A family history blog

Dorothy Davies’ account of her Torkington family

Written by Dorothy Davies

Dorothy Davies (nee Torkington) was the daughter of Harold and Flo’ Torkington. She was born in 1905 and died in 1991. She wrote out this account of her Torkington family in an exercise book and I think it was Nathan (Barry Torkington’s son) who keyboarded it to create this computer file.

Dorothy was Harold Torkington’s eldest daughter and Harold was William Torkington’s son. William Torkington was my great grandfather.


Somewhere about the year 1883, William Torkington set out from Aston-Under-Line in Lancashire, with three young sons, bound for New Zealand. William, my grandfather, had been bereft of most of his family through sickness and accident whilst they were quite young and his wife Eliza with consumption. His youngest little boy, Joseph, was a very delicate little fellow also, and the climate where they lived was a rather harsh one in the winter time. When Eliza died, the two younger boys, Harold and Joseph, were so young that when they grew older they could barely remember their mother at all. My Dad, Harold, said that all he could remember of her was of her lying on a settee by a fire and the scream she gave when she saw her two little sons who were sky-larking with each other, fall into the fire.

The eldest of the three, Arthur, stayed with his father mostly but Harold and Joe were divided among relations. The grandmother Torkington had Joe and an Aunt Annie looked after Harold. Maybe there were exchanges between the parties and the brothers all lived together at times, I do not know. There was only about twelve months difference in the ages of Harold and Joe, Arthur being about three years older than Harold. The two youngest ones were like twins and always stuck together through thick and thin. If there were any arguments among the three of them the two youngest ones always put up a united front against their big brother when they were youngsters. My Dad said he used to get a farthing a week as pocket money, and he used to save up until he could buy some worthwhile in the way of eats with it. One time he had saved enough to buy half a custard tart. He said that he always shared his spoils with his brother. This time they were going to have a real treat as he had saved up long and hard before he had enough farthings to buy anything like half of a custard tart. He hid his treasure on the top of the garden brick wall and went to fetch Joe to come and partake in the treat. Alas! When the two little fellows arrived back to the place where the pie had been hidden Harold reached up to get it down off the wall and it was gone. There were just a few crumbs left to tell the tale. Some jolly old Tom cat had got in first.

Their father William did quite a lot of travelling around before he decided on settling in N.Z. He travelled extensively in America and came out to N.Z. once or twice before making up his mind to come out here with his remaining family.

He was the eldest of eight children and was a carpenter and brick-layer as were his father and most of his brothers. They built some very tall chimneys for different factories around and about their home town and on one occasion after building an especially high one my grandfather caused quite a sensation to the folks down below by standing on his head on top of it.

One day, Joseph, William’s father, said to the mother, Sarah, “I wish I could lay my hands on a few pounds now I could make my fortune.” She said “How much does thee want?” He stated the sum he needed and she said “I can let thee have that much” so she went to her “bank” (her black stocking) and brought out the required amount. She was only a little woman and very “canny” as regards as to how she spent the money that was brought into the house. The family got enough and no more. If a pie was put on the table for a meal, for instance, each person got one helping each and the rest of the pie was put away for the next day. There were no second helpings ever. If the family had butter on their bread they didn’t have jam too. If they had jam they didn’t have butter. That was of course quite customary for the working class in those days and even when I was young, too. Anyway, she had saved enough to set her husband up in `business’. He built about 20 brick houses and a hotel.

The children were all well-educated and all were rather clever, well-read and very knowledgeable. Three went to America. Samuel when he was about 21 set out for America and settled in Los Angeles and became a well-known architect. My Dad said he was down at the station with his father to see his uncle off. He was only a very small boy then, but he can still remember his bitter disappointment and hatred for a certain porter, who, when his Uncle Samuel threw a few coins for him (Harold) gathered them up and put them in his pocket.

One, Joseph, became a Doctor of medicine and he settled in Toronto, Canada as did a sister Selena. She married a William Thatcher and one of their grandsons and his wife have in the latter years been twice to N.Z. to visit us. Their names (Ed and Laura).

James went to Australia with his wife Clara and family but after a few years there came to N.Z. and finally bought some land about 7 miles out of Warkworth at Dome Valley. Mary (Polly) married a Fred Bagot and between them started a newspaper going. It was called `The Middleton Guardian’ which as far as I know is still being printed to this day. Arthur, Joe, and Harold helped to sell the first copies as paper boys. There was one son of the Bagot union and he was named John. Annie, the other sister, didn’t marry. She was a fine singer and musician and wrote and had published a book of her poems. I had a book of her poems at one time–I gave them to Alvin. They were mostly of a religious and radical nature and were written about the time of the first world war.

My Dad had lots of pleasant memories of living with his Aunt Annie. One being: One time he came home from school with his hair full of lice and his Aunt Annie got to work on him immediately with a delousing comb in an effort to get rid of the vermin. She was making a game of it and she was taking count of each one that landed on the paper that had been placed in front of Harold’s head.

In the middle of the proceedings, some of Auntie Annie’s posh friends arrived and knocked on the front door. Aunt Annie very carefully ushered them into the front parlour, well away from the late scene of action in delousing Harold’s head.

Harold took up the comb and started the good work again on his own. He said he was getting so many, beating his Aunt’s efforts, hand over fist, that he got quite carried away and had to tell or show someone or burst. Also he was not the least bit ashamed of having a lousy head but rather flattered by all the attention that was being showered upon him. He carefully gathered up the paper with the fruits of his labour upon it and rushed into the parlour shouting “I got a lot more than you did, Auntie Annie.” He said “I’ll never forget to my dying day the awful silence that fell all of a sudden on that room and I couldn’t understand why instead of being praised for my efforts I was so unceremoniously bundled and of the room.”

One day little Joseph came home from school crying bitterly and when questioned as to what had gone wrong in his little world replied, “The teacher gave me a whalloping because I couldn’t say ‘egg’.” The teachers in the good? old days seemed to think that the only way to put knowledge into a child’s head was by whacking it in.

One day Arthur came home from school at the wrong time of the day for pupils to arrive home and he never went back to that particular school. It seems the teacher had whacked him for some minor offence and so he had taken umbrage, gone back to his desk, and picked up the heavy, solid ink well, aimed it at the `tyrant’. Either by being an excellent shot or by a stroke of luck on his part and not on the teachers he got him fair on his ear hole. He became a real hero in the eyes of his two younger brothers thereafter, for quite a long time.

When they were in London en route to N.Z. Krakatoa blew its top and for quite a while no one seemed to know what was happening. There were lurid sunsets, funny tides, and hazy dust-laden kind of skies. News was slow in reaching far away places then.

In August 28th 1883, Krakatoa an active volcano in Sundra XXX (size 18 sq. miles) in the East Indies blew up. The noise was heard 3,000 miles away. The waves from the explosion caused waves in the sea to reach the shores of four continents and were recorded 8,000 miles away.

An air wave generated by the blast travelled around the world not once, but several times. Where there had been a mountain a half of a mile high, was a hole 1000 ft deep and miles across. Red hot ashes covered an area larger than France to the depth of 100 ft. 36,000 lives were lost although there were no large towns within 100 miles of the volcano. It was the biggest blast in history.

I do not know the exact date that William and his three sons set out from London nor do I know the date of their landing in N.Z. or how long the journey took. They came to N.Z. in the S.S. Ionic which I think was the first S.S. to come to N.Z. At one time during the journey the going was a bit rough and Harold was very nearly swept overboard by a big wave which swept him off his feet and along the deck. A sailor managed to grab him just in time to save him from going over the side of the ship. A man named McCabe and another named Mortimer travelled with them. McCabe started a hat shop on the corner of Queen’s St. and Karangahape road and it was there for many years. Now it is a place for radios and TVs. My grandfather William, before he left England, had been given the opportunity to start up several kinds of agencies in N.Z. but he had a yen to go on the land.

He eventually bought a block of land at Ti Point and settled there to a life of hard work with little returns as far as money was concerned, but hte boys grew strong and robust and self-reliant.

They lived in a nikau whare that the Maoris had evacuated at some time in history. It was on the shores of the Whangateau Harbour by a little shelly beach with a creek and a spring close by. When they were coming out from England, the settlers were fond of regaling the boys with blood-curdling stories about the savage Maoris. How they were fierce cannibals and rather partial to little fat boys.

When they neared the shores and could hear goat bells singing in the distance, well that was the dinner bells ringing for the Maoris dinner. The little lads didn’t expect to live too long in this new land that their Dad had brought them to.

Actually, Auckland was a fair sized town when they came. They stayed for a while with some friends who had previously come out to N.Z.–their name was Batty–before settling at Ti Point. The Maori wars were over and cannibalism had long died out. There were still a few old Maoris left who had when they were young been eaters of human flesh.

There was one old tattooed chap called Turi who always put the fear of God into folks, when he made an appearance. He was an old warrior I don’t know where or how he lived as there were no natives on Ti Point at that time. There were quite a lot at Pakiri and some living at the Pah at Leigh but Turi didn’t belong to them. He used to come sailing around Johnnie’s Pt in his boat wearing a bell-topper hat, a cigar in his mouth and a pair of old dungaree trousers tied around his neck. The latter, he would don when he got close to civilisation.

One day when their father and eldest brother were away, old Turi paid the two youngest boys a visit. He had a snapper with them. It would have been more appetizing-looking if it had not been so ancient.

He proceeded to build a fire and of drift-wood on the beach and then roast the fish over it. He beckoned to the two boys, inviting them to come and share the meal with him but they were not too sure of his intentions so they held back and were content with watching old Turi enjoy his fish dinner.

They weren’t very happy with events afterwards for a while, either. Whilst he was busy building his fire and cooking his fish, old Turi had laid his pipe down and being old had forgotten where when he came to look for it and couldn’t find it. He started to glare at the boys with dark vicious looks and seemed to be swearing at them in Maori. They knew that he suspected them of stealing his pipe. “Ka Kina Ka Kina” something or other he kept muttering. In the end he found it lying by a rock where he had put it. Then he came and patted the two little fellows on the head and said in Maori, “Good boys, Kapai.” Soon he got into his canoe and went paddling away around Johnnie’s Pt again and out of sight much to the relief of Joe and Harold. One time some older boys the Knagg’s years later were teasing old Turi about some corn he had cooked and was intending to eat. He had soaked it until it stank to high heaven and the boys were ragging him about this. He had a tomahawk in his hand and all of a sudden he turned into a really savage Maori warrior. He started to do a dance in front of the startled boys and whirled his tomahawk around and around the heads of his teasers missing them by a hair’s breadth, all the time yelling at them in Maori. They thought that their last days had really come to them. It was the last time any one of them played tricks on or passed nasty remarks about old Turi.

