Early New Zealand Eatwell - Charles Eatwell

Early New Zealand Eatwell - Charles Eatwell

My father came out from Berkshire, England and landed in Nelson 1868 together with his father and mother and five sisters. One brother, Charlie, of whom I am named after, died before they left England. The girl's names were Nellie, Annie, Rose, Emily, and Jinny. My grandfather was a man of great energy and desired to come out to New Zealand and make his way in a new land. However, he had the misfortune to break his leg on the boat. The young and inexperienced Doctor set the leg all wrong and this caused him great pain and was a tremendous disability until he died at the comparatively young age of 59. I remember my father telling us how grandfather, in the middle of winter, would hold his leg under a running tap of cold water to try to deaden the pain.

My father was thirteen when his people landed in Nelson. Our people in England were business people on one side and farmers on the other. Dad desired to go into business and began working in a newspaper office (Nelson Evening Mail). However, grandfather leased a farm and had a milk run at the mouth of the Maitai Valley (Richardson's Estate) so Dad had to run the farm which he did for 15 years. Then they bought a bush farm at Stanley Brook 40 miles from Nelson (1883).

My father told us many interesting stories about the milk run. They delivered twice daily and had to cross the Maitai river (no bridges). One morning they reached the river which was in flood. Dad had a young man with him to help with delivery of milk. The river was too high and they were washed down. The young chap panicked and would have jumped out and been drowned. Dad was trying to keep the horses head up. To save the boy he had to throw him in the bottom of the cart and put his foot on him. While doing this the horse got his head down and was drowned. They were washed up on a sand bank. Some men from the opposite bank fortunately saw all this happen and brought ropes and hauled the cart up the bank. Not a drop of milk was spilt. Dad borrowed a horse and finished the milk run as usual.

A good milk horse was very valuable and hard to replace. When thoroughly trained the reins could be tied on the side of the cart and not touched from the time they left home until they arrived back again. In fact once Dad won a wager from a man who wouldn't believe it could be done. So he was invited to go on the milk run with the reins tied, which he did and was convinced.

My father-in-law had the farm next to my father in Stanley Brook. One day they set off to go shooting over at Tom Drummonds. They had two horses tandem in a heavy spring cart. When they got to the Motueka River (quite a big river) it was in flood. Did they turn back? They were not made of that stuff. They sat on top of the seat and away they went, they were washed down quite a way though. Mr Drummond had a very strong river horse and coming back he rode his horse on the top side to break the current.

While speaking of these two men I would like to speak or tell of a certain happening that made a profound effect on my life. On their two farms they had a river frontage of approximately one and a half miles. The river was playing havoc with the flats and ruining some of the best land. They decided to put in river protection. This meant carting willow and Manuka trees in abundance from the neighbouring valley (Dovedale) seven miles away. They worked all through the winter and it is very cold there. I have helped in river protection in the winter and it is a very unenviable job. At last the work was finished and what a work. Then came a real old man flood. It ripped out all their work. They stood on the river bank and surveyed the wreck. One said to the other, "John, shall we tackle it again?" The other said, "Yes John". They were both John, John Thorn and John Eatwell. That river protection is still there today seventy years on. Big willow trees holding the river in place. But what a spirit. That is what made this land, men of that calibre. When my wife and I were married it was the linking of two pioneer families. In fact up to the time of our marriage we were only the second two to marry who had been brought up in Stanley Brook. I often tell people that I just got over the boundary fence to get my wife. Actually it wasn't quite as easy as that, but that is another story.

One morning my father had to go up to the Post Office approximately one and a half miles away. He had to cross the river which was quite normal. While at the Post Office he heard a roar in the direction of the river and realised that a freak storm up in the hills had caused the river to flood and come down in a wall of water. Dad jumped on his horse and galloped for our ford but when he got there the river was in high flood. He attempted to cross but a hole had been washed in the ford. He and the horse went head over heels into it. Dad got out on the side he went in but the horse went over and up to the house and stood by the gate. Mum was inside and fortunately did not see the horse. Mr Fenemore lived on the other side of the river and when Dad told him he must swim over, Mr Fenemore tried to dissuade him as it was highly dangerous. Dad would go as he said my mother would see the horse and think he was drowned. They went up the river until they found a suitable place. Dad had the battle of his life and when he was almost exhausted just managed to get hold of some willow branches and pulled himself out.

The old settlers had to contend with flooded creeks and rivers in winter months. Old Mr Burrows of Stanley Brook had the coach run to Wakefield, 25 miles, three times a week. One day when crossing the Stanley Brook river he was washed down. The horses were drowned. Mr Thorn rescued Mr Burrows from the top of the Coach, riding a horse into the river at great danger to himself. Mr Burrows was nearly drowned. Later Mr Thorn had the same mail run and he was washed down in the same place, but both he and the horses were saved.

Another time he was crossing a flooded creek in Dovedale and one wheel came off. However, he got out on three wheels. The new road over the Dovedale hill at one place was just above the old. Mr Thorn went to sleep and the horse and coach went over the bank turning right over once and coming up on its wheels on the old road. Mr Thorn sorted things out, nothing was seriously broken so he drove out on the old road.

Mr Thorn was a most genial, generous, likeable man, always helping people and always giving things away. But on the other hand he was very independent. He had the misfortune to have a fourteen roomed house burned down after it had only been built five years. This was a tremendous loss, but he would not let anyone know. Just the same genial soul. After this he would arrive home with the coach and find all manner of things just quietly put in the back of the coach. "Cast your bread upon the waters and it shall be returned to you after many days". Mr Thorn like so many of our pioneers had a faith in God and they showed their love for the Lord in their daily lives.

In the early days men took up bush farms, most drew them by ballot, they were all bush and the main occupation was cutting down the bush and sowing the grass and fencing. Given the nature of the work there were a number of accidents. I had an Uncle Walter Ramsden. He married Dad's sister and he and Dad were very great friends and used to visit each other as often as time would permit. Uncle Walter was manager of the Petone Woollen Mills. One day he was called to a Doctor's surgery (this Doctor was a friend). The Doctor showed him a young man who had just died through being badly gashed with an axe bush cutting. The Doctor said this man had no need to die if only his mates had stitched him up. Because of that Uncle Walter took up first aid and was instrumental in getting Dad to do the same. This proved a great boon to many people and animals in our district. Dad always carried the gear for first aid with him when in the bush.

One day he and Mr Fenemore were finishing a piece of bush and there was one tree left. As they both ran to cut the last tree, Dad slipped and cut an artery in his leg with his axe. Mr Fenemore was useless where there was blood. Dad said he knew he had to join that artery before he fainted with the loss of blood and he just managed to save his own life. I remember him sewing up a terrible gash in a horses leg. It had trodden on a sharp scythe, and it had flown up and cut all along the leg.

I must here tell of an incident for which I am still very thankful to the Lord. When I was four years old Dad had a number of mares and foals in the home paddock. Somebody left the gate open around the house. I went down amongst the horses and a foal kicked my right eye out. It was hanging down my face. Uncle Walter happened to be there at the time and he held me while Dad stitched my eye back into place. When they eventually took me to a Doctor he said he could not have made a better job himself and said also if they had tried to get me to the Doctor 25 miles away (with only a horse and trap to travel in) inflammation would have set in and I would have lost the eye.

Stanley Brook

Stanley Brook was a little valley shut in amongst the hills approximately five to six miles long. It was very pretty with the road running between hedges in places, while down the lower end the road went through an avenue of large poplar trees. In the autumn especially these trees were a beautiful sight. The river for practically the full length had willow trees growing up both sides, planted really for river protection but were also a beautiful sight in the summer. People from England said our little valley reminded them of home, with the hedges etc. There was one Catholic family - none in Dovedale. The people who lived in the valley came from many different places. They were very fine people and except for one or two oddities we were like one big family. Underlying everything was a strong faith in God which was shown in hundreds of different ways. They put into action Jesus' words in the good Samaritan "Who is my neighbour?" In 1908 money was raised in a community spirit to build an Anglican church. My wife and I were married in this Church 4 October 1922. Unfortunately some 15 years later it was burnt down. In our day there was a Church of England service on Sunday morning and a Methodist service at nights. There were also Church of Christ and Brethren. It was a common thing on a Sunday morning to see all four denominations partaking of Communion service together.

I will put down the families that lived in the valley beginning at the top end. Evan Forsyth, Walter Lewin, Michael Hanron, Alf Wilkinson, Charlie Fenemore, Hugh Patterson, 'Dad' Woodford, Rob Crighton, Bill Burrows, Tom Griffiths, Will Jordan (formerly Nisbits), John Jordan (formerly Captain Forsyth), Tom Barker, Andrew Barker, Bill Fenemor, Jack Eatwell, Ray Eban, Arthur Wilkinson, and Mr Childs. In Forest Creek were John Thorn, Bill Biggs, Mr Kelling, Jim Wilkinson, Uncle Dick Polglaze, and Harold Fugle.

Barkers, Forsyths, and Hanrons, all came from India. Mr Barker and Mr Hanron were engineers in India. Captain Forsyth was a Captain in the British Standing Army and had been in a lot of fighting. When he died they buried his sword with him.

As we were growing up we learnt to love these dear people, as I mentioned there was a family spirit and except for odd ones, everyone lived happily together helping each other wherever help was needed. Mrs Patterson was a midwife. If word came that a woman neighbour was in labour or someone sick, 'Shoe' (Hugh) was sent post haste to put old Rata in the buggy while Mrs Patterson gathered up what she thought would be needed, and off she and 'Shoe' went.

Old Mr and Mrs Hanron, an Irish couple (Roman Catholics) had a big farm and were always begging our fathers to let them have some of the boys to help run the farm. One could fill pages with stories of their doings. They both liked their whiskey. They used to argue, much to we boys delight. They were both very well educated and very witty and he always won in any discussion and she would end up by saying, "Don't take any notice of the old fule, he has had a peg too much whuskey". Michael and Alice, we had a great affection for them. When we went to catch the horses this was typical of Alice, "Now take a little hay and put it down and while Kim is sitting down and eating it, you walk up and catch him". The first war was on and they were arguing about naturalised Germans, or I should say Germans naturalised after three years. This was Alice's argument. Michael countered by saying, "Do you mean to tell me that if you put a cow in a stable for three years it would come out a hoss?"

Bill and Dora Fenemore lived one side of the river and we lived on the other side. They had a large family, four sons went to the First World War, Will 21st reinforcement, Ron 10th, Ash and Ted 28th. Ted was killed in France. We were quite often over at Fenemores unless they were at our place, mostly playing cards in the evening. They had a mud house which they lived in until the Murchison earthquake when it was so badly damaged that they had to build another. About 2.30pm 'Dad' Fenemore (in winter) would prepare for the evening. He would bring one heaped up wheelbarrow load of wood and tip on the veranda and then bring another and stand it alongside. The fireplace was tremendous and so were 'Dad's' fires. He would sit right in front and Mrs Fenemore would be sitting at the table with her old handle sewing machine. This is the conversation I have heard more than once when there. Sniff sniff from Mum, "Dad, Dad, I believe your trousers are scorching". "Oh, go crackie mother" (a saying of his), "perhaps they are", and they were too. They were a great old couple. Their mode of locomotion was a phaeton, a little low buggy so that Mrs Fenemore, being a little but portly woman, could negotiate the mounting and dismounting.

