February 14, 2017
Pam Bradshaw – family stories
Here’s Mum’s story (up until around 1992, when I sat down with her to record her memories).
I was born in Morrinsville on August 14, 1939 during a hailstorm. I had a wonderful childhood that revolved around the farm, blackberrying, mushrooming and picnics in the bush. I loved the outdoors, climbing trees, milking the house cow, helping in the shearing shed, looking after and feeding the baby lambs and helping Mum with the cooking for the haymakers, shearers, etc. A pretty good life really.
Some memories sitting around the coal range – listening to ‘It’s in the Bag,’ and Mum reading us stories, and sitting in front of the open fire playing games like consequences and board games. Mum also taught us to make up a story of what was happening in the fire (pictures). There was no TV. We knitted, read, and played games.
I liked playing school with Janette and Barry and Terry. I was the teacher. I think Janette enjoyed it but the boys were rather reluctant. I loved teaching. Janette started school knowing a lot more than the rest of her class. Yet it was Ian who was told he should go to university and be a geography teacher.
I had friends to stay and I stayed at their place. I learnt to ride a two wheeler push bike at Betty Telfer’s before I had one. She tried to teach me to sew doll’s clothes and that was not successful. She would just cut out the material and make them, with no patterns. She expected me to just go ahead and do the same. I didn’t have a clue. I was very much a doll person. A group of us used to take them to school.
I had eight years at Waihou School. I remember cold frosty mornings and I used to skip rope (Ian also used to, and he said he used to muck it up every time.) I played hopscotch. The rare treat was to buy a bought lunch: a pie and a cream bun. Some families had it every Monday. We were allowed to have it once every two or three months. Mum’s home made mince pies were very nice but weren’t quite the same.
I loved all the sports, especially basketball and sports days (athletics). I was defence because I was one of the tall girls. We visited all the other country schools and had a combined sports day at Herries Park in Te Aroha. That was great.
Then I went to Morrinsville College, and stayed with Nan from Monday to Friday. That was a huge change. I couldn’t wait to get back to the farm for the weekends, and the highlight was feeding out. Heaps of us – Mosens and Thomases – all hopped on top of the hay bales. There were two broken limbs from that. Terry broke an arm and Kevin Mosen broke a leg on different days.
On Saturday night everyone went to Youth Club – it was a community meeting place. The whole of Waihou also turned up for Sunday School. Mrs Cooper took us. Sometimes we also went to Eastport Church on Sunday afternoons, and after a big roast lamb dinner everyone was dozing off.
After I left school I biked into Te Aroha to play basketball for the Waihou team. I enjoyed playing tennis for the Eastport Road Club. We played inter-club tennis with the surrounding small clubs in the area.
I went to Karitane when I was 18. It was a toss up between being a Land Girl and a Karitane Nurse. Land girls were much in demand during the war but not so much afterwards. Steve’s fiancée was a land girl.
I loved looking after the babies at Karitane. My favourite part was the flat where you slept and looked after one or two babies on your own, like sole charge. It was lovely. You were also responsible for cooking all the food for the older babies in the hospital. There were no instructions and some girls were terrified of that. I compiled a book while I was up there on how to make simple things like custard and vege puree. That part of the training was more like casing. We had to go up and do the shopping and then take the babies for a walk.
For the other part of the training we were in the hospital wards, and two babies were assigned to you. You started as No.7 nurse, emptying nappy buckets and doing menial chores which was the lowest of low. Then you gradually worked your way up to No.1 and in charge.
The babies came in to the hospital because they had a problem, eg for feeding problems, or being premature or for a health problem. Parents only came in on a Sunday. Older children (18 months or a year old) also came in if the mother was having a problem. Mothers and babies came in to the Mothercraft Unit if there were feeding problems.
Another eye opener was going home with Biddy from Karitane. We had rice as a vegetable (up until then only as a pudding). A different culture going to Auckland. I missed the farm. I couldn’t wait to go back when I had time off.
