Early New Zealand Eatwell - Ivy Thorn Part 2

Early New Zealand Eatwell - Ivy Thorn Part 2


To the children, grandchildren, and maybe great grandchildren who may be interested to learn something of the beginning of our forebears, in the beautiful land of New Zealand.

This book is called, as I notice on its back cover, the “Anything Book” and that’s just what it is, anything that has come to mind I have jotted down. Also on Radio we have been asked as Senior Citizens, to jot down anything that comes into our minds, as it could be of interest in later days. I have been given this beautiful book to fill up with memoirs so I’ll do my best even at 82...

I have already written nineteen pages in the old exercise book about our lives years ago, and I don't feel like repeating it all again, so I’ll start at a different angle. I’ll start by writing something about my ancestors. Really I know very little as it did not seem important in our day to bother about past things, to my father anyhow; ‘the present’ was far more important, so what I do write has been got in dribs and drabs from other people.

They built a house of two storeys with gables, a gracious house. This is 1980 and it has not long been demolished to make way for a road. I stayed in that but not in my grandfather's day, but with some friends who had purchased it. I was quite charmed with its structure, and cool cob lounge.

My grandfather went into the Valley with money as he had been a milk vendor for city supply. He donated land for the first school, church and cemetery and as he had the only piano, it was in great demand for years.

Amelia and John came out with their mother in their teens from England. Amelia married a Mr Eyles and lived at Baton Bridge Woodstock. Her daughter (or one of them) married a Mr Mytton on the other side of the bridge or river then. They were farmers also and Amelia lived with that daughter until she died. She looked an aged widow to me by her photo, with ‘widow’s weeds[1]’ sitting on top of her head.

My father John, left Dovedale and the fathers home and took up land in Stanley Brook about the age of 20 I am told. He bought 100 acres in 1869 but increased that later on. He built a two storey Cob House. I have already described this in my exercise book as I have lived there myself until I was about five years old. John married Annie Ray Barnes of Nelson, and formerly of Glasgow, Scotland. Her mother had a china shop in Trafalgar street, on the right hand side going toward the Church steps, and not many shops down. I have been there, but not in their days.

Annie Ray Thorn died in Stanley Brook when Roy Thorn, the baby, was born. He lived and was taken care of by neighbours till he was about 18 months. What a heartbreak it was to give him up to his own family again. He had a mass of tight curls on his head and was a lovely baby. He kept those curls until he started to lose his hair later in life.

My father’s other three brothers all stayed in Dovedale. Walter, Joseph and Henry all had farms there. Walter and Henry had part of my grandfather's estate and their sons and grandsons still work it. The descendants of that line alone has reached such proportions it’s just impossible to keep up with them at all. Mary, the eldest daughter of my grandfather married Mr Lammas and for many years kept the Dovedale Post Office on the bank past Uncle Percy Jordan’s place. Sarah married Noble Win who had a farm at Thorpe (lower end of Dovedale) and had two sons and five daughters. She sat down tired out after a trip to town (Nelson) with Evelyn her daughter, and died at 65 of a heart attack. Lyell became Mrs John Smith of Tapawera and was a school teacher. They had two sons and two daughters.

On the other side of my family my great grandfather Packer, who was a scholarly man, was later put on as the first school teacher in state school. He used to preach in the Baptist Church he had helped to build. His youngest son Steven was asked for a loan of the same Bible Grandad used to preach from for the Centennial celebrations. They were a devoted Baptist family except for my grandfather ‘John’. He always called himself the ‘Black Sheep’ and assuredly he was until at about the age of 45 he was converted in the Salvation Army in Nelson. It was a remarkable conversion. He dropped all his bad habits of smoking, chewing tobacco, and drinking at once. He then went to Turkish baths to get all the rubbish cleaned out. His children (nearly all of them) became uniformed members and converts in the Salvation Army. My Uncle Steven was sent to Christchurch to live with his Uncle Steve down there as he was the youngest. His mother (and the baby) had died at child birth. Uncle Steve had no children of his own and made young Steve his own and heir. He taught Steve carpentry as he was a carpenter himself. They were of Brethren faith so Steve became Brethren also and married a Brethren girl.

My mother Lottie always used to go to Salvation Army but married my father who was a widower of eight years in Stanley Brook, away in the country and 50 miles from Nelson. The Army travelling through the district a few times each year on special occasions always stayed at our home and we had a special box on our mantelpiece with donations for their work.

Auntie Ruth, next to Mum, was a Baptist. Her husband Frank Blincoe never became a Christian as we know it but never in any way did he prevent Auntie Ruth from bringing up her seven children in a Christian way. She died at childbirth with a baby girl who died also; it was her eighth. Aunt Sarah (Mrs Baker) met her husband in the Salvation Army, Aunt Gertie (Mrs Sleyer) met hers there also, Aunt Grace (Mrs Allison) did likewise, Aunt Eva (Mrs Edwards) did so too. Uncle Jabez met Auntie Janie in the Army in Fielding and Uncle Hal (Harold) all belonged to Salvation Army and married Army partners and all belonged to the Salvation Army band.

So grandfather would have been happy had he lived, but he was killed when a dray load of wood capsized on him. Uncle Steve and Howard were with him but could not rescue him. He was praying till he died they said (an account of his death is outlined overleaf).

Uncle Ellis married my half sister Euphemia. She was 21 years old and I was a flower girl at four years. Our bouquets and flower baskets were full of Clematis from the bush as the wedding was on October 22nd. She was Church of England so Uncle Ellis joined her as there were many miles to travel from Hira Wakapuaka to Nelson for any Salvation Army meeting.




(newspaper page report)

Uncle Howard went to World War One and on returning went to Christchurch, to Uncle Steve. He met and married a Brethren girl there and became a Brethren himself.

My grandfather John married Martha Jessop of Hope, a deaf Christian girl and they went to the hills of Maitai to live.

I was the first child of the Thorn ‘second family’. My mother was 30 and father was 45 when I was born. Walter came next 13 months later and Ernest 14 months after that. Stanley Vincent Marsh, was the fourth and was born in Stanley Brook, so he was named after the Valley. My mother was taken unawares or she should not have been there, I believe he was 13 pounds at birth.




Photo of Ivys family to appear here.










Walter, John Thorn (holding Gertrude), Charlotte, Ivy Grace

Ern, Ron, Stanley

Ronald was next. He was killed at 19 working in the bush up Forest Creek. The road runs past our sheds at bottom of our bank and the Saw Mill was a few miles further up. I had the honour of being able to name him Ronald, as I was allowed also to name Gertrude. She was the last of a family of six and a very welcome addition as there were four boys in between us. She seemed to do no wrong and was a very pretty curly haired contented baby. Even when she went to school I had to make long curls that hung down. My hair was so thin no one knew what to do with it. I had to wear a white bonnet at night as I rubbed my hair off on the pillow. When I was about eight years old they had the idea to crop all my hair off to save it, so I went to school like a boy. I remember they called me ‘Tommy Blue Eyes’. I suppose I was embarrassed at being like a boy, but it could not be helped.

I used to scale up trees like a monkey, so occasionally my family would say, ‘Where’s the monkey?’ I did not mind names and was not made a fuss of as I was a ‘plain Jane’, in fact, my father called me ‘The Ugly Duckling’. But that did not trouble me at all. He was pretty strict and I had my seat spanked with the rest. I guess he had to put the pressure on, as my mother was so easy going. I don’t remember her ever so much as smacking any of us and I rather favoured her way of life. I thought other forms of punishment such as being deprived of an outing or some pleasure would do far more good as a punishment. I always tried to protect and stick up for Walt and wanted to take some blame for his mis-demeanours as he was a very mischievous lad, at times destructive, more so than any of the other three boys. So I did try to keep him from his spankings, but oh my, he richly deserved most of what he got and what a noise he made. I asked him once why he yelled so loud and he said ‘to make them stop spanking me sooner’.

Now Ern was a much quieter lad and my father said he did not rejoice at spanking him as he never made a noise. He was usually caught up in Walt’s pranks so had to take a share of punishment. Ern and I were great pals. We worked together, played together, rode together, and drove together. Our first new house was burnt down and another built. It was a replica of the first one except we had a bathroom, a running cold tap, and a washhouse with set-in Copper and tubs (a real luxury). We would put a fire under this big Copper and on Saturday there would be baths for everyone by carrying buckets of hot water across the yard to the bathroom. It had a zinc bath, but in our day that was quite all right. We always prepared for Sunday by shining all the shoes,  using at first a cake of blackening and pouring cold tea from the teapot and stirring the top up. Later on we had nugget in tins, (what a luxury). For some time, it may have been a year or two, we had to scrub floors white as I’m sure Dad could not afford to buy linoleum just then, and also, he seldom went into Nelson. When he did buy some, he chose a very pretty one for our dining room. What a difference it made, we really admired it. It was quite a task to get those long rolls to the Nelson station and on to the train (50 miles) and after that into our trap to jog down the plain and over the hill. So what we arrived home with was really worth while to us.

But to scrub those big rooms white was a task we did not look forward too. Ern and I had a bucket of water each, a scrubbing brush, and soap. Well I had knees like goats and they kept like that for many years, as when the rooms were eventually covered with linoleum, they had to be waxed and polished. I did love shiny floors. We found ‘Quickshine’ caused people to slip and was dangerous, so we had to change to a safer brand. Upstairs I got squares of lino for bedrooms. Dad got a very nice one for the long passage upstairs (or corridor) and also to put down the 22 steps that made up our stairs. One day he suggested to my brothers and I, we could have one of the six rooms upstairs for our own sitting room. We were right pleased as the one leading onto the balcony had French windows. So we got a ‘Laidlow Leeds Catalogue’, Auckland, (that we all in the country had posted to us once a year) and we ordered linoleum for floor, rugs to match, pictures for walls, table, couch, red tablecloth with silk bobs all round, curtains (and beauties they were too, lovely lace ones). The day came when one of the boys went to Tapawera to get our order. My what a proud day for us. We soon could entertain our own friends upstairs in our own sitting room. Someone had left us a gramophone with a horn suspended on a chain and held up by a contrivance and we used to stand that part out on the balcony and stand the gramophone on the table inside. We were quite high up and we found out later we were entertaining the whole valley.

I had to leave school at 13 as my mother got rheumatic fever by coming home one blizzardy day with a new baby ‘Ron’ in our coach. My father had a passenger and mail package service to Wakefield, 25 miles there and back, three days a week. But it was too draughty. She got progressively worse over the years, until she was walking on crutches. Help was very hard to come by - some girls stayed for a while and we got local help especially on washing day. So there was no help for it. I had to be the one to be housekeeper and look after my Mother. She finally had a wheelchair and that was a wonderful idea as we could wheel her out even to picnics in our bush reserve and have tea under the lovely native trees of Rimu and Miro with lovely green grass underneath. My father left that reserve and it was greatly enjoyed as in Stanley Brook the usual summers day was sunshiny and without wind. After a while we built a table and seats to stay there permanently. I’m sorry to say the Reserve is no longer there.






The Young things of Stanley Brook to Appear Here





Ern, Charl, Ivy, Ness, Stan, and Walt

We seemed to always be surrounded with multitudes of people, our home was an open house to all and sundry, from the seasonal sheep drover to the ‘down and outer’, no-one was refused food or a bed. Many ministers of different denominations came to visit Mum. She was usually sitting on the veranda knitting, crocheting, or darning in those days. It took me awhile to sort myself out to keep the house running smoothly, but it fell into place and I became really too fussy for a family of our size. I got out the Cookery (Edmonds) Book, and tried out most things if it was possible to get enough eggs together. Our hens had free run of the barnyard and seemed to prefer the haystack or even the flowering current hedge by the river, anywhere rather than the normal laying nests. Its quite surprising how far away they went to evade us and came home cheerfully with lots of yellow ball chickens.

We had so many visitors, I put aside Friday night for cooking cakes and usually filled up all the tins that night. It was rather a lively night for me as all the family and any visitors would congregate there, except Mum and Dad who preferred the quietness of the dining room where they used to read or Mum knitted. Unfortunately I was considerably handicapped by having to use a stove that had been through the previous house fire and the oven door was warped. It had a gap along the top that had to be plugged with a wet rag to cook at all. Smaller goods I could manage fairly well, but larger things like fruit cakes or loaves of bread one had to keep a strict eye or the rag would burst into flames and I would have to dump it into a sink of water and start again. I can’t think now how things cooked so well. I made six large loaves of bread a week, three brown and three white. We had our own wheat ground, but I never remember black bread or underdone bread. I suppose with long practice we had learned the art. The yeast was usually quite good. We made a big stone jar of it but if the bung was accidentally left too loose, on going to get the jug of yeast, we’d find it completely flat. Nothing for it but to start rock bottom again and start another lot that took days to come to maturity. So it would be scones and scones. It was a blessing when we could order, permanently from Wakefield, a packet of compressed yeast a week and it made nicer bread we thought. However, the day came when we ordered Bread instead. How wonderful, no more cold winter nights out in the back kitchen kneading up bread at 10pm and even 11pm and trying to keep it warm enough to rise by morning. One headache done away with in my time.









Stanley Brook Homestead

Walt was allotted the job of cleaning the porridge pot every morning. Well if you have ever tried to clean an iron pot of porridge you will know what I mean. It was a hard job, about a dozen big plate fulls had been cooked in it and not one scraping was left as everyone loved their oatmeal porridge. Another job was to polish up the boots for Sunday and peel and cut enough apples to make an enormous apple pie for Sunday dinner. It was a big job, our friends all said they had never seen such a large dish, in fact some said it was big enough to bath a baby in.