Speaking of modes of travelling, when there was a function on, or Church, it was quite interesting to see buggies of numerous types, sulkies and gigs. It was quite a thrill to get behind a fast trotting horse in a gig. Mr Eban had a buggy and a horse that did about a mile a week. He was given a ride behind a real fast trotter in a gig and when he got out he was as white as a sheet. Poor old Roy didn't appreciate these fast contraptions.

I have mentioned the Fenemore boys that went to the First World War. Besides there was Frank Hanron, 7th M.R., Gerald Hanron, 25th reinforcement, Manse Thorn, 17th reinforcement, Keith Eban, 25th reinforcement, Bert Eatwell, 21st reinforcement. His army number was 33708, also Jack Forsyth, 30th reinforcement (not sure). My mother went to Wellington to see Bert off. On the way home she went to stay with relatives in Blenheim. Mrs Jones took her out for a buggy drive and one of  the Newmans, George, was driving one of the Newmans service cars home from the races. He was drunk and ran into them. Mum was thrown out on her head and critically injured, passing away three weeks later (1916 - 1917). This was a terrible blow to us all, especially to my father, as he and my mum were very attached to each other. The accident happened late in the afternoon, we did not receive word until the next morning. The only thing Mum said during the accident was, "Oh Jack". That night Dad saw it all happen, in fact I think he heard her call, "Oh Jack" when it happened.

The day of the funeral was the blackest day of my life. I could not see how we could go on living. People were very kind and tried to comfort my father, two sisters and younger brother. We were Church of England and were Christians in a certain way, but there was cold consolation - there was no one to tell us that He by His great sacrifice had taken the sting out of death and had won a victory over the grave. We knew in an abstract way that our mother had gone to Heaven. We knew that she and my father had endeavoured to live a Christian life and bring us up the same, that they had lived a life to help others. I thank the Lord for this and always remember that as much has been given, much is expected of us.

My wife, nee Ivy Thorn, was the eldest daughter of the second family of John and Lottie Thorn. There were four boys and two girls, the mother was a cripple so the responsibility of the house rested upon the eldest daughter. A year or so later, months after my mothers death, Mr Thorn had a heart turn and died in an hour or so (9 August 1918), my wife and my father being with him when he died. This was another great blow to us all as Mr Thorn (65 years old) was a man greatly beloved by us all.

These two happenings in our lives had a profound impression upon us, putting much responsibility on us. In my part of being eldest son at home and therefore had to run the quite big farm. I would like to recount an incident that happened on Sunday after a Methodist Church meeting. I was walking down the road on my own (this was when I was about ten) thinking about what we had heard when all of a sudden a beautiful glow came all over me and I felt the presence of the Lord with me. I realise now that the Lord had His hand upon me.

There were different ministers that came to the Stanley Brook Church that had a bit of fire about them. Mr Ashcroft and Mr Lawrence, two Methodist ministers, then again Bishop Sadlier once preached a sermon on the 'Good Samaritan' and something entered into me that I have never lost - it is times like these that we can mark as milestones in our Christian experience, when the Spirit of the Lord is moving. Another dear consecrated man was Canon Dart. Actually he married my wife and I in the Stanley Brook Church. Some fifteen years later I met Mr Dart on the boat between Nelson and Wellington. He did not recognise me but when I made myself known, he said "I prayed for you this morning". This dear man's faithfulness impressed me greatly. He not only married us, but had upheld us in prayer over those years. How little we realise how we are upheld by faithful brethren.There was one thing I did not think was right even when I was quite young. I would hear people saying the Rev so and so, and calling the Bishop my Lordship. No one said anything to me along these lines nor did I mention these things to anyone else. I thought Jesus came to serve and was lowly. Why should man be honoured in this way? Thank God I still think the same.

While we were growing up, two men came into our valley, Jack Craig and Don Christian. They held Christian meetings in the school for approximately a year. They lived in a very simple way, living as near to their master Jesus as they could, worked for different farmers, casual work, just enough to get food and clothing. They were very genuine men and I believe Jack Craig's preaching coupled with their living awakened something in we young people that had not been awakened before. We certainly could thank the Lord for having met those men. Perhaps they went away disappointed men but I wonder when the roll is called, perhaps they will get a surprise.

Here I would like to recall an incident which should warn us not to treat God's sons too lightly. I always hold onto that piece in God's word where He says we are as the apple of his eye. One day Jack and Jill as we affectionately called them, went to visit a farmer called Ben Wilkinson and asked him to come to the meeting that night. He said, "I can't come I have to pick up all these potatoes". They said, "You come to the meeting, we will pick up your potatoes". They did but Ben did not go to the meeting. Years passed, Ben prospered, sold his farm and worked on the wharf in the Port. He bought a nice home in Stoke. One day when they were loading steel, one piece slipped out of the sling killing Ben - the mills of God grind very slowly but very surely.

In spite of all we heard along the Christian life and the help we received, no one got down to the vital thing, sin. And we were living in sin. I was anyway and this troubled me greatly. Nothing I had heard really got down to the root of things, as Jesus said, "the axe is laid to the root". I hated my sinful state but had no power to combat it. There was a scripture that haunted me and that was that, "We must all stand before the Judgement seat of Christ and give an account of our sinful state". While I was with others I was a 'hail well met' sort of a bloke, but when on my own often blackness would come over me and that scripture would come before me. There was no one to go to. No one to seek advice from. My father never once told me about sin or warned me of the consequences of sin so I learned about the ways of sex and life from vile men and boys. Our home was always an open home. When the First World War was over Dad invited my cousin, a returned man, and his wife to stay for a month or so and in return for Dad's kindness this cousin filled our minds with the vilest sexual muck, that caused us to enter into sin in a deeper way. If only our young men and women could realise what a wonderful chance they have of living a clean life, and realise that the Lord has given us Brother and Sister Watkins to help them to live that clean life, what a reward awaits our Bros and Sis at the end of the journey.

Mountain Top Experiences

As boys we had to milk a few cows in summer. It was milk a few squirts then slap at the sandflies that attacked our bare legs. While milking I used to gaze over the hills to the Mount Arthur Range in the far distance - being brought up in the hills one gets a love for the hills and mountains and I had a special love for Mt Arthur and longed to go up there. My chance came when I was about sixteen. Some farmers I knew who ran sheep on the tops asked me to go up and help them muster. We rode up to the head of the Baton ten or twelve miles, then took our packs and set off. We climbed steadily all day making camp on the edge of the snowline. Next morning we were up in the dark having breakfast, great thick slices of toast thick with butter and a pile of sardines on top. Unless of course we had shot a deer up there, then the menu would be deer steak.

We were up on the tops waiting for daylight having passed the race course (a small, more or less flat, piece of ground among the tussock). One thing I forgot to mention, travelling up was in the bush all the way until we came out to the snowline (edge of the bush), the trees, birch, got smaller and smaller and more and more covered in a dry moss until they resembled little old dwarf men. That is how they appeared to me. Very interesting, as was the pretty little mountain flowers, ferns, and grasses. Formations of different types of rocks and stone. I brought some plants home, but they did not survive long. The air is so invigorating that one feels a different person and can walk much longer distances than on the lowlands.

The area we had to cover in one day was tremendous and took five of us to muster. The sheep had to be brought into a rough holding paddock on the snowline. They get a bit wild and don't like being moved off their particular ground. The ground is very steep and rugged, many places one swings around a difficult place on a flax bush, sometimes having to cross ice faces where the ice has not melted. It is hard, tough going. The sheep are like goats and will break back to their ground if wary eyes are not continually on the watch. The sheep sometimes climb up amongst rocks and cannot get back. If they cannot be got down they have to be shot.

One day there was a sheep right out on the edge of a bluff. I could not get around it and as it was blowing hard (one could easily get blown over a bluff) I crawled out to the edge and was just about to grab its leg when it had one look at me and jumped over the edge. I laid there and watched the poor thing spinning like a top as it bounced from rock to rock. It was a long way down. Does that not remind one of the many, many battles for souls - one night at Palmerston North we saw Bro Frank go down on his knees before a Maori brother and plead with him not to throw away his salvation, but he spurned the love of Jesus in our brother, and how often have we seen Bro and Sis Watkins battling for peoples souls and seen them do just what that sheep did and wasn't their speed accelerated once they stepped over?

There were many wonderful sights to be seen. One bright moonlight night as we sat in camp, clouds blotted out everything just below us, we were above the cloud in another world. The clouds drifted and eddied around like the sea, too beautiful to describe. Another time while right on the tops waiting for daylight, the first light just touching the heights, we watched the light coming up the spur then gradually driving the darkness out of the valleys going further and further down the mountains until it was all light. Later on going over these experiences many things come back to one - is that not like our lives - the light of Jesus Christ touching our darkened lives and as the light grows brighter it drives out the darkness. Jesus wants to make our lives all light if we will let Him. Mr W. Cowin and Loveridge brothers Ern, Frank, and Perce had their separate blocks of country on the Mount Arthur range, although joining. There was a natural barrier between. I went up and down with both these parties at different times. Loveridges went right to the foot of Mount Arthur itself.

I was on that beat with Frank Loveridge one day. We had to cross a razor back to get across. This consisted of a narrow track while both sides dropped precipitously away. We just got to the top of the range and mist came down and we saw nothing. It was very disappointing after waiting so many years to get there. I never had another chance to go that way again. That little path. Doesn't it speak of the 'narrow path'? Had we taken one step over the side we would have been like the sheep. Then again Frank said, "Now which way do we go back?" I said, "this way". He said, "That would lead you in the opposite direction". I couldn't believe it but it was true. Shouldn't we thank our heavenly Father for the true shepherds that lead us in the right direction.

While mustering on Cowin's side, one day I had a man called Alex Win for my companion. He was quite a lot older than I was. Alex was a Christian man I had thought a great deal of from boyhood days, and he had an influence for good on my life. This day we had been on a very tough beat. Towards mid afternoon we brought our sheep up from a lake a long way down to the bottom, very steep and rocky. We got nearly to the top and the sheep broke. We raced down the hill and got them back, but tired, Oh, we sank down on a rock to have a spell and they broke again and so did I. I didn't attempt to run but stood on that rock and poured out the vilest, most horrible stream of curses until I was exhausted. It must have seared Alex's ears as I never once heard him say a word out of place or anything suggestive. Alex was just as tired as I was, but he never uttered a word, but raced down and brought the sheep back, nor did he say a word to me. Alex's silence was the best sermon I have ever heard preach.

The Lord showed me there what a vile dirty beast I was, and I resolved there to fight these demon powers that had possession of me. It was a terrible battle and took years and years. My vile temper would get away with me and time after time I would break out cursing and then I would go on cursing because I was cursing. I remember sometimes when things went wrong gripping hold of myself, almost bursting and jumping up in the air and turning in the opposite direction. It might sound funny, but it was hell at the time. Then the Lord delivered me of that vile and insane temper and the horrible cursing and gave me peace. Oh Praise His lovely name.


