Monday, May 02, 2005


Toward the end of 1963, indeed it might even have been the same Saturday morning when JFK was assassinated (it was Saturday in Australia when those shots were fired) I was in Victoria Market, Melbourne. We did that every Saturday morning.

At the time it seemed a dreadful event not to be anticipated; now, 40 some years later, I look back upon those Saturday mornings with affection. How else could I have turned the family car into a spaceship and flown it to Mars? Where else would I have been able to spend thruppence on copies of the Argosy published in 1890? Or pore eagerly over Superman comics and triumphantly add a dog eared 1958 issue to my collection?

And where else would I, an accomplished smoker of 3 months, have been able to smile knowingly when I saw a fashionably clad woman stick a smoke in her mouth, wrong way around, and light the butt! I still remember the expression on her face as she flung that cigarette away.

I remember with affection the smells of the market; Spring (green) Onions; Brown Onions, the cheese and cured smallgoods market. The fish section. To this day smelling a Spring (green) onion transports me back to that time. Proust had it right when he wrote of the scent of a Madelaine...

The way it worked was that we were allowed to go our own way on the understanding that we'd be back at the car by some agreed upon time. I don't remember the agreed upon time but I think it would have been sometime toward noon.

So I wended my way back toward the car as the time approached. In one of the alleyways a man stood beside a largish chunk of watermelon. The price was listed as ninepence. A little farther on another man with a somewhat smaller chunk of watermelon also listed at ninepence. I can still feel the condescending, almost contemptuous way I gazed upon that second chunk of watermelon, comparing it's size with that of the first. Of course I didn't realise that ninepence was per pound!

Those memories are very clear but something puzzles me about them. Is it possible that two blokes would be standing beside two chunks of watermelon (not even a complete watermelon) trying to sell just that? Later logic tells me it's unlikely but I don't resile from the memory.

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