One Sunday we were expecting my father's brother, Walter, to preach. He was a lay reader in Church of England and he always came to dinner with us on that Sunday. We heated up the pie and it had a very strange smell. In fact it smelled very like the pig food we cooked up and fed to the pigs, that consisted of swedes and apples and odd peels cooked in a large copper in the barnyard. We cut the pie and no one could eat it as naughty Walter had cut up a swede to help fill up the dish quickly, he got so tired of peeling apples. No one had pie that day except the pigs and I really don’t know what happened to Walt. I expect anyone who reads this may think surely when they stewed the apples (and it was me who made the pie) they could plainly see if the swede remained hard. Anyway the smell would give the show away, but no. There was a special way we had to always make apple pies; our half brothers especially would not call it apple pie unless it was made this way. No stewed apples with a pastry on top. Oh no. That was not a correct apple pie to them and they were particularly fond of it ‘their way’ and of course ‘ours’ too. We peeled the apples and piled them up in the dish, put sugar on top and about 1/2 cup water, then put pastry on and cooked it in the oven untill it was golden brown, then we took out an oven tray and put it on top of that. There the apples slowly cooked under the pastry and as you saw the pastry beginning to sag down you knew the pie, or at least apples, were cooked. It certainly made a difference to the flavour. The pastry being steamed by the apples made it different somehow. I wonder if their wives had to be taught the correct way to make apple pies. I hardly think one could do this kind of thing on an electric or gas stove.

Once a week was ‘churning day’. No cream collections in my day. We had an enormous churn that could hold 60 lbs. It was octagon shaped with a handle at both ends. When Dad was alive, he and I would be at either end. We found out later a dairy thermometer was a great help as sometimes the cream was too cold and sometimes too warm. The 'too warm' was the worst as it went into an oily mess and we had to cool it down somehow to make it into butter. Some was for sale to our grocer and plenty for ourselves. Really, given the right temperature, it was quite a pleasant job. When it was sufficiently washed in cold water, I had to beat it with a clean cloth to extract all the moisture, then make it into pats of about 1lb for our general use. I also made several dishes of shells and balls with the grooved pats for the table for Sundays as we always had lots of visitors. I was very pleased to own two pretty moulds. One was a swan on water, the other was a rose, thistle and shamrock. It did add decoration to the table.

Our dining room table was so large, as well as wide, it could hold twenty quite comfortably and we tried to hatch up plots to have some sort of Railway track right round the table. If something you really wanted ‘some of’ was at ‘tother end’ of the table you would just as soon give up in despair as it took so long to get to you. We never seemed to come up with the right solution. Anyhow, when Walt married he solved that by cutting a good piece off the end of the table and putting in a partition wall to turn the room into a kitchen for his wife Merle. Oh yes he also got a new stove and installed it in there, but to us going home on a visit, it did not seem like home any more.

Our large kitchen was in a separate part of the house, where all the cooking was done. It left the rest of the house free of cooking smells. It seems an old fashioned idea but not a bad one. So our kitchen was across a few yards of concrete from the main dining room, I have seen my half brother Bert go across with six large plates of porridge on his arm’s and never saw him drop one. After that there was bacon and eggs for the workers on the farm. The younger ones many times did not want a second course, but never missed out on a huge plate of oatmeal porridge. I myself loved my porridge and when I went to Nelson and stayed with Auntie Ruth during the school holidays, I could have cried at the little bit I got in the middle of a plate, and oh the milk, it was not like ours on the farm.

I was quite intrigued by the milkman who arrived on the doorstep with his big can of milk. Auntie went out with a jug or billy while he measured it out and then she gave him a few pennies for it. The Baker came the same way but he yelled loudly and his basket was full of white bread (no variations in those days, just white bread). Auntie did not have to cut school lunches as they were all near enough to come home for dinner. Some were just over the road at Central School in Nile Street, and when at Nelson College they biked home. She had seven children. Uncle Frank was manager of Griffins Biscuits and sweet factory, just round the corner, a few yards from their back gate. They all had heaps of sweets - too many, as their teeth turned bad at an early age.

Uncle used to go across to lock up before bed time, and he would fill his pockets up with sweets as he went past the bins. It was a privilege he was allowed as he was manager. He worked there all his married life and until he passed away. They tried to retire him by putting him in a white coat and getting him to walk around and supervise others. But he could not do that, he had to lend a hand here and there. He was a very honest and trustworthy man. This Auntie was very special to me. She told me of the experience she had when she was baptised in the winter at the Baptist church and never even felt cold, in Nelson at that. I was 14 or so and was to go and look after the family while she was in the Maternity home, but one day she fell down their steep steps at home. She died at home in bed and her baby girl also. It was a pretty girl and as they had only one girl, ‘Ivy’, named after me (she was my bridesmaid, or one of them), this baby would have been most welcome.

The Eatwell family were in Stanley Brook long before I was born. They were friends of my Father’s first wife Annie, and thought a lot of her. She died giving birth to Roy but he was saved. My father married eight years later to my mother. Why they, the Eatwells, came and when I do not know. I have heard it was for health reasons. I have a photograph of their old two storey gabled home. In front was Charl's Grandad and grandmother and some of the Aunts. Neither Charle's father nor his Aunts were married at that time. I can just remember the old homestead, I must have been four years old. Charle's father had married by then to Jessie Vercoe, aged 23. I’m sure my half sister Beatrice used to go down and help Charl’s mother with her young family, so she used to take me along to relieve my mother. At that stage she would have had three boys to care for (my mother had three). But shortly afterward they had a new house built (Eatwells) a one storied, four bedroom, a pretty big kitchen (as they all had in those days), dining room, and sitting room. It was on a good rise, looked out toward the river, was a pretty house, and was well furnished. Some rooms and halls were carpeted which was rather unusual for homes in Stanley Brook. A very hospitable home, all were welcome and you always felt so too.

Our two farms joined and we were all great friends.

Nessie, the second child and I were inseparable. In our valley it was well known one must not be invited without the other. Even for holidays outside the valley we always went together. We both wanted to be missionaries. Where to, we did not seem to know. She was confirmed in Church of England and I was Methodist but none of that seemed to matter. We would ride or drive to every visiting missionary talk we could get to, and lapped it up. But neither of us went. Her mother was killed in a sad accident when she went to Wellington to see Bert off to World War one. A very sad loss indeed to the family and the whole of our valley as she was dearly loved as a sympathetic kind soul who was never too busy to hear anyone’s troubles. Nessie was very like her mother in nature. Bert did not know what happened till he reached the other side. There was no way of communication at the time on boats going across with the soldiers. He and his mother were great pals but he had the war to distract his thoughts, but the ones at home had to live with theirs.

It would be maybe 3/4 mile between our house and theirs, across the paddocks, so we were always at each other houses. Sometimes on a nice calm summers evening Ness and I would ring on the phone to say we would meet halfway, so on the river bank we would meet and talk. One occasion we were never allowed to live down. She and I were both invited to go down to the West Coast with the school teacher who was going home for the school holidays. At the last moment I was quite unable to go and be away for two weeks. She spent a lot of her time writing to me sitting in a patch of native bush near the home she was visiting. When she returned we were determined to meet that same evening, even though it was dark. We both made for a table and chairs, or seats, out in the paddock and to my astonishment Ness produced a candle and some matches because she said she must look upon her ‘dear old chaps’ face once more. She always called me ‘the dear old chap’ and after many years that name clung to me after we were all married and left home. The boys came along seeing a light flickering (my brothers) and said why on earth have you got a candle burning. Ness and I couldn’t see the ‘dear old chaps’ face without a light. Well both sides of the family got hold of the joke and we could not live it down.

Charl’s father was one of the land valuers for soldiers from World War One. The ones who benefited most were the farmers who sold the land. It was valued too highly and the soldiers who had put all the savings into these farms could not make them pay their way. Bert was not able to work it himself. He had been injured in the war so Charl took over the job to work it for him. After hard work and many sacrifices they had to give up the battle and walk off and leave it to run back again. I have not met any soldiers who made their farms pay, yet there may have been some, it depends on what they did with it. The Government could not be blamed exactly as no one had the experience before and hardly knew how to cope with this emergency. During the depression we had a coalition government. Mr Coates and Mr Forbes amalgamated their forces to work together during this period of uncertainty.

I must tell of some of our experiences we had on the farm in Stanley Brook. Some were humorous and some otherwise. Roy brought Elsie his wife home for a holiday. They had two small children, Eric (18 months) and Trish (a small baby). One nice calm afternoon, Roy suggested we put old Tommy the horse in the trap and go round to Thorpe to visit my Aunt, Mrs Noble Win (Dad’s sister) and her family. We put baby Trish in a hamper under the seat and she was soon asleep. We had not got far from home really and were going up the school bank when the belly band broke. The shafts went heavenward and we were tipped over backwards onto the road. Tommy did not appreciate proceedings, so he took off shafts still up in the air. Roy took off after him then I noticed the tail board come undone and the poor sleeping infant slowly but surely slipping out. I ran as hard as I could to catch her, but it was no use. Out came baby upside down in thick dust. I picked her up and just saw two little eyes blinking through the dust. It looked ever so funny. She was not crying so I went to the river just near and washed and tidied her up. By that time Roy had caught up with old Tommy by the school and brought him back. Elsie and Eric were sitting in the grass on the side of the road where we all met. All at once the funny side struck us and we laughed and laughed and could not stop. Tears were streaming down my face and Roy was rolling on the grass splitting his sides. Elsie could not see the funny side at all and considered us quite daft. She said I can’t see anything funny to laugh at, which sent us into peals of laughter again. When we managed to compose ourselves sufficiently Roy said, ‘Now if I could but find a little bit of wire, I could mend that bellyband’. He went along Mr John Jordan’s fence till he found a piece suitable, ‘borrowed’ it, mended up the bellyband, and then we continued on our way. It would be about six miles or more, but time was ours and Roy and I laughed most of the way there.

Our six half brothers and sisters were loved by us younger ones. They had three girls, Beatrice (Mrs Lucas) Euphemia (Mrs Packer), Mabel (Mrs Sharland), and the three boys. Bert married Amelia Mills of Pelorus Bridge, Mansell married Nan Gibson of ‘Cree’ Scotland, and Roy married Elsie Sharland of Nelson. Many people remarked about the unity of our two families. There was no dissension at all. They loved us all.

Harriet Farley and Lottie Packer were friends in Nelson and went to the Salvation Army together, and no doubt they both worked there. Eventually they both landed in Stanley Brook, Lottie married John Thorn, a widower, and Harriet married Evan Forsyth, also a widower. Harriet must have moved over to Lower Moutere with her family as they had a farm there and quite a palatial home, when I visited them years later. Evan must have become a very earnest Christian in Church of Christ and it was on the occasions of his visiting the Church there he became acquainted with Harriet. Her whole family were sincere Church of Christ Christians. So again, in Stanley Brook, these girls renewed their acquaintance, the only sad story was they were about five to six miles apart and Evan had no means of transport.

There was for many years a tiny school up near their place. In fact some school teachers boarded at their place. The time came when it closed its doors so provisions were made for the hand full left (one being Roy Forsyth, their own son, Ruth, and ‘Grace’ who became in later years Doug Ward’s mother). A trap suitable was acquired and my father gave a horse. Unfortunately it must have foundered years before and it hobbled somewhat. I can’t understand, in the whole valley, why someone could not have come up with a quiet old nag better than old Kate. Nevertheless, old Kate was the one who dragged the heavy trap and the handful of children to school every school day from Monday till Friday.

Harriet was given some sort of remittance by the council for the task, their family were very hard put to it so something was better than nothing. One day a week (I think it was Thursday) was put aside to come across to our place and spend the day visiting my mother. They both enjoyed this and would knit and talk all day till 3pm, time to collect children and take them home. I would hasten to finish my work, beginning after children had gone to school, and the kitchen was scoured and the white table scrubbed white. Also the forms and seats and dresser likewise. The dairy had to be spotless, when the separator had been washed, it was into the dining room. The floors of the dining room and passage had to shine with polish. When all this was done, Mum must be got up and dressed, her hair done, and made presentable all ready to spend the day without let or hindrance. I cooked all the meals. One day my mother came out on her crutches and we thought we would have a little joke. We could hear footsteps drawing nearer so we quickly hid behind the dairy door. Along comes Harriet and straight into Mum’s bedroom. This is the conversation we could hear. “Oh no, bird has flown, all nice and tidy there, must be on the veranda. No not there either, all lovely and clean but no one about, I wonder if they have been taken up in the rapture and left poor old Harriet behind. Oh Lottie, Oh Ivy, where are you, where have you gone and left me?” She got to the kitchen and hunted everywhere, at last our giggles came from behind the dairy door. She came and peeped in and there were two naughty girls (one on crutches) trying to stifle their laughter. “Oh dear me” said Harriet, “you are so naughty. Fancy playing a joke like that on poor old Harriet, I really began to think you had been called up!”

Rose, the baby girl Evan Forsyth's first wife died having, was a great friend of mine. The only two friends I had in Stanley Brook were Nessie and Rose. Sometimes Rose was asked to drive children down and she would come and spend the day with me and occasionally both would come together. We all enjoyed our day. Rose’s mother was a Christian Jewess, a very pretty woman, and Rose was very pretty also.

