Nostalgic memories of boyhood.
The Pig’s Arms Welcomes Esormirp.
The tantalizing aroma of freshly baked bread; the horsy smell of the leather harness; overridden occasionally by the pong of steamy horse dung, blended well the clip clop sound of the old horse’s hooves on the roadway as it ambled down the suburban streets of Carlisle (Perth WA) What pleasure I experienced as a small boy sitting on the driver’s seat of the baker’s cart, guiding the horse with the reins held loosely in my hands; I was in charge — or so I believed.
Being the baker’s off-sider and driving his cart was a much sought-after school holiday pleasure. I was proud when I was the one chosen from our excited group of seven to nine year olds to guide the cart while the baker jogged from house to house, making deliveries from his basket of loaves — occasionally returning to the cart to refill.
It was an opportunity to show I could be trusted; to do the job well and enhance my chances of being chosen again. Sometimes the baker would even let me drive the cart all the way back to Moylan’s Bakery in Victoria Park, as we returned to replenish his supply of loaves. What joy I felt. But he always took over the reins at the last minute as the cart entered the broad coble-stoned yard of the Bakery, to join in the hive of activity and noise as other delivery men with their horses and carts gathered there to do likewise.
And while the baker re-stacked his cart with loaves, he’d let me fetch a serving of oats from the stables to put in the feed bag he placed over old horse’s head, which the horse chomped on contentedly as it rested. It was another responsible task for a small boy; great care had to be taken not to spill the oats from the small bucket. And I’d give the horse a little pat and scratch his ears as he fed, thanking him quietly for behaving while I was in charge — I’m sure he understood as he always responded with a shake of his head.
Then with re- loading finished we’d be off again to complete deliveries. And at the end of the morning the baker would return me home, where I proudly presented my mum with the reward I’d received for a job well done; a selected loaf of bread — a scrumptious cottage loaf with a crusty plait across the top.
Ah! Those were the days.
Extracted from TALL TIMBER; Brown Paper and Porridge, published in 2010.