Biddy was my best friend at Karitane. She was the one who showed us around (Shirley and I went to Karitane together, at the same time.) Biddy was South African. Biddy was the most down to earth person you could ever meet.
We slept in ‘Heaven’. Shirley and I and Cicely shared a room (way up the top of the Karitane Hospital, like an old castle) then shifted to the Annex. The Annex was full of ants, at the bottom of the garden. It was nasty and a bit spooky walking down there through trees late at night, after being on duty. There were often sailors hanging around. They were from the Navy and were berthed in Auckland, looking for something to do. They had met some of the nurses at a dance, so they came and knocked on the the door. Matron poked head out window and shouted to them to get off the property. I don’t think they would have come back, not those ones.
I actually loved night duty, and I could sleep during the day no trouble. The cook would leave out chops and a couple of eggs, a rare treat for a midnight breakfast. Only two people were on night duty – a senior and junior nurse. The junior nurse would cook breakfast at two or three in the morning. We’d go off duty at six, and it was lovely to hop into bed when everyone else was going to work. I ‘d wake up at three in the afternoon when the afternoon junior nurse brought in my heated up, horrible smelling of cabbage, dinnner (which had been heating up since 12 o’clock). I probably ate it all the same because I was always hungry.
Mum and Nan used to send us a cake sometimes but the ants would get into it, in the Annex. It was a horrible place, dark and dingy.
We had to supply our own uniforms, and we didn’t get any wages or pocket money. But now and again Nan and Mum used to pop 10 shillings into a letter. They used to write all the time. And then the hospital made us available for baby sitting. The people would come and pick you up, and I found repeat business. Sometimes I was paid quite well and sometimes poorly. I found it so hard; if you were available for baby sitting you had to get up early for duty the following morning. I would be sitting there getting tired, but it was the only way we could make a bit of money.
We used to walk to Mount Albert shopping centre (five minutes away) for a special treat. I’d buy fly cemeteries (fruit squares). On our days off we would sometimes catch a bus into Auckland City and go to the pictures. We led a very quiet life because we couldn’t join anything because we were always on shift work. Quite a variety of work.
Karitane involved 14 months training and 4 months compulsory casing. Afterwards you could either go casing or you could work in a hospital with a nursery. I was top of my class even though we had to make a layette – that couldn’t have been worth a lot of points. For the layette we were given a whole lot of pieces of material. I think I got some help from Biddy.
I went casing, and I had lots of good cases. Sometimes a mother would come home with first baby and we needed to teach her how to look after it. I found it not quite enough to do with only one baby. My favourite cases were sole charge, usually with more than one child.
My very first case was like that – a toddler and a second baby. Miss Fannin had a Karitane bureau, and we would go to her to get cases. Anyone who wanted a Karitane nurse would get in touch with her and tell them what they needed, and when they needed it, although sometimes the baby wouldn’t arrive on time. The family employing you had to pay for the service. Sometimes grandparents employed you if they couldn’t help out themselves. For this reason, we quite often went to help quite wealthy families. (That’s where Ian said I got all my bad habits from – dishwasher, automatic washing machines, waste masters.)
Miss Fannin rang me up at home when I was on a fortnight’s holiday after I had finished my training. Mrs Carr was in hospital with a breast abscess, and her American husband was trying to look after their two little boys. So I jumped on a bus to Auckland. Miss Fannen said there’ll be a woman in the house – I thought she’d be cooking or something. Anyway, I got to Auckland and was met by David Carr in a huge American car and he took me out to Remuera and dropped me off there. He went back to work. Johnny was 18 months, the baby a few weeks old, and the moment I arrived the woman who was there put her hat and coat on and was gone. I knew I was it. I was only 19, and I was so nervous. David Carr was hours late. I had to cook for him and I found some sausages in the fridge. A lot of Karitane nurses went into the hospital system rather than casing because you can end up doing everything.
