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SOUVENIR-CHARTERS TOWERS, 1872 TO JULY, 1950                             Page 19


I have not seen for many years one of  the old basket Johnnies. These hardy old chaps could carry exceptionally heavy weights. Some of them very small in build, would go jogging along, the two baskets loaded to the top, balanced on the old bamboo stick. I actually tried to carry these baskets one day and it was as much as I could do to even straighten up under these weights.

These basket merchants were most liberal at Christmas time. I have seen them come around specially on Christmas Day, smile broadly and say "Melly Christmas" and leave a watermelon, a couple of pineapples, bananas and usually some preserved ginger. Later most of the market gardeners used a cart and horse to deliver their fruit and vegetables. I can remember one very old chap who was a little overfond of O.P. rum and always could be seen taking a swig at the bottle, and often the old horse would be wending his homeward way unguided by Johnny at all, who would be fast asleep from the effects of the O.P. A story is told of one day when Johnny was in this particular state, some of the village wags took the horse out of the cart, pushed the shafts through a paling fence and harnessed the horse up again on the other side. You could imagine the surprise Johnny received when he recovered after a short nap to' find the horse one side of the fence and the cart on the other side.

Most of these market gardeners had their plots along Guards Lane. This was a most interesting laneway. It is reported that in the hey-day there were at least 14 joints in the lane where a pak-a-poo ticket could be bought or where at night time a game of fan tan would be in progress. Many and varied are the stories told of the doings around these dens. The Sergeant of Police at one particular time made several raids on the fan tan schools and one day this particular officer was in a barber's shop when he overheard an argument as to whether a couple of the chaps who used to frequent the fan tan places were amateur or professional footrunners. The Sergeant entered the discussion and said "I don't know whether they are amateurs or professionals, but there's some of the best flaming footrunners in Australia in that bunch." He gave as an instance a one-armed chap who he said was always first off the mark. "You can never get near him," he said.

During one other raid two police officers crept up around one building to a door at the back and another officer went around to the front door. The players, seeing the limb of the law at the front door rushed for the back, but on seeing two dangers confronting them they immediately rushed at the door which offered the least resistance. The first chap through the door got past due to weight of numbers coming fast behind, but the last man through was not so fortunate. The Police Officer got a firm hold on the back of his pants of which the material was not very strong. the result being that there was a ripping noise and the next thing the man was free, but had to take all the back streets home; even Sandy liked to wear his badge.

One particular group of wrong doers who were doing their best to evade the officers of the law, one afternoon, after a raid, jumped the Chinaman's fence to escape and of course, in their mad career, went through lettuce and carrot patches without respect to Johnnie's feelings, but they agreed afterwards they did not know which was the lesser of the two evils, the limb of the law racing up to catch them on one side of the fence or the mad Chinaman with a big bamboo stick on the other side.

In the late 1800's and early 1900's very strong feeling existed in many quarters regarding the Chinese population and their activities. "The Eagle," a weekly newspaper, printed at the time, criticised the Chinese in a most scandalous and even libellious manner. If white people were seen purchasing goods from or even employing a Chinaman around the yard then that person

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