Journey back in time

From a talk given to the Wodonga Historical Society by Bernie Mylon in 2001.

My grandfather—Patrick Mylon—started a passenger transport service in the Albury-Wodonga border area in 1906 with horses and cabs. Dad (Jack) went into business in the late 1920s, and I joined the firm early in 1970.

It is interesting to note the different modes of transport and their cost structures. I do not know what horses were worth then but I do know some of Dad’s early vehicle costs. He was paying £830 for a Reo bus and £475 for a Chev bus.

In 1968, we paid $12,000 for a Bedford we called a coach. It had high-back vinyl seats with arm rests, wooden slat luggage racks and a boot which, if you were not careful, filled with dust. It was also fitted with a radio and PA system. Later on, Mid States Radio fitted a cassette player for me.

When Patrick started with the horses and cabs, each cab carried eight passengers and he always had two horses per cab. Dad says that if you see photos of cabs with two horses, they will be his father’s because no one else did this.

When Dad was very young he had to go and collect the horses from around the paddocks before school. He said they used to be across the railway line at the rail coal siding behind Hovell Street near Huon Street. He said he was never sure whether it was easier to round up the horses from 4 to 5 o’clock in the morning … or to start the T-Model Fords.

I have never seen this done, but with the T-Models you had to jack the rear wheels on one and then start it, and use this one to tow-start the others. If you did not jack the wheels up the car would drive forward when it started, because the cold oil in the gearbox would be like treacle, and act like a direct drive. People were killed in this way by being pinned to the shed wall or whatever was in the way.