Mrs Hanson, also a Jewess, was her grandmother and when Rose was 21 she inherited some hundreds in money from her. That is what our trip was about. I was 23. She desired me to accompany her to the North Island and she would pay my fare. Her brother Ken had married and gone up to Rangatiki to live, where he drove the engine of the train that brought logs, for the mill, out of the bush. The line went eight miles into the bush and one day we went on the engine into the bush on a picnic. She never returned to Stanley Brook or Nelson again, as she met and married a man some months, or it may have been a year, later. His name was John Hoffman, not a very suitable match I thought. He did not smoke or drink, but eventually he went off with a young mother and her daughter, that they gave room and help to in the depression years. Rose had very high blood pressure and she really died with a stroke. She lived to see Rosemary her daughter married and have two children. She was very fond of those grandchildren. She did not see either of the boys, John and Billy, marry. Roy Forsyth is now a retired policeman living at Beachlands with his second wife Nan. Roy had one son by his first marriage. His first wife was from the Funnell's family of Lower Moutere. Roy died 5 October 1941 from a stroke.

One day I called Mum and Harriet into dinner so they put their knitting down on a chair until they returned. But along comes a playful puppy and prances all over the lawn with the knitting in his mouth. Some one looking out of the dining room window saw the lawn criss-crossed with wool, but no garment left whole. Well they joined in the laughter and Harriet good naturedly rolled up all the wool again to start afresh. Harriet and Evan were a dear old couple but their farm would scarcely feed a bunny rabbit. How they existed I cannot say and there was no social security in those days. I do believe at some stage an old age pension was brought into being but that was only a few shillings a week. He was a very studious man, and read a great deal. Good books only and mostly religious. He had on every Sunday morning communion in their own lounge, after he read a sermon by Spurgeon or some other renowned preacher and read the Scriptures as well. If I stayed there, I partook of the bread and the wine as well.

He must have lived till nearly 90 years old. Unfortunately, they both ended up in the old peoples’ Home in Nelson, when their family married and moved out. He had a serious affliction as he had a bowel operation years before, and had to wear a bag. I suppose poor old Katie had long departed this life.

In 1898 ‘King Dick’ Seddon did persuade Parliament to make a pension (a very small one) for the elderly and poor but it was not general, especially for farmers, so I doubt if they received any help from that. That was brought into being a year after I was born in 1898 and I believe it was one of the first in the world.

Their home was in an isolated but picturesque place, through some bush over a stream and out of sight of everyone. I loved to visit there. They had no transport at all. Harriet was a good gardener, both flower and vegetable, and they had things comfortable and pretty. I always remember the Turkeys, anyone approaching, they gave the alarm better than a watch dog.

My mother was a great story teller. Our cry, ‘Oh mum, tell us a story’ seldom went unfulfilled and we always knew it would be a true story, something that really happened in their own family. One story remains with me.

My grandfather and grandmother, that's her father and mother, had gone into town and intended staying the night, no doubt it would be Saturday late shopping. They drove the three miles or more in horse and trap so left what was left of the family home with Mr Power. He was a good trustworthy guardian of the family. He came to them years before as a runaway sailor from an Oversea's ship. No doubt he would be English as ‘Power’ sounds to me. I knew him personally but never heard an accent at all. I guess he left the boat and headed up the Maitai as he wanted to stay in New Zealand. My Grandad lived a few miles off the beaten track and last house up. He stayed with the family for many years and at last when Grandad died and all the family left the Maitai he went to Teal Valley and lived with Uncle Ellie until he died, aged over 80. This night in question he heard a knock and went to answer it. He saw a stranger standing there so invited him in, gave him tea and as they sat by a nice open fire, Mr Power saw him pull out his red handkerchief and rip it into tiny strips. At last it dawned on Mr Power he had on his hands an escaped lunatic. After a while he said to Mr Power, “God has told me to come here and kill you with an axe”. “Oh” said Mr Power, “did he?” After a while he persuaded him to go to bed which he did boots and all. Power said he did not sleep at all but kept a wary eye on his visitor. In the morning he had breakfast and said, “Good-bye”. There was no place to go except hills everywhere. After a while there was another knock on the door, this time a policeman asking if he had seen an escaped mental patient from Stoke. My mother’s younger brothers and sisters called the old man ‘Power’ or ‘My Power’.

My mothers two sisters, Gertie and Eva, set off one day to go hop picking. The gardens were evidently situated on their side of Maitai River, not the town side. The belly band broke on the buggy, they were thrown out on the road, and the horse took fright and bolted for home. Poor grandma was alarmed to see the horse standing there without the girls. It took some time for them to walk home to show their mother they had not been killed or injured. I was very interested to see a picture of a hop garden in the Maitai, in a very old book on Nelson I had given to me. The way they stacked up the poles and vines looked very strange and English. It was most certainly not as I knew hop gardens and I have picked in many.

My mother and Auntie Ruth as very small girls were asked to go out and collect up chips to help boil up the Christmas pudding (like we do). No doubt made a week or two before hand. My mother grabbed the axe and said, “look out Ruth, I’ll chop your fingers off”. She had no intention of actually doing so, when down came the axe and two fingers came off. One was hanging. Poor grandma ran to the shed and gathered up all the cobwebs she could find on the shed wrapped them round Ruth's fingers and set out to carry Ruth on her back three miles into Nelson. When she reached the Doctors he put the hanging one back on and said where is the other one? “Oh” said Ruth, “a chooky ate it”. Lottie fled into the hills and there she stayed till it was dark, and she was too frightened to stay longer. She said she felt the very wickedest child and was bound for hell surely. When she saw her sister with a piece off her finger ever after, she felt guilty.

My grandmother milked goats, not cows, and mum said she would go outside and lift up her voice and call at milking time, “Come along Clover, come along Daphne” and down off the hills would come scampering the herd of goats. Mum said their butter was white, not yellow. It was pretty good to bring that family up on goats milk. They were too far from Nelson and a school, so had a remittance man from England to teach them. Every morning by 9am the dining room was turned into a school room and they were pretty well educated too for those times. Their grandfather was also an educated man, a school teacher and preacher, but he may have died by then.

Another story I can remember was about grandfather who used to drink a bit before he was converted. He came home with the wagon and horses after delivering wood in Nelson and probably he dozed off. Just as he reached the yard by the house a wheel, or two wheels, went up on a bank and the wagon capsized with Grandad ending up underneath. Grandma, hearing the din, came running out and shouted for Grandad, who said, “Mother, I’m under here” She said, “Your hat has had the top sheared off”. She had to quieten down the horses and get them out of a tangle of harness and one was injured as well. She led them into the stable and then had to run and walk over a mile, to the nearest neighbours, for help to get Grandad out from under the wagon. Sharlands were their nearest neighbours.

It is a good thing our early fathers had brave hearts to tackle their urgent needs. My grandfather, John Packer (the black sheep), at one time had a contract to supply goods and eats to gold miners down the Coast. It would appear he drove a wagon and it usually took about a week from Nelson to get there. When he got down there on this occasion they told him they had a very sick man to take back to Nelson Hospital, his leg had gangrene in it. They got as far back as about ‘Top House’, Wangapeka, and were marooned by a heavy snow fall. I believe they were there almost a week. So my grandfather thought he had to do something about that leg or the man would die. He made him dead drunk on a bottle of whiskey and amputated the leg himself, I presume at the knee. He put packs of snow on as a disinfectant and when the man was delivered at hospital, they said he had done a fine job and saved his life. That man lived to a great old age, with his peg leg, I’m told. One day he was standing on the corner of a Nelson Street and he heard a young chap call out “Hello Mr Packer, how are you?” to my Uncle. He made over the street and said “Did you say Mr Packer? I want to shake hands with anyone by the name of Packer. John Packer saved my life”.

These two stories are found in Dad’s book. I’m sure that in the one about his eye where he said he was four years old, he was really much younger, maybe two and a half. Little more than a toddler. He wandered out through a gate accidentally left open, and there was a few horses and a foal standing by the gate. Charl got in among them and the foal kicked his eye out. Fortunately at the time Uncle Walter Ramsden, manager of Petone woollen mills, was over on holiday at Stanley Brook. He and Charl’s father were great friends, as well as being brothers in law. Uncle had Red Cross training in Petone, so they put the eye in and sewed it up and when they finally got to the doctors, 25 miles by horse and trap, he said a good job had been done and they saved the eye. In later years that eye was just a little weaker than the other, but the doctor said it was good that they had brought him as he was he would have lost the eye. Uncle always kept a medical needle ready threaded in a proof packet in his pocket in case of emergencies.

Uncle Walter got Grandad interested in the idea of always carrying a medical needle ready threaded in a container in his pocket and I guess that saved his own life. He and Mr Fenemor were chopping bush on Mr Eatwell’s farm and there was one tree left standing, so both set off at a run to be the one to chop down the last tree. Grandad slipped and his razor sharp axe cut deeply in his leg near the thigh. He knew he would bleed to death very quickly if something was not done. He said to Mr Fenemor, "Bill you must sew me up. Get my surgeons needle out of my pocket”. "No" said Bill, "you know quite well I cannot sew you up”. (He fainted at the sight of blood). “Well” said Charl’s father, “get the needle for me and I’ll sew myself up or I’ll bleed to death”. He did that very thing. He had to sew Bill’s sons up also when they had accidents. Bill had nine sons and just lived on t’other side of the river over the swing bridge. He had such a very fine family of twelve, nine sons and three daughters.


Now I’m going to write about myself. This is 1980 and perhaps great grandchildren may want to know how we lived in our day. I was one of about six or seven country girls in our Valley. We were much the same age, older or a little younger, but we all lived very much in the same way. None of us were ‘land girls’, there were enough boys in each family to milk cows and do heavy chores without any of us going outside, unless it was to pick up potatoes in the paddocks or stook up sheaves of wheat. But that was voluntary, not necessary. We all attended the same school and passed Standard six. None of us were particularly clever and only one went to Nelson College. That would mean boarding away from home. So we stayed at home to be good housekeepers. We all had happy home lives. I say all because I knew them all personally and their families also, as we were all very good friends. None of us excelled in anything in particular - such as sport as there was little to excel in, or swimming, and we were not good swimmers, only happy ones. Hence I was almost drowned at 23 while away from home on holiday. None excelled in horsemanship, yet we all drove and rode horses. Well we had to get anywhere. All could cook well and were good housewives later. We did have a wonderful Church choir and were expected to turn up for practice winter or summer, at night. I remember running home breathing the cold winter air until it was almost painful and frost crackling under our feet. Four or five of us girls used to sing at all events that went on within about 12 miles of us. We were trained to do this properly and sang at Dovedale, Woodstock and our own valley of Stanley Brook. Some pieces were quite classical and many pieces were religious. Ness and I were always the alto's. There are only three of us left in 1980, the other two 83 and 85. I had a good ear for music so that stood me in good stead.

When the boys of the valley went to town (Nelson) they would return with pieces of music and present them to me. As I learned very little it was somewhat of a hassle to get things right. They would ring up on the phone and say play ‘Remembrance’ or ‘Robins Return’ while they listened. Several phones could come off at the same time as we had party lines put in by the farmers themselves. Those two pieces were their favourites.

I had been a housekeeper for Mr Ken Lucas, his wife, and their five children. He was the editor of the Nelson Evening Mail. The paper had been in Lucas hands since it began and still is I believe, in 1980. Ken and Hilda had two sons (school boys) when I worked there and may be their sons are carrying on now. Their names were Harland and Robert. Harland was Mrs Lucas maiden name. One afternoon she said to me, “You and I will go visiting Ivy”. So we set out walking. She seldom ever went visiting but she may have done so for my sake as this person was my cousin, the same age as myself, and one of her friends also, who had married a very well to do farmer on the hills of Kakatu. Walking along I was beset with a severe pain in my side. I don’t know much about that visit as I was very concerned about this pain and knowing we must walk back home, fell to wondering however I would do it. Well as we went along it became worse until I was doubled up. Mrs Lucas said, “Now you must go to the Doctor in Richmond and see about it as I’m pretty sure it is your appendix”. So to the Doctors I went and he assured me I had a chronic state of appendicitis and the best thing to do was to have an operation, or it may come to a head at an inconvenient time or place. So I found Mrs Lucas another girl with whom I went to school, and I knew was a good housekeeper and a very nice gardener too. She asked me to come back and stay a week or two while I was recovering. I had a very long gash and it took ten stitches to sew up. I never asked what they found but I should have.

Our Wedding

Now I have set out to tell you about my wedding and everything that went wrong ‘from my point of view’. Perhaps I was the only one who ever knew about the hassles but they were very real to me. Some things may have had their funny side to those watching from outside, but not us inside.

Our wedding date had been arranged for 4 October 1922, so I had about eight weeks to go home and make all the preparations. I tried to persuade my mother to let us have a very quiet wedding as I knew full well I would have to do all the catering myself. She said, “You cannot do that. This whole valley is like one big family and both you and Charles have grown up from babies here (Charl was born in Stanley Brook) and you are both loved by the people and the first two to  marry within the Valley”, so I just had to tow the line. All Stanley Brook girls and boys found their partners outside the Valley. My own brothers and half brothers and sisters got their partners from Nelson or near there. The boys found theirs from Nelson and Scotland. Strange but the Fenemor boys, all nine of them, married outside the valley as also did their three girls, and the Eatwell family did likewise. Charl in his book said we were the second family, but the other couple who went to school together (as Charl and I did also and sat in the same desk together) married years after we did. Doug Baker and Avis Wells were quite young school children when we left home. I remember Mrs Wells being married and living on the next farm to us. They both originated from Wakefield had 4 children. Mrs Wells would ring up for my help and I used to go and help a great deal in every sort of emergency.