My father used to place a great deal of responsibility upon my elder brother and myself. Dad did quite a lot of dealing in cattle and would send Bert off to buy and sell when he was approximately 16 and although there was quite good deals made, never once did I remember him saying a word of appreciation. Once when I was only 15, he sent me off to Brightwater with 30 head of cattle, over the head of Stanley Brook down through Pigeon Valley. The hill was very rough and ferny, no fences. I had a terrible journey and nearly lost some cattle in the nearby bush. I remember to this day the awful state of mind I was in as I raced back and forth to hold those cattle and keep them from breaking away. After hours of anxiety the cattle settled down to be quietly driven along. By this time we were well down the Pigeon Valley side of the hill which was 17 miles from one side to the other. Actually it was all hill from Stanley Brook to Pigeon Valley.

I was relaxing after my strenuous time when one beast was pushed over the side and fell down. All my efforts to get her up on her feet were to no avail, so she had to be left. I went on very troubled, feeling I was lacking in responsibility. Arriving down in the valley at Jim Hyde's farm, Allan Palmer, son of Dick Palmer, met me to help me to deliver cattle to his fathers farm. Bert Hyde and Jim Taylor went back up the hill to get the cattle beast and found she had broken her leg so had to destroy her. This did not help my peace of mind. However I had to learn in years to follow as a drover, that one had to take many difficulties and troubles in one's stride.

Loan and Merc, Dalgety and the Farmers used to hold big sheep sales at Tapawera 40 miles out of Nelson and seven miles from where we lived. As the country around us was dry and hard, dealers used to come from the coast and buy a mob of sheep and drive them down to their wet country. The sheep did remarkably well this way. Although it was tough going at times, when dry we were smothered in dust and the heat, however passing a 'local' it was a blessing to wash the dust down with a little 'O be joyful'. I never drank very much. One particularly hot day we had to pass through the Lyall to take the sheep to a holding paddock. I was at the back of the sheep. I was dry all the way down and sure my throat was chock full of dust. It was an unwritten law in droving that the man with the front lead of sheep always left a pint for the chap at the back when passing a local. This day, 3pm, nothing to eat since breakfast, out came the pub with a glass one could hardly see over the top of. The beer and the mud in my innards set up a commotion so that messages to the brain got confused. The brain could not instruct my legs right. Consequently when shortly after passing over a bridge the thing would not keep still but instead of waiting for me to walk on it, it came up to meet me. Very sociable but difficult to negotiate.

The roads were very narrow and sometimes as we went quietly along, the sheep feeding where they could, we would have a string of two miles. One man would be in the middle and the other one at the back. Quite often it would be raining then things were unpleasant the other way. Taking all things into account we enjoyed the life. We always started early and paddocked early. Newmans had just taken the coach and horses off the road and put three Cadillac cars on. We knew approximately the time they would be along and always endeavoured to be in a place and get the sheep off the road as much as possible. However we got caught one day on a bluff and it took us hours to collect the sheep. Some went right down after them. I got bushed myself.

One time when taking a mob of cattle they were supposed to be in a safe place while I had a quick lunch. When I came back they were all over the place. At last they were all collected, then one fell into a bog ditch alongside the road, got it out after great trouble, then it fell in again. It is impossible to go into details and all the happenings. Sometimes dangers, in that case the thing charged me. However it didn't get me being a nifty young active chap. I bet my old props wouldn't get me out of the road today. Nor could I stick on a horse. That same day another chap and I put on a real rodeo stunt on the main road, cutting out a bull that got in the herd. Full gallop like 'The Charge of the Light Brigade', whips cracking - must have looked quite a sight. I couldn't use a whip on the ground now let alone mounted.

It used to look good to see the six horse covered wagons (schooners) carting goods from Glenhope to Murchison. There were four on the road. When I first went down the Buller I saw the last of Newman's coaches and horses. Bro A. Fawcet saw one of these six teams capsize over a bank. Horses are gallant creatures and when well-trained will not let one down. In this case they put every last ounce in to keep the wagon on the road but to no avail. It was a terrible mix-up but fortunately neither driver nor horses were badly injured.

Before one gets to Longford Bridge there used to be a dip in the road. The road was cut out of the rock with a bluff rising up probably eighty feet. The Buller is very swift and when in flood was impassable at this point. My brother and I arrived there with a mob of cattle to find the river in flood. We took the cattle through the bush and up over the bluff, down the other side on to the road again. It never entered our heads to turn back. We were used to overcoming difficulties and yet I wonder how it was done. It was probably raining and slippery into the bargain.

Forest Fires

Fires and floods always varied life for those living in the back blocks. Being very hot and dry in the early autumn there was always a risk of some foolish person starting a fire. The fences in the early days were all made of palings, threaded top and bottom with number-eight wire with posts every ten to twelve feet. One year Hall Brothers had some bush they wanted to burn. My father said the settlers pleaded with them not to light it but they did and it swept over miles and miles of property burning every fence in its way and doing a great deal of damage. Had Hall Brothers had to make good they would have been bankrupt. However in times of trouble neighbours rallied round. They were all the next winter fencing.

It was a terrible job fighting fires. Days and nights on end. My father told us many stories. One I will narrate. When fighting fires you can't leave off when done in. You just have to keep going. This certain day they were so thirsty (no water anywhere there) that their tongues were swollen. There was a muddy place in a dip so they got down and poked their tongues in the wet mud.

When we lived in Dovedale a fire got away on Harry Cowin's farm. About thirty men rallied round. It was blowing hard and we were trying to make a fire break among the logs and stumps on a steep hill, but as soon as we had a break made the fire would spring up ahead of us. We were being pushed up the hill. It was terrible work. The heat and the black smoke from the Rimu logs and stumps was almost unbearable. However we beat it in the end. I was sick for two to three days after that, got too much smoke inside. It would not be so bad in times like that if everyone took their turn in the bad part but you always find some shirkers who look for the less dangerous places. I have always found that is the time to find out who are the genuine ones. Those who will stand by you in danger and you know they won't let you down. On the other hand those who have a lot to say, well they are just not there when it comes to the test. The fires go out and things return to normal but one can't forget.

I remember one time at Turakina a number of us were working on a cliff face. I was furthest up. We were working on ledges bringing the cliff face down. We knew it wasn't safe and were watching for slips. Suddenly someone gave the warning to get out. As I turned on my ledge my foot slipped over the edge. Ned Bruntlett was working below me and was evidently watching for my skin as well as his own. When my foot slipped he drove his shovel upside down under my boot, which allowed me to get my balance.

My brother Bert was away at the war two years, he was wounded twice, the second time badly, and was left on the battlefield for dead. But he was still alive and after months and months in hospitals was invalided home. His homecoming was joy and sadness having lost our mother. I went to Wellington to meet Bert. Never will I forget the sights I saw of those men disembarking from the hospital ship, the meetings of loved ones, stretcher cases, limbless broken men. What a terrible thing when Jesus came to this earth to bring peace and love - to see men killing each other in hate. I was very keen to go to the war. Dad gave his consent for me to go when nineteen but the war ended when I was a few weeks off.

In 1919 we brought another farm at Pretty Bridge Valley, Belgrove. It was a very rough blackberry and stony farm and took a tremendous amount of work and quite a sum of money to knock it into shape. I left Stanley Brook about July of that year bringing the team with me, namely Toby, Lew, and Kit. They were good chaps. I had quite a love for horses and especially my team.

I can't remember all the details. Bert married Lilian Wilson from Wellington and went to live at the old home at Stanley Brook. My eldest sister, Grace, married Percy Jordan from Dovedale and Ness married Les Mytton of Baton Bridge. Dad and Bill (younger brother) and myself batched for a year or so until I got married on 4 October 1922. Bill went to Australia and Dad went to live with Grace. Just as we began to get on our feet the first slump hit us. After battling along for a while we had to give the farm up or go bankrupt, it was utterly impossible to pay our way.

Northward Bound

When we left Belgrove and came over to the North Island in 1925, we landed with three horses, one and a half tons of chaff and a wife and daughter. We lived at Paraparaumu, or should I say Raumati Beach for a few months, near to my brother Bert's place, then moved to Paraparaumu where Brad was born. I worked with my team for the Hutt County, but lorries were beginning to come into their own and fazing horses off the road. That is how we came to go to Nukumaru. Old Mr Forsyth was at Paraparaumu and was talking to Bert and told him he wanted a man to help run his 100 cow farm, with his two boys that had just left college. We set out like Abraham, not knowing where we were going, and a good job we didn't.

We arrived there with 10/- in our pockets, new baby etc. The boys met us with a funny old car with windscreen broken (the wind and rain there was lazy and liked to go right through one). They broke the news that the other man Johnson was still in the house and would have to take us to Waitotara Hotel (four to five miles). What a climax to the day. Met the man in the House next day when he informed me that they owed him £100 in wages and they were sitting just there until paid. He also described the whole awful situation there (funny thing Mr Forsyth must have forgotten those things when speaking about the job). What were we to do? No work, strange country, 10/- in pocket. What a good thing the Lord allows us to be put in a position where we can't turn back. Our bridges are burnt behind us. The working conditions and equipment were appalling but we stayed for one season.

We answered one advertisement - a farmer up the Turakina Valley wanted a ploughman. I met this man, a Mr Cameron, at Turakina township. It was bad times and he had seventy applicants for the job, but gave me the preference. This was a direct answer to prayer and we did thank the Lord for it. There was one stipulation, he said he had to make. The job was only open as long as we did not have any more children as the wife[1] had to help Mrs Cameron in the house three times a week. Actually Allan was on the way at this time but we did not know. As soon as we did know I went to Mr Cameron and told him we would move and let him get someone else but he didn't want to lose us and said to hang on as long as we possibly could. We had a lovely home to live in, a mansion of a place. We both liked the place, the work, and the situation. We got along well with Roger (18), Doug (22), and the girl (12), and also Mr and Mrs Cameron. Doug was the only member of the family that went to Church of England at Turakina, five miles away. He used to take one of us with him. The time came when the wife had to give up her part, so Mr Cameron much against his will advertised again for a married couple. When they arrived we had no work and nowhere to live, so we left our mansion and went up the paddock to a possum hunters old house. It was an awful place to take a woman heavy with child into, but my wife never uttered one word of complaint. She set to work and made a home out of it.

I think Mr Cameron must have given me a few days work on the farm because I remember coming home and what a transformation had been wrought. One thing stands out. We had a sort of text in our belongings. On it was written in large letters 'Welcome'. That was hung up outside the door. It is times like this that one thanks God for a Christian wife that can meet a test and a situation with a thankful heart and make the best of a bad job. We have had to fight our way through many difficult situations, this was done prayerfully together, by committing ourselves into the Lord's keeping, the trials drew us closer together and closer to our Saviour. There are different kinds of faith, I have noticed that my wife's faith brought me strength and my faith brought her strength in times of need.