William and Arthur were away a lot working at the carpentering and bricklaying trade. Most houses were built with two or three very fancy topped fireplaces and chimneys. There was plenty of work, but very little money in the district in those early times. I don’t know how they were paid, whether in cash or goods. I think somehow the latter. All provisions were brought down from Auckland on a Cutter, a sort of barge-like sailing vessel. If the weather happened to be wild and stormy, as it very often was, well that was too bad; the cutter didn’t make the trip and the provisions would run very low.

One time this happened and the family was reduced to only “rolled oats.” One very wet day when the two younger boys had been left alone and to their own devices for a couple of days, they got off their bunks and cooked themselves some porridge over an open fire. This consisted of stirring some rolled oats and water together and bringing it to the boil. As it was pouring with rain outside, they went back to their bunks to read. When they thought it was midday they bestirred themselves and soaked up some more porridge and when it was teatime, ditto, and then turned in for the night. A little later, the rain stopped and they heard voices coming from down on the beach. They got themselves dressed and went down to investigate. Joy oh joy! The cutter had arrived with a new stock of provisions. They found the time was 2 p.m. and they had had breakfast, dinner, and tea and turned in for the night.

Afterwards when they were properly settled they found that they had been practically starving in a land of plenty. The harbour was teeming with all kinds of fish. There were piles of big juicy oysters on the rocks and each side of the little bay where they were camped and when the tide was out there were beds of pipis and mussels laid bare.

Coming straight from a town like Ashton-under-Line miles away from the seas they knew nothing about fishing or how to row or sail a boat.

They very soon learned, however, and became experts on both accounts. At times they had to make their living fishing. They also were able to tell the time of day by looking at the sun and tell what the weather was likely to be, just by certain signs and the feel of things in general.

For a while they attended the Leigh School which was then away over where the Goat Island Rd branches off the main road to Pakiri. It would be well over 3 miles away even if they had taken short cuts through bush and over hills, but the most education and their best after they had landed in N.Z. was that which their father gave them. William was a well-educated and well-read man and encouraged his boys to read a lot and think for themselves.

William had an encyclopaedic kind of mind. Once had had read and studied a thing it was tucked away in his brain for good.

He had a wonderful selection of valuable books, including ten big illustrated volumes of English History (Cassells) and the first editions of Charles Dickens’ novels. The latter were illustrated by Cruikshank. They had been read so much that when I can first remember such things, they were in a rather dilapidated condition. They were magazine-sized books with green and gold hard-backed covers and the pages were very thin and had three columns of print on them and they were generously illustrated. Silverfish were terribly destructive and as there were no insecticides as there are today, they had a fairly untroubled existence. The only things I can remember that deterred them at all were Epsom Salts sprinkled about in drawers and cupboards and camphor. Anyway the silverfish nibbled away at the thin paper and soon spoiled them for reading. The big volumes of Cassel’s History of England are still intact. They only go as far as Victoria’s reign. They make very interesting reading and if one was a writer, one could get many a good background for a novel from them. There are still the old family Bible and one that was printed in James 1st reign, both in quite good condition.

After a while, William built himself a family house. It must have been quite a mammoth task as every thing had to be done by the pair of hands, windows, doors, cupboards, the lot. All the timber had to be sawn with an old handsaw and planed with the old fashioned style planes of those days. Sawn logs and timber had to be floated down from a mill away up near the top of the river near Big Omaha; then hauled to the construction site which was on the top of a ridge and at the foot of “Two tree hill” and overlooking the Bay. The Bay below was and still is called Arthur’s Bay; after Uncle Arthur I presume. Here he built a two-story house and planted pretty pink hedge roses and may and some blackberries in the garden. Years later, the house blew down in one of those terrific storms that seem to come in every so many years and do so much damage.

The house blew down in the middle of the night. It seemed to collapse like a pack of cards, all of a sudden, and the family had to spend the rest of the night huddled under a Puriri Tree. William had built it in one of the windiest spots on the place, my Dad reckoned.

I do not remember seeing any part of the house that could have been left, except a few flag stones. I guess the timber would have all been hauled away to a new site but I remember the pink roses and may and blackberries. They survived (just, in the end) for many a long day. It seems that where-ever William built himself a dwelling place and he built several, there were always pink roses and may planted but not blackberries any more. He evidently found that they grew a bit too well in N.Z. He also planted all kinds of fruit trees about the place. Some are still struggling to survive. Disease, oppossums, and neglect have all taken their toll. When the early settlers first came to N.Z. there was very little in the way of blights and pesty insects. Tomatoes just grew and about the only manure used was the old fashioned, blood and bone and bone dust. Even when I was young, the brown rot that is so very common in stone fruit, was unknown. I think it became rampant quite a few years after I was married. Ti Point, when William and his sons first arrived, had groves of peach trees that the Maoris had planted at one time, growing everywhere. Lovely big luscious peaches could be gathered by the bucket-full. Plenty for all. There were two families living close by, but whether they were there before William arrived or came afterwards I do not know. One family was named Woods and the other Lloyd. Joe later on purchased the Wood house and lived there all of his married life.

The Lloyd family came from London and old Mr Lloyd was a retired sea-captain with whiskers of a typical old sea-captain of his day style. I have a very vague recollection of the old couple. Mrs Lloyd always seemed to be dressed in black. A tight fitting bodice with black buttons down the front and a long full skirt. She seemed a very big lady to me but I think in reality she was only a small woman. They had two daughters, Mary and Nellie. Mrs Wood was a very dirty woman. Her home was a pigs sty, whilst the Lloyds were spotlessly clean. Mrs Wood thought nothing of gathering a bucket of cow manure for the garden and then boiling up the meat for tea in the same bucket. The children ran around practically naked. The boys thought all this rather grim and would have rather starved than had a meal in that peace. One day, Mrs Lloyd and Mrs Wood happened to go to gather peaches, both at the same time of day. One found the other taking peaches from her property and a violent argument ensued. The boys thought this a great joke. They straight away made up a parody on the Village Blacksmith “under a spreading peach tree, two angry women stood. One was Mrs Lloyd, and the other Mrs Wood,” etc.

Down by the road that goes to where the Ti Point wharf used to be and where it passes over a tiny creek, the Lloyds made a lovely lily pond. It was so pretty being a pond of clear water surrounded with lovely Arum lilies. The soil was very fertile around where the house was built, it was volcanic with lots of black soil full of pipe shells well rotted and powdery. I suppose the Maoris had been living there for generations at one time. Anyway, they had a lovely garden with camelias, red and white, old fashioned kind and all kinds of flowers and shrubs.

Mary married Alf Gravatt and went to live in Pakiri. They had a family of 8 children. After the old couple died Nellie was left all on her own to manage the farm and earn her living off it. She used to do her own fencing and look after her stock and cut her own firewood etc. She was a different character to her sister, Mary. Where Mary was a very jolly kind of girl and always laughing. Nellie was inclined to be of a disagreeable nature and hard to get alone with. When they went to dances at Leigh poor old Nellie was always a bit of a wall and my Dad used to dance with her quite a bit because he felt sorry for her. After the dance was always there was always a sit-down supper served in the ante-room of the old hall. Just before the last dance the N.Z. announced, “Gentlemen take your partners for the supper waltz.” The music was all supplied from the local talent my Dad would play an accordian or a mouth organ; sometimes dancing at the same time whilst playing the latter. Later on there was a piano in the hall and some of the Maoris from Pakiri were marvellous players of that and also a a Mr Ashworth a friend of my grandfathers came to live in the district and he was quite an accomplished pianist and my Uncle Joe was good with the fiddle. These two together made a very good orchestra to dance to; but that was more in my day. One time, my Dad said he had the supper waltz with Nellie and wondered why every one was giggly and laughing. He said he had quite forgotten that at the previous dance–they were held monthly–he had taken up no partner to supper as he said the girls generally just picked at the food and he felt a bit of a lug if he hoed into, which he felt like doing always, as cakes etc, were a real treat to him, having no mother, or sisters to make such dainties. They survived on a very Spartan diet. Anyway, some of the local girls started ragging him about this so he said in fun, “Well, the next time I come, I’ll pick out the hungriest looking girl in the room and ask her for supper.” He said he had forgotten all about this promise or threat until afterwards when Nellie came up to him looking for all the world like a little Bantam rooster with all its feathers up. “So you think I’m the hungriest looking girl in the room, do you?” she snapped at him. When I first remember Nellie she had a couple of whacking big buck teeth in the front of her mouth. These she later pulled out herself, I was told, with a pair of pliers or pincers.

The roads in the district were long, winding, very hilly, narrow, and with only patches of metal here and there on them. The Ti Point Rd was always in the winter time a mass of sticky yellow clay; very slippery too, as I remember it. I doubt if there was anything much more than a track to travel by when William first arrived. I can remember parts of the old track that used to go to Leigh. We children used to use it sometimes as a ‘short cut’ on our way to Sunday School and to collect the mail at Leigh. It went along down through Ashworth’s orchard (now Willena’s old place) down to the Falls below Korio Creek bridge and up through the bush on the other side.

Nellie after living by herself for years on end and being so cut off from the rest of the world and having to walk everywhere she went, gradually let herself and the house go. She concentrated on her farm and animals. She had an old faithful dog and cats galore. The latter were all very flea ridden. She was very independent and didn’t appreciate anyone trying to give her a helping hand. My Uncle Joe and my father used to do their best to help her until they became too old. Sometimes they would become a bit annoyed with her until they saw the funny side of things and have a good laugh. For instance, all produce and provisions would come down on the old steamer that came from Auckland once or twie a week and the flour would be in 10lb pots and sugar in 28lb bags and fowl food in great big sacks. They would always deliver Nellie’s load for her and she would always want to repay them with a threepenny (3 cents). It wasn’t that she was mean, in some ways she was very kind and good-natured, it was just to show her independence.

She dressed in any old garment that she came by and always wore a sack apron and hard old leather boots. One doesn’t see boots like those, nowadays. Gumboots have taken their place. She used to milk her cows by hand and then give the milk to the calves. Her young stock was always fat and sleek and used to fetch a good price on the market when she sold them. When she became very old, she had only sacks on her bed and the old house became very derelict and was a home for her fowls as well as herself and her cats. She suffered from a kind of eczema brought on by her poor diet and the conditions that she lived under. She died of pneumonia, in the Auckland Hospital at the age of 86. It was said that she thoroughly enjoyed the nice clean white sheets, the kind nurses and the cups of tea. She was by then one of the oldest identities of the district. The old house is still standing but only ‘just’. Some folks think it is an awful eyesore and others think that is rather picturesque and a link with the past. It certainly looks nothing like the home that I can first remember.