I managed to get through that case. I knew there was something wrong with the baby (Roddy) because he kept on looking up at the sun. They found out later he was blind. The other boy (Johnny) was walking at nine months. He was a precocious kid. One day I went up to get Roddy and Johnny tipped all the flour and sugar into the middle of the kitchen floor. It was a fast learning experience but I loved going there. I went back lots of times when the parents went on holidays. I hadn’t been in a flash house before. I was both ‘upstairs’ and ‘downstairs’. That was my introduction to casing.
The responsibility put on us was huge but after the Carr one I knew I could do sole charge. The average was to stay at a place for two weeks at a time but it could be anything between one week and a month. I went all over the place to cases. There were lots in Auckland, one on the Thames Coast, one in Morrinsville (Walton), one in Kiwitahi and I loved the one at Tirau, way up in the hills. I was asked to fly to Wellington for a case at Lower Hutt. The Wellington Bureau didn’t have a nurse available. I also looked after a family in Motueka.
I had another case out in Howick. The father met me at the bus and took me home. We had a bite of lunch and then he and his wife disappeared to the South Island. I had a baby who was off colour and a toddler as well as two school children (aged 5 and 7) who would be arriving home that afternoon who didn’t even know me. We were out in the country and I had to get those four kids and me into town somehow. I didn’t have a car. We had to walk miles. The responsibility was huge. They had a section that went down to a gully. They had goats and sheep and then at night time I was woken by an alarm that went off in the house. I straight away thought there was someone in the house. It went off from time to time in the nights and I never found out where it was.
I went back to the Stewart family several times. Dorothy’s father was the first New Zealand man to be world president of Rotary. Dorothy got the call to go over and help her mother entertain at the social functions she had to go to, in America. So Dorothy was looking for someone to look after her three children and at that stage she was taking Anna (18 months) up to Biddy’s day care. Dorothy asked Biddy if she knew of anyone who could look after her family and Biddy recommended me, because she knew I did sole charge.
I went around and met Dorothy. I loved her family straight away. Des had had a heart attack a few months ago, so he was on a special diet and I had to be careful what I cooked for him. It was the first time I had heard about cooking in oil. The job was looking after Des, three kids and a fox terrier. Dorothy was in America for a month. Dorothy arranged to meet Des in Fiji for a few days on the way back. There was a gardener, and a cleaning lady. The cleaning lady and I used to sit over a long cup of tea. It was a lovely house in Mission Bay, and a nice experience. I kept going back to Stewarts for different reasons, then Dorothy found she was pregnant with Jenny. She was really sick. I helped both before and then after Jenny was born. Then Dorothy asked me if I would go and live with them. Up until then I had been going from case to case and didn’t have a place of my own.
I would help Dorothy part of the time and Dorothy found me eight people she knew who wanted a Karitane nurse one day a fortnight. Wednesday each week was hers. I would go to a house from 8.30 to five. I used to cook at all the places. I’d do jobs, hang washing out, and make beds at Cashmore’s. Mrs Cashmore rang and asked if Pam could wash her ceilings and Dorothy said “certainly not!”
Dorothy was keen to have me. Apart from the Wednesdays I babysat at night, and would stay there every second weekend. She paid me thirty shillings a week for her Wednesdays and the other people paid me two pounds and five shillings for their day.
The women in each place would be at the door with their hats and their bags waiting for me, so thrilled to have a day off. Sometimes they wouldn’t come back until I was ready to go on the bus. Occasionally one would shut herself in the bedroom and go to sleep. I made better money than when I was doing live-in cases. For day casing I received 2 pounds five shillings a day (10 pounds) and with the new arrangement I received a total of 1o pounds and 10 shillings a week. We earned 6 pounds a week for live in cases with one baby, and nine pounds a week for sole charge of up to 4 children.
I became part of the family and stayed there a couple of years. When going with Ian, I could come down to Waihi every second weekend, and Ian came up Sunday morning of the other weekend. I also lived with the Tomlinson’s for a while, then I went back to Stewart’s when they were going to England, just before I got married.