Everything went well for a time but dark clouds were looming up. We both went down with gastric flu. We were very ill with high temperatures and I remember Mrs Cameron bringing things over the paddocks to us, also Mrs Gill. What a surprise they will get when the Lord reminds them of their kind actions. We had to get the Doctor. As soon as I was able to get up and about, I realised we could not stop there but must find a place for my wife and children. We had two children, Dawn and Brad to look after. How that was to be done this time I just didn't know. This flu left one very weak especially in the stomach. Mr Gill came over to look after the wife and children while I set out prayerfully to find work. I should have said we made it a definite matter of prayer. We needed the guidance of our Lord and He never fails.

Things looked pretty black. The after effects of the flu are always depressing. I had to tie a napkin around my stomach so I could get enough support to walk. After walking four to five miles I saw a farmer standing by his road gate. We got into conversation and I told him I was looking for a house and job. He told me of a farm that was vacant, of 150 acres across the river, and also that there was a big job of works near this farm. He then offered me a cow. When I told him I had no money he just laughed and told me to pay when I could. That man, Jim Brenen, was as an angel to me. I always think of that time as 'the darkest night before the dawn bright'. If you have never been in an experience such as this you would not understand what it meant to me to meet a friend, as he proved many times, especially that morning. The Lord brought him out on to the road just at the right time.

There was about ten men working on a deviation job for Mr Waters the contractor. The railway crossing at the foot of the Turakina Hill was a death trap, a number of people having been killed. The Government decided to put an overhead bridge over the railway, cut the side of the hill down and fill up over to the river several chains away. The railway built their bridge and we took our spoil over their bridge until the filling was right down to the river. They then built a new steel bridge across the Turakina river, the work being completed by pulling the old road bridge down.

I walked through the Turakina township and over the bridge. There was a solitary man digging into the cliff face, Ben O'Brien. No you are mistaken, he wasn't Irish although his name sounds like it. He was a Tasmanian and a white man. One I am glad to say is still my friend. "Good day" he said. "Good day, any chance of a job?" I replied. "Yes, all the men walked off the job yesterday, the boss Jim Waters has gone into Wanganui to get more men". "Not much chance for me then, he will get all the men he needs without any trouble as times are hard". "No, he gives preference to married men". Mr Waters, the contractor, had built a canvas camp down by the river and Ben's wife was cooking for the men. Ben invited me to dinner and suggested I come back next morning, which I did and got a job at £1 a day. I went into Wanganui to see the Matipo Land Co. regarding the house and farm. They leased it to me for 30/- per week, 150 acres with a very nice house.

As my wife was still ill, I biked to and from to work for a week and then we moved in. Mrs O'Brien was expecting one month after my wife. Mr Waters suggested that we all live in the same house and get a girl to help while the wives were in the home. The house was suitable for two families so we did this. Maud Young came and helped. She was a very nice young woman. Some months after she left us, she suddenly died. Her death cast quite a gloom over our community.The work we were doing was hard and I was weak, but Ben was a good mate and shielded me all he could until I grew stronger. Could anyone doubt the hand of the Lord in all this, from nothing one day, to the next, a cow, a job, a farm and house - truly the Lord is good to his children, and we were very grateful for his love and tender care. That hymn comes back to mind, 'Can we doubt His love and mercy, Can we doubt His tender care'. Yet, to our shame when trials come at times our faith gets low and doubts arise.

Looking back on those days we had many trials but much blessing. We needed ten cows and milk cans, a cart (I had a horse at Paraparaumu and I had her sent up by rail) but we had no money. So again prayerfully I approached the Dairy Company. They offered me £100, I took £80. Again our friend Jim Brenen helped in lending me a bull and sold some heifers cheap. Also grazed some stock on the farm. It was a tough go milking cows and working nine hours for a hard boss, all pick and shovel work.

My wife helped me milk. It was daylight saving of one hour at that time and then we worked half an hour ahead of time on the job so we really started work at 6.30am. I took the milk to the factory and then tied the horse up until dinner time at the job. While the other men sat down and had their dinner, I took the cart loaded with the milk cans of whey back halfway to home where we kept the pigs. After feeding pigs, the wife would meet me there and take dray and cans back, wash them etc. I remember I had ten minutes to eat my lunch before starting work. By the time we had finished the day we had six hours before we had to start again, and I am not sure whether we had to have tea out of that time. Wet days saved the situation when we could not work on the job. I remember envying people walking down the road and I thought yes you could sit down and rest but I can't. I can understand a little of how food became an obsession to men and women in Japanese war camps. Rest was the same to me at that time.

For some reason the deviation work was suspended for some considerable time. Times were hard and no work available, most of the gang went various ways - Ben O'Brien and I went cutting firewood on the back of the farm but found the cost of getting it out too high. We had to buy wire rope, blocks, etc. etc. - he suggested that he would pull out, leave me what wood we had cut and the expenses. He got a job ditching over in Wanganui so we parted. We were paying off our stock, rent, etc. and no work. 'Man's extremity is God's opportunity'. How very true we found this. A number of times we were without food and we had many wonderful answers to prayer. God's promises are true to the child of faith.

Before we went to Turakina as mentioned before we struck a tough patch at Nukumaru. The plant was obsolete and broke down a number of times. It was a nightmare. The vacuum tank that held the pressure for milking was had it, the same as the rest of the outfit. It was just outside the shed. Many a time while it was raining and blowing (3.30 am) I was lying under the tank trying to plug up the holes with soap so that we could get enough pressure to milk. Unfortunately we had not heard about chewing gum. What a blessing it would have been. It would have brought the plant up out of the dark ages into a wee glimmer of light. In moments of the lighter side, when we weren't doing too much milking by hand, we took quite a pride in the fact that we had the oldest and most up to date obsolete plant in Taranaki.

Once when Stewart had loaded a dray load of calves the horse took fright and made off, dropping calves as he went. Had to take the horse out of the dray just where he was able to pull her up. When the shafts were let down the survivors stood mournfully at the top gazing at the scenery. Bro Watkins said that most of the mirth is at other peoples expense. We laughed for days on and off. Stewart never let a smile cross his Scot's face, in fact I doubt if he ever saw the funny side, as when the horse bolted with a 200 gallon tank on the dray, the rumblings were like distant gun fire until halfway the tank fell with a boom that would have done credit for a French .75. The horse couldn't judge the gateway, hit the post and landed all in a heap. One needed a little of the lighter side to counteract the hell hole of a place it was to work in. Ninety eight hours per week, not 43. £3 10/- per week.

I could enumerate on many things but it would not profit. One thing I learned by the treatment from the Forsyths - my pride had its first really bad knock. I was used to being boss and was forced to realise that what I thought counted for nothing. I was just a piece of machinery in the place to get as much out of for the least money. How often do we pray for our Heavenly Father to move us out of a tough place, yet in his love and mercy, He leaves us there and lets us kick and groan and complain then when we quieten down and have learnt our lesson He takes us along to the next. It reminds me of a time when feeding out hay from a dray. I was perched on top forking the hay off as we walked along when suddenly the reins slipped and got under the horses tail. She made off but had to turn sharply. Over we all went, the fork missing stabbing my face by a fraction. Horse on the ground, shaft broken, couldn't get near for flying hooves so just waited. Made another approach - more kicking hooves. When she had enough I untangled her and got her up a wiser and sadder horse. Is this not like us. I would just have waited and so does our Heavenly Father. Then the Lord has a jibbing match with us, we can't do it and he knows we can. Another little story to illustrate the point.

Old Eli Taylor was coming home to lunch on a dray load of wood. He struck a boggy patch, the horse jibed - in Eli's words, "I just put his box of chaff on the other side of the bog and went to lunch, when I came back the horse was eating his chaff".

Somehow we seem to be going backward so now I think I might as well go further back. They do it when writing books. I am always reminded that I write in telegraphic form.

Fed by Faith

Once a Maori neighbour (who was an extremely shy man and who normally walked around the back of the house on his way home) went fishing and then got drunk, came into our place, knocked at the door and said, "Misses bring out a dish, a big one". He then piled it up with fish. We said, "Thank you Lord. We are hungry and you have caused this Maori man to feed us". Another time we were again hungry. The barrel was empty. The Maori neighbour met me and said, "We have just killed a bullock, go up and help yourself". Again our hearts were overwhelmed with love and gratitude for His great love and mercy. Yet another wonderful answer to prayer, we had not had any food but milk for two days. The children, Dawn and Brad, said, "Mummy we are hungry". So their mother would give them another drink of milk. I said to the wife, "I feel led to go up to the village". She said, "Why?", and I answered, "I don't know why but something is urging me to go". I went immediately, this is important as you will see. We recognised the hand of the Lord was in it in answer to prayer, had we dilly dallied around and let doubt come in or put it off, this would not have been written.

Our farm went down the river half a mile to the bridge. A farmer Charlie Perry had a farm up the river from the bridge. He had been up to the village on his horse half a mile up the main road and was just coming back over the bridge as I came up on to it. As we talked he said, "You know I owe you £1 for a weaner I bought from you some time back. I will give it to you now". You see how important it is to obey the leading of the Lord. Had I lingered a few minutes he would have gone through his gate and we would have missed. I went up to the store and bought one pounds worth of food etc. When I brought it home and put it on the kitchen table, I don't know whether we laughed or cried, perhaps we did both. Every time I have told this I want to weep. I do now - the care of our Heavenly Father for His children.

In telling some of these experiences I have had people say that frankly they don't believe it - that is because they have never known the blessedness of trusting our Heavenly Father to provide, they don't know the vast difference of receiving from the Lord and receiving from the world. My younger brother Bill came to see us and when leaving I walked with him down the river track. We were walking though tall fescue grass. I said really in a joke, "You ought to get a sale for this seed Bill". Sure enough he got an order for 50 sacks and he came back and cut it. The price was very low but the crop was heavy. We eventually received £20 each which tided us over a lean time. One just does not know how the Lord will provide.

Slim Jim, as we called Mr Waters the contractor, opened up the job again with a new team - Loppy Cameron and I were given a job again until the finish, and then we were both given a job building the new bridge over the Turakina river. Mr Waters did quite well out of the job but when we started the second time it was harder than ever. However we had no option but to carry on. Had there been other work every man would have left. The work was so hard that my body used to ache from head to feet. I remember that awful last hour, every minute seemed like five. You dare not stop, although everything in you craved for rest. You had a wife and family to keep and he knew it. Mr Waters was a very tall thin man with an exceptionally long neck. If he was down at the tip head he would be looking around the corner to see if we were keeping the tempo up. One day Ben and I looked down to the tip head to see Slim Jim's long neck and head looking round the corner. Ben said, "Why is old Jim like a peninsula?", I give up - "Because he has a long neck looking out to sea (see)".