I sent about one hundred invitations to almost the whole Valley, and to Nelson itself. My father had died suddenly just before the Armistice was signed in 1918 so I asked my elder brother to ‘give me away’. My sister Gertrude, 15, and my cousin Ivy Blincoe of Nelson (who had been named after me) were the two bridesmaids. We had to go into Nelson to have the dresses made. Well to cut a long story short, we had to hire a Marquee, a very big one to hold everyone. We set it up on the big lawn. Although the house was so big, it was not big enough for that sized crowd. Anyhow with guests staying in the house, my half sister who came to help, bridesmaid Ivy, and our already fair sized family, we were over flowing. Charl’s cousin, Johnny Vosper was best man and he had to come through from Nelson that morning bringing the bouquet, and the cake to be picked up from Wakefield where it had been made and iced. Also he brought one guest, my Uncle Frank.

The tables were put up, set, and most food put on while we were at the church. Mr Wells said, “I’m going to stay at the house to keep the kettle boiling and watch over everything while you are away”. I was a very fussy housekeeper so imagine my consternation when guests began to arrive long before 10am at our house with their presents. I had no opportunity to put the house  in its usual proper order so it just had to be left as it was. These guests had come from Rainy River, Motupiko, a fair drive in their cars. Both the Will Jordans and Jim Wilkinsons' had been our neighbours and good friends in Stanley Brook until they moved away up there.






















Ivy Blincoe, Walt, Charl, Ivy, Bert, Johny Vosper,  Gertrude

At last I was left to get myself ready. Dress put on, veil and head gear, a sort of wreath of artificial orange blossoms, dress was made of Ivory satin and Tolian (never heard how). It was a silky material, with a sheen on and draped nicely with the satin. It was beaded partly but did not meet with my complete approval. The bridesmaids were in shades of blue and pink respectively. I cannot remember how the three of us got to the church, no doubt it was in someone’s car as there were a few around in 1922. As I arrived at the church door and was proceeding up the aisle, the Vestryman came to me and said, “Would you three come back into the vestry and sit there and wait awhile, as the minister has had a breakdown over in Dovedale on his motorbike”. Now he was Arch-Deacon Dart, a very fine and humble Church of England minister. He rode many miles on a motorbike and it looked a pretty old one to me. He did not have a car at all. Well the old thing decided to break down about 13 miles from the Church, so the poor old man had to get himself black and grimy fixing the troublesome bike up. Fortunately along comes my Uncle Walter in his car and saved the situation for him. He knew my Uncle well as he also was a lay preacher in the Church of England.

In the meantime another dialogue was going on I knew nothing about. Charl had stayed the night at his Brother Bert's place, next farm to ours. They had a young lady from Wellington also staying there (a friend of Lillians) and they were bent on mischief. Charl found his pyjamas all sewn up but he did not mind that, just pre-wedding fun. But they had taken from the pocket of his nice new tailored navy blue suit the wedding ring and he did not know. Away he went to the Church where him, Johnny, and the groomsman were sitting waiting patiently for the bride, not knowing she had been turned aside. He turned to Johnny and John said to him in a whisper, “Say old man, hadn’t you better give me the ring?” It was customary to give the best man the ring and he would hand it over at the precise moment it was needed. Charl felt in his pocket and no ring. Well he was terribly worried. However were we to be married without a ring? The two of them were having a whispered conversation on what to do. They decided to ask the organist for a loan of hers. Just at that moment up the aisle came Bert. He could hardly contain himself from laughing and handed Charl the ring. He said he, Lil, and their friend and her baby were half way to Church in their buggy and horses when they remembered they had forgotten the ring so had to go back to get it. They were already late (but they were always late for everything) and had to retrace their steps by over a mile.

So had the minister been on time the wedding ceremony would have been half over when they got there. I suppose they would have had to borrow a ring from someone else. But Charl said the worry and consternation he was in spoiled everything. A very badly turned joke.

When we got to our house out comes our busy friend who had stayed behind and showered heaps of rice on us. I could scarcely see it coming for my face. When I left home, I suggested the corner of the marquee should be let down to let air in, as it was so hot. Well when I sat down at the Brides table, I tasted my trifle and it was awful. The sun must have shone right on it. I only hope the poor minister did not have to eat this if the sun had shone on it. I did not enquire if anyone at our table thought the same, I thought it better left right there. Seeing the catering had to be done at home, it was quite a job to get the right materials. For example, the trifle should have some sort of wine, but where could it be got from. It was 25 miles from Wakefield, 20 miles odd from Motueka, and 7 miles from Tapawera. I had made the sponges so decided to look among the preserved fruit perchance one bottle had gone fizzy. Sure enough there was one bottle of peaches. So that had to act for the wine. I was in trepidation not knowing what the trifles would taste like. I heard a lady sitting not far from me saying to her neighbours, “Oh this is very nice, you take some. I wonder how it is made?” She had plenty of this world’s goods being a daughter of Captain Drummonds of India. So my day was made. At least something had gone right.

Everyone seemed happy and enjoying themselves and my gifts were many and varied. At last I changed into my going away dress and hat. I had of course, as we all did ‘for fun’, something borrowed (the veil), something new (the dress), something old (very beautiful hanky and pink necklace from a great Aunt - coral coloured stones), and something blue (blue ribbon threaded through my camisole and petticoat top). My going away dress was navy and green and so was my hat.

Later in the afternoon we were away. Johnny drove us to Nelson in his car as he had to be at work the next morning. We departed to the awful sound of tin cans tied on the back. We did not stop until we got almost out of sight as they may as well have their fun. We found old boots and kerosene tins so threw them over into the paddocks before we went over the hill. When we got to the top, Charl saw a lovely branch of Clematis quite handy. So Johnny had to stop while they got this for me. We were late getting into Nelson so the train up-country had gone. We stayed in a hotel that night and went up the next day as we could not leave the animals any longer. I suppose some kind neighbour milked the cows for the few days Charl was away. We did not know, when we were sitting inside the carriage, the college boys had written on the outside of the carriage in white chalk, “We are just married” and other funny things. Charl knew them all as they travelled every day to college on the train and a big laugh went up as the train stopped at every station. We did not know what was written until we reached Belgrove.

We left as many as wished to stay at my home and play and eat during the evening. We had turned the big kitchen into a playroom. The table and seats were out and the boys had turned it into a bower of greenery from the bush. Wedding presents in my day were the popular aluminium utensils so I had pots, frying pans, kettles, and many more kitchen appliances of that kind. Also casseroles of baking proof glass were very popular. This Pyrex was new so I got a few of those and a very welcome and precious iron set given by the school teacher friend. It was a very shiny metal cover that fitted over the flat irons one had to heat on our iron stove, so there was no fear of getting dust or dirt on the clothes. I greatly appreciated that. I had several beautifully crocheted table cloths and they would have almost lasted a lifetime had they not been stolen.

There was such a load of stuff to take to the station that the Guard Van could not take them. So a railway truck had to be hired. I had a large glory box I had collected for about 10 years before I was married. I cannot tell you of the sets of china dishes and gardeners there were, but all that was stolen as well as so much of Charl’s mothers things, and we had nothing at all left. If only one could see ahead what useless time and energy would have been saved, as most of my linen was hand embroidered linen. It was beautiful. I have never had anything like it since, bed linen I mean in particular, and Damask table linen. I had a lovely afternoon tea set of Royal Doulton (Oh how precious today) and many jam dishes, jugs, cake plates - all lovely Royal Doulton. Those were wedding presents also.

After we arrived home to an extremely untidy house left by several bachelors and Grandad, I set to work to bring about some semblance of order. It took me weeks really. I had money given to me at my wedding so I bought material to recover the existing easy chairs and couch. It was called ‘shadow tissue’ and was in demand in those days for furnishings. I also bought varnish, there was a pretty new colourful carpet square in the dining room, and a long runner carpet from front door to the kitchen right down a passage. I varnished floors and furniture, and with my many pretty worked cushions (some black velvet with red roses worked on them), the house became very shiny and bright. When Grandad came next to see us he exclaimed in astonishment at the transformation.

One very troublesome thing was that I had painted all round the dining room and both sides of the passage carpet with a dark coloured varnish. As we lived on a hill with a gravel road, and paths of dirt to our house, the poor passage seemed to always have layers of dust on it no matter how often I mopped. I really should have had a light varnish.

One thing I found very distressing. It seemed in one bedroom in particular, everything had kapok on it. It turned out the three or four boys residing there at the time, Grandad being away, had a few more boys round and in the general melee a pillow fight ensued. One fellow made a swipe at another and lo and behold it missed the person and struck the upright of an iron bedstead whose knob had become dislodged. Kapok flew everywhere and the pillow was ruined. They tried to gather up some but it really was beyond them.

There were three double bedrooms, a dining room, a long kitchen, and a store room. Later we added a separator room on the end of the veranda at the back. A wide veranda ran around three sides of the house.

It was quite comical to look at the socks. The darning was terrible, just a mass filling of holes for their work boots. They had used every colour of wool they could find, red, green, brown, white. Any colour at all. So I set to work to reclaim the socks and I found 22 pair by cutting out the colours and darning. They filled one whole drawer to themselves. Charl’s delight knew no bounds to go and open a drawer of his duchess and find all those socks washed and darned. Also to find in the next drawer of his duchess all the white shirts washed, ironed, folded just right, and may be starched if they needed to be. All best shirts in our day were white and all socks were woollen so had to be darned. These boys and Grandad had been batching for some time by themselves after Ness had married Les.

Johnny Vosper, our best man and Charl’s cousin, used to very often make his way up to the bachelor’s establishment for weekends.

He rode a motorbike as far as I can remember, an old one too. He was telling me in 1979, one day, that he was in that pillow fight and he said, “Believe me I’ll never have another one. We could not get rid of that kapok”.

There was no running water or sink inside the house. I washed up in a basin on the table and always had to walk outside where a pipe protruded from out of a bank. It was water from an open pool at a spring up the hill somewhere, but it was water and as far as I can remember, it never ran out while I was there. It had to do for the washing and bathing also and was quite a slow trickle.

One night we were awakened and very startled by a loud explosion. We really thought something had struck the house. We looked outside and saw nothing to cause such a disturbance only a lovely starlight night. It turned out to have been what is called a ‘fireball’, the first and only one I’ve ever heard. All the houses in the village thought their own house had been struck. Opposite us on the next knob was a big two-storied old fashioned place. The lady, Edith Price, was in an upstairs room with her sick mother at 10pm. She had walked to the window to look out when the fireball exploded and she was thrown back into the room. Several windows of that house were broken and a friend of ours, just a few chains further down the road, had his window partly open and said a very sulphury smell came into the room. Fireball’s, we were told, come on very fine nights and not a stormy night as one would expect.


Now the granddaughters will be saying, “I wonder what sort of funny clothes they wore in those days?” Now some of our dresses were very pretty. At one stage we had embroidery dresses. They were white and had to be starched. The whole skirt was embroidery, and some of the blouse, and what a lot of different patterns of embroidery one saw. Some were very handsome. I was flower-girl at four years old to my half sister. She was 21 so there were 17 years between us. I remember nothing much at all about that except being dressed up, and given a long handled basket of Clematis to carry. I do remember that I thought her two bridesmaids were lovely girls in their dresses, and also characters. One was a cousin from Wellington and the other a cousin from Nelson. Her feast was a real wedding breakfast of roast poultry and all the luxuries of a country farm, our own geese and turkeys.

Ness and I were both bridesmaids to Grace and we may have both been in blue. It turned very cold and Percy and Grace were not going away till next day so we had the after wedding party at the Eatwell home. I played the piano all the evening till about midnight and we sang, danced, and ate till then. I was staying the night with Ness but found, because of my summer dress, I had caught a chill and I could not stop coughing. So poor old Ness did not get much sleep. She got a bowl of very hot water and dropped eucalyptus in, covered the basin, put my head under, and I had to breathe in this cure. I’m sure it had the desired effect too. Gert and I were bridesmaids to Ness. I had a lemon dress and I think Gert had blue. My dress was a lemon satin under dress and over top was lemon net. There was a number of net frills on the skirt and they were edged with tiny black velvet ribbon. It was a very pretty arrangement and nothing to do with me. It seemed to be the Nelson dressmaker’s idea. I had white silk (real) stockings, and black patent leather shoes with a big round bead buckle on the top. My hat was black lace, not too wide brimmed, and on top at the right side a big lemon flat flower, and leaves. Underneath the underside of the brim at the back was a similar lemon flower. It made a pretty outfit. I could not wear such an outfit for everyday wear, so I could only have worn it to parties or dances, but I really do not remember what became of it. I do not remember Gert’s colours. We had our bouquets made in Nelson and brought out. Well now girls how about that?

We certainly had some silly fashions. One was a hobble skirt, and hobble it did. If we wanted to hop over a ditch or a puddle we would just as soon land in it instead. And as for climbing aboard our gigs and traps, one had to be heaved aboard. It was a winter material skirt, or a skirt of a winter dress, and had a panel back and front, running full length and ended three quarters way down our legs. It had a slimming effect and looked nice as the panels were put on outside. But really none of us needed a slimming skirt, and they were dangerous. I’m sure they did not last long - well not in the country where you must climb, and hop over fences and ditches. I had a riding skirt of navy blue serge. It had to be long, two legged, and voluminous too for sitting on a horse. It had a separate panel, and buttons down the front wither side of panel as big as half crowns. I could clip it on if I wanted to walk and it was a skirt then for walking, or when I got on a horse I could unclip one side only and ‘heigh ho’ a riding skirt again. I can see those buttons now in my minds eye. They were colours of several blues all together and were very nice.