When I was 21 Biddy and I went to Australia on the Wanganella (by boat). First we went to Wellington and stayed in a YWCA – an awful old show. We had a night there. Then we found our way to the boat. We set off on a lovely sunny day and then a storm got up. I was sick as a dog. Biddy said it was ‘all in the mind’ and then she went off to breakfast and she couldn’t believe her eyes – there were just three people at breakfast. It always was a rough passage and the Wanganella was known to be a rolly boat. The sea sickness only lasted a day then I had a lot of fun. We played deck quoits and other games. It was a four day trip. When we got to Sydney we had heavy bags (we took too much luggage) and had to find the Karitane Bureau. Miss Fannin had told the Sydney bureau we were coming, and when we got there they had cases for us to go straight to, so didn’t have to find accommodation.
New Zealand Karitane nurses were well thought of so we had no trouble getting work. We both ended up on the North Shore. Biddy had a family with a mother and father both at home. I went to help elderly grandparents who were looking after a baby and didn’t know what to do. I was there about a week on my own and then the mother arrived back from hospital, and the father and two other children drove up from Armadale and collected the mother, the baby and me and took us out to the outback. It was fantastic. The house was a mile from the road. I saw a dead fox on the track. It was lovely because they were real country people. I have recipes from them that I’ve still got (including orchard cake). I loved it there.
Then I went back to Sydney by train. If Biddy and I had a day off together, we’d meet on the train and go into the city. Then Biddy and I had some time off and we took the overnight train to Melbourne. That was an experience. We had to change trains in the middle of the night because the tracks were different. When we got to Melbourne we still had those heavy bags. I remember thinking ‘where’s Dad?’ because he always met the bus. I really appreciated Dad after that, he was always there for us. No one knew us. I felt quite isolated. It was a strange feeling. We found our way to a nurse’s hostel where we could stay for a few nights, while we explored Melbourne. Then we had jobs to go to. I had two jobs in Melbourne. One with the grandfather and aunty of a baby. I stayed with them two weeks. They used to rock the baby to sleep, so I had to get them out of that. After we had dinner each night the aunty of the baby wouldn’t let me wash the dishes. I was horrified. She said the woman in the morning did that. They were very wealthy.
Then I went to a Jewish family. That was interesting because they all (including two little toddlers) fasted for all of Friday from sunrise to sunset, or 24 hours. The only people immune to that was the pregnant mother and me. It was very odd. I had a lovely flat to myself, out the back.
On the way back to Sydney Biddy and I caught a train and ended up in Canberra which was very new then. We stayed in an old boarding house and had breakfast with the people. It was the first time I’d seen a mall where the cars couldn’t go (pedestrians only). After a couple of nights we returned to Sydney. Biddy went back to her ‘safe case’ and I had a new one. This was with grandparents again – their daughter had married an Italian and she was home from Italy to have the baby. My job was to teach her how to look after this brand new baby. She was my age and didn’t know anything about babies. We had quite a nice time there. The grandparents were paying for everything. I gave her my mothercraft book and she was thrilled with it.
Biddy couldn’t wait to get back from our 10 week Australian holiday because she had just met Keith. We flew home which was really unusual. Flights were just coming in. Poppa had given me the airfare home for my 21st birthday present. (Not over there!) It was to make sure I came back.
For someone who wasn’t adventurous, I always seemed to find someone who wanted to go somewhere. Janette and I went apple picking in Nelson while Janette was waiting to go to Karitane. We travelled by overnight train. It was uncomfortable. We spent a few weeks living at Mapua. The Wells didn’t have huts, so we lived with the family.
Then I started going out with Ian on New Year’s Eve 1965. We met at the dance. Ian was in bed that night. John Murphy came calling and asked Ian to go with him to the dance. I was staying at the beach cottage and I walked along to the dance. They took me back to the cottage and Ian arranged to go out on New Year’s Eve to another dance at the RSA, near Brighton Park. We were engaged in March and married in October. It just seemed to be right for both of us. There didn’t seem any point in waiting around.
Just before Ian and I got engaged Bev and I decided we’d have a trip around the islands. It was quite an experience – including going to a banquet covered in flies. It was 100% humidity. We lived on the boat (the Tofua) and got off each day. Then Ian met me off the boat.
