Adam Dudding grew up in Torbay, on Auckland’s North Shore. He is now a feature writer for the Sunday Star-Times.
When our end of Sealy Rd finally got a concrete footpath in 1982, it took so long that the men from the council, with their spades and boots and wheelbarrows, became honorary part-time residents.
Once they were done, Dad said there had to be a party to launch the path. John from No 2 brought out his wind-up gramophone player and set it up on the piece of lawn out front which was probably council land but which we considered to be the joint soccer field of Numbers 2 and 4. All afternoon he replaced the needle on the next Fats Waller or Jelly Roll Morton 78.
I can’t remember what Mum and Dad wore, but it will have been something ridiculous, probably involving hats.
Mr Konings, who lived at the top of the calf-achingly steep driveway of No 1, was, I was incredulous to learn, a salesman of the arcade video games that had just started appearing in all the dairies. He lugged down a machine running Donkey Kong. It was one of those cool two-person machines where the screen was set flat in the middle of a glass-topped table and you sat opposite your opponent, with the image rotating 180 degrees each time it switched between Player 1 and Player 2.
We ran an extension cord from our house and Mr Konings unscrewed the coin-box cover, so a single 20c piece, recycled through the slot, paid for an afternoon of endless games. It reminded me of the dream I used to have around that time, where I’d be standing at the top of our garden path and I’d spot some coins on the ground, then another and another, until I was scrabbling around filling my pockets.
Just about everyone in the street came, along with a few guests from further afield. Our friends Ian and Gerd came in their Super Minx. Ian wore mayoral robes and chains he’d dug up from somewhere -- a stand-in for the real mayor who should, by rights, have been at such an important civic event.
John’s wife Dot baked a cake in the shape of our street, with smooth grey icing for the new footpath and a hump at one end to match the hill in the middle of Sealy Rd. Most of the council workers came too, only they didn’t bring their spades.
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