William, my grandfather, had a yen for farming but as my father used to say, he was the last one who should have thought about that as he hardly knew a bull from a cow and he was just a “sitting duck” to have the old crocks of the animal world palmed off on him. He ended up with some very strange cattle indeed, including a raw-boned rangy-looking mare named Pearl (which became the one and only horse that he ever possessed) I think. They all thought that they had it “made” when they acquired Pearl but they soon found and their mistake. Pearl had ideas of her own and one evidently was that she was going to let no man get the better of her. Firstly she refused to let any one of them come anywhere near her. Secondly she employed a vicious bite and a kick if they did. They tried to get near her with a rope one early morning trying to catch her … but not a hope. She bared her teeth and kicked up her heels and ran in circles around the paddock. This, she and they kept up until midday and it looked as though Pearl was thoroughly enjoying outwitting them all. At last William said, “One of you go and get the gun, I’ll show the bastard.” I never heard what actually became of Pearl but I don’t think they ever got on her back or harnessed her to a plough. Good for her! As my father grew older, he became an expert with a lasso and could lasso any animal from quite a distance from them. Perhaps the trouble they had had with old Pearl made it a necessity for one for them at least to become an expert in that way. This skill would have proved Pearls undoing if he had developed it before she made her appearance on the scene and exerted her independence.

The quickest way to get to Auckland when they first came to live at Ti Point and before the S.S. Kawau made its weekly trips, was to walk the distance which William could do in a day. When he was a young man he had trained with the militia of the day and had had to do a bit of marching. This training stood by him all his life. He always walked very smartly and with his back straight and shoulders square. He could out walk any one; even when he was an old man. All could tell, even at a distance, William, by his smart military stride.

The distance to Auckland would be nearly twice as far when he was walking it. A lot of the steep hills and bends have been eliminated or bypassed.

He would cut a load of firewood and sent it up by a barge to Auckland and then set out on foot to make arrangements for its sale. One time when he was still a small lad, Harold set out on the road with his father to accompany him to Auckland. He plodded stoically along until they got as far as Takapuna and then could go no further. His feet were all blistered and sore. more than likely he would have done the journey on bare feet. He stayed with friends in Takapuna until his Dad called for him on his way home.

One time, when they were living in the house at the foot of Two Tree hill, William’s youngest brother, John, the baby of the family, came out from England for a visit. He too walked all the distance from Auckland to Ti Point in order to visit his eldest brother whom he hadn’t seen for over twenty years. He arrived at the top of the hill just as William came to the door with a dish of washing up water to throw out. It had been raining and the path down from the top of the hill as slippery and steep. When John saw his brother at the door he became so excited that he yelled out to him and then tried to hurry a bit more. The upshot was that his feet slipped from under him and away down the slope he came on his backside at a terrific speed and landed right at William’s feet. William’s first greeting to his brother after about twenty years was “Thee’s in a bit of a hurry ain’t thee lad.”

They used to make their own bread and bake it in camp-ovens. They were round cast iron things that stood on three legs and the bread that came out of them was delicious. I’m not sure how they were heated. I think the fire wood was packed all around and under the ovens.

We had an old one, when I was little, I remember, but it was only used for holding food for the fowls. The bread was made from yeast which was made from a mixture of hops, flour, sugar and water, and bottled very tight until it “worked”. If the corks weren’t tied down very tight with string they would blow out and then the yeast would foam all out of the bottles and all over the place and very little, if any, was left to make the bread with. Then they would have to have soda bread. That would be just a scone mixture baked in the camp oven.

The bread was generally set to ‘rise’ in a warm spot on the verandah. A big milk dish was used for this as they used to make two or three big loaves at a time. They were always round like cart-wheels and would have a diameter of about 1 ft.

My Dad remembers one day coming home to find one of their half-grown chickens firmly stuck in the dough. The cloth covering the rising dough had blown off and the chicken had thought that it wad found an easy meal only to find itself bogged in it.

Another time the two younger boys were at loggerheads with their elder brother, Arthur. They were wanting a slice of bread each off a newly baked loaf. Arthur said they must wait until the next meal-time but his tow brothers reckoned they were starving and couldn’t possibly wait until then. Arthur was adamant that they would just have to. The other two were just as determined that they weren’t. When Arthur’s back was turned, Joe grabbed up the big cart-wheel shaped loaf and went for his life with Harold at his heels, off outside and away along the crest of the ridge as fast as his legs would carry him. Arthur was after them like a shot. Just as he got hold of Joe by the scruff of his neck, Joe passed the loaf to Harold who straight way set off in another direction, Arthur after him; just as he was about to be caught, Harold turned the loaf on its side and sent it rolling down the hill towards the creek at the bottom of the ridge. Away it went, ‘holus bolus’, gaining momentum as it went along. On the way down there happened to be quite a lot of stumps of trees where the bush had been cleared and ti wasn’t very long before the poor unlucky loaf of bread struck one of these and broke into sundry small pieces. Three very chastened boys gathered up the pieces and took them home.

On another occasion it happened to be Harold’s birthday and a kind of old lady–she was the wife of a retired Colonel of the Indian Army and lived where Horricks now live–baked him a cake for the occasion and sent it along to their house. Anything in the way of fancy cooking, I don’t think they ever went in for. As it happened the birthday boy was away and at the time it arrived he was down at Lloyds Pt among the rocks doing a spot of fishing. When he arrived home, not a crumb of his cake was left. The others had eaten it all. He said that he let out such a howl of disappointment it must have echoed around the hills and Bay for days.

After the house at the foot of Two Tree Hill blew down, William built his next place where Birdsall’s cow shed and orchard is today. This house was not nearly so big or fancy as the first one. Actually it was never finished off properly inside, one of the bedrooms was never lined and there was no verandah in the front. Again he planted the same pink roses and may. The roses were very pretty and always seemed to have blooms for most of the year. This house I remember quite well as it housed quite a few families after my grand-father and his family had finished with it. There was a very pretty little creek that had its beginnings from a spring at the foot of the hill not far from the house and it ran a rocky course down to an arm of the harbour. The water was clear and sparkling with rock pools and miniature waterfalls and lovely to drink on a hot day. There were little brown trout that danced in and out of the crevices and from under the rocks. This creek ran through lovely bush and ferns and on through an orchard where there was just about every fruit tree imaginable growing. It had been planted by two bachelor brothers, Owen and Chris Boyd. Owen was dead before my time and Chris (Mr Boyd to the children) was a great friend of ours. He was very fond of children and always had sweets and biscuits available for any who called to visit him. He was an old man when we were children and was a retired lawyer and he was always keen, I remember that we children should receive a good education. I’m afraid that didn’t happen; we were lucky that we got as much as we did. We always, when we had it, kept him supplied with milk, free. Folks didn’t charge or expect payment for such trifles and we children delivered it daily to his door. He generally rewarded us with sweet biscuits or barley sugar. He lived in a two-roomed wooden shack and was very clean and had as a companion a dog named Spot. He used to come along to our place very often of an evening after tea. He would have an old fashioned kerosene lantern to light him on his way. He had a fair distance to come and go, about 3/4 miles. Some of it would be through bushy scrub along a narrow path. Sometimes it would be nearly 2 o’clock in the morning before he would decide that it was time for him to go home. We children would go to bed, my mother would go to bed, my Dad would put out the cat and wind up the clock and every now and then give a big yawn, but still Mr Boyd would sit, yarning or hold forth on the politics of the day, until he decided it was time for him to go to ‘make tracks’ for home. Now and again he would row his boat across to the Sandspit (now Omaha Beach) and pull it up well above the high-water mark and then he would walk the full length of the beach and then over the hills to some friends called Young, who lived on the other side of the peninsular opposite Kawau Island. He would stay there for a few days and then walk the distance home again. Sometimes he would come back with a load of scallops that he had picked up near the top end of the beach. This would be after a storm. One time he came across as cache of tobacco in tins. It had been buried in the sand by smugglers–before my time–and it was in perfect condition. The winds had blown the sands away and revealed the horde. The smugglers had evidently hidden their booty among the sand dunes and then neither had not come back for it or else couldn’t find the spot where they had buried it.

There were two skeletons that kept coming to light among the sand-hills, too, every now and again. One was the remains of a young fellow, a complete stranger to the district who had tried to go across the harbour at the top end of it and had got stuck in the mud and had drowned. This was in the very early days, long before my folks had come to live at Ti Point.

The locals buried him just as he was in the coat and clothes he had on along with a kind of iron chest he had, unopened, deep in the sand, well away from the sea. In the summer-time the sand in the wide part of the Spit where he was interred would become very hot and what with the salt and the heat, his bones, leather boots, and chest must have become kind of preserved because every now and again through the years and through the vagaries of winds and storms this particular fellow would come to light, still with his clothes and boots clinging to him and with his chest by his side. I can remember him quite plainly. We children never touched him just left him lying where he was. The next strong winds or storm that came would soon cover him again. The other skeleton that sometimes showed itself was that of a young remittance man who had died of T.B.

When the 2nd World War was on, the Americans used the beaches and coastline around there for landing practice and all kinds of maritime manoeuvres and a few years after the war had finished and the Americans gone home, the skeletons came to light once again and this time caused quite a stir. It was Christmas Day and Eileen’s twins who were little fellows of about 9 or ten years had rowed over to the Sandspit and whilst wandering around or playing among the sand-hills had discovered the skeleton with the boots etc. By this time the boots and clothing were all a faded khaki colour. They gathered him up and put him in the bow of the boat and covered him over with a sack. Casually at tea-time they mentioned their find and everyone jumped to the conclusion that it must be the result of some foul deed perpetrated by the Americans whilst they were on their manoeuvres, and so the police in Warkworth were notified.

In the meanwhile the owner of the boat came along with plans for doing a spot of fishing off the Ti Point wharf. He put down his anchor and then noticed the sack in the bow. He pulled it aside and found a lot of bones and what he thought was old rubbish and shoved them over the side and calmly went on with his fishing. It wasn’t until he came home that he found that he had got rid of all the evidence.

My Dad happened to be alive at the time and the police rang him and he was able to put all fears to rest as he “knew the gentleman quite well”.