We got married in October. It was rainy on Friday, then I woke up on Saturday to frost and a glorious summer day. Ian got up really early because he had to milk beforehand. Everyone had the same wedding breakfasts in those days: cold meat, potatoes, salads, and curry and rice. Then pavlova and jellies.
After the wedding we went back to Gowan Lea. All the guests came back. I got changed into my going away outfit. Someone had parked the car amongst the rest, so it didn’t get tampered with. We didn’t hang around very long. We went running across the paddock to the car. I remembered I had packed eggs to take with us, and ran back for them. Everyone was hysterical that I had to be practical and remember the eggs.
We picked up stuff at Nan’s then went through Tirau to Rotorua and to Tarawera to stay at the Stewart’s beach place. It was a fabulous place to have a honeymoon. There were frosts nearly every morning and beautiful weather. We went to Rotorua one day to ring Nana Bradshaw about the farm. We had one week then we had to get back to the farm. The wedding had to be between spring time and AB. Either that or marry in February. Nana Bradshaw said don’t let him rush you but I was quite happy to be rushed. The Mackay Street house was still being built so Nana and Noel went to live with Dolly Heath in the meantime.
I had never milked before but it was a wonderful 24 years at Trig Road. Susan was born in November 1967, Debra in September 1969 and Malcolm in August 1972. It was just wonderful having the children. I loved that time. It was fantastic. Our life revolved around the farm. There was more blackberrying, mushrooming and all the things I’d done growing up. In the August holidays the children helped me with the calves. We had great holidays at the beach cottage, on the boat and camping. We went to a variety of places camping: Papa Aroha, Whitianga, Waihou Bay, and Papamoa. First we tried out the tent at Bowentown to see what we needed, and were eaten alive by sandflies. Ian made shelves out of boxes. We had great camping holidays and some very memorable boat holidays.
The beach cottage holidays were very special. We all have great memories. The north end of the beach by the rocks was a special place. We used to play for hours in the rock pools looking for crabs and all sorts. We spent a lot of time in the water, had long walks along the beach, and went to quick raffles at night.
On boat holidays we sailed in the Coromandel. We used to walk across from Te Kouma to ‘Debra’s Beach’ where we used to have barbecues at night. That was fun. I can still see that big pohutukawa. And we’d anchor near the Coromandel wharf and row in, in the dinghy, and walk along to the bakery. Another favourite place was Boat Harbour, and we spent time at Mercury Cove. That was a good holiday. We swam in the swimming hole and when we came back someone said did you see the big eel?
We used to swim off the boat. Everybody learnt to row the dinghy, and everybody dived off the boat and swam to shore. I wouldn’t want to do it now, too many sharks around. One time we were anchored near Slipper Island and we were all swimming off the boat except Ian and someone in another boat called out “there’s a shark in the water”. It was a mad panic to get back to the boat and clamber up this jolly rope ladder and some of us had flippers on. Ian didn’t believe there was a shark but we weren’t convinced.
The farm was a continuation of great times. We had a home made swimming pool – a big hole in the back yard with polythene in it. We spent lots of summers in there.
Then in 1990 we had a share milker on the farm and we moved to thirty acres on Waihi Beach Road. A whole new life opened up of no milking and time to develop a large garden. We didn’t have any money for a few years. We had no decks for three years and no garage, and no curtains for seven years. We just gradually got things.
Charlie came and didn’t stop; he went back to the farm twice. Trish and Joe said they’d look after him. Jimmy came and didn’t stay permanently; every few days he went back to the farm for some warm milk. He went over the hills and he’d stay there. He never came back over the hills. Joe would ring up and say he’s there. Ian turned up in the ute and Jimmy would be so excited, as if he’d been left there. He would bark all the way back, frightening cyclists. He’d wait until he got really close and bark at them from right by the edge of the ute. Then he’d bark all the way along the drive. He was the king dog going past the Rickards’ dogs.
