys' Town" ...

He then gave it a right-royal twist ....'Hi John' ...Is what I think I said ... 'Can't stop ...we have a bus to catch'...He'd let go by then. To this day (some-how), I got off lightly ...I know I did.

My girl-friend said ..."What was that all about?"...I didn't reply. But I did ask to never ask me that question again and we went straight home!

Other topics to write about...???

Mum at paddy's markets - getting fruit and veges for a song, late on a friday afternoon. (Mum's good 'bartering' ability)

*When I refused to shake hands with the President of the USA. (NYSEARCA:LBJ)

*Seeing "The Big Fella" Jack Lang speak - at the Randwick Labor Club

Yes, "It's Time" ("We want Gough") and the campaign. (My 10 years in the LABOR PARTY - And my [well, almost] standing by for Bob Carr !! Getting my promotion from the Postmaster General himself-and deputy Prime Minister! Lional Bowen)

There'll be much to write about.....

Boys' Town

(1956 - 1960 inclusive.)

* Both Graeme and I fought a boxer called, Sid Prior. Prior then went to the Olympics in Rome in 1960. I was beaten in my fight - I thought I was going OK but the fight was stopped in the 2nd round. I wasn't hurt.

When Graeme boxed Sid Prior at the Engadine Hall, he lost his fight in what was a boil-over result. He really had done enough to win. it seems that we were just 'warm-up' fights prior to Sids, going to the Olympics.

Graeme's contest was refereed by a US figher who was here to fight the Australian middleweight Champ (a favourite of mine) Clive Stewart. His name was Willie Vaughn. As Jeff has reminded me, he'd had a training stint that afternoon in the Boys' Town Hall. Running a few laps of the sports ground/some skipping, speed-ball & exercise in a light session.

Graeme (who was more a boxer that a hitter - but had a bit of a punch) got to have a couple of rounds with the Australian featherweght Champion (at the time), in Frankie Bennett. The spar went along well but was immediately stopped midway through the second round (by Br. James?) when Graeme hurt Bennett with a punch - and Bennett threw an 'impulse' (reflex-like) left hook back at him and nearly knocked him out! :)

Another very good fighter who was at Boys' Town was the Australian bantamweight Champion, Johnny Jarrett. (I figure it to be around 1952 or, 1953 - he fought a 6 rounder on the Freddie Dawson- Eddy Dione contest, December, 1954. Jeff also tells me that he had actually seen Johnny Jarrett at a Boys' Town 'old boy's' re-union one year.

Boxing wasn't limited to Graeme and myself as I do recall eldest brother Ray fighting for POLDING (the RED singlet team-St Mary's Cathedral),at the famous Rushcutters Bay, Sydney Stadium. He lost.

My memories from those early days at Mascot make me never forget the day in the Milk Bar (Botany Rd, Mascot) when Ray was wanting to fight a Fella called Barry Cable. They had had words over whose turn it was on the pin ball machine. Ray was lucky this fight never eventuated.

Cable was a mad-man who boxed in the Alfie Clay Gym where Mum had walked Graeme and I to, for us to learn to box.

We had come home from the park (L'estrange) and told her we had got belted up! She walked us up there! Hicks Avenue to Dunning Avenue - A fair hike, too! (Mum had met the trainer in the Roseberry Hotel, is what I understood.) Graeme and I went to a school Fancy Dress ball at Mascot's Town Hall on the Cnrs of Botany Rd and Coward Street. - We'd dressed as Jimmy Carruthers and Vic Toweel - it was 1952 - Carruthers was the first Australian boxer ever to win what was a genuine world title.

Well known race horse trainer, Theo Green,trained at the Alfie Clay Gym too! ...Theo was master of many champion apprentice jockeys including Malcolm Johnson and Ron Quinton.