Mr Boyd’s orchard contained just about every fruit tree imaginable and we children had free run of it and could gather as much fruit as we wanted. There were very few diseases among the orchards and of course no opossums those days. There were lovely orchards everywhere around Leigh and folks used to send a lot of it up to the City Markets but it got that way in the end that by the time they had paid the freight on the steamer and the cartage at the other end and paid for their fruit cases they were likely to be out of pocket. Then along came diseases and later opposums and away went the orchards and grass paddocks with sheep and cattle grazing took their places. Mr Boyd’s orchard is now a county rubbish dump.

It must have been very fertile soil there, because they were not pruned, sprayed or manured and yet they grew luxuriously. There were all varieties of plums; a lot that one seldom sees, except maybe in very old orchards today. Purple damson, greengage, and a long free stone red prune plum were some that I remember. All these plums made lovely jam. There were golden russell apples and a big Northern Spy and a big persimmon tree. We dearly loved those persimmons when they were ripe.

There is not a tree of the orchard left now and after Tickles started his quarry, the pretty little stony creek was blasted off the face of the earth. After old Boyd died, the trees gradually died out. Diseases became rampant, opossums arrived and the sea gradually encroached Loads and loads of metal came out of the surrounding hills and now it is just a rubbish dump.

It was down in this orchard that i remember making the acquaintance of Mary and Johnny Kawhene, two friends of my Dad’s. It was the first time, too, that I had seen a real Maori made flax kit, and I was quite fascinated with the latter. I remember being a bit scared of Mary and Johnnie. Johnnie was a Waikato Maori who had been taken prisoner during the Maori wars and put onto Kawau Is. along with a lot of others. Some of them, along with Johnnie, escaped and took up quarters up Tamahunga way in the bush. For a time those living close by were terrified of them but according to Johnnie they were more frightened of the Pakeha. Later they were all pardoned and Johnnie and Mary, his wife, lived in a whare between old Boyd’s orchard and Kohekohe. Johnnie’s Pt was named after him. I suppose because the first glimpse of his coming into the bay would be around that Pt.

One day my Dad met Mary, gathering pipis on the pipi bank, and he stopped to have a chat with her. He said, “Py Kari, Mary, pipis for tea eh?” “Kapai eh?” Mary said. “Aye, pipis for tea, kapai. But pipi for tea, pipi for breakfast, pipi for dinner, pipi, pipi, pipi, Kakina!” One can evidently have too much of a good thing I guess they were glad when Mr Boyd’s orchard was plentiful with fruit and they could have a change of diet. Another time he was going to visit some friends by the name of Hadwick who lived away up at the very end of Cox Head Rd and he met Johnnie just coming back from there.

“Where you going Hari, eh?” says Johnnie. “To visit the Hadwicks,” says Harold. “Oh, by Kari,” says Johnnie, “don’t you eat any of their vegetables.” “Why?” says Harold. “Oh, py kari, you don’t want to see what they put around the roots of those things” says Johnny.

This old couple had adopted a baby daughter at one time. Her name was Adelaide. When I was just a very young child she was a young woman. She was a European child and I remember she had beautiful auburn hair.

For a white child to be brought up and especially adopted by them was a rather dreadful thing to happen in those days. Anyway Adelaide grew into a bonny-looking healthy girl. I don’t really know what became of her when she was a grown woman. I think she married and left the district after the old couple had died.

When Arthur was a young man, he left N.Z. and went to South Africa and settled in Johannesburg. It was just a fairly young town then and being a good carpenter and bricklayer, he was in full employment straight away. He eventually finished quite high up in the Municipal Dept of Jo-burgh. He said if he had had a better education he could have been right at the top. When he was about 40 years old he married a window with a grown up son of about 21 years named Leonard of whom he was very fond and proud of. Our Auntie Lizzie was a big woman of about 18 stone. She was Sth African born, but of Dutch extraction. Her father had been killed at “Rourkes Drift Battle” during the Zulu war and she very much hated all black folks.

When I was about fifteen years old and before my grandfather had died, our Uncle Arthur came back to N.Z. bringing his wife and Auntie Lizzie with him. We all thought they were marvellous–our aunt and uncle from South Africa. It was like some one arriving from the moon, today, to us.

They really were a very handsome couple and our uncle had a very hearty infectious kind of laugh. When he laughed everyone just had to join in and laugh with him, one could not help doing so. They were both full of fun which went down well, with we youngsters especially.

Our Auntie Lizzie was a first class cook. We had a wonderful Christmas the year that they visited us. All told there were 10 grandchildren of Williams by this time. Joe had seven, four boys and three girls, and Harold, two girls and one boy.

In our sitting room we had a wonderful Christmas day, all decorated with ballons and spangly things and toys and presents for all. My Dad dressed up as Santa with a red suit and white whiskers, and the younger ones didn’t notice that their Uncle Harold was missing from the scene of action. Nor did they notice anything when one of the adults yelled “Look out Harold your whiskers are on fire!”

Christmas dinner was held on the verandah down at Joes. Two big plum puddings were made, one by my mother and one by my Auntie Minnie (Joe’s wife). Auntie Lizzie made a big batch of flakey pastry. The kind that just melted in one’s mouth. The home-made butter of those days made lovely puff-pastry and the buttermilk that was over after the butter had been churned made delicious scones.

Our Auntie Lizzie loved N.Z., especially the bush. She reckoned that if she lived here, she would have her home right in the middle of the bush. No snakes or wild animals or creepy crawlies to worry about.

Every morning the two visitors would go down to the Back Beach and have a swim. It would be quite an effort for two portly people as it is about 200 ft down to the beach and the cliffs are very steep. My Auntie, being new blood in the country, I suppose, got very much bitten by the mosquitoes when she arrived, first.

I can’t remember how long my aunt and uncle stayed, but I know it was during the summer months and the weather was at its best all the time they were with us and the pohutukawas were a blaze of colour at Christmas time and the sea and sky lovely shades of blue. We all went for lovely picnics in the boat to Anchor Beach and Pink Beach and over to Dacre’s Claim on New Year’s Day where the whole district gathered each year right up until the Second World War came. There, there would be all kinds of competitions held, races for children and adults, egg and spoon races, three-legged races, thread-the-needle races, relay races, lollie scrambles and jumping and all sorts, everyone would come from miles around and folks would meet up with friends and relations they hadn’t seen since last New Year’s Day picnic.

My uncle went out fishing with his brothers one day and caught a six foot mako shark. He wrote and told us after he got back to S. Africa that by the time he had got home that that 6 ft. shark had easily reached the length of 10 ft. Even by the time he had reached Cape Town.

They came out from and went back to Sth Africa by liner and neither suffered any mal-de-mer on route but poor Auntie Lizzie wasn’t so lucky whilst travelling from Auckland to Leigh on our little coastal boat the S.S. Kawau.

That boat would make anyone, except those endowed with a cast iron belly, sick. It would pitch and toss and roll from ride to ride, without mercy for her poor crew and passengers. The cabin was a small stuffy place, down a flight of stairs. It had red plush upholstery in the lounge suite with red cushions to match. One could recline here if one was so inclined or go down and have a nap; but it was quite on the cards that one would end the journey with more than just dandruff one’s hair. Most passengers preferred to brave the elements and stay up on deck: also one did not get so seasick up in the fresh air. My cousins didn’t mind how rough. The seas were or how much the old boat tossed and rolled and ploughed through the waves. They were never sea-sick and neither were my Dad and his brothers. My mother only had to watch the old steamer, which passed right in front of our place, ploughing through the waves on a rough day, between Takatu Pt and Leigh, to feel squeamish.

The Northern S.S. Coy served the coastal areas for many a long day. As far back as I can remember, the old Kawau with a Mr Olson as her captain came twice a week. She would go as far as Mangawhai and then come back to Leigh. She would discharge the mail, passengers, and cargo for Leigh, go on to Mangawhai and ditto there and take on board passengers, cargo and mail from both places and then come around to Ti Point, and then on up to the Top Wharf. She would go up to the latter on the full tide. Sometimes she would berth for the night at either the Ti Point wharf of the Top one if the tides were not right.

She would call into Kawau Island and into the various bays and islands en route where the locals would come out along side her in their small rowing boats and the Kawau would take on board their produce and maybe a passenger for Auckland and also deliver mail and goods to them. The journey to and from Auckland to Leigh seldom took less than 6 hours.

The old Kawau and her crew and her sister ships, the Kotiti and the Kapanui and their crews served the the folks going around the coast, valiantly and it wasn’t until after 1936 and good main roads came into being and motor-lorries, cars, and buses began to appear on the scene, did the settlers have any other means of transport.

One time when my father was a very young man and was returning home on the old Kawau, a young mother with a little baby girl happened to be a fellow traveller of his. She boarded the vessel at Auckland and she was bound for Kawau Is. Whether there was a jetty there or not, at that time, I do not know, but I have an idea that the passengers were landed on the beach in front of Mansion House.

Anyway it was not a very smooth journey and when the Kawau started her rocking and her rolling, the young mother became very sick and very agitated. My Dad who was always a good sailor and always at home with young and old alike and always very kind-hearted and good-natured felt sorry for the young mother and offered to mind the baby for her. She handed her over to him without any ado and went below to the ladies’ cabin. He looked after the little thing for hours, all the way from North Head to Kawau Island. The mother didn’t make an appearance until it was time to land. When she did come up from the cabin she was in a hysterical state and didn’t want to get into the boat to be taken ashore at all. When at last the Captain and crew persuaded her that all would be well and it was the only way that they could land at Kawau she finally got in, nowadays would she be cajoled in taking the baby with her. In the end the steward rowed her ashore and then came back and collected Harold and the baby and rowed them to the beach. He took it ashore and the mother didn’t want to collect her off-spring. She marched straight up to the Mansion House and Harold trailed after her with the little one. He said it was a remarkably good little soul and hardly cried at all, the whole journey.