We had one man, Bill Sealey, on the job. He was a fine gentleman in every way, but was weak in body owing to wounds he received at Gallipoli. The winds were very bad there and we used to shield him and put him in the easiest place possible (if there was such a place). He was staying at the Hotel. He would have his tea and go to bed to get enough strength for next day. Sometimes he would sway about on the end of his shovel until he recovered himself. A man who fought for his country - it used to make us mad but we could do little about it. He, like a number of other returned men on the job, had lost his farm in the slump. Bill lost £9,000. His family had plenty but left Bill to it. The Hotel was burnt down and Bill lost everything practically. Isn't it strange. We had him with us at Christmas. Sixteen years later I went to Auckland. I knew Bill was up there and said to the wife, "One chap I am determined to find here is Bill Sealey". As soon as we arrived there was a railway strike so I went down to stand in the long queue perchance to get a ticket back within a week or two. I heard my name called out and who could it be but Bill ahead of me in the queue. If we didn't have a joyous meeting much to the delight of the bystanders. We went off to renew our memories. Although Bill was such a fine chap he was an unbeliever. I tried many times to get past the barrier. Eventually he died of Tuberculosis.

While the new bridge was being built the road traffic was brought over the new deviation turning sharp over the old bridge. I could not carry on the farm and bridge job too so we sold our stock and handed the farm back to the Matipo Land Co. and went to live in a house owned by Muro Puki, a very fine Maori farmer. Unfortunately he died suddenly.

This was 1928. We had a wireless when there were very few about. That year we were able to follow Kingsford Smith from Australia to New Zealand and back. As mentioned before when living up Turakina Valley we went to the Church of England. We found the people very cold, almost unfriendly. So we went over to the Presbyterian Church. Mr Catherwood was the minister. We were made very welcome and felt the love of Jesus among them. Their fellowship was something we could not forget. Mr Catherwood was a very big man but talked very quietly. The words that were spoken sunk in and also answered the problems we were up against in our individual lives. In other words the Holy Spirit was moving through that dear man. He used to say, "Now dear folk when you go out of this building don't talk your blessing away, but retain what the Lord has given you". One of my cherished memories was walking home after an evening meeting, conscious of God's spirit upon one and His presence very near.

Allan was born February 1927 while we were on the farm and Rod 9 July 1928 while we lived at Puki's house. After the bridge was finished at Turakina, Williamson and Co. asked me to go with them to Vinegar Hill, Hunterville, to repair another bridge. There were no houses available so I bought an old 490 Chev for £30 and lived at the Hotel and came home weekends. This arrangement was not satisfactory. I was wondering what to do when a Mr Sisson who owned an orchard in Turakina offered me a job and a house which I accepted thankfully as from the Lord. Old Fred as we called him was a man with a violent temper. We really enjoyed our stay there although at times things were boisterous. Darker events tempered with extremely humorous happenings. His two nephews also worked for him and they were real wags. I often told them that I should really pay amusement tax here. Old Fred had just married for the second time and how the wife managed him no-one knows. She had him eating out of her hand so to speak. Earlier years he had been a fair tartar. The boys told numerous stories, I will relate one.

A neighbour put his cow with Fred's bull - Fred marches over and gave the chap a hiding. The man sued for assault. Fred was fined one pound. He stamped from one end of the court to the other. The Judge halted him. One pound for contempt of court. Fred got on his horse, galloped home, shot the bull. He was always shooting at birds with a double barrel shotgun, wasn't particular about the background. One day the wife had brought afternoon tea out to the orchard and was returning home with the tray when he had a shot at something, and some of the shot bounced up under the tray. He would leave the loaded and cocked gun up against the fence and forget it.

By this time we had three children that the wife's mother had not seen, and they kept writing when were we coming home. So we decided to go back to Nelson. We packed up and crated all our household goods and locked them in a shed belonging to Muro Puki and headed back to Nelson. After we had been back in Nelson two years we sent over to get a carrier we knew to send our crates and boxes over. When he went to get them the Maoris had broken into the shed, smashed boxes open, stolen and destroyed everything. When we moved there, there was two Lorry loads, all wife's linen, beautiful things hand made etc., wedding presents, everything we possessed.


While on the orchard the Lord brought tithing to our notice. Yes it was the right thing so we started, and the devil started whispering in our ears, "You know you have to meet so and so, you really can't afford to tithe". We listened to the old rascal and before long we were in a plight and wasn't it a battle. We realised what had happened and decided with the Lord's help never to go back to the old again. It was most remarkable after that how the money stretched and when we went back on our bargain the money just disappeared and we didn't know where. We had a missionary box and put our tithes, except what went into the plate on Sunday, in there.

One day the wife's cousin and her husband Ned and Annie Grey came to see us. They were officers in the Salvation Army and were stationed at Marton nearby. They were going through a very rough time with the finance part of the work and had been praying much about it. The box had not been opened for some time and we felt led to hand it over to them. We don't know what they found inside but I will never forget the joy and delight on their faces and the thanksgiving to the Lord for answering their prayers. The Lord is no man's debtor and we were to find this many times in the following years. Tithes and offerings, how little people realise that the tithes one tenth belongs to the Lord but more than that he invites us to participate in the offerings as well. "Bring your tithes and offerings to the sanctuary and see if I won't pour down a blessing you are unable to receive".

When we received our monthly cheque from the dairy factory we tithed on the gross amount received first, then sat down after that with accounts and expenses. After that our living. Sometimes there wasn't a great deal left, but the dear Lord never forsook us, what we had left was like elastic. Once we had the exact amount of tithe given back and once within one shilling. One memorable occasion we sat down with accounts and we said with everything we can possibly rake up we will still be £20 short. By the end of the month everything was met. How? God's ways are too mysterious to find out. Don't set your eyes on man, especially those who could help you and would if you asked them. No God won't be put in second place. 'Vain is the help of man'.

Once Brother Allen Fawcett and I were going through Turakina. I got out of the car to have a look around. Brother said, "Are you looking at all the old haunts", I said, "No I'm thinking of the many wonderful answers to prayer we have had here, milestones in our Christian life, all other happenings fade but the Lord's blessings remain fresh". In all giving if we are niggardly in giving to the Lord it is a sure sign we are not trusting Him. There Brother Frank's vision comes before us. If Brother Frank found he was hard pressed to meet financial commitments he gave more. It takes faith but it is the only safe way.

Christmas at Stanley Brook

We left Turakina late one afternoon and stayed with Ned and Anine Grey at Marton, from there to Paraparaumu and on to Blenheim to Roy Thorn's. My intention was to go harvesting around Blenheim but the season was very wet. At that time Ern Thorn came down from the Rai Valley where he and Stan Thorn worked for Bryant Brothers Timber mill. Ern said I could get a weeks work at Bryants as one man was away sick. We went back with him. I worked for one week then we all stopped for Christmas. It was our intention to all go back to the old Thorn home for Christmas. We set out the day before, our two families in Ern's car and Stan and Eva with Gordon Garthener.

A few miles out of Nelson the car blew a head gasket. With difficulty we managed to get to Nelson. This was about 6pm. Somehow or other a mechanic was procured who repaired the car and we left for Stanley Brook at 10.30pm. After leaving Wakefield the lights failed. It was raining hard and very dark. The car full of mothers and children who by this time were more than nervous and tired. The lights fixed as we thought, we were crossing a rather dangerous bridge when we were left in pitch darkness. this did not improve the nerves. I had be working in the sun with my shirt off and had a raw blistery shoulder. When the lights went out the second time, the wife gripped hold of my shoulder with all her strength. One sees funny pictures of people seeing stars but it is not too funny in times like that. I remember once when harnessing up two draught horses in mower one opened his mouth and grabbed my shoulder. It was as though some tremendous vice was crushing me. I didn't think there was as many stars around that time as when the wife lovingly held my poor shoulder in her tender grip.

We went back to the Wakefield Hotel for the night and arrived in Stanley Brook next morning. We were a very thankful people to think how the Lord had watched over us on that journey. The mere fact of being able to get a mechanic to work on our car on Christmas Eve was an answer to our call to the Lord for help, then had the lights failed a little later on we would have been in a fix good and proper. As it was the Lord provided us with a place to stop for the night. Walt and Merle Thorn had the farm at Stanley Brook at this time. Unfortunately Gordon's car was in front of us and didn't know of our troubles. They went on and arrived in Stanley Brook probably about 8.00pm. They waited and waited for us and at last the men folk started out in Walt's car to look for us.

Coming down the Stanley Brook/Dovedale hill they slid off the road in the rain and only the four wheel brakes saved them. They had to leave the car and walk back home arriving back between 2 and 3.00am.

As I had been offered another months work at Bryants, I went back and stayed with Stan Thorn. Our women folk took a house down at Monaco Beach, Stoke, for a month. The sick man came back to work at Bryants and I went up to a mill at Tunikino Valley for approximately six weeks. I quite enjoyed my time at the mills. Eva's (Sis Kerr) brother was running the second mill, the only drawback was fleas. There were six to eight of us baching in this mill house and I am sure all the cracks were filled with these commercial travellers. At night time they advanced upon us en masse, as there wasn't really enough of us to go round we had rather a bad time, and then of course they slept during the day while we worked. This kept them nice and active at night, or should I say for their night's entertainment. When the sleeping apparatus was given out I was unfortunate in that I only got a second hand one. This has been a great drawback all my life. I had to do something to get my second hand machine going and be upside with the little black imps of Satan. So I plastered myself from head to foot with kerosene, but oh when one got warm. Still it worked, necessity being the mother of invention. While at the mills, the wife stayed with Walt and Merle and Les and Nett.

Hop picking time came round and we went over to George Perry's and camped in an old house. Brad started to go to school here in Neudorf. We enjoyed this time very much and felt much benefited in health and pocket, the wife being a good picker. When hops were finished word came that men were needed at Mapua loading cases of apples on the boats. We went to Mapua, secured a seaside batch and a job at 3/- per hour flat rate. We were paid in cash after every boat, which seemed, and was, a strange experience to us.

As I write these happenings I want to repeat how merciful and kind the dear Lord has been to us and how His hand has been upon us - it reminds one of a dear old Christian brother, Bro Taylor, who has gone to his reward. He was very fond of ministering on the 136th Psalm where it repeats many times 'for His mercy endureth forever'. Our old brother was in the Presbyterian Church for 50 years and was very dry when he came to a knowledge of the life in the Holy Spirit. The word reminds us how hard, almost impossible, to bend a dry stick. But our brother was made green again and so able to bend the way the Lord wanted him to be.

The bach we were living in had a large room where Mr Ern Salisbury held evangelistic meetings on Sunday afternoon. We used to come in contact with a lot of men at the boats, seasonal workers, many different ones came along to the meetings. Mr Salisbury was a very genuine man and loved the Lord, a great deal of his life was spent in taking the word of God to the isolated people around the Sounds. He built his own boats and had many perilous trips, was used of the Lord in many ways, especially where people were troubled over their soul's condition. He told us many stories I wish I could remember. One a race to get to a girl who was dying, another time he was heading for a certain place and the sea was so rough it looked almost impossible. He had a lot of new bibles in the boat and as he was praying he looked at the bibles and said, "Surely Lord you won't let these beautiful books go to the bottom?".

When we were having meetings we met a very fine Christian man, Bill Everest. He played the cello. He had an orchard up on the hills, as he was a bachelor and had a nice home he invited us to go up there and live. Which we did and I worked for him in off seasons. Later on Bill had to have his house as his sister was coming to live with him. Then Howard Wells heard we had to move and as he had an orchard and a house he was not living in, he offered his house to us. Does it not all just fit in right. Praise the Lord. Later on Howard had to have his house back so we took a seaside bach back down in Mapua itself and were there until we left to go to Dovedale.