Theo Green had his apprentices box on a regular basis. In later life I had a number of meet-ups with Theo (I looked after the phones of a number of racing industry people and we'd often talk about boxing, as it was real passion of both of us. Theo told me boxing teaches young boys how to win humbly and to lose graciously. (Apprentice Sid Spinks was a pretty good boxer, is what I'm led to believe.)

I got to learn a lot about Barry Cable who lived next door to a mate of mine (Kevin Butterfield - whose Dad Les was a postie in Mascot), when they were living down near the chinese market-gardens end of Coward St, Mascot. (That's down past or the other side of the Mascot Oval and the Sunbeam mixmaster building intersection, with Orioden Street.)

Ray was lucky because Cable was one crazy person who was never beat in a fight. - No one could say they had a victory with him. I was told that he'd just keep on coming back until he got the better of whoever he was warring with. Even if it meant his doing so (catching his opponent blind) with a piece of 'four-b-two' timber, the next day!

Fights after Boys' Town (More to come, here...)

I recall Graeme giving a good lesson to a fair Mascot Footbal Club player in Hec Kain's snooker room one night. We were playing cards (poker) out the back room. Graeme hated smoking. - This Fellow was silly enough to blow smoke across the table in his direction. A warning immediately came from Graeme that if he was to do it again, he'd get belted! He did it and Graeme stood straight up and smacked him from across the table! They both went down-stairs in front of the shops on Botany Rd. Graeme won this easily & during the encounter a large plate glass shop-front window was broken and fell shattered, to the foot-path. Both youngsters were very lucky to not have encounted some more serious damage or, (as it has happened in the odd case over the years), even resulting in death.

Only the good DIE young

Graeme (still working at the Rural Bank in Martin Plaza in the City) had joined the CMF (Citizen's Military Force) and was forever in top shape, physically. He always trained hard and took the "Comando" Unit he was in, as serious business. He always loved attending (dangling over cliffs on Sydney's Nth Head, ha, ha!), "Bradley's Head". (Army, Middle Head)

Sydney's North Head
An underground fortress tunnel network situated Middle Head, Mosman.

This then saw Graeme apply for the (full time) Officer's Training School intake - that meant a rigorous two year traning to become an Officer in the Australian Army. - He'd write to me and tell of the tough conditions they were put through. (During the 1st 6 months of training, 'newbies' had to run everywhere they went. If found walking, they were punished.) The attrition rate was enormous with a 200 or, so 'intake' being wittled down to just 20 or, so - who finally graduated.

I went to Graeme's graduation in Portsea. This was a military academy for Officer's training in the Army. (Australia's Prime Minister Harold Holt was to disappear in time, when swimming off this establishment.)

After two tough years of what was regimental training (that had included it's fair share of bastardry) Graeme's graduation was such an incredible day/night that I can never forget. My mate Kevin Butterfield and I drove down from Sydney for this most impressive-and what was such a proud ceremony/moment for me, to also feel.

And I did get to meet his fiance this day and was told they were getting married on the following week-end in Innisfail, Qld. - I couldn't attend as my finances were limited at this time. The next I heard was the news of Graeme's death just a couple of weeks later-resulting from a motor car accident on the Hume H'way, between Puckapunyal (near Wodonga, Vic) and Melbourne.

Graeme had only just got his licence and was driving a fellow Officer of their Army Camp, to Melbourne. (His good mate who had been picked to play in a State Rugby 'trial', on the Saturday.) The car had apparently got out of control on what was an icy road & rolled over-killing the best man I've ever known in my life-time. Graeme's conviction was of the very highest order. Graeme didn't suffer fools kindly. He'd always set his goals and he had always achieved them.

Grame's furneral was held at the Salesian's Oakleigh High School & was organised by Fr Ted Cooper - who taught us at Boys Town. - Fr Cooper ensured that it was to be a 'fitting' send off for a person so dearly loved by many and who inspired those around him. The Army's full ceremonial service was so fitting for our brother who (I'm sure) would have one day made his way through the ranks & found a position of the highest order. He was tough but fair. And as the saying goes, an 'old head' on 'young shoulders' - was our Graeme.


