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Originally written by TC 2008

143° (This story is located on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island)

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"Mussel Point"

 

The day in the late sixties that the Pink Pussy Cat went down up in the mountains (up the back of Haast – South Island New Zealand) with Sam V on board after it stripped its main transmission sheer bolts, ended in a big party in one of the dongas at Mussel point.

To the hardened helicopter pilots and their shooters, the relief at the safe recovery of the PPC’s crew culminated in about 30 bearded sweaty Swanny clothed bodies (hardly a Sheila in sight) rapidly drinking many cartons of Speights beer originally sly grogged in and stored in the back of Dave J’s petrol station.

I don’t think it was the crowd deafening memory of a full magazine of an SLR being shot through the roof (from the inside) to let the blinding smoke haze out – followed by the rain coming back in, or the deadly sight of the drunken Maori bloke’s axe reflecting in the weak light of the low voltage light bulbs as it swung by about an inch to one side of my head as he went stir crazy, rather it was what happened to Dooky at about 0300 am.

At this time, the venison boom was in full swing. A literal swarm of Hillers and Hughes 300C machines burned thousands of drums of Avgas scouring the alpine mountain valleys from before dawn till after dusk, recovering millions of dollars of Red Deer carcasses at $1 a pound weight.

Ace bush pilots like Jim flew their Cessna 180s back to Mussel point so loaded with dead deer that they frequently had to use all their skills and a fair bit of luck to get airborne from the bush strips, yet even then they still landed with the occasional bit of green leafy stuff caught in the undercarriage.

The Eggling family let all and sundry use Mussel point airstrip as they wisely saw the financial benefit to the local community - although the time they used their tractor and posthole digger in the middle of a dark and stormy night to make a solid wooden corral around M.B’s Piper 150 aeroplane raised a few eyebrows at the time. “Don’t cross the Egglings” – the word soon got around.

A few Kms north, the venison factory in Haast township was working day and night. In came the multitude of lifeless deer and pigs; out went frozen wild game meat to the unsuspecting citizens of Germany.

When the new young factory manager from the city turned up in this wild west town, driving a white and purple convertible Ford Zephyr with twiddly things hanging from the rear view mirror, the biggest of the acetylene “fun” bombs went off. We all hid, crouched and huddled in Dave’s garage, waiting until the manager emerged at the end of a shift and jumped in the pimp car and turned the key. Immediately the electric coil sent a huge fat spark down the spark plug leads and also to the lead which had been disconnected and attached to an old spark plug which had the big balloon full of 50/50 oxygen and acetylene from Dave’s welding gear held over the plug tip with a rubber band.

Maybe it was the knowledge of the last midnight shooting in town a month or so before he arrived where a local roads worker was killed in the little hut next to mine or the unsolved shooting of VC on the road into town from Mussel Point or maybe the manager thought his “connections” had finally caught him up. Boom went the balloon – “I’m shot, I’m shot in the head” screamed the manager as he rolled out the door onto the muddy street in his city clothes clutching his noggin in both hands – not a thing wrong with him except a large stain – somewhere. The local policeman said that “enough was enough” and everyone thought he meant in town only.

We left the PPC celebration late that night and, as the regular 24 inches of rainfall a day made fireworks damp and useless, decided to truly celebrate the occasion by putting a small fun bomb under the bonnet of Dooky’s beloved stripped down, oxidized blue, short wheel base, 1952 Landrover with no windscreen - which had a yellow duck painted on the driver's door.

That was the last ever fun bomb ever in the district.

How were we to know that it had a flat battery and Dooky had to lean down and hand crank the engine?

 

Keith N (RH) and I having a drag at Mussel Point airstrip on a rare fine day - he won

True story

TC

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