When we lived at Trig Road Jimmy thought he was one of the kids. He was always part of the game. He loved ball games. If a ball went astray he’d always find it in the hedge. And he’d bring it over to us but then he wouldn’t give it back. That was part of the game.
All Ian’s dogs stayed outside the gate, but Jimmy stayed on the porch. I had to chase him with the mop to get him off the porch. After that, he’d take off whenever he saw the mop.
Jimmy thought he was a plaything, he didn’t know he was a work dog. He was an absolutely hopeless work dog. And then one day when Murray Otway was down talking to Ian, Ian told Murray that Jimmy was absolutely hopeless. Murray said don’t worry, send him up to me because I’ve trained dogs over in the Antarctic. I’ll fix him. Ian said okay, I’ll bring him up in a few days. Next day Jimmy started to work. He was brilliant after that. That’s how it happened.
He was wonderful with the cows and he had a favourite. She was always at the back when he brought the cows in. Jimmy would always bark at the other cows but never at her. She was his mate and allowed to amble along. It was uncanny.
One day Dad couldn’t find Jimmy when he went to get the cows in and he went down the back of the farm and there was a sick cow with Jimmy sitting beside her. He did it several times. He always knew when they were off colour. He used to lick their ears.
Jimmy was a beggar for biting the motorbike tyres. And he was awful with tractor tyres. One day Mal Morrison came across to the farm on his tractor to talk to Ian, and when he left Jimmy followed him up the road, running along the bank above the tractor. Jimmy flew off the bank to bite the tyre and spun around and around in the tyre and got spat out.
Jimmy had lots of lives. I ran over him in a new car. Ian was driving the tractor this time and Jimmy was on the bank, running along beside him. Ian turned into Hendersons and Jimmy ducked through the fence. He didn’t see me in the car. I hit him and he rolled into the paddock. He hid under the house until he recovered. It probably caused his arthritis. Later on Ian used to have to lift him onto the ute. He couldn’t jump very well.
Jimmy didn’t have a kennel up at the Beach Road house. He wouldn’t sleep in the shed because he hated the door being shut. So he used to come up to the front verandah and sit on the mat, leaning on the front door. I put an old towel down for him to sit on – he’d stand up just long enough for it to be put on the deck under him. Then he’d look around for the rug, which I put on top of him. By morning there would be no Jimmy and no rug. I’d go out and find the rug half way across the paddock. He really was a character.
Jimmy got very sick when he was up here. He couldn’t eat or drink and he was really terrible and Ian said he’d have to put him down. I said just wait another day or two and I managed to persuade Jimmy to drink just a little bit of water; and he passed or vomited a plastic bread bag. It had gummed him up. He got rid of that and he was fine again, and lived for another few years.
One night Trish Goudie came up and collected for Crippled Children. Jimmy barked like mad and made sure she got off the property. I put out his rug and towel and all the rest of it and then next morning there was no sign of him. We thought he’d gone off to the farm again. Dad went off to work (he was building with the Sayers, down at the beach) and I walked down to collect the mail and I saw something black just lying in the grass, just over the hill. I thought it was a calf, but it was Jimmy, dead. It was just over the spot where he used to sit and survey his kingdom. He must have had a heart attack (after doing all that chasing the night before).
There were just a few people that he took such a dislike to. He was quite a character. Susan went up to David Smith’s and she chose him. She said he was different from all the rest.
Tip was a one person dog. Ian had had him for quite a while before I arrived on the scene. He was never that great with me. We had the run off then. (Ian’s father bought that.) Ian had to go and bring the animals back. That’s why I had to learn to drive, to take Ian and Tip over there. Tip was gentle at herding the cows along the main road. He knew every open gate. He’d go to every one and stand in it to stop the animals going in there. We got Dan as a pup in 1972 and he died in 1979.
The cats: Blackie. She just arrived, turned up on our doorstep. She got the kidney problems.
