First constable Jack Carrucan

CHRIS GRAY spoke to John Doherty and Ian McKay

There was one time when Hughie Doherty came home fuming. How dare they! Somebody higher up had spoken to the local cop, saying, “Doherty’s are running around in trucks with no doors – have a talk with them.”

Doors would interfere with the ease of delivering the ice (being opened and closed a hundred times a day for no good reason!). Hughie’s dad was good mates with the cop, who was not the sort to insist on it, and it was some time before the directive was finally carried out.

The cop was a big Irishman named Jack Carrucan. Stationed at Burwood Police Station between 1938 and 1950, Carrucan “ran” the place – in fact, he cleaned up Burwood, which, John Doherty remembers, used to be a real “wild west” type of place in the 30s. But he often tempered justice with wisdom.

Back then you couldn’t get beer on the weekends. Stan Doherty told the story of how they used to go up in the ice truck and get beer from the Mountain View Hotel and sell it on the round. Jack would meet them and say, “What have you got in the truck, son?” And the answer was always “Oh, only ice, sir!” He knew what was going on, but would turn a blind eye!

John also remembers, “I was going to school, and we used to walk past where a bloke – Green, I think his name was – used to grow pumpkins outside his fence and down to the creek. I used to love pumpkins (Mum made pumpkin soup), so one day on the way home from school I picked one. The old boy saw me do it, so he went and told Carrucan.

“When Dad was home from work that night there was a knock on the door and the cop’s burly form was standing outside. ‘We’ve had a report,’ he said ‘that one of you boys has been pinching pumpkins from Greenie’s patch. Now, we can’t do anything about it because he’s growing them on Crown land, so he’s got not no control over them. But to make things interesting, I think you boys had better be told to stop doing it, because you’re making a bad friend of him. I suggest you chop the pumpkin in half and take back half the pumpkin and tell him you’re sorry, but it was only that you wanted something to eat.’ So we did that. That was old Carrucan. His approach was: I’m the Law, but I’m not going to bounce you around. He suggested we do what would keep things quiet. We never pinched any more – we were too scared!”

*with thanks for extra information to Robyn at Box Hill
Historical Society

Chris Gray
Return to Bulletin #135