Harry’s Shack

Harry’s Shack was a local institution. It was located on the spur line platform, directly through the nature strip and across Oppenheimer Road below our place. This small square tin shed had all the essentials for the local kids when the got their pocket money, or people riding past on Oppenheimer Road or walking past to Twini railway station. “Cooldrinks” such as Coke and Pepsi, milk, bread, pies, cakes, sweets and bubble gum including Wicks and Chappies, could all be obtained from this small shop. A farthing (quarter penny) would buy one bubblegum.

Two Indian blokes did the sales whereas a retarded tall Indian fellow by the name of Gunda kept the surrounding, mainly gravel area, in immaculate shape simply by using a ‘broom’ only made from tree branches. Gunda exhibited some albinism and had slightly buck teeth, and always wore oversized longs that were strapped with string around his waist. He was always barefooted and a harmless chap who enjoyed talking to kids but was otherwise kept on a tight rein by his two bosses.

A large Chinese Elm tree was located close to the shack. The tree supported a population of European sparrows, otherwise know as “mossies”, as well as some Indian mynahs and doves. Occasional prolonged wet weather in winter would usually result in many of the birds dying and lying around the floor for Gunda to clean up.

The railways later built a fenced enclosure near the elm tree. Platelayers in their big trucks would pull up to get supplies or park under the tree in the afternoon, killing time until knockoff.

My brother Mark reminded me of the boxing matches that were also held there.

Anyway the shack was later condemned as a supposed health risk to meet new standards. This was just a pretext in my mind as I never heard of anyone getting sick from the supplied foodstuffs.