One time our Grandfather’s youngest brother John–the one who came sliding down the hill on his backside–had occasion to go to Auckland to get himself a set of new dentures at Harvey Walkers in Queen St. He got fitted alright with a set that suited him fine but! he didn’t happen to have as good a stomach for the sea as some of the family and alas the weather, on his way home, happened to be rough and stormy and the old S.S. Kawau jumped to the occasion and put on a pretty good rock and roll season and it was not long before John had lost his brand new dentures overboard and when he landed back at Ti Point everyone wanted to know where his new teeth were and he really couldn’t tell them where they were. After a while he went up to Harvey Walkers to get a new set fitted and got the dentist to make this set a bit tighter than the first. This time he had no mishaps on the way home. They were so good a fit that he didn’t bother to take them out of his mouth for two or three days. He just gave them a scrub with his toothbrush leaving then where the dentist had placed them. One morning he gave them a close scrutiny in the mirror and horrors of horrors! it looked to him as though his gum around the new teeth was turning blue or even purple. He tried to lever them out but they wouldn’t budge. Now he got really worried about things. He got hold of his pocket knife and tried to lever them up and away from his top gum. He managed to shift his denture alright but it got slantwise across the roof of his mouth and try as he might he couldn’t budge it. So back to the city he had to go once again before he starved to death. The dentist thought it was one hell of a joke and laughed his head off but it wasn’t until a long time after that John saw the funny side of things.

The same Uncle John was a very clever, brainy kind of fellow. He was the youngest of a family of 8, and had been highly educated, for those days. He had learned French and shorthand and was a journalist and a lino typist working on the Middleton Guardian before he came out to N.Z. He was a great mathematician and it was reckoned that he could solve any mathematical problem one liked to give him. He always knew when eclipses of the sun and moon were going to occur, just by his reckoning. He told the time of day by a sundial he had made. That was quite good for a sunshine day but not much good for a dull or wet day.

He was a confirmed bachelor and was rather fond of his grog although I must say that I never once saw him drunk or the worse for liquor. All round, his cleverness and knowledge was rather wasted as he made no use of it whatsoever. The rest of family reckoned that when he was young, being the baby of the family, his mother spoiled him dreadfully.

When I first remember him he was living in one of the places that William, his brother, had built, where Dawsie Birdsall’s orchard is now. The second one with the pink roses and may bushes in the front garden. I remember he used to bake large sultana cakes in a baking dish and when we children visited him he would give us a good big slice of this cake which we reckoned was about the best cake we had ever tasted; especially when it was just fresh out of the oven.

At one time, when he was older, he lived in a kind of shanty shack place on the gum flat. It is now called Pt. Wells. The two brothers Harold and Joe owned a block of land there where they used to dig for gum at certain times of the year. At one time when they were young, they could have bought the lot for 6d an acre off a Mr. Lord who was anxious to sell. This Mr Lord was an English gentleman type of fellow and was tall and thin and had an outsized Adam’s apple which wobbled up and down when he talked, which was rather fascinating to watch; my Dad said. The two brothers had to decline the offer as they didn’t have a sixpence between them at that stage of their career. Later they bought their lot for 2/6d an acre. It is away at the other side of the harbour from Ti Point and when the brothers were busy gum-digging they had to row their boat all the way up of a morning before they did their hard day’s work and then row all the way back in the evening when they must have been very tired. It was a long, long way to row. As the harbour is a tidal one they generally made sure that they went up with the tide and came back with it, too. If there was a fair wind, well that was fine, they would sail the distance, at least one way. Very often the boat would be laden down with great sacks of gum.

When they got it to the bay, they would have to carry it on their backs up to Joe’s place where there was a big shed that they stored it in and where it used to be cleaned and scraped, ready to be shipped to Auckland. Some of the lumps of gum were huge and very beautiful when scraped and cleaned and polished but it was a long, dusty, dirty job scraping gum and was generally done when the weather was inclement. Sometimes we children would help. sometimes, too, we would go up in the boat with our fathers and spend the day with them up at the gum-flat and we would gather ‘gum nuts’. These were small pieces of gum washed up on the beach. We earned enough, that way each year, to buy our school books. It was a case of every mickle makes a muckle with us in those days. Kauri gum was a very lucrative product. It was made into a varnish and used in the manufacture of linoleums. Later on, a cheaper varnish took its place and the price of kauri gum slumped and it became a glut on the market. Now the land, which is very rich and fertile is very much in demand for market gardens and for retired folks to take up residence.

Where John’s shack was, the soil was black and rich and grew the best vegetables and biggest stalks of rhubarb one would ever see. Along side was a deep well of lovely sweet tasting cold water. The sides of the well were of limestone and even on the hottest day the water would be lovely and cool. It was a square well, about 6 ft by 6 ft wide and I don’t know how deep, we just couldn’t see the bottom of it. It was covered over and had a trapdoor that was pulled up when one wanted to get some water.

My grandfather, William, used often to sit on his hunkers with his telescope, when he was an old man and watch his two sons coming home across the harbour from the Flat. There would be lots of huge, big, boulders right in the middle of the road, and one used to be his favourite to squat by and rest his telescope on as he watched the boats slow progress across the harbour.

One time when John was living in the house with the pink roses and white may, he came home from his work one evening to find some little fledgling birds stuffed in his sugar basin along with its contents (it was the old fashioned type of sugar basin and quite capable of holding about 1lb of sugar at a time) and in his jam and tin of condensed milk. It was only a little primer at the time and the boys who travelled along the road passed John’s cottage each day, to and from school each day and who had perpetrated the foul deed, seemed awfully big school-boys to me.

When I learned what they had done, they turned into monsters overnight. I had not a lot of sympathy for my uncle and his loss of worldly goods. It was the poor little helpless birds that I was sorry for. The culprits got 6 of the best from the school teacher when their guilt was proven. As he was a teacher who seldom whacked anyone–I can’t remember him ever caning anyone else, when I come to think of it–it was fine punishment indeed.

One time my cousin Arthur, who happened to be my twin cousin and play-mate, mis-behaved himself badly at school and he too got caught and badly punished. The desks in the school all had two glass ink wells set into the top of them. These ink wells were glass and rimmed with brass. One held scarlet ink and one held blue-black ink.

In front of Arthur was a little girl in an immaculate white pinafore all starched and ironed and tied around the waist with a wide sash. She had a mass of beautiful long ringlets that kept on dangling near Arthur’s desk and right in front of his eyes in a most tempting manner very close to his blue-black ink well. It only took a little manoeuvring to get those ends of hair into that ink well adn soon there was a lovely intricate pattern of blue ink right across the top of the pinafore at the back. I guess that Arthur was soon very much appalled at his handiwork; everyone else was. The teacher (the same kind one) got hold of him by one of his ears and took him across the room to a huge high cupboard that reached from the floor to the ceiling and had big doors and was full of books, pencils, chalks, etc. there had had to stand for quite a long time with his head in the cupboard and his backside sticking out into the room.

The ink we used was just about indelible and the very devil to try and remove but this time I didn’t waste any sympathy on the poor little girl or her mother who had to try and get rid of the ink stains. All my sympathy was with my poor cousin with his head stuck in the cupboard. I suppose he was long forgotten the incident but I remember it as though it was but yesterday. Those pinafores we girls used to wear, when I think back, with their long sashes, were most inappropriate for school wear. They were snowy white (or supposed to be) and starched and very often had a filled yoke and bottom edge. Sometimes the upper yoke would be pin tucked. XXX all had a crocheted yoke worked by my grandmother, who was a great needle-woman and was especially fond of cheating. She kept my sister and I supplied with white aprons and sashes. The pinafores were starched with the old `Sylvia’ starch and ironed with old fashioned irons which were heated on top fo the range. We had an old fashioned flat iron and one with a chimney. The latter one had a lid that lifted up and red hot coals were placed inside and the smoke came out of the chimney. Later Mrs Potts irons came into vogue and they were a great boon.

The dearth of water during the summer months for those who relied on galvanised tanks for their water supply and the dirty dusty roads must have made it a mammoth task to have those aprons so nice. We also used to have large white large hats made of a kind of thick lawn with a wide border of a kind of embroidered anglaise lace.

These were only for very especially important occasions, though. They were starched as hard as a board and were very comfortable on one’s head. They were all right if the day happened to be a fine one, but if one got caught in a shower, well, woe was me! The brim of the hat immediately collapsed around one’s ears and covered the face with its starchy wet mass. When we were dressed up, with these hats on our heads, and starched dresses and petticoats to match we were sat on a chair and told to stay there or else, or God knows what would happen dto us, until the adults of the family were ready. This is a far cry from the sun, hats, t-shirts and shorts of today. We were dressed like this for the New Year’s Day picnic when all kinds of sports were held.

When my Dad was quite young, he seems to have found work in various parts of the district and at all kinds of occupations. He seems to have spent quite a lot of his young days in Pakiri with the Gravatts and Dwyers. He did bush logging and drove a team of bullocks at one stage. One of his mates Ernie Gravatt was killed whilst bush logging on the Pakiri Hill, caused through a big kauri log rolling on him and crushing him to death. It was a great tragedy at the time, as one can well-imagine. He was a fine fellow, one of the best, and he left a window and a small son.

At one time when he was just a lad, he was living with some people named Dwyers and they had a little baby girl called Ruth of whom he was very fond. One day he was piggy-backing her along Pakiri Beach when he met an old tattooed Maori lady whom he did not know and she stopped to admire the baby. She gloated over her for a while admiring the little fat legs and arms and then she said with a twinkle in her eye, “Py kari! Kapai to eat, eh? Very nice in hangi, eh?” Harold took to his heels, he couldn’t get enough of the beach between him and the old lady fast enough. He said he heard her chuckling and chortling to herself as he picked up the little one and fled. It wasn’t until a few years later and he was older that he realized that she had been having a joke at his expense.

He and his younger brother Joe joined a surveyor’s party when they were about 20-21 years, at Coromandel. Coromandel was a fair-sized town at the time and a bit of a boom one. It had seven hotels and was full of miners and prospectors. They were with a party of surveyors who had a man named Kensington as their head man. I think they must have been surveying and mapping for roads as they seemed to have tramped over much of the peninsula whilst they were there.

One time Joe got left behind, lost in the bushy, and it wasn’t until they got back to camp head quarters and it was almost dark that they found he wasn’t with them. Kensington was very blase about it and was gonig to leave sending out a search party to look for him until the morning. My Dad said it was a terrible place to be lost in, there were great ravines and precipices that if one fell over one, one would not be seen or heard of again and he was imagining this happening to his brother if he was not found pretty smartly. He said he kicked up such a fuss and did so much threatening as to what would happen to said Kensington if anything happened to his brother Joe that he immediately set up a search party to go back into the dense bush to look for Joe. Each member carried a kerosene lantern to light him on his way.

They kept on calling, “Cooee! Cooee!” which was a good penetrating sound and carried for al ong distance. After about an hour they heard a faint “Cooeee” answering them and before long they found Joe sitting on a log and very close by was a steep nasty looking raving. Joe had made up his mind to settle by the log and spend the night there but as it was rather wet and cold it wasn’t a very pleasant prospect to look forward to.

