From round Goodhope Street and down by McCaffrey’s (or was it Stoddard’s) place he would come in the settling mist. It was colder and darker in the early winter. We had ceased play, even old Warder had given up his dismal barking, his sniffing at the old cast-iron lampposts. Huddled in anticipation of the new world, we awaited his coming. Mr. – I cannot dredge up with name but to us, he was a real mister, almost a bishop.
His silhouette against the last gas lamp he had lighted, greater, closer and bigger in the full dusk – until he greeted his tiny congregation. With his crook he would pull on the light. Down Hoddle Street and up around to Lawson Street we followed. The admiring flock, the bishop of the young and the lighter up of the lamps existed only for our particular joy and wonderment.
Always the shadows marched east from Goodhope Street. It didn’t matter whether it was winter or summer, those shadows marked the creeping end of day, finally to engulf the short valley of Hoddle Street with twilight yet leaving to the last moment the repossession of the golden light on the school and the tips of the terraces on the odd side of Glenmore Road.
Sometimes we children were quick and naughty enough to anticipate the elderly lamp lighter – yet mostly we seemed to follow him in a religious rite of observance to his ritual motions of the crook which brought the gas to light on the corners of our territory. We followed the soft effulgent glows so far as Cascade Street and called the ceremony a day, or better speaking a night.
Crickets and cicadas gave the drone notes to our shrill childish cadenzas as we marched back to a wash and something hot to eat.