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12827: History > Oral History

submitted by Peter Makarthis on 09.06.2007

Sunday Sensation - Horse in Cafe

Sunday Sensation

Not something new on the menu of S.Peter & Co Cafe in Otho Street on a Sunday afternoon in January of 1925 but an event more closely related to the fabled bull in the china shop. On this occasion a horse through the café.

This report is taken from The Inverell Times of Tuesday 6th January 1925.


Sunday Sensation

HORSE BOLTS THROUGH SHOP

REMARKABLE FEAT

A mild sensation was created in Otho Street about half past five o’clock on Sunday afternoon. The first indication that passers-by had something was amiss was the sound of glass and splintering of timber. Those in the vicinity were not kept long in suspense, for within the next few seconds the Greek proprietor was precipitated headlong on to the footpath and a horse, with harness attached, galloped out of the same building – Peters & Co – from which the Greek had emerged. The animal also fell when negotiating the step from the café to the footpath and cut itself severely about the knees and legs. To add further to its injuries the equine dashed across the road and collided with the horse rail in front of the Union Bank, one of the hooks inflicting a nasty gash on the horse’s side.
It appears that a couple of employees of Peters & Co. had been out for a drive in one of Mr. Child’s turnout and before returning the sulky and horse, decided to give the animal a drink. When the winkers were pulled off, however, the horse promptly prepared to go home alone and made a dash for the back door of the establishment. The impact with the brick wall caused the points of both shafts to snap off, and the traces also gave way, thus releasing the horse from the vehicle. A glass partition barred the maddened animal’s path, but nothing deterred, it crashed through it. The Greek owner was standing between the two counters in the front of the shop, but the equine bowled him over like a nine pin. It was certainly a thrilling time for the Greek, but he was practically uninjured although hurled on to the footpath.

Eye-Witness’s Version
An eye-witness of the affair writes:

“About 5 o’clock on Sunday afternoon an event occurred in and near Otho Street which, had it not been the interposition of providence, might have ended tragically. Were a writer of fiction to introduce such an improbable happening into a story he would be ridiculed.
Seeing no serious damage was done, one might almost be forgiven for being tickled by the humorous side. The writer, with several others, was standing on the footpath near the Phoenix Chambers when a terrific rattling and sound of crashing material suddenly filled the air. Before time could be taken to even speculate as to the cause, there flashed into view from the front door of Peter’s Café the form of the proprietor, head first, momentarily suspended in clear air. Was it not for the disarranged, yet flowing folds of the snow white apron one might have for a second, associated the appearance Mailey diving for an impossible catch in the slips or with Charlie Chaplin in his angel stunt in “The Kid.” Any such thought was, however, immediately dispelled by the almost simultaneous appearance on the doorway of a galloping horse. Man and horse seemed to land on the footpath together. It might have been the finish of a Marathon. If so, whether he came first or second the warmest assurance is offered that there was not the slightest suggestion of “crook going” on the Greek’s part.
Prompted by the traditional thirst of the pressman for first hand news your correspondent plied the owner with questions; but all that could be elicited from those bloodless lips, which were in such perfect harmony with the alabaster whiteness of his face was “The ------ caught me at the door.” The truth was that he knew no more about the cause than anyone else. The facts were these, gained by observation and from information obtained from those less excited than the man who played the “heavy” part.
Two of the employees of the establishment had been for an afternoon spin with a smart horse and sulky. On their return they drew up to the rear of the café when something startled the horse, which dashed forward with the sulky; which knocked down a pump in the narrow passage between the kitchen wing and the adjoining fence. Straight for the backdoor, which is only 2ft.8inches wide and which was open, rushed the horse. It leaped up about two feet and dashed through the doorway; needless to say, leaving the sulky behind. The equine tore through a light structure screening the back door within, crashed through the grille dividing the café from the shop; on between the two counters and out the front door. At the time the proprietor was the only occupant of the shop, and it was his complete unwillingness to have any argument with the horse that prompted him to make for the front door.
A rather remarkable fact in connection with this mishap is that after the horse had picked itself up from the slippery footpath it galloped across the street and turned down, easing off to a gentle trot. A young man caught it and it did not betray the slightest nervousness, and, would have been unscathed was it not that it ran against a horse post on the opposite side of the street.”

Inverell Times 6th January 1925

Foot note 2007
This story was related to me during research of the café scene in Inverell by Joe Hughes an Inverell identity who had heard of the incident. Julie Regan from the Inverell Family History Group Inc. discovered the report of the “sensation” on that fateful Sunday afternoon transforming what may have been fiction into fact.

The proprietors of the café in Phoenix Chambers were Theo Psaros and Peter Psaros. They also operated the IXL Sundae Shop further down Otho Street. Peter conducted the IXL Sundae Shop and Theo the Peters & Co Café.

Perhaps you have heard of this story now raised from myth status.
Perhaps you may know of the two Greeks that unwittingly hired the horse.

‘Skoulandris’ Peter McCarthy
Inverell NSW Australia

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