Oh by the way I eventually cut my wedding dress for dresses for Dawn while she was small. I only remember wearing it once after the wedding and that was to a ‘Masonic Ball’ at Wakefield. Grandad was a Mason and he gave us a free ticket to the ball. We did not really want to go but he sent us off. I can’t remember much about it. It was usually a very smart affair but they were all strangers to my mind. I did not like being among strangers at all. I do remember we won a waltzing prize but cannot remember what it was. I’m sure something pretty good as the Mason’s Lodge was never short of money.

Have just read of another warning in papers about getting into old discarded gold mines. Because of the upsurge in gold people are trying their hand at looking over these places again and some quite bad accidents have occurred. It reminds me of the occasion Rose and I went on holiday from Nelson in 1920. We were staying in Tapu and one afternoon thought we would go on a walk. On our way up the valley or gorge behind Tapu, we came to a door in a hill. We knew it must be a discarded gold mine. Seeing it was open (and now I consider it a very dangerous and silly thing to do. It should have been locked) we thought we would investigate. We entered and moved along until it began to be too dark. I glanced at the wall close to my shoulder and as far as I could see the whole wall was covered in huge sized wetas. Well we beat a hasty retreat out of there, and just as well. Anyhow we did not have a torch so it could have been dangerous. We were told it was an abandoned mine called the ‘Golden Horn’.

Thorn Farming

In my young days at home on my fathers farm I would not have called my father a progressive farmer, yet now when I come to think of it he was really for those days. He was the first person to install a separator in the valley, and maybe the district around. I was only a school girl, maybe eight or nine years old. A separator house had to be built, so seeing the cows were all milked by hand down below ‘the bank’, that was where it had to be. My half brothers dug sods of earth, like big bricks and a little thicker, and built a room dug into the wall of the bank. It must have been a cool place and the grass was still green on the outside. The ‘Molette’ separator must have been three feet tall without all the pieces added on for working order. I’m sure the cream had to stay there also till churning day, usually once a week as we sold butter not cream.

Years later another big improvement that no other farmer had was a churn. It was so big we churned 60 lbs at once with a handle at either end. It was a two man job. Seeing I was not a man, and I was at one end, we could call it a ‘dual turner’. Before that we had milk pans and they would each hold about one bucket of milk each. There were three along one shelf of the dairy and more on other shelves. I guess those would have had to be left two days for cream to rise properly and the thick cream would’ve been skimmed off with a flat skimmer with a handle, parts washed and made ready for the next milk. I well remember my brother Bert would go in at skimming time to see if any pans had gone thick (not bad). But because of lack of cooling, and the temperature, that did happen and he would get a saucer and lift out this thick milk onto a dish, sprinkle sugar on top, and love to eat it. I dare say it would be similar to yoghurt now. I never saw any other of the family follow his example, so piggys would have had the rest.

My father had another brain-wave. He cut a room out of a high bank, about seven foot or more high. That was directly at the back of our kitchen and dairy. He cemented that bank and added two more cemented walls and floor and put on a roof. ‘Heigh ho’, a cooling chamber for cream, butter and anything else too. He cut through the existing dairy wall and made steps down. It was a real treasure. Sad thing was that after the house was burnt down there were the cement walls but they were never rectified or made use of again.

Another thing dad did was grow crops to enrich the ground and benefit the annual crops. Once I remember he had the paddock by the house in Lucerne and, at another time, that same paddock had a crop of mustard in it, to be ploughed in. That same paddock at another time, and many times over the years, was the families cricket pitch and during the long summer evenings, Bert, Manse, Roy, half-brothers, and any one else they could rake in, would play. I don’t think I can remember the following incident. I was a toddler and wandered out to the cricket pitch. No one noticed me and Bert lifted his bat to hit the ball but hit me instead. It hit me in the middle of my cheek and I must have been knocked out. I still have the dimple in my cheek.

Another evening my father sat on the cement roller watching the play. He had each hand holding each end of the roller kicking up his feet as he watched. He gave one kick too many and toppled over backward. To try and save himself he clutched tightly to both ends and, when he tried to get up, found he could not move. He was paralysed. The boys carried him home and put him to bed. His sister came from Dovedale (Mrs Win) to help nurse him as  it was a day and night job. What he actually did, and how long it took him to get back to normal, I do not know. I do remember wandering into his room and standing there looking up onto a high double bed he was on, and he saw me and said “Be sure to pray for me ducky won’t you?” I was quite small but I knew what I was expected to do.

On the farm we had a dainty little trotting horse called Elsie, (a real ladies horse). She never went into a canter or a gallop, but was a very fast trotter. We all liked riding her. One afternoon I was going riding and my father had one of the boys bring Elsie up to the house, ready, saddled, and bridled, and tie her up till I was ready. My father was standing by as I mounted and rode down our long drive. When I got to the end and turned to go onto the main road ‘down hill’ Elsie tripped and went onto her knees. She was about to roll right over. I had my left foot stuck under the saddle and a lace-up shoe on, and she would have broken my leg, but I gave a mighty tug, left the shoe under the saddle and landed hard at the bank on the other side of the road. Poor Elsie was very shaken and trembling, and had cut her knees a bit, but after a quietening down we went on our way again. My father had seen Elsie fall and was coming down that drive as hard as his lame leg would allow him and found us ready to go on our way again. I don’t suppose I should have really taken her out as she was far more frightened than I was. But that was the way we did it, up and on the way again.

Today Johnny and Milly called to see me and, as he has just turned 80 and was best man at our wedding in 1922, fifty eight years ago, were going over some points of interest on that day. And he said our wedding was celebrated nearer 12 midday than 11am as the poor minister ‘Arch Deacon Dart’, who rode an old motorbike, broke down in Dovedale miles away. I suppose he tried unsuccessfully to get it going himself and, finding he could not do so, had to find a place with a telephone and then get through to the Post Office in Stanley Brook. She would have come running to the Church and it was then my Uncle Walter Thorn must have gone to collect him. Johnny said he arrived in an outrageous condition. Hands all black and greasy and boots very muddy. Yet it was really a fine day, so he must have got into an open water creek. There would not be facilities at the church to clean up so he must have had to go to a neighbours near to the Church. About those boots - well I don’t really know. Its a wonder the service took place even by 12 under the circumstances. I have only just heard about this little bit after 58 years and even now I do not know what part of Dovedale he broke down in or under what circumstances.

All that time I and my two bridesmaids waited ‘patiently’. Well I’m sure it would be very unlike my usual style to be patient as I was a ‘goer’ and found it most difficult to wait for anything one whole hour, patiently.

I have thought of an incident that at least may amuse someone as much as it did me. While we lived in Mapua we attended church as our friends the Wells did. We, at the time, were living up on the bank in Mr Everist’s house, next door to Mrs Arnold Wells. She invited us to some sort of Christian lecture in the school down at the bottom of the hill on the main road. Charl stayed home to look after the children and I went alone. I really do not know what it was all about. There was a big map on the wall in front of us. It may have been a lecture on any Bible subject. There was quite a few when I arrived there, so I made my way up to the front row to the next vacant chair, but there was only a hole in it to sit on. My neighbours seemed quite comfortable and happy so I levered myself down gingerly onto the hole trying not to be too embarrassed. The longer I sat the more uncomfortable I became. I sat and pondered the whole situation. I thought “Everyone else seems quite comfortable, whereas I cannot hang out much longer like this. Is it some sort of purgatory we must go through right here and now?” I was too embarrassed to get up and walk out so I watched carefully to see what the next row did. To my great surprise, they all reached and put down a lid I had thought was the chair back. So when I thought every one's gaze was concentrated in another direction I quietly arose and let down my lid. Well, it struck me as being so funny, I was fairly doubled up inside yet could not seem consumed with mirth inside a meeting like that, as it was a most serious one and no funny bits at all. When it was over I got out and I went up the hill convulsed with laughter. Tears ran down my face and I just rocked my way home. When I got inside I collapsed in a chair and went into hysterics. To say the least Charl was quite startled but I could not relate my story for some time until I became more sane and sensible.

You see we so seldom went out to any public thing and I had never met up with that type of chair before. I thought it a very clever contrivance to be able to deceive me so thoroughly.

This happened in Nelson. We used to come in from the country for Friday all-day prayer meetings at the church. I suppose at this time we may have been living at Tahuna or Stoke, and it was mostly sisters-only in the afternoons. Sister Lines and I decided to hop over the street and down a short distance to Ecerlano’s fish shop for fish for our lunch. The Ecerlanos came to our meetings at the time, or some of them did. It was war time and many necessary things became very scarce, such as hair clips or pins. We got half way over and Sis Lines spotted a hair clip on the ground so stepped behind me to pick it up. At the same time a college boy biking home to lunch hit sister. She crash landed on the road. He took a clean header over the handlebars and landed on the road, then he picked up sister and a badly buckled bike. She said she was not hurt but I’m sure such a bang would leave her badly shaken. As for the lad, he could not ride his bike but took it home somehow. It all happened so suddenly we scarcely knew anything had happened at all.

When I was about nine years old, my four brothers and I went out one Sunday morning to plant ourselves a lovely garden down at the bottom of our house section, near the road where our previous house once stood (that had long since been demolished). Still the garden lined with box hedges, seemed to encourage us that as it had once been full of flowers, we could use it again. My Aunt Mary, who had the Dovedale Post Office, was a lovely gardener and had everything you could think of on the bank leading up to their house, lovely shrubs and gardens all the way up the path. Aunt Mary used to send us great armfuls of flowers. That was no trouble as my father was a mailman and had to go up there three times a week, Tuesday, Thursday, Sat with mail, papers, and packages. This time she sent roots and slips of so many flowers we thought we had better rise early Sunday while everyone else was fast asleep (as that was the only morning they could have extra sleep) and go and plant our flowers. We were taught we must not do these things on Sunday, we did not even clean a boot on Sunday. All was done on Saturday. I always remember looking with satisfaction on a long row of shiny shoes ready for Sunday Church and Sunday School, but we all hated the job. I suppose it did not dawn on us we could have left them, the plants, dampened down till Monday as mail day then was Saturday. We were all engrossed and busy digging and planting when we heard a crash and a scream and on looking round found Ron, who was about 3 years old, had climbed onto a platform and capsized two hives of bees that were in kerosene boxes on the platform under a fir tree. Well he was black with angry bees. The boys took fright and made off enduring a sting or two and yelling, but I had to act responsibly and knew that poor wee boy would be stung to death. So I rushed in a and picked him up under one arm, smacking at bees, and ran as best I could for home. We had to go through a fair big piece of ‘fat hen’ and I think that scraped quite a number of bees off. In the meantime the sleeping adults, five in number, roused themselves to the tune of screaming children and came hurrying out. Ron and I were badly stung and I remember sitting outside with my half sister picking stings out of my head, and face, and I suppose my hands also. Someone else was doing the same for Ron. I remember my face seemed to swell and swell until I wondered when the skin would burst and I felt ill, but somehow we recovered in a few days. I’m quite sure Ron could not have lived as he was covered with a black mass of angry bees.

I, or should I say we, as most of my misadventures occurred after my marriage, went through two wars and one from each family went on active service. Bert Eatwell was wounded twice, badly, and left out on the battle field to die, but I believe a Mr Fawcett (not our mission Fawcetts) went to look for him and bring him in. My brother, Mansell, was badly gassed which left him an asthmatic for years, but finally cleared. By the Second World War we had married and had all our eight children, so I used to say to Charl “They certainly won’t have you in the army ranks as it would take a Colonel’s salary to keep this lot going”. That war broke out when we were milking cows in Collingwood. I rang on our shed phone to tell Charl. I don’t think anyone was at all surprised.

We were twice bankrupted and lost everything, farm, house, and all our possessions. The family house sale brought less than 30 pounds for the lot, it being a windy cold blizzardly day when Grandad had the sale and few came. My precious sewing machine, mum gave me at my wedding, went for next to nothing and many years later I was to learn that treadle sewing machine was still running beautifully. The other bankruptcy was when the river in Dovedale broke its banks and flooded the land leaving nothing but boulders to grow any tobacco on. It was the worst flood in over 40 years the people said. Well that really turned out for the better rather than worse and we learned to thank the Lord. We remember two depressions, one in 1930, as they all say, but there seemed one long one before that or we would not have lost home and lands.

The terrible plague occurred world wide but in New Zealand more died than in the war. A very terrible time indeed. My mother kept us rounded up, gargling every day for a few hours, and sniffing up our noses some mixture of disinfectant recommended by the doctors, so only Ern caught it but not badly as some did. He spent all day going from farm to farm milking poor distressed cows on neighbouring farms where all were down with this dreadful plague (Spanish Influenza[2]). I also had my job, to go to houses where all the family were in bed trying to feed them. Now I wonder what I gave them to eat or drink. I was so inexperienced. Poor souls. All the Wells family were in bed.