And in discussion with a person who lived in our area, I wrote in reply:

You mention that (sic) ... 'a well-known jockey Harry McDonagh lived opposite the McGrath family in Roslyn Street.

He may have been a role model for one of our gang of children, Chris Gwilliam, who became apprenticed to a Mascot horse trainer, Jack Ireland. Chris was highly successful and was Dux of the Australian Jockey Club apprentice's school in the 1960s.'

Now.... (Let me advise you of this)

Harry and his son (Wally?) would have a drink (most days), at Mascot RSL. They were living in Ney St Mascot, at that time. Jack Ireland had his stables in Wilson St (that changed to Johnson St), Mascot.

The stable entrance was from Hardie Lane. Next door lived Kevin Cole and his Family. I went to school with John Ireland who later tried his luck as a 'bookie' (at the races), if I recall correctly.

Mascot had a terrific snooker room those days. Run by Hec Cain who also had a Taxi or, two. Hec would make the best sausage and tomato sandwich there was. We played a lot of cards (poker) and Hec would take his regular 'lighties' (he called it) of 2 shillings or, four, from each pot. We would play for hours on end and at some un-godly hour of the early Saturday morning (around 4.00am/5am), the game would come to an end.

What we took so long to realise was, that no one hardly 'ever' won, when we'd ask the question of each other .... "How'd you go"?

It wasn't so much of a surprise to me (& it was when the 'pennies finally dropped'), to one day discover 'a wry grin' on Hec's face, that said it all. For each of the many hands played, Hec was taking his "tax" (to make a quid for himself), and slowly draining the collective pool of money, that started in the game. He's finish with more than 'half' most nights, no doubt. Those were the days. You could back yourself too (at snooker), if you felt you were any good.

It was one Friday night and I'd been to "the Trots" (Harold Park), when I called into the snooker room, late at night. I 'stripped out' (as usual), being the 'mad punter' that I was.... You could always 'snip' Hec, to get a start in the 'game' and or, even 'tick-up' for a couple of sandwiches, as long as you paid him back. I had no luck with the game and was having a 'mag' with Hec, and going through the 'fields' for Saturday's program, at the Randwick gallops that day.

Hec then said in a serious tone ...."You may laugh at this, but Jack Ireland has one in today, that's run last from it's past 7 starts. The trainer is a real 'smartie' by the name of "Mo" Bernard. And young 'Chrissie' Gwilliam (who is riding this horse in the last - a welter), will be getting his full claim ...."

Well, I duly laughed. 'How could that possibly win, Hec' ..was my reply. I worked the next day, all day. I mentioned it to a couple of work-mate punters, who laughed back at me, just as I'd done to Hec, who had 'tipped' it to me....

Those days, on course bookies would at times put a 'clip' over their odds (extending them), and the longest price they went up around the ring (for Valuate), was generally, 250-1.

Now, old Arthur Lee (Who did live opposite Jack Ireland - on the corner of Hollingshed St), had gone to the races that day.

Naturally, I had mentioned the horse to him. He told me that He had a big 'chuckle' to himself when a few bookies had put a 'clip' price up of 330-1, over their opening price.

He said, he had mentioned to his mate (Art was winning on the day), "I wonder what they'd say if you asked them for 1000/3?" (pounds, they were) and duly found out...He told me that his bet created an almighty plunge that saw the horse backed in to 20/1, by start time. The horse went on to greet the judge, with Chris riding yet another winner, flashing down the outside.

"Valuate" also won a Geelong Cup in that preparation and was a then pre-post favorite for that year's Melbourne Cup, before being scratched, when something went astray with it. ...My 'sling' from Artie Lee (for the tip), was five pounds. ... I quickly 'knocked it off' on the 'dogs' held at 'Wentworth Park', that Saturday night! (C'est la vie! Hey! ..That's a bit of French isn't it? swanson1)