This bach was not so good. The stove belched forth so much smoke that one wondered if the door was the chimney. There were disadvantages in this as the cold air sneaked in and made it uncomfortable. It was a wretched place to live in during the winter. We always kept an open house and tried to help those of a floating population who had no real home. Bryan was a baby then and not a good one. We had gone through quite a bit of stress while the wife was carrying which had it's effect upon him when he came.

Many times I remember when we had visitors the wife made off down in the bedroom with the pram so folk would not be disturbed by his crying, yet she never complained. Mansion or fowl house it was all given of the Lord, and she just made a home out of what was there, and it was an open home, a home I could invite anyone to and at any time. This is not cracking her up. It is just honest appreciation before the Lord.

We used to have a bachelor come quite often, Adolf, he was a great one to talk and as my wife can hold her own along these lines, I did not get a look in. One night as he was going I wanted to tell him something but couldn't get a look-in. He talked out of the house through the fence and was gone. In exasperation I put on my hat and followed him right home. Naturally he was very surprised to see me. I then had my say.

We used to have a Scotsman, Jimmy, come quite often. I can see him sitting on the sofa, the wife giving him a chip about the bagpipes. "Now look Jimmy you really must admit that there is really not much music attached to them and then they only play one tune". Jimmy looks at me with a twinkle in his eye and says, "Really wummin are quare cattle".

I mentioned while the wife was carrying Bryan we went through much stress. In the off season it was very difficult to live. I tackled anything that came to hand, even if it only brought a shilling or two. The Lord provided for us in many miraculous ways. If anyone wants to question whether these things were miraculous, let them have a wife and family to keep and no work to be had. There are things when one's faith is tried, sickness comes along, and losses just when you think you can least have them - the Lord doesn't want fair weather Christians.

At this time I began to get ill. At last I went to the hospital doctor. He said I had poisoned tonsils through bad teeth and that the poison had gone all through my body. I would have to have an operation. This was impossible I told him, I had a wife and children to keep (no social security then). I went back home and worked until I collapsed, and had to go then. What a time I had. Then to follow they said it would take seven years to rid my body of the poison, and it did.

Christmas was coming and the children were getting excited. What would Father Christmas bring them? One would like this and one would like that. We as parents had to stand by and commit ourselves and our needs into His hands knowing the barrel was empty. Christmas Eve children went to bed, hung up their stockings. Can't just remember details - how I happened to be down at the main road. I was with a friend who had a lorry. He said, "There is a box at the corner of the road addressed to you". As it was a big box he said he would run it up for me. Father Christmas came and Mother Christmas. Something for all of us and in the bottom a Christmas cake. Do you think our hearts were full? Do you wonder they overflowed probably with tears at His goodness. It seemed like a last minute reprieve. Children gone to bed bursting and we probably a little anxious. Why can't we have child-like faith?

I tried growing strawberries and potatoes, both failed and left us in a worse fix than before. Perhaps it was too much of my efforts and not enough reliance upon Him. Right down through history it has been proved, the times of affliction bring out the true quality in people. All around us were men from all walks of life, professional men and workers alike, who had failed, not because of their lack, but caught up in the man-made systems that had brought on a slump in a land of plenty. There was a spirit among us bred through adversity that brought out the best. We shared and shared alike, we entered into each others troubles and sufferings. The great enemy to mankind, self, was pushed into the background. One woman had more soup than she needed. Perhaps she might have needed but thought someone else had a greater need. She took it to her neighbour. A man secured two days work. He needed that badly for his family, but he gave one day to his neighbour and so on and so on. Mostly the church-going, professing orthodox Christians, didn't see the need of those around them. They came from their nice homes to the bowling green in their cars.

Les Wakefield and Jim Stutsbury, two carriers and orchardists, didn't profess much to others, but they possessed something of the real quality, they had schemes of their own and provided work, odd days for this one and that. I never forget what that meant to us. Jim has passed on, Les is still in Mapua. I went to see him a few months back. Those were the days when a shin bone of beef cost 1/6 and it had to last a fortnight. The poor old bones were cooked until they were bleached white.

I remember when we first went to Mapua seeing the little Presbyterian Church. It seemed to welcome us. We attended it all the time we were there. We met many fine Christians, some really lived their lives. We had a lot to do with the Wells' and still visit some of them when over that way.

Lindsay was born 7 October 1932, while we were living at smoky cottage (Dovedale). While living at Bill Everests he offered me a temporary job down at the Bluffs. I had been working a few days. This morning he mentioned he was going to pay me from the time I left home. The same morning I was offered a ride on a lorry. I went to get off as he was travelling and I fell, spraining my ankle badly. The driver, Gordon Stutsbury, took me back home again. It was months and months before I could work there again. How thankful we were, it was an unusual thing in those days to pay workmen travelling time and to think the Lord put it into Bill's heart to tell me that morning. I drew insurance for the whole time. As I mentioned the off season was bad but we made up during the apple season. We worked the boats on the tide which meant we worked any time day or night.

We had just started the season and I slipped in the hold of a ship and sprained my ankle again. This was really a blow as it was at a peak when things were good. I crawled out and with help of someone got on my bike and peddled home one foot - into the house grounds, intending to land on good foot by the door, overbalanced and fell in a heap. The wife laughed and laughed. It must have looked funny but I was really angry with her. And to think I was out of running at peak time. Not much of a Christian spirit in that lot. When I look back now I feel I let the Lord down badly.

While in Mapua a Church of Christ minister came to see us, the wife had felt the need of being baptised in water for some time. Mr Bell explained that we did not have to belong to the Church of Christ to be baptised. The wife's sister Gert was with us and she desired to be baptised too. I was very hazy about it all but as it seemed the thing to do was baptised with the others. When we came to this life I was baptised again because I felt I had not understood what was being done before. Sometime after this we went to a Church of Christ meeting at Ruby Bay. There we met a Mr W. Griffith who we had not seen since our youthful days in Stanley Brook. We were pleased to meet him again and to find him working on the Lord's side.

When Mr Jeffries found that I was out of work he offered me a seasonal job in his orchard at Umukuri. We lived in tents and really enjoyed the change. The Jeffries were very kind to us and we felt very much at home. One day the wife had a billy of boiling water on the open fire and it tipped over her foot. She jumped back but didn't know Allan was sitting behind with one foot under him. The water went over him from the waist down. The wife grabbed a coat and wrapped him up. Dawn rushed off for Mr Jeffries and myself. He got the car out and I sat in the back with him cradled in my arms. The Doctor in Motueka doped and dressed him and sent us off to Nelson, 25 miles. We just got out of the town two miles and got a puncture. Another car pulled up, saw the situation and told me to get into his car. We got to the Moutere Hills and he got a puncture. Some men pulled up in a lorry and changed the wheel and we were off again. He was so badly burned we wondered if he would survive, but he made a marvellous recovery. The wife had a terrible foot for months - a carbuncle set in on top of the burn, still we had much to be thankful for.

Not long after Lindsay was born Perce Jordan from Dovedale, my brother-in-law, offered me a job working in the tobacco. This was under the governments ten acre scheme. We rented a house from A. Kenyon, Thorpe, while the govt was building a house for us under the scheme. This and the ten acres was of course part of Perce's farm. After working for Perce for a year or two, I managed to get a contract to grow five acres of tobacco. The govt built us a ten foot kiln and shed. The going was tough. We had 25/- per week and two cows and a house. I worked from daylight to dark and would not stop for anything. The bottom of the farm was a blackberry bank and underneath all boulders. Eventually the blackberries and boulders were overcome leaving some of the best tobacco land. A great deal of work had to be put into river protection, growing trees etc.

Usually they have a gang to plant their tobacco plants, I had no option but to plant my own. When harvesting time came Arthur Win, Arthur Kenyon, and ourselves arranged to harvest together - this worked well. I had a lot of respect for these men being men of integrity whom I had known for many years. Their families too were good workers. Every season I went out shearing. This helped keep the pot boiling. Now it seemed we had at long last come to a place where we would begin to make a good living growing tobacco. But; yes, those buts.

Our New Life

While in Dovedale we used to go to the Anglican Church at Church Hill and Methodist at Dovedale. Although we went to church that is all it amounted to. We were looking for something more and didn't know how to get it. The Churches seemed just a form, but no reality in the daily life. Some of the pillars of the church when working in tobacco gangs would get young fellows around and tell questionable stories. In fact one young chap went astray and had to get married. I often wondered whose door that would be at. About 1937 Bro Frank came to Church Hill to hold meetings. The wife went along and when she heard the message realised that was what we were looking for.

After coming a few times Bro Frank looked at the wife and said, "You want this message, don't you?" She said, "Yes". As nobody else was interested he came to our house and that was the beginning of a new life for us. I had a cigarette half-smoked on the mantelpiece. Bro Frank said, "Bro, do you smoke?" I said, "yes". He said, "I wouldn't if I was you". I replied, "Seeing I grow it I would be a hypocrite if I didn't smoke it". "I don't think so"' he said. That was the end of smoking. Bro Frank was a man of God and had a power about him through his continual contact with his Lord. He was able to impart that power to others. No wonder we realised we had found what we were looking for. It was soon manifested that we had found the right thing. People who had been friendly before began to separate themselves from our company, began to spread lies and tales. You see we now belonged to that fanatical crowd of Frank Wilson. They climbed up the walls, so and so saw them.

Not long after this one Saturday afternoon Bro Frank sent Bro and Sis Gabrielson up with a car to take us down to Bro Hughie Vercoe's for a tarry meeting. Things were very strange to us and we were awfully gun shy. Some of our folk were not very wise in handling those just coming in. When we started out in the car Bro and Sis started to sing. It sounded quite nice, we were used to singing a few hymns in the churches - note I said a few hymns. Well. They sang up to the foot of the Dovedale Hill. By this time I thought I never in all my life thought people could remember so many tunes. They sang all over the Dovedale Hill down through Pigeon Valley and down to the plain. We were more than woodened out. I don't know what the wife thought, but I was wondering what we had struck.

We arrived just as the tarry was about to begin, more gun shy than ever. However Bro Frank and Bro Eric were there and softened the way for us. One thing that amazed me was some of the brothers - men I had known before and some heard of. Tough fellows they had been, and here they were on their knees seeking the Lord. Take Hughie. Last time I had met him in Bridge St, he was giving me a lurid account of his son Bill's accident in Collingwood. The language was so charged with sulphur and fire that I made an excuse and said I had to see a man, and I wasn't any saint in those days. I am sure now if you went back to that telegraph pole he was near it would have some scorch marks on it. Not literally perhaps, but it certainly was an astounding thing to see the change God had wrought.