Cheeky Charlie got run over by Tony Belcher. Charlie went under the house. The vet came to look at a cow (Ian would never get a vet out for a cat) but I persuaded Ian to get the vet to look at Charlie since the vet was already out here. The vet said “because he’s a loved animal he’s got a 50% chance of surviving. If he was a wild cat, it would only be half that”. And he survived.
Charlie used to follow me in the garden. He also sat on our knees with his claws out.
He was absolutely hopeless – we’d go on holiday and he’d go down the farm and get lost. We used to go down and call and call and call to find him. And not find him. We’d go home. And within a few hours he’d come home. He had to save face.
He wasn’t one to take to other people. He was selective. He’d disappear if there were other people around. But when we left the farm we had two months at the beach cottage and Trish fed him and looked after him.
We brought him up here. He was petrified in the car, looking out the window. I carried him into the house, and put him on the floor. His tail shot out and his legs went stiff, and he stalked his way through every room in the house. He was still petrified. We kept him inside for a day and a night. He made a mess on the carpet and Ian said that’s enough and put him out. Early next morning, when it was still dark, we had a phone call from Trish. Guess whose turned up. We couldn’t believe it. He never went anywhere except to get lost down the farm. How did he know how to get there? It was a bewildering thing. We went back and got him again. Then he sat on Debra’s bed. Then he messed on the new carpet again. It was a stormy night and Ian said he won’t travel tonight. We thought he’d stay under the house because it poured all night. Next morning, another early phone call, and he’d arrived home dry (and it had been wet all night). Trish said she was happy to look after him. Her kids loved him. And he took to that. He only lived another nine months. He was very old.
Farm and Family Life
It was a wonderful time on the farm. I loved looking after the children and living in the country was a real bonus. Family life was everything and I enjoyed following the children’s sports: swimming, athletics, netball, hockey and rugby.
Ian dug a big hole in the back yard and lined it with polythene and we had a swimming pool. We had years of fun and enjoyment. Malcolm was three or four when he chucked Charlie, who was a kitten at the time, in the pool. I think he wanted to see if he could swim. Charlie managed to grip on to the side of the pool with his claws and we pulled him out.
Duck shooting was part of my childhood, or I should say the plucking of ducks was. Janette used to say if it was chooks we were shooting she’d be right out there shooting too but not ducks. We weren’t so chuffed on eating them because you came across the shot. But it was all part of the ritual. It was great excitement for Dad and the boys. Barry couldn’t sleep for several nights before the big day.
When we were married Ian would shoot too. We would get up in the dark and pile the kids in the car and drive over to Waihou. Mum would have the bed heated up with electric blankets and hotties for the children to pop in to. Then she cooked up a big breakfast of sausages and eggs. It was a great family time even though we got to the stage where we didn’t like the ducks being shot. Even Poppa got to the stage where he didn’t shoot pheasants anymore.
The beach cottage holidays were very special. We all have great memories. The north end of the beach by the rocks was a special place. We used to play for hours in the rock pools looking for crabs and all sorts. We spent a lot of time in the water, had long walks along the beach, and went to quick raffles at night.
On boat holidays we sailed in the Coromandel. We used to walk across from Te Kouma to ‘Debra’s Beach’ where we used to have barbecues at night. That was fun. I can still see that big pohutukawa. And we’d anchor near the Coromandel wharf and row in, in the dinghy, and walk along to the bakery. Another favourite place was Boat Harbour, and we spent time at Mercury Cove. That was a good holiday. We went up to a swimming hole and when we came back someone said did you see the big eel?
We used to swim off the boat. Everybody learnt to row the dinghy, and everybody dived off the boat and swam to shore. I wouldn’t want to do it now, too many sharks around. One time we were anchored near Slipper Island and we were all swimming off the boat and someone in another boat called out “there’s a shark in the water”. It was a mad panic to get back to the boat and clamber up this jolly rope ladder and some of us had flippers on. Ian didn’t believe there was a shark but we weren’t convinced.
The highlight of our lives was when the children were little, though now is good too. I think having such a happy marriage and loving where you live and what you are doing makes for a very fulfilled life. We have had a very contented life. A very lucky life really.