When once I was a postman

Barry is back with another tale from his days as a postman. This one involving a flying dog…

Barry Edge writes…

Come walk with me and I’ll tell you a story of the time I was a postman, an aged Italian couple and their Australian terrier.


When once I was a Postman

I may Have played a few games of football for Bucknall St Mary’s, but the idea that I could make a footballer was far removed from reality because I couldn’t kick a ball to save my life – and even if I could, being totally deaf in my right ear made it especially difficult to hear and read a team game.

It was the same at Cellarhead Secondary Modern (now Moorside) where my chance to play regular football greatly diminished after my first intra-school game. Hopeless I was. Then serendipity came to my rescue to focus my mind.

One day I was asked to make- up the numbers in an inter-school cross country event.
I did and, to my surprise, performed above expectation. There and then I knew which sport was for me.

Now fast forward from 1955 to November 29, 1962 – the year Perth, Western Australia hosted the British Empire and Commonwealth Games – the morning the marathon was won by the English and European champion Brian Kilby in 2:21:17 (a new ‘Games record by 58.6 seconds).

I can see it in my mind’s eye as though it was yesterday – a personal defining moment you could say. To see Brian Kilby enter the Perry lakes Stadium looking just as fresh as when the marathon started simply staggered belief because, you see, the unusually November high temperature was compounded by unbearable humidity consequence of overnight heavy rain. Yes, a brilliant performance – absolutely.

Fast forward to January 1965 when I was working shift work for Brownes Dairy and a member of the most successful ‘Amateur Athletic Club in Western Australia. My specialties were the cross country and road distance disciplines – on top of which I had a part-time trainer/coach.

My overall performances were respectable, but at 61k and 1.8m I was always running in the shadow of the taller, heavy muscled competitors so, in what can only be a described as crazy at the time, my coach said I needed to spend more time building up my leg muscles and to get myself a bicycle. I did but somehow I didn’t get to spend too much time treddling around the suburbs.

Now here’s the crazy part: A lack of gymnasiums or similar meant I needed to find another solution so I successfully applied to become a postman because they delivered the mail on bicycles. My coach thought I’d gone bonkers, but it was what it was.

In the 9 months I was a postman I had been chased by big dogs and bitten several times – with one particular Australian terrier well known for chasing anyone in or around its territory. More than once it had ripped my uniform, but no matter its owners were warned by my boss that should it happen again they would be required to pick-up their mail from the Post Office.

The owners of said Australian terrier were an aged Italian couple – their faces brown and wrinkled from years of hard yakka in their market gardens – and for all their years ‘Downunder they spoke very little English so much so when trying to get the message across about their dog it was usually met with a blank look and a shrug of the shoulders.

It was late December 1965 when I needed to deliver a ‘registered item’ to our market garden couple which required either to sign for. So I parked my bicycle by the letterbox at the bottom of the garden and made my way up to the house, but as soon as I was nearing the front door the pesky terrier came running from the back of the property to yap and snap at my heels.

Honest, it was accidental! As I was trying to push the dog away I somehow caught it under its belly and sent it flying over a privet hedge into the garden next door.

Boy, did I cop a mouthful from the lady of the house – in Italian of course – and when back at the post office the Postmaster had a few words and advise for me too. He said my behavior was subject to a caution and to be sure it didn’t happen again.

Given the ‘terriers’ history the Postmaster’s rebuke incensed me that I found myself responding in defense by saying something along the lines of an employer failing to protect employees from dangerous dogs.

Needless to say the Postmaster railed against my outburst and gave me two choices – accept the caution or leave.

The following week I was working for General Motors.

See you later…

Barry Edge
Western Australia
July 7, 2017

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