If it's purple, it must be Thursday

Who recalls carless days?

They were introduced by then prime minister Rob Muldoon at the end of July 1979, as a way to force the nation's motorists to cut down on their use of petrol following the second ''oil shock'' of that decade.

Carless days were a bit of a farce, really. It proved very difficult to police and they were scrapped in May 1980.

Their legacy was tens of thousands of cars with colourful stickers on the windscreen that were incredibly difficult to get off without tearing the paper and smearing blackened gum across the glass.

What do you remember about carless days?

We had two cars, I recall, and as they each had a different carless-day sticker it meant we never went without. I imagine lots were in the same boat, if I can mix my vehicles up a bit.

Silvereyes take their breakfast from a bird feeder in Bruce Barnett's Taieri Beach garden. The feeder is made from an empty tonic bottle and empty tuna can. Photo: Bruce Barnett
Silvereyes take their breakfast from a bird feeder in Bruce Barnett's Taieri Beach garden. The feeder is made from an empty tonic bottle and empty tuna can. Photo: Bruce Barnett
Winter birds

Thanks for the photos which you have started sending in of birds making the most of winter in your gardens. So far the silvereyes seem to be winning in terms of the number flying about.

Maurice Prendergast, of Wingatui, picks up the theme from last week of me not knowing a thrush, or a blackbird, from a starling.

''The obvious way to determine a starling from others are the iridescent colours on a starling's back,'' he says.

''That's all fine if the various birds are close enough to make that distinction. But if you need 'long-distance proof', when you are looking at a mix of blackbirds and starlings, there is one definitive feature. Blackbirds hop and starlings walk.

''It's fair to say that I studied this behaviour for a big part of my life when farming, and always welcomed the seasonal arrival of the starlings who would deal (big time) to the grass grubs which have such a devastating effect on pasture, especially new pasture.

''Indeed starlings are such a positive farming tool, in dining on the grass grub, that many farmers (especially in Southland) built starling boxes high above the ground (in the days of telephone poles) to encourage them to safely nest and breed their young in abundance, such was their considered value in protecting their grassland pasture,'' Maurice says.

A survivor of the 1952 Dunedin cable-car accident Leila Gilchrist (centre) - also known as "Gangster Leila G'' - practises with fellow members of the "HipOp-eration'' crew on Waiheke Island. Photo: Billie Jordan
A survivor of the 1952 Dunedin cable-car accident Leila Gilchrist (centre) - also known as "Gangster Leila G'' - practises with fellow members of the "HipOp-eration'' crew on Waiheke Island. Photo: Billie Jordan
Cable-car accident

You'll remember in Monday's column Leila Gilchrist, nee Reeves, now of Waiheke Island, told her story of the awful lower High St cable-car accident on November 5, 1952.

Leila is now a member of ''HipOp-eration'', the oldest hip-hop dance crew in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records.

She has sent a photo for us today of the crew performing, in which she is known as ''Gangster Leila G''.

I've received another very moving piece from the day of the accident, written by Georgina Little, who was 12 at the time.

''My brother-in-law, David Little, has just sent me a copy of the article in the ODT re the accident in 1952,'' she says.

''I am Georgina Little (nee Reeves). I now live in Scotland with my family and have done so for the past 23 years.

''Just for the record, Ursula [McGeorge] lost her left leg and and I lost my right.

''Leila was one of my bridesmaids but unfortunately, as life goes on, we lost touch. Ursula and I have contact very rarely through email.

''There was only one boy injured and his name is Raymond Bennie. The fifth child injured was Ruth but her surname escapes me.

''My young brother, Jimmy, was also on the tram. He was 6 and I managed to push him into the cabin, thank goodness, and when the accident occurred he ran through The Broadway to the Mackintosh Toffee Factory where our mum worked at the time to fetch her.

Remember these stickers? They came in different colours for each day of the week. Photo: John Noble
Remember these stickers? They came in different colours for each day of the week. Photo: John Noble
''Our auntie was actually waiting at the bottom of High St to meet us. The man Leila refers to [in the column] is the late Jack Veitch who was working at Ross and Glendining's. He sure was a hero and we remained friends. He and his wife were at my 21st, and our engagement party.

''As you will realise I am now 78, but the memory of that day is still very clear, as is the seven weeks and two days I spent in hospital, and three months on crutches, before we got our wooden legs.

''Imagine 12-year-old girls wearing wooden legs. It is the little things that people don't realise go on. Every time either of us grew an inch we had to go to the artificial limb department and have it adjusted by an inch of wood being inserted in the bottom of the leg, so we didn't walk lopsided.''

Thank you so much, Georgina, for letting us know what you went through.

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