Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Swinging along the running-board ...

This is a brilliant Australian picture book. I acknowledge Hathorn & Vivas as the owners of this creative work.


When I was eight years old, my grandmother - Sylvia - moved to Bondi. The memory of our holidays at her place ('up near the stink pipe in Blair Street') created within me an enduring passion for Sydney trams and for the trams of both the 380 and the 389 line, both of which terminated at North Bondi. Perfect!

As I write these lines, I can see and hear the conductor call for fares, snap open his ticket book, tear out the required stub and punch it with his doohickey in the corner of his 'book'.


When trams to Bondi ceased during 1960, the terminus remained as a bus turn-a-round and the salt spray and neglect took its toll. It is only in the last 5 years that this little pocket of Bondi is receiving the focus that it deserves. The latte set is moving on in.


This is a delightful book which I am hunting for to add to 'Ma's Chest' for my soon-to-be grand-daughter. I like the idea of connecting her to my past. The story reeks of the working-class during the depression, of uncomplicated people trying to get ahead. The illustrations are a delight and so perfectly complement the text.

So, does Kieran get to work alongside little-mister-tough Saxon? Can he cut it in the big time of swinging along the running-board selling newspapers to the commuters? I am on the look out for my own copy of this masterpiece.


And, yes, the Bondi trams did 'shoot through'. It was a busy run, and to get up the long drag from the beach up to the junction, they needed to be flat-tack. The last Bondi tram to "shoot through" was during the early hours of Sunday, February 28,1960. The R class corridor tram was crammed with last tram riders and had a boisterous journey. It left Bondi at 3.30 am and arrived at the Dowling Street depot minus most light globes, some handrails, all upholstered seat cushions, the lifting jack, a headlight glass and all destination rolls.


'The Tram to Bondi Beach', text by Libby Hawthorn, illustrations by Julie Vivas, published by Harper-Collins in 1992.

Find it. Buy it. Read it. Treaure it. It is the history of this wonderful city.

22 comments:

Lois said...

What beautiful illustrations Julie! I hope you find the book. Your soon-to-be granddaughter is already a lucky little girl!

mimbles said...

Lovely post Julie, and a wonderful idea for a way to share your memories.

I feel quite remiss in never having read this to my kids, I knew of it but for whatever reason didn't ever acquire a copy.

altadenahiker said...

Looks like it was reissued a couple of years ago. Amazon has it.

altadenahiker said...

Oh darn, now that I look more closely, not the same book. Looks like they lost the wonderful illustrations.

Magpie said...

Julie, you might try here

http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?an=Hathorn&sts=t&tn=The+Tram+to+Bondi+Beach&x=0&y=0

Watch to be sure it's the edition you want. Happy hunting!!!

Jørgen Carlsen said...

It is interesting to read that little part of your life-story.

Gail's Man said...

What a nice story from your younger days. I've been to Bondi, 4 years ago with my new bride. we went by bus. I'll have to see if i can get the book myself as it looks a good read.

bitingmidge said...

'I like the idea of connecting her to my past.' I think it's one's grandparently duty to do that.

We are after all, the elders. Passing down our knowledge and some of the background to how we obtained it. Wikipedia may not always be there.

Sunshine Coast Daily Photo - Australia

Joan Elizabeth said...

I like your passion for trams. Coming from the country I never caught one. But I do remember from rare visits to the city of much muttering as my Father got stuck behind one, stuck in the rails or whatever because he was more used to driving quiet bush tracks than negotiating the city in the car.

I like the pics of the trams coming up from Bondi. I like that stretch of road today and it's nice to see what it was once was like.

Tulsa Gentleman said...

Well? Where is the rest of the story?

Bruce Caspersonn said...

I shudder to think what the health and safety mob would think about those tram's running boards.
I'm off now to pump some money into the economy,(shoot through like a Bondi tram.

diane said...

Wow what a great book. I love Julie Vivas but am not familiar with Libby Hawthorne. I must get this for my daughter, who absolutely loves Bondi, and little Fox if he ever decides to join us.

J Bar said...

Terrific post. Always love reading about the history.

Andrew said...

Love it Julie. I have been chipped for referring to the 389 tram, which of course is only the bus route number that replaced the tram. I notice I even did it here. Don't let the title put you off. It is actually about trams.
http://highriser.blogspot.com/2005/09/my-fetish.html

Bill said...

Yes it is a bloomin' shame that some dopey beaurocrtats decided to do away with trams. They moved a lot of people in their days and were a joy to ride.

Rinkly Rimes said...

What a delightful slice of history and an introduction to a really classy picture book. Thank you.

Katherine said...

I hope you manage to locate a copy of the book...it looks like a lovely children's book...beautiful illustrations. Good Luck on your hunt...I shall keep my eyes peeled for you here in Brisvegas!

brattcat said...

I'm hoping you followed Magpie's advice and have already located a copy of your very own. Picture books often start this way...with a dear memory like yours. I wouldn't be surprised to learn Hawthorn also rode the tram as a child.

Mary Ann said...

I am captivated by the collection of old photos, particularly the one on the top right, which reminds me of Beirut. There were tram cars here long ago, and on some streets you can still see the tracks.

The book looks enchanting. I'm very, very envious of your grandchild-to-be. I wish I had anything like that from my grandmothers.

markwilliamjackson.com said...

Fantastic images Julie, so sad we lost our trams. I will keep an eye out for that book although my daughter is too old for it, I will certainly enjoy it. I do have a nice big hardback illustrated copy of Kenneth Slessor's 'Backless Betty from Bondi', but it's not the same.

Shelle said...

what an adorable book, the streets look so wide in the old photos...but remembering when i would drive back and forth on this route several times a day the road hasn't changed.

leaving your memories and wisdom is the most precious gift you can give her - so few people even know the names of their ancestors, much less anything about them or their lives.

IWASNTBLOGGEDYESTERDAY said...

my dad grew up in clovelly and has lots of tram stories!! I 'm off to look for the book too.