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Guns and Gambling with no Gas.

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Author Topic: Guns and Gambling with no Gas.  (Read 206 times)
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« on: October 28, 2008, 11:02:57 am »

Hughes  and Vale  Service Station.

  It had been an operating  Shell Service Station. Just over the bridge of Cooks River
In Rickety Street Mascot but had been closed to the public for quite a long time.
 It had a wide cement drive divided by one row of pumps. To one side of the Lube and office building there was an area  to park seven or eight semi trailers nose into the back fence. Behind the fence was the Pioneer Bus Service Garage. At the end of the drive on the way out was an area  to park four or five cars nose into the building next door.
Ron Vale and Michael Hughes had moved on and hadn’t disposed of the property and so it was used by all us independent owner drivers as our unofficial Sydney depot.
 As one drove over the bridge  and sighted the station it sort of invited you in by the curve in the road.
Unfortunately for the public it was closed for business. But always had a bunch of trucks parked willy nilley  all over the drive way.
 We used it as a parking area for our trucks because it was central to most of the loading in the Industrial area  Mascot ,Botany, Alexandria, etc.
 Also a good friend of ours and of  Ron Vale and Michael Hughes slept on the premises.
His name was Keith Flynn. He owned an Atkinson that he had stripped  down to the last nut and bolt, which was spread around the lube part of the building. Keith had turned it into his private work shop. It was a project he had been at for a number of years. When ever we came back from a trip the first thing we would ask Keith,
“What have you done while we were away?”
“As little as possible “ was the usual answer.
Any unsuspecting car driver coming of the bridge would instantly see this inviting Shell Service station with trucks all over the drive and people moving back and forth, quite a hive of activity. Now if he wanted petrol he was sort of drawn into coming in and stopping at one of the pumps.
 This is what really made our day and gave us plenty of laughs.
The large glass fronted office where we would congregate to drink coffee was always
busy as we would sip our coffee leaning on the front counter at the window and take bets with each other what the unsuspecting motorist would do waiting at the pump for some one to come out and serve him with petrol.
How long would he wait?
Would he just get disgusted and drive off?
Would he get angry and climb out of his car and come storming in demanding service?
Would he meekly ask one of the boys walking back and forth on the driveway ?
How long before he would start to blow his horn for service?
When he drove off would it be with a screech of tyres  or  very quietly?
 All this was a constant source of fun to us and side bets were made all the time.
If he just sat in the car looking at us looking at him through the glass window we would be looking sideways at each other and grinning and laughing and then  with a serious face turn and stare at him. After a while that’s when he had to do something.
 That’s when the bets were made. What would he do?
Voices would be raised  “ I’ll have a ‘Tenner ‘ he roars out.”
“I’ll cover you” would say another.
“I bet he blows the horn first” said another.
“No he wont.. betcha a ‘fiver’.
Now if we could see that he was coming in very angry then it was push and shove to see who would have the fun of telling him there was no petrol to be had here.
“How about some service ?” loudly.
“What for?”
“I want some petrol.” Angrily.
“What do you mean no?” loud and angry.
“You can’t have any.”
“ I demand to be served.” Almost a yell.
“Too busy”
“What do you mean too busy, what sort of a service station is this anyhow?” extremely  angry.
“ A closed one”
“ What” a definite yell.” CLOSED.. what’s all the trucks out the front doing.
.“ Your on private property … **** off”
If he was quiet about it we just said
“Sorry mate there is no petrol we are closed. It’s a private truck yard.”
That’s when the bets were won or lost.
Did he put up an argument or go quietly?
Some days  there would be five or six cars at the various pumps waiting at the same time.
All day they would come in ….and so it went on.
Some were intimidated by a room full of laughing truck drivers and quietly left, the other sort that tried to bluster and mouth off got no quarter.
One car driver demanded to know where to contact the owner.
 We told him America. He was on holidays.
He was quite funny he said he would call back later and tell the owner  how his staff played up while he was away.
One of the boys pipe up
“If he can have a holiday so can we” Should have seen the look on this customer’s face.
He went out waving his arms and spluttering while we fell about fit to die with laughter.
One incident I remember very well. It was a quiet Sunday afternoon with about a dozen of us getting our trucks ready to go and some just arriving in and some doing a service on their trucks. Drivers and trucks everywhere. Two trucks on the driveway  swapping  their loads around and this car driver manages to weave his way through everything into the end pump nearest our large window.
Just about at the same time one of our boys was backing a truck that was poked into the factory next door back towards this car that wasn’t there a minute earlier.