I had accidents with horses and also driving but none serious. I was nearly drowned in Tapu Thames while on holiday at 23, then saved by only an admiral, but that is another story. I’ve had some very serious illnesses but the Lord saved me out of all of them, Praise His name. I have seen fireballs in the sky and been through terrible thunderstorms that killed cattle, burned down houses (or the Post Office rather), and split telegraph poles to tiny matchwood. Very terrifying, but never been through a cyclone or hurricane as Dawn has many times. Then everything we possessed was stolen while ready packed and crated ready for removal should we so desire later. We had four children and only our suitcases of summer clothing with us, and lost everything else we possessed, and that would not be one bit worse than those who have experienced a house fire and had all destroyed.

At ten years old I was sent to look after my partly crippled mother. We were crossing Nelson to Wellington on the Maporiki and we heard the Captain calling ‘all children’. ‘Pelorus Jack’ was there to escort the boat a certain distance along her route. We hastened to look over the side and saw the dear old chap. It was the only time I ever saw him as we crossed so seldom. My mother was sent away by father on holiday because our house had been burnt down. However because of the shock she was taken ill in Wellington and there we had to remain until she was well enough to travel to Marton and Fielding to her sisters.

Mangatapu Murderers

I may have written this story before. At least I have told it as recorded by my mother. It probably is only told inside our own family as it happened to my Great Aunt Hannah. I knew her when I was a small child. She owned a store at Hope and served in it alone as her husband Charlie had died. Before she married she was Hannah Jessop. After marriage she was Mrs Charlie Baulk. She had no children of her own but took two small boys who were destitute and brought them up. She never adopted them, so sometimes they were known by her name and sometimes by their own. One was Charlie Seymour and the other Jim Murcott. He later bought a farm in Dovedale and became Councillor Murcott. He was however referred to at times as Jim Baulk and was grandfather to Staff Sergeant Hulme V.C. and great grandfather to the still great car racer of today (or yesterday) Dennis Hulme.

One day a very lavish and imposing vehicle drew up at the shop. It was probably quite new and had two spanking horses drawing it. They stopped and the people went into the store. Auntie became alarmed at their cheeky conduct, so she thought “I’m no match for four men”. She had no idea who they were so she pretended her husband was upstairs and called to him to come down as several gentlemen were waiting to be served (after he died she always kept his coat, hat and walking stick hanging in the shop). She continued to call him to hurry, so the men left. They were the four Mangatapu murderers and had bought the smart outfits they wore. They no doubt hired the buggy and horses with gold they had come by from the poor murdered ones on Mangatapu. That drive was about their last fling.

They were caught in Nelson and three of the four were hung publicly on gallows erected where the girl’s school now has been built. Sullivan turned Queens Evidence and told all their wicked deeds and their murders on Mangatapu Mountain and the spree of stolen gold only worth £300. He must have gotten away by some means because of his evidence. He escaped somehow to the Coast in a coastal schooner and possibly back to Australia. No one knows his end but Burgess, Kelly and Levi were all hanged in a street of Nelson and buried in an empty section. No murderers must ever be buried in the ‘Sacred Acre’.

My mother said one of the three, while waiting in prison, had made a long piece of poetry about himself and was allowed to stand and recite it before they hung him. It was very sentimental and the public were weeping before he got through. He may have been Jimmy Sullivan.

Sheep’s Legs

I have had a letter from Uncle Les Mytton and he said that, now he cannot read so well, he sleeps or browses about the past and has many laughs on his own about funny happenings. He reminded me of a time Ness had to return from Stanley Brook to Belgrove. She drove a four wheeler and two horses and stayed with me while in Stanley Brook. She suggested it would be so nice if I returned with her for a short holiday and to keep her company, as I guess it would be at least a four hour journey over Spooner's range. Ern put the horses in so we jumped aboard and took off. It really puzzled us why we created so much interest on our journey. We could not see why we should be stared at and cause such mirth. Anyhow going through Tapawera it seemed that all the shop people, and anyone who was about at the time, walked out into the road and stood there laughing as we sped past. To say we were puzzled by this was putting it mildly. Before we went over Spooner's range there was a sparkling stream running across the road. It was very hot so we decided to climb down and have a drink and a cool wash. On walking behind the buggy we were quite amazed to see a good bundle of sheep legs swinging from the axle. As we went along, everyone else could see them but we couldn’t. That wicked Ern had played a prank on us. There was no end of sheep legs about as we usually killed about once a week. We unwired them and got rid of them in the scrub immediately.

Christmas at Kerepihi

This happened at Kerepihi one Christmas holiday time. Brother Walter, Gran Warwick, and Dawn, had all gone to Woburn for a few weeks. I stayed behind to feed fowls and ducks and keep some semblance of order as best I could. One of the girls at the Church usually came to stay at nights with me but did not always manage to do so. One night there was a very severe electrical storm and I was all alone. Of course there was no sleep as, if you know of electrical storms on the Hauraki plains, you will understand. To finish it off there was a very loud bang and severe flash of lightning. It had hit the transformer on the corner only a few chain from me and there was no power at all. Brother John Williams, who worked on water works and was gang supervisor, was away in the plain and saw the lightning strike the transformer.

I was also a little nervous of a certain Maori man named Mr Coromandel. He had threatened brother Walter with a gun at one time and if I saw a light in his Whare down in the paddock below I knew he was in residence. I kept windows and doors securely locked and bolted.

I rose in the mornings to get a billy of fowl wheat and had to mix a pan of pollard with water for the ducks. They amounted to about 13 or 14 (not sure) and were shut in at nights. As I ventured forth I kept a wary eye out for a pet bullock of Bro Walters. He had brought it up from a calf and it had enlarged to great dimensions waiting to be slaughtered for the use of the household. Unfortunately Brother Walter had been in the habit of allowing him a good lick of bran mixture from the ducks pan of food.

No matter how one tried to sneak out this bully would come galloping from the other end of the field to get there on time and I would feel his breath down the back of my neck as he followed behind. I was quite nervous as he was so big, one bunt and I would have gone flying. I never gave him a taste ever, to dissuade him a little. One day some church Brothers decided to fix Brother Walter’s fence. So down came the existing one. They did not think Bully would even dream of getting through as there was a good drain on the other side. So when they had gone for some lunch I looked out the window to see Bully strolling round the lawns of some houses further up the street. The ditch was no trouble to him he just hurdled over. When the Brothers returned and managed to get him back in they came to me and said “Sis you will have to keep him shut in somewhere till we have finished the fence and that won’t be until tomorrow sometime”. Well there was only the orchard and a woolly sheep had to stay there also. As there was nothing else to be done he, or they, were shut in. Next morning I was filled with consternation as everything within Bully’s reach had been eaten, off every fruit tree. The sheep had eaten a long row of runner green beans, to my sorrow, through the fence. Well he, or they, were at last let out and back into their own paddock but the awful looking garden tore my heart. However Brother Walter was not due back for another week or two and to my delight those stripped branches had begun to sprout new leaves again and did not look so bad at all.

One afternoon I was resting in Gran's bedroom and heard a great commotion going on. Upon looking out the  window I saw a little water spaniel having a great time attacking the ducks swimming on the pond. He would dash in to grab one and I thought he would half kill the lot before I could hobble down and check him. I went as quickly as I could and by scolding and throwing what I could at him, I got him cantering home, and on looking round to see how the poor ducks had fared I could not see any. They had all fled to different parts of the paddock and hidden in whatever coverage they could find. Some were behind the duck house in some heaps of rushes and some in other places. Well it was very amusing to me to see the family reunion again, first seeing all was quiet, first one and then another poked their heads out to see if the coast was clear and gave a loud quack. In a few minutes they had all revealed themselves and met in the middle of the paddock rejoicing to see all the family alive and well. They quacked and made a great noise. One could almost imagine them saying, “Well old dears, I’m glad to see you are still alive although you have lost a few feathers. Lets all go and finish our swim”. That water spaniel never came back.

Another thing I found very annoying. Brother Walter had a whole batch of cockerels, but they would roost in the trees of the orchard and would start crowing at an unearthly hour in the morning. So I said to Mark, who was there with Ruth and Rachael and two children, we’ll go out when they have gone to roost and I’ll hold each one while you clip half the wing on one side, then we will put them on their perches in their house and shut the door, as they could not get up on their own. We did that and had more peace as I slept in the caravan in their yard. There was a Maori dog quite close who barked on and off all night, he must have got his sleep in the day time. Dawn did go up and asked the owners if somehow he could be quietened down, but he couldn’t stop as he had become so used to barking, and carried on.

This happened the same Christmas when the Mission staff were on holiday. One day a man driving a car came up our drive and asked if he could leave his trailer at our place. He had built himself a launch and a very elaborate steel trailer to carry it on. He said he had called on a man called Mr Conner to see if there was a safe place to leave the trailer as they were launching the launch down there in the Canal, or river, by his home and would be away on holiday cruising round the coast for three weeks. He, Brother Conner, did not recommend any safe place down by his home but suggested he come up to our place to see if we could have it. Well he was most surprised on following our road up to the house to see such a pleasant layout and indeed it was, with flower gardens, lovely roses and lawns and wonderful vegetable gardens. “Who are you, and what do you do?”, he said. I said we were working with a Maori mission. He said no one would think at the end of that small road such a pleasant and well kept place existed, in fact it seemed to lead to no where; I said I was sure his trailer would be quite safe with me as there was only me there to give permission and Brother Conner had reported I was a very nice kind lady and he was sure I would help out. He told me they had a diary farm near Morrinsville and were Baptists. The next time he came was with the trailer empty as they had launched their lovely new launch and wanted me to come and see it, but I was unable to walk down that far. The wife (and I think two or three school aged children were with them) brought a Christmas cake iced, and on top of it was ‘Thank You’. He said on leaving, “Come on you Smith kids” so I learned they were Smiths and such a nice couple. I invited the children to raid the strawberry patch as there were lots going to waste. When they returned after three weeks they were ever so grateful and said they often said “I wonder how ‘Auntie’ is getting on”. They did not know my name so I was Auntie to them.

They came every year ( I had explained to Brother Walter the position and he had accepted it). I asked Sis Vena if they came back when Sis Sarah was there. She said, “Yes they did but Sis Sarah refused them permission”. I was very sorry to hear that as the family would have gladly paid, but we would not have that, just for a trailer standing by our hedge. I wonder what they did? The wife said her husband was clever at engineering and should not be a dairy farmer. I loved dear Sis Conner, we got along like sisters. She said I knew how to give her a proper kiss, no pecking her cheek, or kissing the air she said. The dear soul and Bro too would always be up at the Church to see if everything was in the right order and walked up in spite of the disabilities of both trying to get there. She discussed her complaint with us and knew it must be cancer. She was a dear loveable soul. I went with Dawn and Bro Walter to see her lying on a bed at their daughters place near Thames. She was so delighted to see us, she clung to my hand all the time we were there.

I did not sleep in the Mission House while at Kerepehi except when they all went away at Christmas. I preferred the caravan as Brother Walter was an early riser (before 6am and was very noisy) waking everyone else. Then there was reading and prayer at 6am. Dawn was always there and mostly Gran, but I only came in for 7am Sunday because of my poor sleeping apparatus. Outside was the lesser of two evils. They all went for a sleep after dinner.

The Murchison Earthquake

I was going to write about an incident that occurred in Turakina the day and time of the Murchison Earthquake[3]. I could not remember date and year so Yvonne delved among papers collected by Stan Ramsden (and preserved) from the Auckland Weekly News. A wonderful collection truly, not only of Murchison but Napier and Inangahuna earthquakes also. I have taken days to go through the books and papers and now have come back to record my incident which I now feel is quite insignificant in comparison. As it happened it was my turn to take morning tea to the men working in the orchard packing apples. George and Fred were under the trees packing. Mr Sisson, the owner, and another elderly man were inside an old house doing their bit. Charl was no doubt bringing apples from the orchard on a sled.

It must have been about 10am, morning tea time 17 June 1929. As I was walking down through the orchard I was very puzzled at why the fruit trees were bowing and scraping as I walked along. I looked about but there was no sign of even a breeze. I almost arrived at the two boys under trees and one said to the other, “Fred I feel quite sick”, George said he did also. Then I stood spellbound and rooted to the spot (morning tea still in my hands) while I watched two tall chimneys on the old house swinging perilously into space. I waited for the crash of falling bricks but none came. The brick chimneys rolled backward and forward leaving the roof every time and eventually settled right back into place again. The old men realised it was an earthquake by then, as we all did, and came shouting and yelling to each other to get out quick. No damage was done there but the earth movement was so peculiar it made some feel sick, but not me. If it had been a jolt those chimneys would have crashed, whereas to us those hundreds of miles away, it was like the waves of the sea.

I raced home, as I had left the children, and Dawn said to me there has been an earthquake and the big water tank at the Hotel across the road had toppled over and water was going everywhere. I said to Dawn, “How do you know it is an earthquake?” She said, “You said it was an earthquake we had during the night some months previously”. It had been a local one, when a large case I liked and valued (given me by Mrs Ken Lucas, of the Nelson Evening Mail) was picked up bodily from on top of sewing machine and transferred to a standing position on the treadle underneath, which must have been straight at the time, absolutely unharmed. Dawn remembered this and it must have been a jolt to do that.

Some months after this (it must have been end of November or beginning of December) we were off home to Stanley Brook to see Mum and have Christmas at home with the four children, Dawn, Brad, Allan and Rod, who was two years. Mum had only seen Dawn at 15 months old as all three others had been born in the North Island after we came across here. As we went among our relations in the South Island we noticed a tension among them, even after all those months there was quite often a minor shake. There was not a single ornament or jar of preserved fruit or jam left. All were smashed. They said the neighbours came together and slept together on the floor or anywhere else, scarcely removing their clothes for three weeks and Dovedale, Stanley Brook, and the Baton Bridge area must have been well over 100 odd miles away from the seat of the quake.