After singing a little Bro Frank said, "Those who haven't received the Baptism yet come to the front, come to the front". We were as far back as possible and keeping out of sight as much as we could. Somehow we managed to get to the front along with dear old bro and Sis Jordan. Folk started to pray. We were full of self-consciousness and fears.  Soon the Lord's spirit began to touch us. Fears departed, then someone was trying to rouse us and bring us back into another world. They were talking about it being 10pm and talking about having some supper. We didn't care if it was ten or eleven, the last thing we wanted to do was eat or meet people. All we wanted to do was to be left to seek and praise the Lord.  It was a wonderful time. One thing I would like to know was who stole those hours between eight and ten. I often wonder had we been left whether we would have received our baptism that night, as it was 18 months before we got it. We must have been very close that night.

Bro Eric and Sister used to come out to us every Sunday afternoon for quite a while.  Wasn't it good to see them. Bro taught us many choruses and many things in God's word.  It was all like starting a new life for us all. One day I was in bed with the flu. Bro Eric and Bro Evans and another Bro brought us out a Model T Ford car and gave it to us so we could get to the meetings in Nelson on Sunday. I never thought they would come into bedroom where the flu was. Bro Eric walking in and gave me a big kiss. That action broke something in me. We wrapped in the medical system, it cost us about 5/- per week out of our little income for medicine. No one would come near germs. I know that kiss set something free inside me. Like when I saw Bro Frank and Bro Mills meet they kissed each other, although the thought of men kissing was repugnant to me, I said, Ah that is right, that is scriptural.

Soon after this we were invited to go to Bro Allan Fawcett at Wai-iti Valley for a tarry meeting. We heard some wonderful testimonies. Unfortunately many of those people didn't stick. I remember our eyes opened when Sis Lines told of throwing the medicine chest down the bank and trusting the Lord. After a while the folk started to tarry. The din and goings on was terrific. It was too much for us. We wandered into the kitchen. Bro Bartosh came out to us and said, "Go in Bro and Sis. Go in and get a fill up". We thought "a fill up - a fill up of what?" We thought people were going crazy.

I often wonder that day whether we might have drifted off, but dear old Bro Walter was watching and knew what was going on in our minds. He took us outside for a walk then brought us in and explained about those who god had put His Spirit upon. Bro Allan Fawcett said he could not get near some of his neighbours after some of those tarry meetings, through the fleshy manifestations and noise of some. Later on the folk came out to our place for a tarry. It was in the middle of winter and very cold. I stacked the tobacco up one end and put a fly across it and another fly on the floor. The day was cold but the warmth of Jesus' love was there.

The river in high flood cut in the back of our river protection and came right down through our tobacco land and ruined it all, then the next flood completed the havoc. All the best land was gone together with all our big willow trees, we were left with a 16 foot kiln and contract and a river bed. Bro Eric came up shortly after and I led him down very mournfully for him to sympathise with me over our great loss. Instead of that he stood and laughed and laughed. I stared at him thinking he is laughing at my calamity. He was joyous because he could see God's hand in this, God did not want us to grow tobacco. You see the wisdom that the Lord gives to those who are set over us to care for our souls. Neither Bro Frank nor Bro Eric said one word to us about growing tobacco, but they were praying and waiting God's time. It was like our wireless, it was away getting repaired and Bro Eric inquired where it was. Had we not been able to get it repaired Bro would have done so. The time was not ripe.

Not satisfied, we rented a piece of ground over the river an planted our tobacco there. I went over one day and there were eight different blights in it. This time we were wiped, well and truly in debt for the crop, and nothing to pay. The Lord said, "Now will you listen to me". Man's extremity is God's opportunity. We had certainly come to the end and had to give in. What a pity we could not have given in before. Stiff-necked Israel. I went out on the road to work where, I had vowed after being in Coat's picnic party for so long, I never wanted to work again. However, when I got there I found a Christian man to work and fellowship with. We had many answer to prayer there, one I would like to relate. It was when we were trying to live on 25/- per week.


I was walking across a paddock and looking down at my boots, and said "Lord you see my boots are all worn out and I haven't any money to get more". I remember as I talked to the Lord a joyousness came over me to think I had a Heavenly Father to go to. Just then Perce Jordan sent over and said he was going to Wakefield, 12 miles, would I like to come. I said yes. He never did this before or after. Shortly after the mail car arrived with a letter with 10/- in it and a scripture. I said, "Thank you Lord" and off we went. Arriving in Wakefield I met a man I knew and he said I am owing you for 5/- worth of potatoes. He handed it over and I said "Thank you Lord", and proceeded to get my boots which were 16/-. The Lord must have known I was good for 1/-. I wore those boots until they were done, so I said to the Lord, "You see those boots you gave me, they are worn out and I still haven't any money to buy more". A day or so later I went down to Cowin's shed, Thorpe, to shear and it rained and we had to stop. I went home in the service car. When I got in, Don Mac the driver said, "There is a parcel in the back of the car for you, I think it is a pair of boots". When I got our carelessly I left the boots in the care, but I said "Thank you Lord". Don only came through twice a week so I could not get the boots for two days. The next day one of those boots fell off my foot, or the sole did. The Lord sent those boots the very day I needed them. Later we found my brother had bought these boots but found he could not wear them so sent them over to me.

The car was an absolute boon to us. We were able to go to the morning meeting Sunday, and Sunday School. We were also able to have fellowship with the Brothers and Sisters. One Sunday morning we got to Berk's Bank and the children were quarrelling in the back, so I pulled up and ordered them all to get out and walk. It had the desired effect and there was never any more trouble while in the car.


The boys Allan and Rod were playing on the shed roof, so I explained to them if they did that, the roof would leak and if they got up there again I would throw a bucket of water over them. Next day I looked out to see those two up there again, so I went and got a bucket of water and threw it over them. No word was spoken - parents would save themselves and their children an awful lot of trouble if they worked that way. The second time a child is told means very little, the third time confirms what is in his mind, that it is quite safe not to obey.

One day the boys and I were going up the hill with the sledge to get wood. One of the horses stopped and made water. The boys tittered and laughed, I asked them what they were laughing for, then went on to explain that every one of us had to do that, and explained how wonderfully the Lord had made our bodies and how wonderfully our parts function. By the time the little talk was finished they felt that had been very foolish and a little bit rude to laugh at those things, I felt too that it was a safeguard for their future.

The wife and I very seldom laid our hands on the children, however there have been times when we realised their soul's salvation was at stake. We remembered what the word says, `Spare the rod and spoil the child', then the rod came out good and proper. All children seem to pass through naughty times. Times when they are fair little devils. You can't wallop them through those times. Parents need to work together and pray together, pray the Lord will show another way through and He will. I remember the boys coming to me in a rebellious attitude, they wanted to play rugby with a very rough crowd. They said, "What's wrong with football, why can't we play?" I said, "You are Christian boys and are followers of Jesus, can you go and play football with blaspheming boys who are cursing Jesus up and down the football field?" I left them, I didn't forbid them, but they didn't go.

Another time much the same thing cropped up, so the wife and I got down to prayer. Saturday came and it rained and rained. Next week we prayed again and it rained harder than ever. I don't know what the football fans would have done to us had they known. Before next Saturday they got an idea of building a canoe down at the river. I just couldn't do enough to help them. How thankful we were to the Lord for helping us. When we lived in Dovedale we had a job to get the children dressed. It was a bitterly cold place in winter and we let the children come out of their rooms and dress before the fire. It is a worrying thing for a mother to get playing children dressed so we said, "Tomorrow morning, five minutes to dress, after that back into your freezing chambers". The first morning there was an awful upheaval, next morning less, from then on finished.

Brings back a funny little incident. Mothers seem to be the same everywhere. They sit down at the table but are up and down waiting on everyone. We were having tea and somebody wanted something, up the wife got and out into the kitchen, up we all got and followed her. She gave one startled look and went back to her chair. So did we. A moment later habit reasserted itself, up she got, up we got. She sat down and so did we. From now on tell us what you want and one of us will get it.

Children grow up to be better men and women and more appreciative when they learn to help in the domestic side of things as well as outside. When my sister Ness got married we men had to batch at Belgrove. You never saw anything like it. We had never been taught to do a thing in the house and our bachelor house beggared description. The dining room table and piano were piled up with every conceivable thing. We didn't know how to cook, would kill a sheep and fry it from head to tail with potatoes. The saucepan that cooked our porridge cooked our potatoes. I always held therefore, as the potatoes cleaned the porridge and vice versa, it was always clean. The wife says no decidedly, it was always dirty.


I was engaged to the wife then, and one awful Sunday, my sister and her husband and the wife decided to pay us a surprise visit. They had to drive 18 miles but when they arrived at 11am there was no sign of life. I remember now, waking up - several days growth of beard on - to find them there, and the house and the shame and the dishes piled up and the this and that. Well we did survive to enjoy the oceans of food they brought. I didn't know how to darn a sock, just plugged the holes up with green, white, grey and red wool. They looked pretty. I was determined our boys would learn to darn and knit and see the need to help with the chores.

My father was a strange man in some respects, although I felt he put responsibility upon us far beyond our years. On the other hand we had to practically force his hand to let us do things. He wanted us to watch him do it. When we had children of our own I determined they would not be handicapped this way. They learnt to take the initiative. Things like this. In driving a sledge and two horses one must swing out at gateways. I had to tell the boys a number of times, we had just put on a big load in an awkward place. I told the boys I was leaving them to take the load home. I went up the river and got down on a bank where I could watch yet be handy. They hit the gate post, and then, where was dad. Couldn't be found. After a colossal effort they got out, but they never hit another gate post.

I have not said anything about Dawn, but she was always our right hand man inside and out and always helping other lame dogs over stiles. It is good to see the lighter side of things sometimes. Brad was always a professor type, head in the clouds thinking of something. It was his job to milk the cow and separate. He just had a shirt and pair of pants on - somehow or other he must have mislaid his belt. When I looked out he was separating with hand and hanging on to his pants with the other. Somehow or other the pants eluded his grasp and dropped down on his ankles. To see the dignified Brad - trying to keep the separator going, while at the same time grasping for the elusive breeches to cover his nakedness from the gaze of the public. Of course another chap would tie a piece of string around pronto, but Brad's mind was not running along practical lines.


Another time an aeroplane flew up our valley very low. The horses and cows nearly went daft, including the cow Brad was milking. I can still see Brad and the bucket of milk flying through the air backwards, while the cow with flying hooves going the other way.

Speaking of the cow brings back other things - when we came into this life some people couldn't do or say enough about us. We were trying to live on 25/- per week and our cow. Grass was short, so I put her out on the road to feed. I don't know how we would have paid it but I had sold something to this ranger months before and he had not paid me so we were able to call quits. So the Lord in many mysterious ways, comes to our aid. The Lord said we are as the apple of His eye. I hold nothing against that man and can't afford to, but still God's word stands. We never cease to marvel why the Lord came and dug us out of that place. Where would we have been, where would our families be.

When we could not carry on and I had to go out on the road to work, the Government decided to sell the house and kiln and shed for removal but they had to remove us first. They sent a man up to interview us, I was not there. He told the wife that they wanted the house. She said, "Alright, when do you want it?" "But", he said, "Where are you going with your family?" The wife said, "I don't know, but you can have the house". She had enough faith to believe that the Lord would have a house for us when needed. Just before this, knowing that we would have to move, we went out looking for a small farm or a house. Now is the wonderful part of it. Before this we were told of a number of places and houses that were available. This day we could not find one, everyone told the same tale, someone had just taken it or they had decided to keep it and so on.