Three or four of us at the window were not taking that much notice, busy talking to each other and sipping coffee. All of a sudden the car driver starts to blow his horn urgently to warn the reversing truck. The truck driver stopped and  walked  back to the  car, at the same time the car driver jumped out and started to abuse the truck driver to be more careful when reversing., giving him quite a lecture while the truck driver is yelling at him he shouldn’t be there and wasn’t there one minute ago.
This is the funny part…
While all this was going on another car had found its way through all the trucks and pulled into the pump behind the abusive car driver.
The truck driver explained that this was private property then in a fit of temper after  standing by his car door shouting and waving his arms  the abusive driver jumped in and slammed his car into reverse without looking and thumped the car behind that had just pulled up.
 Well did that open up a hornets nest for him. We all poured out onto the driveway telling this driver how he should look what he was doing when reversing and so and so on. We encouraged the poor innocent driver who had his bumper bar dented to take the other driver’s name and we would be witnesses to the accident. Our abusive driver was now very meek and mild and the last we saw of him he was threading his way out back onto the road very slowly. I lost that bet, it cost me a beer all round.  That’s how I remember.
It was usual to pull out loaded into Rickety street late in the afternoon to get a good start  so that by midnight we were well and truly out in the bush and on our way.
To do this needed two drivers to walk out onto Rickety street and stop traffic both ways and wave the outbound trailer onto the road.  Sometimes  without warning the nearest driver out on the street stopping the traffic would wait till the trailer driver was half out on the road changing up gears. A complete bunch of fire crackers would be lit and thrown into the cabin at the driver’s feet.
Now that was something to see. A fully loaded semi trailer bucking and bouncing onto the road, fire crackers going off, dirt and dust enveloping the driver, him waving his fist out of the window  and trying to keep from lifting his legs, the truck cabin going up and down and the car drivers tooting horns and entering into the joke.
We had to have a laugh now and then. It happened to all of us. 
Another more frightening event happened to me late one night at the terminal.
 It was nearly midnight and I had just arrived in from Perth. Everything was dark and quiet. There was an empty space next to my car that I had left while I was away and I was slowly taking my bag and all the bits and pieces from the cabin and putting them into the car to take home. You know dirty clothes, half empty soft drinks, tools etc. I was just climbing down from the cabin with an armful of clothes when I heard a hesitant voice say out of the darkness..
“Don’t move.. put your hands in the air”
I slithered to the ground and spun around and there he was, an old guy about 60 years old
with a grey felt hat and a long grey dust coat, his right arm pointing at me holding  a .25  Browning  semi automatic pistol  the barrel looking to me as big as an Anti aircraft gun.
My hands were nearly reaching the stars, the clothes had fallen to the ground in a split second. At the same time, words pouring out of my mouth  telling him that it was my truck and my car and I had just got in from Perth and what else did he want to know and I wouldn’t think of moving a muscle and would he point that thing some where else and not at my stomach.
 The pistol was actually shaking  slightly in his hand and I was sure it was going to go off accidentally and I was going to be dead any second.
 All this came out in such a rush I wasn’t sure he understood what I was saying.
As soon as I saw him I knew he was the night watchman employed by all the factories
around the terminal.
As all this was happening my thoughts turned to John Wayne and all those movie heroes that  made it look so easy taking a gun away from someone and thought to myself “not this black duck” I’m not even going to swallow my giggle and so I stood carved in stone.
He asked a couple of questions that I answered and seemed satisfied and put the gun away.
What the questions were and what the answers were  to this day I have no idea.
But he was satisfied I was genuine.
 As he walked  off I was busy undoing the fly of my trousers.
Back then no zippers ..bloody buttons… it was close but managed to splash the drive wheels and not the inside of my leg , at the same time breathed a sigh of relief.
A post script to this story. The old night watchman  was pensioned off a couple of weeks later. It appears that he heard a noise in one of the factories next door  and pumped six bullets into the darkness some going  through the fibro roof.
It was apparently mice. 
There were no dead bodies on the floor but many chunks of asbestos.
For a long while I shuddered every time I thought of that night.
 And just sometimes I would smile to myself thinking of the look on the face of that last attempted hi-jacker  a couple of years earlier down near Holbrook  when I leant out of the window with my trusty .45 colt pistol and told him to **** off.
 I bet over the years he has moments like me thinking back and giving a little shudder.
This is just a few snippets of recollections  and  memories.
Hope you had a laugh.

From                     “My Way on the Highway”

                        The Life and times of the Nullarbor Kid.

                                  Copyright        2005

                                       Ray    Gilleland
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