When in Nelson Hospital, it could have been at the birth of June, I had a room mate and during conversation one day she said she was the only remaining Gibson girl of their family as their whole house was swallowed up with her mother, brother, and two friends (one a school teacher friend) and nothing ever recovered or seen again, except a page or so from a bible and a china mug. Her story is worth recording. Her mother had asked her to go and help a neighbour as the men were all hay-making and the farmer’s wife was in bed with flu. They could evidently look down and across their home and farm. She thought of taking her friend but decided against it as she had come for a weekend rest. She had made a big billy of tea and asked a boy belonging to the house if he would carry the tea and she bring the eats. But he said for some reason he did not want to. She was standing in the doorway, billy in hand, when there seemed to be a mighty explosion. She was pitched outside, billy and all. The stove was out and in the middle of the kitchen floor, pots, kettles, and hot coal everywhere. She ran to look up at her home to see how they had fared and saw nothing there at all. So great was the shock she was paralysed down one side, face and all. She said her father was in Nelson Hospital recovering from some illness and when he heard of the earthquake, he said, “Well my house is O.K., I built it on solid rock”. When the Doctor heard of his tragic loss he said no one must tell him, but he would do so himself when the father was under some sort of sedation. But before anything at all could be done the earthquake crowd from Murchison had arrived at the door and he was having a morning stroll down the corridor and when the awful truth dawned on him he fainted at their feet. His daughter said he recovered and after a number of years he married again. She also married and I think quite recovered from the paralysis, but had to live a long time with that nightmare condition.

Mistaken Identity

On one occasion Auntie Lil came to see us and said, “Thank you for the wonderful holiday you gave us in the Islands”. Which islands I do not remember. I had no interest in Fiji then, but it could have been there, Tonga, or the Cook Islands. Bert said their marriage was falling apart so he suggested a trip to the Islands to try and mend things up a bit. I suppose they wrote ahead for accommodation because it became known a Mr and Mrs Eatwell were expected shortly. It so happened that Alan Packer was there as a Brethren minister or missionary, and was as well an Administrator of some importance. He thought it was Charl and I arriving so they were met and although they found out the mistake they were taken in with great hospitality and asked to dine with them, at their lovely home. Lil said the acres of grounds and gardens were really lovely and they were all dressed in spotless white suits, waited on by numbers of servants, all in white. At the table they were waited on also and later on that day or after, the natives put on a feast and entertainment for them. So even if it was a case of mistaken identity they enjoyed themselves. Lil said the sit down feast given by the natives was tremendous. Alan Packer was Uncle Stephen’s, of Featherston, middle son. Jack was eldest, then Alan, Eric, and one girl Betty who was last of all. Alan now lives in Nelson I’m told, though not anywhere near as old as I am.

Accident at Waiouru

This is an interesting and rather unusually story. One fine day Dad and I were returning to Auckland by car from Wellington and as we got onto that long straight stretch of road somewhere on the other side of Palmerston North we noticed a big cloud of black smoke ahead of us and found on getting closer two lorries alight and burning fiercely right across the road. There was a long line of waiting cars and a convoy of military vehicles heading for Waiouru, but none could get past that blazing mass. It turned out a farmer who owned the farm near was having a clean up on his road side. He had cut and raked up bundles of rubbish and set fire to it. The smoke had obliterated all sign of the road therefore two lorries coming from different directions (one from a side road, and the other from Waiouru on main highway) collided in the smoke and petrol tank exploded burning both lorries. One had a large load of empty crates. The people inside cab made a quick escape.

I saw one girl of teenage hobbling painfully along and sitting on the road side seemed to be mother and some more of the family sitting quite miserable watching their lorry burn, and tyres exploding. The farmer had to do something so opened the gate from the road side into his paddock and from there the next gate into the next paddock. So everyone wound around until they came to another gate that let them out onto the road again. Every now and then we noticed cars being held up in the long grass of the paddock. A lady seemed in distress do Dad went back to see if he could help her as her car would not move. On looking underneath Dad discovered she had picked up a piece of barbed wire and it had wound round and round the axle. So on his tummy he lay and unwound it by degrees. She was distressed as she was the district nurse and long overdue, so was grateful for the timely help. I don’t remember if we had any barbed wire on our axle but others had. I noticed the Waioru Convoy had gone and left one of their vans behind to get out of their own troubles. It was still there when we left. Just fancy any farmer leaving barbed wire in a hay paddock. I wonder who would pay for that lot. Maybe insurance for both lorries.

House Work

I hear many housewives today complain about their housework. I loved doing housework all my life. That’s all I ever did in my father’s houses or my husband’s home. The only other thing I ever did was ‘Hop Picking’ which I loved. I never went raspberry picking as lots of my friends did, except in our own garden. Long rows of raspberries for our own household. How we enjoyed bowls of Raspberries and cream for lunch. I’m sure we took it all for granted and never gave a thought of gratitude. I expect housewives find the housework done too easily and quickly with modern appliances and they have too much time on their hands so seek other occupations.

Our washing day for instance was a day to be reckoned with. Piles of wood must be carried in to boil the copper. The sheets and pillow cases must be boiled up and then bubbled in frothy soapy water. I wonder if they were sterilised better in those days? Next came the towels, white shirts, white aprons, table cloths, and serviettes. All had to be starched, except towels, and tubs of coloured clothes we rubbed on a wooden or glass scrubbing board, till the skin was worn off our knuckles. We felt (or I did) a good mornings work had been accomplished if the work was completed by dinner time. After we were married I was years without a wringer and saved up to get one. I really thought I was made, it was such a blessing and the clothes dried so much better. At our home in Stanley Brook however, my father had bought one for me. In the afternoon the clothes were brought in for ironing and all the starched garments and table linen must be ‘damped down’, that is sprinkled with warm water, rolled up tight and left for a few hours before ironing, and oh there was a great deal of starching done in our day.

An Opossum

When leaving hill road flat to come to Auckland I was sorting out preserves of all sorts and decided not to bring useless jam, preserves or relishes, I stood a number of jars on the back lawn till the morrow when I could dispose of the contents (and it was not down toilet either as we had a septic tank). During the night I could hear a noise and of course I suggested opossums dancing around the jars. It was bright moonlight so I pulled aside the drapes and only a few yards away was a big brown opossum hugging to his bosom a jar of relish (I never made the hot sort) and having a great feed dipping his paw in and licking it. I said, “Hello you old rascal, what are you doing there having a good feed”. He looked up at me but was quite unconcerned and went on enjoying his feed. Next morning that jar was as clean as if it had been washed. I only hope he was not sick, although the mixture was mostly onions and tomato.

Poor Dora the Dwarf

We always invited Dora to our place as she walked about four miles to Church on Sunday morning, and if no-one invited her home, it would be four miles home again without anything to eat. She was a dwarf, very short but quite mentally alert for all that, and she loved coming to church. She came with us to Sunday School at 2pm and home again to tea. If there was church at night she would walk home to the top end of the valley afterward. One Sunday at tea time I thought among other things we had to eat I would open a jar of peaches. No doubt they were some of my preserving and I guess I didn’t know too much about it being only in my teens. They were small peaches and cooking did not seem to soften them very much. Dora had some with her jelly or whatever else there was and oh the struggle she had to get anything off the stone was quite embarrassing. She would spear one with her fork and endeavour to hold it down and start the struggle all over again, determined not to let it beat her, when to her horror and mine one got loose from under the fork and when it was attacked with the spoon it shot off and made a direct pilgrimage across the tablecloth, to her consternation. The table was so long there was no catching up with it. I think she gave up the struggle after that but I shot out into the kitchen and laughed salt tears of mirth out of sight and hearing. Unfortunately her mother took so many prizes for preserves at any of the shows at Tapawera and Dovedale. We were too small a community to hold a show in Stanley Brook.

The Storm

I said I would write an account of this rather spectacular storm we had in Collingwood. I forgot the month or day but it must have been after the school bus arrived because there seemed a crowd of school children (two were not ours) all looking for something to eat. We did not notice anything unusual but saw a very dark cloud drifting across the plateau we lived on. It was several chain away and suddenly there was a very loud crash and bang and it began to hail, not hail stones, but seemingly pieces of ice. Our public phone was immediately hit and went out of action and what seemed a ball of bright light sailed into the middle of the room and exploded. The smaller children all reckoned they had been hit by something or other. We were not the centre of the electrical storm, but were not very far from it, as down below us a good deal of damage was done on Mr Strange's farm. There was a long row of Macrocarpa trees, 22 in all and they had been there for many years. Someone years before had wound round each tree barbed wire to make a fence no doubt, and the wire had grown into the trees. Lightening struck every piece cutting it off the trees and stripping bark up every tree for some yards, some shorter than others, some zigzagged up the trunk and scarcely two were stripped alike.

Whether those trees lived or died I know not. A hay stack nearby was set alight and burned down. The lightening ran along another wire fence at right angles, a poor young bull sleeping there never rose again and if I know of Mr Strange's choice of animals it would be quite a valuable bull. The lightening ran the length of that piece of fence jumped to earth and dug a hole. Mrs Strange who had either been, or was going, to help her husband in the milking shed was standing in her kitchen where she had been mending her husbands work trousers. She had gumboots on and was cutting with the scissors when this great report came. She said the front door was open and lightening ripped some boards in the passage and she was hit because of the steel scissors. It semi-paralysed her right side but the feeling came back later. She said if she had not been wearing gumboots it could have been a lot worse. Dad was over in Kaiteriteri mowing rubbish and said he had a young horse in the mower with the older horse and the poor thing thought someone was pelting it with stones so Dad drove under trees to quieten it down, the very thing I thought he would know it was dangerous to do.

The Funniest Thing

I would like to try and recall one of the funniest things I have ever seen, a real Charlie Chaplain affair unrehearsed. Trouble is I’m afraid someone may read it and not even smile, and then I’ve just wasted my time. It occurred on the Forsyth farm in Nukumaru, Taranaki. Brad was only a few months old and Dawn only a little tot. They say the onlooker sees most of the game. I certainly was the onlooker and saw all of the events as they happened. I was simply helpless and almost in hysterics over it and even now in night hours when my mind wanders round I still shake with laughter at my memories. Of course to witness a thing is best of all.

One morning after milking Stuart, one of Mr Forsyth's high school boys (Russell was the other) was asked to take a spring cart load of bobby calves out to pen at the road gate to be picked up. Seeing they milked 100 cows there was every few days a fair cart load of calves. The way out was across a paddock, a fair stretch, before one reached the outside gate. Stuart got there all right but when he got out something scared the living wits out of the horse so it bolted and it thought no place like home. So he made for it, the tail-board at the back was not high so every few yards out spilled a calf until the whole track was littered with calves, all standing looking quite bewildered at what was happening, but quite unhurt, the horse going leather for lick, tried to get into the house paddock but struck the gate post with such force it knocked the post flat. The impact shot the horse through the gateway where he slithered along on his side and lay there quite free of harness but he looked so silly and bewildered and made no attempt to get up, feeling at least he was home and dry. The cart came to rest graciously shafts dropped down as if it stood there for years, except the two long legged calves were still standing there that had not been jolted overboard. A third one had toppled over onto the shafts and had his head over one shaft and his tail over the opposite one. He was quite helpless and could do nothing to help himself swinging there in some comic operetta. Russell was standing mouth open and unable to do a thing until it all came to a stop. He couldn’t move and looked positively awe-struck, as for me I was in helpless fits of laughter. He must have thought me quite crazy. Excuse me but I’m wiping tears of mirth away now as I think of it, a new gatepost and some mended harness was the end of the day. Many said, “Oh poor calves”. Go on, they were not even hurt and some would want to spoil our Charlie Chaplain show.

The Home Front

Queen Carnival Event

This incident happened during World War I 1914-1918. I would think it could have been 1916 perhaps I would be at that time about 19 years old. I have never thought previously of recording this but now on looking back it may be of as much interest as any other story I have written. We all felt as individuals and communities we must do our best to help with war effort. Cash or any moneys of any sort was hard to come by but we had an invitation from Nelson, would we country districts join them in a ‘Pageant’ called ‘Queen’s Carnival’ to raise funds for soldiers comforts. The Red Cross would distribute goods unless private families cared to do so themselves. So big packages were made up of fruitcakes and many items only our homeland could send. Every New Zealand soldier must be remembered no matter who. None would be left out and how those soldiers cherished Red Cross parcels.

We had to choose representatives, so Tadmor chose Hilda Harford and Stanley Brook chose Ivy Thorn. How we worked for that cause. Every three pence represented a vote. Of our three districts the one getting the most money for the cause must be crowned ‘Queen’. The other two would be Princesses to the Queen. Tadmor and Stanley Brook were in the poorer class and had little ready cash to come by, so Evelyn won the ‘Queen’ award. Her district, also her father, were of a more wealthy type of farmer. She had Drummonds and Faulkeners in her district. So after three months of hard work of endless ‘parties’, ‘garden parties’ and sales in school afternoons, all had to sally forth to the ‘Big Day’ in Nelson. We were provided with a beautiful dress each. I don’t know what the other two were but mine was white fine muslin draped with a peaked over shirt beautifully decked with embroidery. Quite charming for the occasion.

