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For over thirty years, from 1930 through to the late 60s, the word "Eternity" appeared written in chalk in elegant copperplate writing on the footpaths throughout Sydney. For over twenty years this had been a mystery, but in 1956 it was discovered that "Mr Eternity" was Arthur Stace, a former petty crook and alcoholic who had become a devout christian. After attending a paticularly firey sermon, where the preacher declared that he wished he could "shout ETERNITY through all the streets of Sydney", Stace felt a calling to write "Eternity" on the footpath in chalk. He then did this every day until he died in 1967; leaving his home at 5:00 in the morning and returning around 10:00, he walked the streets and wrote his word wherever he thought it would be most visible, and best convey his message.
Arthur Stace has had occasional imitators over the years, and I recall five years ago seeing his "Eternity" on the footpath near St Leonards station. I had to stop for a while and just look at it, taking in its simple beauty.
The word reached its biggest audience during the New Years celebration fireworks for 2000. The climax of the fireworks show had the word "Eternity" appear, in Stace's flowing script underlined by the tail of the "y", in firey letters on the side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Even people that didn't know the story behind it found it moving, and those that did found it even more so. In my view, it was the single best decision made by planners of millenium celebrations anywhere. It was timeless, and something unique to Sydney.