One day when they were setting out on one of their expeditions into the bush, the camp cook promised them a slap up meal when they returned in the evening which would include a big plum duff but alas! and alack! the best of cooks can make a mistake with ingredients at some time or other, I suppose. This one did anyway–a dire one. Instead of dipping into the flour sack, he dipped into one containing plaster of paris. When he turned it out onto the table it landed like a lump of white concrete full of currants and raisins;quite nice to gaze on but no one seemed anxious to sample a piece of it. Kensington would have a got at eating most things–seagulls and pukekos he’d stewed and eaten in his time–but the plum-duff he was contented just to gaze upon. Maybe that pudding is still in the bush somewhere on Coromandel. Some day an archaeologist will unearth it and wonder “what the devil can this be?”

Another time, Harold said he had met up with a very nice young lady and they arranged for him to take her to a concert in Coromandel one evening. It was a Saturday evening and when they came out from the concert hall the pubs were emptying out too and all around the particular pub that they needed to pass in the main street were drunks galore and such a lot of foul language not suitable for young ladies’ ears. He said he didn’t like to take his young lady past this lot so they cut around the back of the buildings, alas; it was ground that he wasn’t at all familiar with. After a while, when they were nearly back to the main street again, they came to a ditch which they thought they could quite easily stride across. Harold said to his fair companion, “You wait here and I’ll see how wide it is.” He said he took a leap which he thought would easily land him on the other side but which, instead, landed him up to his waist in dirty muddy water. When he stumbled ignominiously back to the bank where his girl friend was waiting, she just burst into roars of laughter at the sight he presented. He said they went back the way they had come and back past the revellers and bad language with hardly a word and he never asked her to go out with him again.

Another time he learned that one of his mates was in the local lock-up. He had been jailed for drunkeness. When my father and his brother went to see if they could do anything for him, they found him crouched, huddled up in the corner of his cell, one minute and the next, jumping around like a ‘flea in a fit’. His eyes were all bloodshot and he was all of a tremble, and looked as though he was scared to death of something. When he saw Joe and Harold he yelled to them “Look out! For God’s sake jump or he’ll spit on you! Oh my goodness! Now he’s after me again!”

He was in the throes of the D.T.s. He had them very badly. He told the brothers, afterwards, that it seemed to him as though there was a little devil in the room and he kept on spitting at him and he had to keep on dodging those spurts of spittle.

When my Dad was an old man of about 85 my sister and brother-in-law, Eddie and Jack and I took a weekend trip to Coromandel. We took the Coast Rd, through Kawa Kawa Bay, Maraetai and on to Thames and Coromandel township. We stayed the night at the old Coromandel hotel and set out early the next morning for Cape Colville. Such a narrow winding road with lovely little bays and townships dotted here and there and awe inspiring precipitous cliffs one’s car could go hurtling down if the steering gear suddenly gave way or the “nut behind the wheel” wasn’t the best, I imagine. My father said that it was a very different-looking place to what it was when he and his brother were there so many years ago. He would not have recognized many of the places except for their Maori names.

The only way that *they* travelled, except through the bush, on foot, was by rowing boat from bay to bay. There is a lovely white sandy beach at Port Jackson and in a paddock close by is a lonely grave with a picket fence around it. We wondered about it and my Dad said that it was the grave of a little boy who had died of measles in the early days. A tragic loss for some poor mother and father, I guess.

At one little village that we passed through, there was a hall and he could remember going to a dance there. The majority of folks dancing were bare-footed Maoris and he was about the only one with a pair of boots among the lot. He said they all wanted to try those boots on and have a go at dancing in them.

For a while the brothers worked at the line works in Warkworth and at another time they dug for gum at Snell’s Beach and also helped to build the old school house at Mullet Pt. along with their father. At one time Harold was working with the construction of a big gasometer in Freeman’s Bay. One day the scaffolding gave way and he fell about 30 ft to the ground. For a long time he had great difficulty in keeping anything but the lightest of food down and ever afterwards suffered periodic bouts of stomach trouble and had to be very careful as to what he ate.

Times were very rough in those very early days. There was plenty of hard slogging work but very little money about and long periods of waiting to be paid for work.

There used to be a corrugated iron built stove where Greenwood’s boat building yard is now. It had known quite a number of owners before I can remember, but when I was little it was known as “Billy Sarahs” store. We always went to that store by boat when the tide was full. We would take butter and eggs and maybe fish and come back with groceries we needed in return and always a cone made of brown paper, full of boiled lollies. I don’t think paper bags were manufactured then. Sugar was always in 50lb hessian bags and flour in 100lb calico bags, kerosene was sold in 4 gallon square tins.

Nothing was wasted; the sugar bags were made into oven cloths, and into aprons for dairy work and for washing day, and for the gardening tasks and scrubbing. The kerosene tins, when empty, were made into big square buckets; a length of thick fencing wire was generally used for handles. These were used for carrying milk to and from the dairy and for carrying water for washing purposes and for boiling the clothes in over an open fire on washing day. My mother thought it was wonderful when we acquired a Northern boiler and it was in a shed with a tank fo water handy and the smoke going out through the roof of the shed. It really was a terribly old thing. It was made of cast iron and stood on ditto legs and had a huge copper. There was a space all round the copper where the head was supposed to go. It just seemed to eat up the wood that we poked into it and clothes seemed to take ages to boil. I think most of the heat went out the chimney along with the smoke.

I remember one time when I was very little, my mother taking me along with a basket of linen down to the creek which was a good 1/4 mile away, across a paddock, to wash the clothes in the clear running water. She spread all the garments out on the surrounding bushes in the hot sun to dry. I remember her carrying me home across the paddock, tucked under her arm like a sack of potatoes, head one side, tail the other. I can still remember how uncomfortable my position was and how relieved I was when she put me down to walk. The milk from the cows was put to “set” in big round flat milk dishes made of tin and when the cream rose to the surface it was skimmed off with flat skimmers and then churned into butter when enough had been collected and when it had turned sour. Churning butter in the hot summer weather was quite a task. If the cream was above a certain temperature the fat globules would not stick together readily and the butter would just not “come” properly. After the butter had “come”, it had to be washed thoroughly and salted and all moisture squeezed out of it with butter patters. These were in pairs, one for each hand. Some were plain on each side and some were grooved. One could make all kinds of fancy designs with the grooved ones by rolling the butter into little balls and into long twisty rolls, for table use. Later we acquired an Alpha Laval Separator which did away with all the milk pans, etc. By this time, too, there was a regular cream collecting service to the Matakana butter factory. The “cream cart” came all the way from Pakiri and collected the farmers’ cream en route. We would take big cream cans of cream down to where the Leigh road and the Ti Pt road meet, a distance of about 1/4 mile. The cream would be tested at the factory as to its quality and the vendor would be awarded points accordingly. The better the quality of the cream, the more was paid out for it.

Some of the farms, especially on Ti Point, had a lot of wild garlic growing on them and as the cows ate the garlic along with the grass, their milk, cream, and butter were all inclined to be flavoured with garlic at certain times of the year and the cream did not rate very high at the butter factory. Maybe, today, when garlic butter, garlic cheese, and garlic itself is so popular, there would have been a special factory built just for that special cream, and high prices paid out for it, eh?

The home-made butter was great for baking with and made the best flaky or “puff” pastry as it was called then, imaginable. There were some marvellous cooks in the district and everything including bread was home-made and baked in the old fashioned range. Ours was of “Shacklock” make, and had to be polished once a week with black lead. There were various brushes for this job, one was a round one, with a long handle that went a good way up the chimney and swept the soot down on to the top of the oven. Then there was a long handled rake that raked the soot out of little doors placed on the top and bottom of the oven, into any receptacle that we had handy. Then there was a little brush that we put the black lead onto the stove with. This was left to dry and then it was polished to a gleaming shining black. One generally ended up, after this chore, as black and shining as the stove but there was a great feeling of satisfaction when one contemplated one’s handiwork when it was all finished. That gleaming stove looked really something.

One a cold winter’s evening there was nothing nicer than for the family to be gathered around that old fire place and our Dad telling us stories. Very often we would be joined by our cousins who loved his tales as well as we did. He was a great yarn spinner was our Dad, and he could keep young and old alike amused for hours with his stories. Some were true but most of the ones he told us children, he made up as he went along. A lot were continuous ones; they went on night after night until the winter was over. I think that he enjoyed telling them as much as we enjoyed listening to them. Sometimes they would be so sad that we would all be on the verge of weeping and then he would switch them around so that we would all be laughing our heads off. My cousin Agnes liked exciting stories. “When is someone going to be killed, Uncle Harold?” she would say. He could talk like an Irishman, a Scotsman, German, or alter his voice to suit any nationality or copy anyone who had a particular style of speaking. He was quite a ventriloquist in an amateurish way, too. Enough to fool us kids and a lot of grown ups, too. We always had a man named Charlie, who lived in our chimney. He was commonly called the “Chimney man”. He only would speak to our Dad, though–nobody else. It never entered our heads why he lived up in our chimney or what conditions he lived under. All the little folk who came to our house believed in a chimney man implicitly and so did the grandchildren in later years. “Hello, Charlie, are you there?” “Yes, I’m here.” would come down the chimney in a sepulchre voice. “How’re you getting on up there?” “Oh, I’m doing fine, thank you.” “It’s not too hot for you, is it?” “Oh no,” says the voice, “It’s nice and warm up here. It gets a bit smoky at times, though, and I get a bit sick of talking to you, too.” “Would you like some fish, Charlie?” “That would be nice,” says Charlie; and so our Dad would climb up on the roof and put some fish to smoke across the top of the chimney. We never saw him take it down, ever, and so we presumed that Charlie had had a meal of fish for tea.

One time, a friend of mine, Dolly Meiklejohn, rode over from Whangateau for a visit. We prevailed on her to stay and have tea with us. It was a lovely Summer day and the days were long. She wasn’t too sure whether she should or not. She was living with an aunt at the time and she thought that her Auntie Annie might become anxious if she didn’t arrive home in time for tea. There were no phones in those days except at the Post Offices and they were miles apart, so there was no way in which to ask Auntie’s permission. Anyway, dolly stayed, and in the middle of the meal we heard a voice, coming from the outside gate where the horse was tethered. “Dolly, Dolly, are you there? It’s time that you were making your way home, isn’t it? Soon the sun will be setting and you’ll be left to come home in the dark.” Dolly was up and out of her chair like a shot out of a gun. She ran to the back door calling out “I’ll be there in a twinkling, Auntie. Is that you?”