We in Stanley Brook had to rise soon after 5am and drive horse and gig to Tapawera Station to catch the train at 7am. We arrived in Nelson and were told we must decorate our own car for the parade in the park. We were to be prepared to join the parade on the next day. It took us till 11pm to finish our car. We covered it completely with white butter muslin and cut out shamrocks of green satin to attach to it in a suitable pattern. When we poor tired-out bunch of people made our appearance in the big parade we were astonished at the standing ovation we got, we were cheered to a standstill. They said the country districts had contributed such a goodly sum to the cause for our fighting soldiers. We deserved all the credit we most certainly got. So our ‘Queen Evelyn’ (who, by the way, was a very nice girl too) and her two attendant princess’s Hilda and Ivy, had to go to the studio for photographs and then begin our weary journey home. I arrived at our house nearly in a state of collapse. I sat down in the dining room and started to cry, then laugh, my father recognised a state of hysterics, no proper sleep for nights, a long journey, and much hard work had taken its toll. He said, “to bed right away” even if it was yet daylight, and to bed I went and slept many hours. The weeks of parties at night was a great strain and I had to be at every one. I never liked parties of any sort. I thought games at parties a plain crazy way to pass the evening away, however some enjoyed it. I always found my way into the next room where there were competitions of various kinds laid out, and I won a number (far too many). There were never big prizes, but something the person giving the party could afford, such as a nice china cup and saucer, a plate, a pretty vase, or dish. One prize I got was a lovely tousser silk laundry bag with lovely brown silk tassels on it for bedroom use.

If the person was giving an afternoon tea or a croquet game, I had to ride my horse. I would slip off my riding habit and there underneath I was properly dressed. I could do that by my horse without any embarrassment. One day I rode through a flooded river on my way to where the games were in full swing on the other side. The poor souls watching me on the other side were quite upset and worried and would not allow me to return by way of river so I had to ride miles to go by way of a bridge. I was not in any way concerned because if the horse could not have stood on its feet, he could have swum.

Another long ride was up to our only Catholic lady who wanted her turn at events. It was on a terrace and of course coming from India she had treasures in abundance, but did not care about them. She was Irish too. She was quite a good soul to me and said, since I was a very good girl and worked so hard. I must have Mary’s bike. It was first bike I ever had and it was a treasure. Instead of catching a horse and saddling up I could up and away at short notice. Mary had long since left home and had become a dentist.

What no-one seemed to realise was I loved housework. I loved scouring, polishing, washing dishes and washing day, although a very big day with all our starching etc. I liked it all. I was left to do as I liked. Neither Dad nor Mum gave me advice. They thought all I did was fine and it suited them. So all the pity of Stanley Brook people was unwarranted.

Rationing and Production

During the next war we all did our bit in these far flung islands by having coupons for clothing and only the allotted 2oz butter per person (even on a dairy farm) and I guess many other things were rationed to help the war effort for years. During the first world war all those willing to sew or knit were allotted their portion. Stanley Brook had a huge bulk roll of pink flannel sent. Whether we all supplied a small sum each to pay for it I cannot remember, but once a month we all met at school and on long table, those with long scissors, patterns and skill to cut out, used to give each of their quota to sew up and herringbone. It was a flannel for Belgium war orphans to help keep them warm and I suppose it would be night and underwear.

This went on for years. Maybe the effort may have been through the Red Cross again. Every ‘evening’, concert, or social the funds were for some war effort. One time Dovedale put on a fancy dress Ball. I decided to go as a nurse, but a very patriotic one. So I had on white dress, white starched apron, cap with red, white and blue colours on, white shoes and stockings, with a red, white and blue rosette on front of shoe. To cap it all I decided to make an over apron and it must be the Union jack. Now that was almost my undoing. I had bitten off more than I could chew. The School teacher said she would come over and give me a hand. Oh my, we found nearly every part of that flag was a different size. Somehow we got it all together and I had a nice flag all to myself for many years afterward.

The Lady in Red

This is a true spy story that ended in Nelson. She was English born as far as we know and was in reality a man and a spy for Germany, dressed in red. She toured some countries (but now, we wonder if that was true) and in New Zealand at least she was made much of. Going through the country on a very special sort of bike and being welcomed by the Mayor and crowds of people who had gathered to greet her. No one had any suspicions (why should we have been suspicious). So ‘Women's' Division’ Dovedale of which I was a member welcomed her into our midst. She told us all about her travel and many tales (whether true or not) and played the piano well. Some said she could sing but I don’t remember hearing her. She wheeled her precious bike into the hall so as we could all examine it, as it was supposed to be made as a gift for her trip and was very special to her. She stayed at Thorpe Boarding House run by Mr and Mrs Silcock and usually she had free board everywhere. At Hira, Wakapuaka, an old lady by the name of Mrs Westly, a peg leg lady, looked after her while in that district. However she met her Waterloo on Whangamoa Hill. She had an accident. I believe being hit by a car and apparently knocked out. She must have been as she never parted from that bike. She took it into her room wherever she slept and locked her door. After this accident she was taken to Nelson Hospital where it was discovered she was really a man and the bike repair shop discovered the large middle bar of the bike could be unscrewed and inside were maps and photos and she was a spy (but a male one). I guess she was taken into custody and the bike returned, the maps and photographs would not be given back.

Chev Swapping

When we lived in Turakina a very unusual thing occurred and it had some comical turns as well. We were working in an apple orchard and had a house provided and a weekly wage as well. It was not a big wage but more than we needed for our daily living, so Charl bought a Chev car. It cost us very little. The first time we drove it out it smelt very highly of rubber. I was quite alarmed as I thought we may go up in flames any minute, so I was very glad to get home safely. Anyhow they must have rectified the trouble.

One shopping night Charl and I and four children went into Wanganui and parked the car in some parking area. When we had finished shopping and were ready to return home we arrived at the parking area and all piled in the Chev to take off when a Park Attendant arrived at our side and asked why we were all getting into that car. Charl said, “Because its our car and we want to get home.” The Attendant said, “Oh no its not your car”. Charl said well to prove it that's our rug in the back seat. “Can’t help that”, said the man, “you come with me I’ll show you your car”. So we waited and Charl returned very nonplussed and the cars were exactly alike, even to the rug in the back seat. Charl asked the attendant about his job. He said “its a self imposed job, there is no work so I had this idea to come here on late nights and guard every one's cars. I have all my regulars and I know all their cars. They usually give me a few shillings for guarding their cars and it keeps my head above water.”


I have just browsed through book once more and its now 18 June, 1984 and I’m shortly to be 87 on October 5, if I get that far. Political things have placed us on horns of a dilemma, but I have seen many political changes, ever since Masseys[4] day and he died and was buried three months before Brad was born. And I remember folk talking about Russian scares before I was born. It has always been a thorn in the flesh of many nations. I was surprised at the extent Wellington, and Auckland too, both made ready to protect themselves from an invasion even in those early days.

I have just finished reading a book of early pioneering days in Drury, Auckland with all the make shift things they had to endure and also enjoy. One she reminded me about was of our very hot sunny days, in Drury and Nelson, in mid summer when the water tanks ran dry. We had two barrel casks with clean wheat sacks on top, held down by hoops. One brother would drive a horse and sled to the river bed to find a water hole left somewhere with water in it. He would fill up the casks, jam sacks down hard and proceed home. Water slopped a lot as the way home was rough. He would drive the sled as near to the back door as he could get and then take the horse out, hoping there was enough water, for household use, for a few days. Of course that must not be used for bathing or washing. Well herein came our enjoyment and fun. My big sister would pack up loads of washing and pick up us little kids and away we would go. We knew this was to be a picnic and so it was. We were fortunate to have fairly handy to home, a spot where the water accumulated, as our wee creek hit a high bank and managed to gouge out a fairly deep hole before it turned the corner and went on its way. That was used solely for washing clothes and bathing and seldom dried up as the wee creek did in a hot summer. We had a frame and copper left there always. We crossed a paddock, then over the road and down into another paddock, and there we were. After all the boiling and rinsing up was done and the clothes hung on every available shrub, fence, and available spot, we were next to be popped in for our baths, usually three or four of us, Ivy, Walter, Ernest, and maybe Stanley. But by that time it was picnic lunch time, we loved that. And we were bathed while the clothes dried, to fold up and take home. They dried quickly in the hot sun. So no one really minded this extra chore imposed. That same creek used to be covered in a scented musk, but during the first World War, the musk everywhere lost its scent and as far as I know, never recovered it again.

I have somewhere in previous pages written about my grandfather Packer going down the West Coast with loads of goods for miners and becoming snowbound and amputating a man’s leg. Well I have since learned it was not down ‘Top House’ way at all, but Wangapeka. It must have been fairly inaccessible then as to reach gold miners he had to take his goods as far as he could go by wagon or dray, then unpack and load up the horses for the rest of the journey. So that poor man with gangrene in his leg would first of all have to get out by horse. Even then to be ‘held up’ by snow. I did not know Wangapeka had snow like that ever, so it must have been ‘way back’.

Another thing I must report. On going back over the pages of this book, I think my writing is simply disgraceful.

Away back in 1922 I kept house for Mr and Mrs Lucas. They lived on a small farm in Stoke. They had five children two boys Robert and Harland and three girls, Beatrice, Sheila, and Charmain. He was then editor of the Evening Mail. I left there to be married on 4 October 1922. One night we had a very severe earthquake. I thought I’m not staying here to be buried under the rubble so shot out of bed and scampered down the hall and into the bedroom of Mr and Mrs Lucas, who seemed not troubled at all. She said, “Are you frightened of the earthquake Ivy, come and get into bed with me”. I heard a sleepy voice say, “Well I suppose this is the nearest thing I’ll ever get to becoming a Mormon”. I felt very ashamed and crept off back to bed and there was nothing disturbed and nothing under the rubble. Trouble is things like this are not easily forgotten. When my brother Ern went there many years later she told him this story. Fancy after all those years.

When I went to work at Boys’ College I had turned 21 so the girls there insisted I must enrol to vote. So I trotted off to Pettit's store on the corner to enrol. The first big election speech came about and I was dragged along too, but even now I don’t know what party it was for or who was speaking. It may have been local M.P. Harry Atmore. I did not mind him personally. He used to visit his niece, a Mrs Jack, in Whare Orr nursing home. She shared my room when Dawn was born. As he knew Granddad Eatwell quite well, I used to share his visits. That was before he married very late in life to either another M.P. or a members daughter. I was really scared stiff while being in that meeting as my mother had warned me that Jesus was coming again and we must be very careful where we were found on his return. Theatres seemed out of course, so I looked around to see if I could see an exit handy and seated myself very close to the door so as I could scoot out hurriedly if the call should come while I was there, so as I would be counted. I just waited anxiously for the end of the talk not knowing or having any idea what it was all about, nor did I care. All I wanted was to get out, and I never went to another rally of any sort. Anyhow as far as I know the Honourable Harry Atmore was Nelsons’ man always. I don't know what party he was supposed to represent. Just Nelson.

These are the lullabies Dawn had sung to her every day. I was always singing to her and if Charl was handy he always joined in.


Go to sleep my baby,

Shut your pretty blue eyes,

Angels up above you,

Peering at you dearie from the skies.

Great big moon is shining,

Stars begin to peep,

Time all little girlies,

Are fast asleep.

Please God come and finish the baby

Finish the baby do

Its got two eyes and one little nose

ten little fingers and ten little toes

But its got no hair and its got no teeth

And the poor little thing can't chew

So if you isn't too busy

Up in Heaven tonight

Come and finish the baby do.



Listening to a talk back announcer, and they asked 'old hands' to try and remember many items, places and buildings, ships, or restaurants they once enjoyed in their young days in Auckland, now destroyed and gone. I was on holiday in Thames and Tapu with my friend Rose in 1920 and four things that I enjoyed immensely have long since departed and gone. One was our journey by Paddle Steamer from Thames to Auckland. It was like a floating Hotel, dinner served in real English style, waiters dressed to match. On arriving at the Ferry wharf, we started to walk up Symond Street and there we saw that lovely windmill at end of the street and I knew we were really in Auckland. That was a landmark. At night we attended a Mother Goose Pantomime at Fullers, which has gone also I believe (Fullers I mean). We stayed in Grafton Gully boarding house for the night. Next day before returning on Paddle Steamer we climbed into a glass dome and were slowly moved around where we could see all over Auckland.

In 1910 when I was 13 years old, I saw Haley’s Comet. My father struggled upstairs with a very bad leg and woke me up asking if I would like to see Haley's Comet. We went out on our balcony where we had a lovely view as there was a clear night sky (don’t know the hour). It had a bright head and a long long tail, they called it. We knew it was a trail of vapour. It was right across the sky. To me it was just Haley's Comet. Apart from that I was not very impressed and really I don't know if we could only see it that one night nor did we bother. I guess any old person of any school age in 1910 would have seen it. But being in country and not far from mountains our air was very clear.

It seems I'm still jotting down at nearly 88. Must shut down some time surely. On browsing through these pages, I see I have repeated some events.

[1]'Widows weeds' were a black veil that was worn for a year after the death of the person's husband.

[2] Spanish Influenza swept the world in 1918 with an estimated 21 million dying worldwide. Six thousand seven hundred lives were lost in New Zealand.

[3] The Murchusion earthquake struck at 10.00am, 17 June 1929. It measured 10 on the Richter scale at its Murchusion epicentre and 4 as far away as Auckland. Seventeen people were killed.

[4] William Ferguson Massey was Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1912 to 1925 and headed the Reform Party.