CAFES DES KERBS
Romance of Adelaide Coffee Stalls; SIDELIGHTS OF CITY NIGHT LIFE
When John Foster Fraser rushed through Adelaide he dubbed it 'The City of Culture." If John Foster Fraser had stayed a little longer in South Australia he might have, called Adelaide the City of Pie Stalls. Adelaide more than any other Australian city is famous for the pie stalls of its streets.
Adelaide got the pie stall habit early and has never lost it. A man named Wil- liams dispensed pies, pasties, peas, and saveloys, at the corner of Hindley street and King William street in the seventies, and in the early eighties a little commu- nity of pie stalls was to be found doing business in the same vicinity.
One Whitehouse had a pie stall in front of the place where the Union Bank now stands, and a celebrity of the time, known as Irish Jack, assisted, by his wife, did business on the opposite side of the road. In 1884 J. Gibbs, a young English immi- grant, formerly of Her Majesty's Navy, opened a pie stall on the corner of Rundle and King William streets, thus beginning an association with city pie stalls, which has continued right down to the pre- sent time. Mr. J. Gibbs, now living in retirement at Glenelg, is identical with the J. Gibbs, who, in 1884, because he could not afford a horse, nightly pushed his pie cart from Waymouth street to Rundle street corner, and he still has an interest in the stall which nightly occu- pies a site alongside the kerb near Bow man's Arcade. PREMIER WHO LIKED PASTIES From Mr. W. H. Gibbs, a son of Ade- laide's old pie stall proprietor, something of the romance and glamor associated with the dimly lighted midnight havens of Adelaide streets was obtained. Mr. Gibbs, who now manages a more pretentious city business, worked for years on pie stalls owned by his father. Often in days gone by he served famous public men, and at odd times, famous women. When the late Tom Price was Premier of South Australia he used often times to walk down from Parliament House to the pie stall by the railway station, and refresh himself with a pie or a pasty. Mr. Gibbs has a vivid recollection of a cablond of politicians, among whom was Tom Price, pulling up in front of his stall late one night, and calling for re freshments. While attending to their wants Mr. Gibbs pointed out that the horse they were driving had in some way managed to remove the bit from its month. 'That's nothing," the first Labor Premier replied. "We've been elec- tioneering. Nothing matters when you've been electioneering," he concluded cheerily, "except votes." PIE-EATERS INCOGNITO Other public men and women who were once partial to the midnight pie or pasty could be named by Mr. Gibbs. Often he has handed out such goods to well-known men and women, who, however, preferred to eat them within the shelter of a friendly cab. Boisterous young squatters in town for a lark often added to the purse of the pie stall owner. One concerns a famous per- sonage in the early days, a relation of one of the highest officials in the State. The story is told of how at midnight one night he and a party of young bloods drove up in a cab to a city pie stall. While one of the party was ordering refreshments the young blood tied a rope to cab and stall, and, taking the reins from the cabman, drove the cab with pie slall attached to the old Globe Hotel in Rundle street. Bottles, plates, and saucers were broken to pieces in that mad drive, but the roystering party were as generous as they were hot headed, and the owner of the pie stall did not suffer through their escapade. VIOLIN MYSTERY
All kinds of people breast the counters of Adelaide's coffee stalls. In the late nineties two men used to have refresh- ments nightly at the pie stall then kept by Mr. J. Gibbs on the corner of Rundle street and King William street. With them they invariably carried a violin case. They, developed the habit of leaving this violin case with 'Old Charley' Harris, who was in charge of the stall, and who, by the way, is still working on an Ade- laide, pie stall. The men would saunter along at all hours of the night or morning to collect their violin case, and they became well - known clients. Some surprise was caused one day when they did not call for their
violin case, and when days went past and the violin case was still uncalled for, ''Old Charley' began to think something had happened to the men. Something had happened. When, at last the violin case was opened it was found packed full of saws, jemmies, files, and other imple- ments of a burglar's outfit. While the violin case had been lying under the pie stall counter its owners had been lying in quite another place — in gaol.
JUMBO WALKS UP In the old days eating at a piestall was a more exciting pastime than it is now. When Mr. J. Gibbs nightly dispensed his wares at a stall in Waymouth street his son vouches for it that it was no un- usual thing for him to have to vault over the counter and thrash turbulent clients as many as three times in a night. The old days had other excitements as well. One night an elephant from a circus broke away from its keeper and wandered down King William street. People scat- tered in all directions, but Jumbo saw the friendly light of a piestall, and lum- bering up accepted rolls from the hands of Mr. Gibbs until its keeper arrived and took charge. The stockyards of Adelaide used to be situated on North terrace, and late one night the attendants, in the piestall at the Railway Station noticed a man on a horse driving a bull for the morrow's mar- ket along North terrace. The man ap- peared to be having trouble in control- ling the brute, and suddenly it charged straight at the pie cart. 'Look out!' The men behind the stall counter shouted a warning to their clients, and a young policeman who was regaling himself at the stall promptly "looked out," and then almost as promptly fell down the railway station stairs in his eagerness to get out of the way. Disappointed, the angry, bull turned its attention to two convivial citizens stag- gering across North terrace to catch their last train, and after sendiing them scurry- ing up nearby telegraph poles careered madly on toward the Morphett Street Bridge. WHAT PADDY DID Paddy Smith, an Irish cabman, who had his stand near the piestall, as soon as the bull was well away began to tell startled piestall habitues who came strag- gling back to discarded pie or pasty just what they should have done in the re- cent emergency. "When I was in Ire- land," he explained, "we used to get bulls by the tails and throw 'em, Begorrah we did!" Just then the bull, which had doubled back, poked its head almost in Paddy's face and emitted a dreadful bellow. Paddy, evidently not used to dealing with that end of a bull, promptly forsook his cab aud emulated the feat of the, pie-eating policeman by falling down the station stairs. For years Mr. W. H. Gibbs worked on the piestall opposite the Railway Station entrance, and for years while he was there Old Skuse, a favorite horse, pulled the railway station stall backwards and forwards from stable to stand and from stand to stable. Old Skuse was some thing of a character. When the stall was in commission he was stabled in a building near Morphett street, and when it was time to close up and go home the stableman simply used to turn Old Skuse loose, whereupon he would amble up North terrace and present himself at the piestall. Many a midnight reveller, of other days has been startled to find the sensitive nostrils of Old Skuse quivering over his plate of peas or half finished pie or pasty. Much of the excitement of the old pie stall days, however, has departed. Ac- cording to Mr. Gibbs anybody can patro- nise a piestall now and be sure of not being subjected to insult or injury, whereas years ago a rough element un - doubtedly existed. The absence of ex - citement, however, has not affected the business of the piestall. "The business done by the piestalls of Adelaide is greater now than ever before," was the way Mr. Gibbs summed up the position.
RICH AND POOR, PARSON AND THIEF, gather round the piestalls of Adelaide and indulge in tasty pasty, or savoury peas, with their mysterious "floater."