Then she saw us all laughing and joined in too, but much relieved that her Auntie hadn’t come looking for her at all. Another time, when he was working at the lime works in Warkworth in his early days, he and some of his mates were sitting on the river bank when a rowing boat full of young fellows came row, row, rowing up the river, towards the township. They passed some very nasty remarks to his mates sitting innocently on the bank. Enough for them to take umbrage and shake their fists and hurl abuse back at the boat people. The next thing the boat with its angry crew were making straight for the shore where their “enemies” were sitting, but as the sides of the river were very muddy and sticky, they changed their minds and went on their way after a few more abusive interchanges. Harold didn’t try that trick again in a hurry. Whether he ever let on that it was he and not the boat crew who had first insulted them, I don’t know, he never said.

Another time when he was going home with a couple of his mates and they had got as far as Parkinson’s Hill just outside of Warkworth township and things were a bit mundane travelling along on their horses in the dusk, all of a sudden, there, away down in the gully, they heard some one crying out. “Help! Help! For God’s sake, help!” One of his mates was off his horse in a flash and away half-way through the boundary fence before he realized that it was all a bit of a hoax and just one of his fellow travellers up to one of his practical jokes.

One fireside story that continued one winter was one “Tom Thumb”. I remember, It was an ever so much more exciting story than the fairy tale one, and I think our Tom Thumb was more life size figure. He certainly had some very exciting adventures did our Tom, every evening.

On the next farm to ours lived a real live Tom. He was a little dwarf with a big head, small body, and short arms and legs (very bandy). He had big blue eyes set in a lovely face and he was a general favourite with everyone and a very intelligent boy.

The school we all attended was situated at the junction of the Ti Point Rd and the main road to Auckland and Leigh, and was on the side off a hill with a big macrocarpa tree planted all around the school-ground. The school ground itself was on the side of a hill, not a very good place for playing games. Tommy could always beat most of us by putting his head between his legs and turning head over turkey all the way down the hill. He was one who was very interested in the adventures of our Tom Thumb, I remember. I used to repeat the night before’s episode to Tom each morning on our way to school. Incidentally, he was the younger brother of those two boys who put the wee birds in our uncles’ jam and milk and sugar a few years previously. One time I had to go on a message to some friends of ours who lived a way up near to the end of Coxhead Rd, and I met Tommy on the road at a spot we called Clay Corner on the Ti Point Rd. It is a peace of white pipe clay and once one turned the corner in those days it was quite steep and in the wintertime very slippery. A lovely place for us school kids to take a running jump and go sliding to the bottom if one was skilled and lucky enough to stay on one’s feet.

Tommy wanted to hear more of the story of our hero and I can remember the two of us sitting side by side on a bank, the two of us thoroughly engrossed in the exploits of Tom Thumb. Along side of us grew a lovely lot of little bright green N.Z. orchids like little monks heads. So pretty and dainty they were.

Another story our Dad told us when we were older was the one of Noda the Lily, written by Rider Haggard. That was a great tale and my cousins would come each night especially to listen to that. If the night was too wet and cold, for they had quite a distance to come, I would tell them the next day what had happened and bring them up to date with it.

Afterwards my Dad got the book back from a friend whom he had leant it to and we all read it for ourselves. It was full of photographic kind of pictures which made it a very interesting book, indeed. I can still see, in my mind’s eye and very vividly, those pictures and the captions underneath them. The first one was “And then, Mopo told the whiteman the tale that is set out here” the next was “wife of a dog of a Zulu begone.” It was the story of Zulus, of Chaka the bloodthirsty Zulu Napoleon and of Nada the lily and her love for the hero of the tale. There were ghost wolves, a witch mountain, Zulu warriors, good and bad. Altogether a lovely bloodthirsty exciting story. That coming Spring we named all of our newborn calves after our Zulu heroes and heroines. There was Chaka the Black one–black calf. There was Nada the Lily–a beautiful golden heifer. There was a Galozi and an Umslopogaas, a Dingoan among some that I remember. They must have all been imbued with the spirits of these long departed natives of Zululand because most of them met the same kind of deaths as their namesakes. E.g., our calf Dingoan fell over the Pah cliff, the real Zulu chief Dingoan met his death by falling or by being pushed over a cliff in far-away Zululand. Galazi the king of the ghost wolves died on the side of the witch mountain; our Galazi also died on the side of a very steep hill only his death was not due to looking for his blood brother, but through eating a poisonous native shrub. I forget what happened to the others but they were not a lucky lot by any means. My cousins named their lot of calves that year after Dickens characters. We had all been busy reading “Dickens” that year. They had a Pegotty, a Dolly Varden, Betsy Trotwood, etc. I think they all survived and grew healthy and strong.

My Uncle Joe had a very notorious cow at one stage. It was born in the middle of one of those terrific storms of cyclonic intensity that come periodically and do so much damage about the place. this particular one was called the Dido and the new born calf was named Dido after it. It was a stripy strawberry coloured heifer and grew into a rangy raw boned kind of cow and a first class milker, but she was a holy terror for mopping up anything that she could get her mouth around. She was also a wanderer and seemed to have an uncanny sense where to find away out of any enclosure. The grass was always more tempting on the other side to old Dido, and it wasn’t just the grass either. Everything was grist to her mill.

If any bags of potatoes or such like were left where she could get at them, they were soon a part of Dido. She was known to devour fish, a bridle that was inadvertently left on a post by its owner overnight, who had only the metal parts left after Dido had finished with it. One time she wandered away around where Betty Sarah’s store was and she ate up all the fisherman’s nets that were spread out to dry.

During the Summer school holidays, a group of schoolboys used to pitch camp each year on my Uncle Joe’s place in Arthur’s Bay. They were a very well-behaved crowd of boys and their scoutmaster was a Mr Burke. They arrived at the Ti Point wharf on the Kawau and my uncle would very kindly row them and their paraphenalia around to the Bay and I guess he would have to make several trips to accommodate the lot.

They used to buy butter, milk, and fruit off my uncle. The fruit I think they got gratis, mostly. He had quite a large amount of fruit trees around the house. There were two big Vicar of Wakefield pear trees at the back. They grew tall and straight like poplar trees and were prolific bearers of big bell shaped pears. One could easily weight a lb and was enough for a school lunch on its own. They were a lovely juicy pear. One year, a disease called the “fire blight” and along with a lot of varieties of apples and other pip fruit, killed them.

The scout boys used to “track” religiously to church, over to Leigh each Sunday, a distance of over three miles.

One Sunday, which happened to be a Christmas Eve, that year, away they went on their long hike to the little church at Leigh, leaving their tents wide open and with all their Christmas goodies therein, exposed to view whilst they were away, guess what happened. Whilst they were on their knees praying for the welfare of their souls, old Dido paid their camp a visit and finding no-one home to give her a Merry Christmas greeting or more likely, to send her packing, she very soon made herself at home. Besides leaving visiting cards about the camp, she started in to sample all the epicurean delights she found in the various tents. Dates, prunes, dried apples, plum puddings, Christmas cakes, flour, sugar, all went down the hatch with the utmost delight. She even devoured several of the boys’ bathing costumes, just for “afters” I suppose.

I don’t think the boys would forget that Christmas in a hurry.

My uncle also had an unforgettable horse at one time, I can just remember her, and she was a quiet lovable old horse then, but she had been quite a lass in her day. She was a roan colour with a white stripe down her nose. She had been a racehorse in her day and my uncle had bought her off someone who lived over Matakana way. Her name was Molly Riley and she must have had a yen for her old home farm when he first got her. She was a fast traveller and could get one from A to B in record time.

One time our Uncle Arthur and his mate wanted to go over to the pub at Leigh, so they saddled up Molly Riley for Uncle Arthur, his mate had his own horse, which was lucky for him. They set off at a gallant pace and all went well until they got to the cross-road. Here, Molly Riley decided she would like to go and visit her old home at Matakana so off she went at full speed non-stop until she reached it. The other horse took its rider sedately on to Leigh. Perhaps Molly Riley didn’t hold with taking patrons to the pub because when she got to her old home and saw that it was much as she had left it, she turned straight around and came “hell for leather” home to Ti Point again. Noways could my Uncle get her to change her course and go to Leigh. Whether his mate brought him a pint of beer, I don’t know. I guess he had to make do with a glass of “Adam’s ale”.

We had a lovely little horse called Neddy whom we all loved dearly. He was a very docile, willing little horse. He was called on to do all sorts of jobs. Sometimes to do a spot of ploughing; sometimes for hauling produce to and from the wharf where they were taken on or landed by the S. S. Kawau. The road to the wharf was mostly yellow clay; sticky, muddy and slippery in wet weather, so my Dad had built a catamaran, a vehicle built on skids instead of wheels. This used to slide over the mud. Old Neddy used to draw this along and we would sing, “There was an old nigger and his name was Uncle Ned.” etc but we had to be very hushed when we came to the chorus “Now he’s gone where the good niggers go-o-o He’s gone where the good niggers go.” Our Neddy would interpret it as “Whoa” and stop in the middle of things.

He would take us to Sunday School at Leigh of a Sunday on his back and to various social accasions harnessed to our “buggy”, a four wheeled vehicle with big wheels and a lantern with a candle in it set on each side of the driver’s seat. He would wait patiently tied to a tree along with lots of other horses, until the evenings entertainment was over, and then bring us home. My mother and father would sit on the seat in the front and we children would curl up under a rug at the back. When we came to a steep hill we would all get out and walk. Going to entertainments in those days was a very different affair to what it is today where one just has to hop into a car and away he goes. Lots of folks used to walk such long distances there and back, across paddocks, up hill and down vale, even after a really hard day’s work, too. Too, with a horse, to take one, required quite a lot of preparation. Firstly the horse had to be caught, and it could be miles away on the farm and quite out of sight, and could be quite a time consuming job if the horse hadn’t been worked for a while and as feeling “frisky” and saw one coming with the bridle in one’s hand. We used to hide the bridle behind our backs when approaching the horse, pretending we were just going up to pat him–a pretty sneaky trick– when I took back on it but I suppose it was another case of “desperate times need desperate measures”. If we were lucky he would let us come up to him straight away to pat him; if not he would take off to the far end of the paddock and we would have to chase after him for a while until he decided the game was over, and he would let us slip the bridle on and lead him home. Then he had to be harnessed up to the buggy and the lamps lit.

