An Unstable Situation

Since our recent decision to stay in Adelaide, the town is literally hurling reminders of its history at me as I go about my business. I say literally as a way of literally emphasising that I really mean really metaphorically, not just slightly metaphorically. Confused? So be it.

Chief among these historical reminders has been the recent revelation that our suburb used to be full of jockeys. It was an equestrian area. Horses were a major fixture. There was an abundance of stables and adjistments abounded. You get the idea.

We were informed of this by our old neighbour from Goldsworthy Crescent, Liam, while out together as a family at the Old Gum Tree Park. In what I now think of as being a “I remember when this was all fields” moment, Liam, who has lived in the area since he was a child, gave us a memory sketch of the area as it was in the 1970s.

“Oh Yeah. Lots of jockeys. The whole area was full of stables and jockey’s houses. Cummings Lane is called that coz Bart Cummings’ family used to live at the bottom of it. All on Alison Street, you can see where the new houses have been built where the stables used to be, in between the old houses. On Russell Street too all the houses were jockey houses. And this bit here used to be the old St. Leonard’s Junior School where we are standing now. And the three old mad ladies use to live in Crayleigh on Alison St, where the footballer Nigel Smart now lives. Their land used to go all the way up to Gray St, but it was all sold. We used to climb the big old gum tree so we could sneak over their back fence and annoy them…”

This all fitted together with previous descriptions we’d had from my parent’s friend Ursula, who’d told us about horse adjistments up the top end of the suburb, nearer to the golf course. Suddenly it all made sense. Glenelg North was a horsey semi-rural suburb, back in the day.

So that is why our house is full of ridiculous little midget-sized archways! And that’s why we have remnants of a partial division into multiple dwellings, including that silly extra toilet out the back! It use to be a jockey house! They would doss down in the rooms and impromptu shanties in the back garden, after having won up big at the races but then blown it all on loose liquor and tall women. What a life!

Speaking of out the back, another piece of history came to light recently when an evil wind came through the suburb and blew over part of the wall in our back garden. It was never very stable, and just collapsed right out into Noble Lane.


The council replaced the old wall with a sturdy new Kulabond number, no problems, but when they were digging out the old post-hole, look what came out of it!


Yes, that is a handgun. Not a toy, although possibly a replica. And you are correct in asking “under what circumstances does one bury a gun in the back garden?” What makes a full grown (sic) jockey kill another? Love? Professional rivalry? Target practice gone horribly wrong? It is all (slightly) very mysterious.

The police have it now. If it turns out not to be connected to a live case, we’ll get it back again (Louise wants it for her own ghoulish purposes) but this did happen a while ago and there’s been no word from the cops so we happy to make up tall (sic) tales about the seamy suburb of Glenelg North in the 1970s, when the horse was king and when jockey payback shootings were so common as to raise no eyebrows at all.

Or so we’re telling ourselves. In reality it probably just stopped working and they chucked it out.



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