We went from Dovedale down the Pigeon Valley up through Wai-iti up to Belgrove, every door was closed upon us and we were down to naught. We arrived at Brother Lines to find our folk were having a meeting or a Baptismal Service down at the rive. Bro Eric was there. We got to the river and Bro Russ was to be baptised. When he came out of the water the Spirit of the Lord came down. He had to be held up and helped out. I think Bro Eric asked me to pray, instead the Spirit of Laughter fell upon us, and Bro Eric and I just clung to each other laughing in the joy of the Lord.


Back to our little farm. A man called Colin, working for a neighbour Mr Bird, left the district. He asked me to look after a bitch till he could send for her. Shortly after, she had a litter of pups. One morning when I was on the tobacco kiln drying, I heard a barking of dogs on the next door neighbours place. I looked around for our dogs and found my young dog and the bitch gone, losing not time getting over to the neighbours. I found to my dismay these dogs had worried some of the neighbours sheep. He was very lenient over the matter but in a case of worrying, the dogs have to be shot. I shot my dog, but kept the bitch, had to for the time being, as we wanted one or two of the pups. The one we kept for ourselves turned out in the end to be a valuable dog. He used to play cricket with the children and in his spare time fish for cockabullies in the river. I have mentioned this because he was probably instrumental in saving my life when I had great difficulty with two Jersey Bulls. He eventually lost his life I believe in trying to defend me from a mad horse.

There were two of us on horses and this great big mad brute came at us. The other man was trying to keep him off with his whip and Rock went in and heeled him as he did the bulls. At this the horse kicked him in the head. The horse was shot but the dog was dead. No one can gauge the value of a faithful dog and a brainy dog, always standing by ready. There were a few tears shed by the family that day and I don't mind admitting I had a lump in my throat as I carried him to his grave that the boys had dug for him. I think Rod carved `Rock' on the tree he was buried under.


June was born in Nelson 9 February 1935 and Hilary was born in Nelson 1 November 1938. When growing tobacco as mentioned before we worked with Arthur Win and Arthur Kenyon. When I was a boy in Stanley Brook, every winter Arthur Win and his father or a brother brought their threshing plant round the districts. This plant consisted of the traction engine, combine for threshing oats and wheat and the chaff cutter, and iron tank on wheels to supply engine with water. When this improving array of machinery arrived to Stanley Brook the excitement amongst the young was intense, and to get a ride on the local train especially, the engine was something never to be forgotten. As we grew up we followed the machine all around the different farmers, working for them or paying back time, as it took quite a number to keep the plant working. The wife too had a hand in it (feeding the brutes). It was a big job for a farmer's wife to feed such a big crowd so my wife was second in command to the farmer's wife.

During the war years it was sometimes a job to get a full team. At one place my wife and the local schoolteacher brought out afternoon tea. We were short of labour so Arthur Win said "Come on you ladies, get up on the oat stack". This particular oat stack was full of black smut. They had white blouses on - the smut seemed to have quite a liking for the ladies. Sometime later two poor little niggers crawled down the ladder and oh those blistered hands.

It was not all nose to the grindstone. There was a fellowship among the folk in Stanley Brook Valley that made working together pleasant, especially as we had a few wags in the team. But woe betide one or two misfit farmers who tried to put one across. I never met a whiter man than Arthur Win but try and put one across and you saw a man of action. Actually he was a man of action in a different way. Arthur had a way, no waiting, men jumped into their places at his bidding, no time lost. Arthur had four girls and one boy, three of the girls used to come to our place harvesting tobacco. You could put them anywhere in the team (we usually had about 20 on that day). They came to work and they worked, if they ran out of leaf at the kiln they went straight on loading and so on. This was how Arthur worked and how he brought his girls up to work. I watched in other gangs where young chaps got together and smoked instead of working. Then of course comes, "Have you heard this one", besmirching each others minds.


Our boys and Dawn were growing up and I did not want them growing up the wrong way, so `work while you work and play while you play, but don't mix the two.'. That became the order of the day, Saturday they worked, no humbug, for so many hours, then came play. I always endeavoured to keep to my side of the bargain, a very important thing for a parent to do.

One thing always stuck into me - it was a time when we were tremendously hard put to -the tobacco grub was bad and he had to be caught around the plant before he demolished the next one. I agreed with the boys to catch grubs at 1/4d a grub. They never got paid for those grubs. Those are things they remember - even to this day. I wish I had got that money somehow even if I borrowed it, a thing we never did.

In later years when we were living at Palmerston North, Rod had his first job. He was always generous, too generous with us all. He quickly saved up until he brought home a new bike, his first new bike. He was pleased and excited to bring it home to show us, and the miserable critter that I was, I hardly took any notice of it - an action like this can leave something that is never forgotten. As far as I'm concerned I will never forget.

I was never one that could play with the children. This is regrettable as it brings parents and children closer together. The children then feel more at liberty to bring their troubles along. Still although I did not play with them, it was good to take them with me. I belonged to the Dovedale rifle range. Saturday morning was work and Saturday afternoon we went down to the range. They looked forward to this as much as I did. That is just one instance.

When we came into this life we were changed. Jesus was becoming more and more of a reality. The wife and I realised the need of watching over our family and endeavouring to lead them daily nearer to our Heavenly Father. We realised the need of being baptised in the Holy Ghost, although we sought, it was 18 months before we received. That story will come later.

The Leaving of Dovedale (1939)

As I mentioned before, I declared I never wanted to go out working on the road again, after the time we had when on the dole. There was no option for it, my pride had to be pocketed and also the man in charge was one who had told many lies about us. The Lord had His Hand in it all and gave me a dear Christian man to work with, Felix Robson. We really had a lovely time of fellowship along with our work. One morning a few months later, Felix's wife rang the wife up and said she noticed in the paper a share milking job over in Collingwood - a Mr Frank Riley wanted a sharemilker.

The wife got in touch with me and I rang through to Riley's. Mrs Riley said her husband was out on the farm with a man then. Riley's knew absolutely nothing about us, neither were they Christians, but when Mr Riley came in she drew him aside and told him not to do anything yet as she had been talking to the man who should have the farm. I rang Mr Riley up that night and he agreed to hold things up until I arrived next day. My sister and her hubby, Perce Jordon, took me over. The farm conditions were 1/3 cream cheque, 1/2 pigs and 1/2 calves. The house had not long been built and was on the top of a plateau called the Devil's Dining Table. This part consisted of about 30 acres of paki land, the cow shed and good land really started 1/2 to 3/4 mile by track and two and 1/2 miles around the road. The house was in a beautiful situation - Collingwood and the sea approximately 2 miles. We had a magnificent view every way one looked, could even see Mt Egmont at times.

The farm ran right down to the Aorere River which was quite big. On the other side the bush rose up steep, very high. A good part of the bush was rata and when it came out just before Christmas it was a sight not easily forgotten. Mr Riley and I had not gone far on the farm before I realised his mind was made up. I don't think anyone could realise what this meant. Nor could they realise my thankfulness to the Lord. This was the second time in our lives that we had lost everything - had no home - nowhere to take our family. Yet I believe the Lord was vindicating the wife's faith, when the man wanted the house in Dovedale and all our own efforts to get a house had miserably failed - yet with confidence that the Lord would not let us down. She told him he could have the house. Once more through the beauty of the Lord's mercy we now had a very nice farm and all that went with it and most of all a comfortable home. One moment so to speak, nothing, next everything that was needed.

The Lord definitely moved upon that man and woman's heart. People don't let farms go to strangers, especially without security. Everything just dovetailed in, and went off without a hitch. We did not want to bring our furniture over and they did not want to move theirs. I don't know what we did with ours, I think most given away, but we rented theirs at a small rent. 14 March 1939 we were back in Collingwood, all the business on both sides fixed up - this was six days from the time we had heard about it.

Seeing the season was well advanced Mr Riley started us off as from 1/3/39, also there were five pigs ready. He could have sent them away himself - it was hard enough to get through the first winter, but it would have been worse if he had not done this. We saw the hand of the Lord in all these things and were very grateful. Eight days before we even knew the Rileys, a third of the dairy cheque was going into our pockets and the pigs. We took some beds and our bedding, linen, crockery, and personal things. These were taken over to Moutere to meet Solly's who went through from Collingwood to Nelson. When I arrived back home from Collingwood after seeing the place, our rejoicing and thankfulness to our heavenly father for his provision knew no bounds.

The night before we left Mr and Mrs Lew Palmer and daughter arrived over from Orinoco to say good-bye. They realised what a hectic time we would be having so arrived with lots of food and wasn't it acceptable. I had known Lew in our single days, we had been very friendly visiting each other. We were sorry to leave them. We never saw them again, she died and I don't know where Lew is.

As one can imagine we were glad to leave Dovedale. Our stay had not been a pleasant one as far as Dovedale was concerned. Yet it was here that the dear Lord had revealed himself to us in a new and living way, where we had met Frank and Bro and Sis Eric and so many others of our dear brothers and sisters in the Lord. That was the pull. No more going to Nelson on Sunday and worshipping with them all. Still we could not doubt that the Lord's hand was upon us leading us forth to a new land. The morning came to leave, we all piled into the old Ford, our hopes were high for our 90 odd mile journey. Brad was living in Nelson and going to College - but there were still plenty of us left, nine to be correct including Hilary the baby. No there was ten, Rock the dog being one of the family, sat in his usual place on the running board. How we stacked all the etc and etc in I really don't know. Being a Model T Ford you could always put a bit more on. We had some tremendous loads at times and this was one. But I never remember getting to the last proverbial straw. We didn't see handkerchiefs along the road, I guess they were relieved to see those people depart, now they belonged to that fanatical Frank Wilson sect.

Well we cantered quietly along, the day was pleasant although hot - another car nearly cleaned us up on the approach to Motueka Bridge. There again we were thankful that the Lord preserved us. We started up Takaka Hill and it was not long before we had a boiling match. While waiting in a corner for the old girl to cool down, a road overseer I knew from that job ( on the dole times), a Mr Jack, came along with an empty car. He offered to take half our football team up to the top of the hill. I know the Lord sent him along just then, as how we would have made it with our load I don't know. Fords just love making geysers on hot days. we toddled on enjoying the day and the scenery, down through the Takaka Valley into the township. We must have caused quite a mild sensation among the natives, no doubt the Eatwells had a binder before proceeding on the next 20 miles.

We meandered on, the young fry's excitement flagging a little, being revived a little later with the thought of arriving at our new home. On through the hills to come out on a comparative flat. The excitement of pointing out our house in the distance - round the corner, up the road (the excitement was now intense). Turn in at the gate, up the goat track, a few extra grunts from the Ford, and hey presto, we were there. The Eatwells had arrived and were going to live on the Devil's Dinning Table. Some people thought it was only a joke, but it was a stark reality. Now we thanked the Lord for the safe journey and the home and all His love and kindness. Amen.

[1] The 'wife' was also called Peg, Ive, Jack, and Blackpants (because she would never miss an All Black game) by Charl.