It took the better part of an hour to arrive at our destination and then the horse was taken out of the shafts of the buggy and tied to a tree. When the entertainment was over, generally sometime in the early hours of the morning, the horse would have to be replaced into the shafts and when we got home the horse had to be harnessed, the harness all put away and the horse put back in his grazing field. Neddy was the only horse that we had that could be harnessed to the buggy and could be trusted not to “shy” bolt, or play up en route. We had a couple of horses after Old Neddy became too old for work but neither had the lovely nature and personality or brains that Neddy had.

One time when I was about 8 years old, my Dad and I set out about 3 o’clock in the morning bound for Dargaville to visit an aunt and uncle who lived there. It was a lovely morning and my Dad harnessed up Neddy to the buggy and away we went. My mother had made me a nice new dress out of her wedding frock. It was of cream cashmere and had a lot of gupuire lace on it and I had a straw hat that she had trimmed to match and new shoes and socks.

We arrived at Warkworth, just at sunrise. The main road was much more winding and hilly than it is now, and in places wasn’t even metalled. We went up Hill Rd. and along Falls Rd. and Woodcock’s Rd. until we reached Woodcock’s Station. It seems a long way for a little horse to pull a buggy but he did; I think we got out and walked up the hills and along difficult places. We had lunch with a Mr and Mrs Woodcock who were friends of my fathers and unharnessed old Ned and left him to graze in a paddock by the side of the house. We then caught the train to Helensville. Towards evening we boarded the boat “Wairoa” that plied along with her sister ship the “Ruawai” between Helensville and Dargaville. It seemed a lovely big, clean, big ship to me, after the old Kawai. The captain’s two little daughters were on board and I thought that they were the loveliest, prettiest little girls I had ever seen. We had a wonderful time together, playing hide and seek on the boat until it was time to bed down for the night.

When I woke up in the morning the boat was berthed at the Dargaville wharf and the Captain and my two little friends had gone home–to breakfast, no doubt–I never saw them again; when we came home, down the river we travelled on the “Ruawai” and there were no pretty little girls on that one; also we travelled the day-time and night-time and so not nearly so XXX or exciting. Crossing the Kaipara Harbour was quite rough with a stiff wind blowing but XXX was the little river boat, I didn’t feel the slightest bit sick; but whilst crossing the Kaipara Harbour my hat blew off and went over board into the water of the harbour. It floated on the surface for a while and the captain stopped the ship and some of the crew tried to rescue it but it eventually sank down to the bottom of the sea and out of sight, much to my relief, I might add, as I hadn’t taken kindly to that hat at all. I had had to hold it on my head all the time with one hand and didn’t like wearing hats at all really. Mother had put a lot of time and effort into making that hat but I didn’t appreciate that until I thought about things when I was much older.

When we got to Ahuroa St. we were told that there was a blockage on the line between there and Woodcock’s St so my Dad decided we would walk the distance as the Station master didn’t know how long we would be delayed. We set off and soon came to the tunnel and found a dead sheep on the line in there. We travelled on until we came to Mr and Mrs Woodcock’s place again, where we had a XXX meal and harnessed up old Neddy who seemed delighted to see us, said “Goodbye” to kind Mr and Mrs Woodcock and trotted along the winding country road to Warkworth and arrived just as the night was sitting down on the little township. There we stayed the night at Bridge House–in one of the upstairs rooms of the old part of the modern Bridge House.

In the morning, before we had breakfast, we walked through the mist before sunrise, down to the little wharf where the Kapanui used to come regularly to discharge and take on passengers and cargo once or twice a week. I remember my Dad bought me a packet of chewing gum, the first I had ever tasted. It was not the chewing gum one gets today. It seemed to have a waxy foundation and tasted of roses and was of a pink colour. It was very nice, though. Whilst I was in Dargaville my aunties and uncles and their various friends had bought me all kinds of sweets. I didn’t eat them. I had a Big Ben clock box and I put them all in it to take home with me. It was almost full to the top when we left and quite heavy. On our way home to Ti Point the roads were wet and muddy in places and we got out of the buggy and walked up the hills so as to make things easier for our Neddy. Just up the hill outside of Warkworth was a very sticky muddy patch. All along the road home, at various places, there were notices advertising the fact that a Circus (I can’t remember which one it was) was coming to Leigh the following week. My Dad who always enjoyed a circus reckoned we’d go and see it for sure. When we got as far as Harry Ashton’s old place at Whangateau (it was a subsidiary P.O. then and had a telephone service to Warkworth) Mabel (Mrs Ashton) told us that my youngest sister was sick and had had the Dr to see her. Poor old Dad was very worried at this news and couldn’t get home fast enough. We found, when we got home, that she was suffering from a dose of shingles. My grandmother was staying with us at the time and was quite a good nurse, used to looking after babies and such people as were most of the old ladies of those days and so my sister was being well looked after. she had a nasty itchy rash all around the middle part of her body and had to be dusted every s often with “Violet Powder” which was made from orris root. She was soon as lively as a cricket.

Incidentally the Circus never arrived at Leigh. A lot of people turned out to see it and were disappointed when it didn’t turn up.

The year before we went to Dargaville my grandfather and my father had had the 15 acre paddock that lies parallel with the Ti Point Rd and which now belongs to Tickle, ploughed and harrowed (by horses) and had planted it all in oats. When they were just about ready for harvesting along came a plague of little black woolly caterpillars and just about ate the lot overnight. They were everywhere crawling in the paddocks and on the road. We had never seen anything like them before nor have we since. It was a particularly bad dry summer that year. Maybe that had something to do with it. I can remember the Pah paddock where Hudson and Hall are now, being ploughed by Mr Arthur Wilson and his horse. My Dad harrowed it with our Neddy. It was planted in wheat which grew very well and yielded a grand crop. The only manure used in cropping and gardens and orchards was blood and bone. It would be dug, ploughed or harrowed in at the time of planting. Top dressing and the “Supers” came in to vogue much later. Top dressing made a marvellous difference to the pastures.

I used to love all the little wild flowers that grew in the paddocks. I had a little sky-blue vase with daisies painted on the side of it and I always had it filled with wild flowers.

When my father was young he had a dog named Bully. He was long dead when we young ‘uns came along but he was a real wonder dog to us and quite a legend in the district for miles around as all the old folks knew old Bully when he was a live. Our Dad was always telling us stories about him and I’m afraid there are only a very few that I remember. It must have been like losing a very dear friend when he died. He was no pedigree dog, just a mongrel that he had picked up when a pup but he was blessed with a super-abundance of intelligence which bordered on teh uncanny at times. We had some very good dogs, afterwards incuding one called Captain. He was a wee puppy when I was a toddler. He grew into a very good dog and a great playmate for us children. He was very good at herding up the cows and bringing them into the cow-yard for milking. He never hurried them or bit their heels like some dogs do and he would search them out and bring them home from any part of the farm.

When I was little he would go with me wherever I wandered and would stay with me until I wandered home again. One of my relations bought me a little mug once, which I treasured for years. It had a little girl with her dog, just like our Captain, pictured on the side of it. I suppose she bought it because it reminded her of me and my dog. One day I followed some of the children on their way to school but when I got as far as the Clay Corner I must have got too tired to go any further or something because I sat down and was fast asleep in the middle of the road. Old Captain sat down by the side of me until a young local lad came galloping along on his horse and lifted me up onto the horse in front of him and took me home. He said that he could easily have run over me if he hadn’t seen the dog in the middle of the road.

My Dad said he could train his Bully to do almost anything, he learned so quickly. He would XXX to different folks and come back with XXX answers. One time someone lost a key to his door and couldn’t get inside his house so my Dad showed old Bully a key like the lost one and told him to go back along the way they had came and before long Bully came back with the key in his mouth. My father said he was never afraid of losing anything because old Bully could always find it again if he did. He could gather eggs in his mouth, without breaking any. The hens were never penned in and would lay their eggs under the house where it was darned near impossible to get them from. Bully would scramble under and bring them out. Also he could find a nest wherever it might be, whether in rush bunches in the scrub around the place or under threes. My Dad used to make a point of always leaving his hat behind him whenever he was visiting friends and they would make sure that the door was left open. After they had got along the road awhile Dad would say, “Go back and fetch it, Bully” and away would go old Bully like the wind and in a few minutes, back he would come with said hat in his mouth. My Dad only had to pick a thing up in his hand and then put it down again and then after a while say to him “Go back and fetch it Bully” and sure enough in no time at all along would come old Bully with the article in his mouth. He said he would have made a great companion for a shop lifter.

One day my Dad had occasion to come into Warkworth to buy a few items including butter and sugar. He was on horseback and didn’t have a bag or a kit to put things into. Generally the men used to carry things like that down the front of their shirts when they were riding along. It was a hot day and whilst he was jogging along it looked as though the butter was going to start melting at any old time and sugar burst at the seams. Whilst he was in the store at Warkwroth buying his goods an old farmer had come into the store carrying a sugar bag which he placed on a stool beside him whilst he had a chat and a yarn with the store-keeper. My Dad said he noticed old Bully eyeing this old chap with an interested eye. When his butter started to melt, etc, my Dad thought how useful that sugar bag would be to him. It might save the day as far as the butter and sugar were concerned. He looked at Bully and said “Go back and fetch it Bully old boy” just hoping that he would pick on the sugar bag and nothing else. Sure enough it wasn’t long before back he came with the sugar bag, all right. My father said he often wondered what the old farmer thought and said when he found his sugar bag gone before his eyes. The store-keeper would soon supply the old chap with another one and so he didn’t feel mean about the trick but he said he would have liked to have been there and seen what happened, really.

Another time, when he was living in Auckland, he was one evening around at my grandmother’s place playing “Five Hundred” with the family which he did quite often. He said that he generally left for home at about 10:30PM but this particular evening he stayed on a bit longer than usual. Suddenly old Bully who had been lying asleep at his feet, got up, stretched himself and yawned, and went and got my father’s hat, shoved it on his knee and given him a poke with his nose as much as to say, “Come on! It’s time we were going.”

When he went to my grandmother’s place he always passed a boarding house where a very large St. Bernard dog used to live and very often was lying half asleep by the gate. He was about three times the size of Bully, but dogs don’t seem to take much notice of size only smells. Whenever they went past the old St. Bernard, old Bully would ruffle the hairs on his neck and growl at him “Hurrah”. The St Bernard just treated him with the greatest disdain and contempt. He didn’t even admit that he had noticed him at all, even. This proved a bit too much for old Bully so one time when he was passing the big dog, he made the fatal mistake of growling and snapping at him as well. The St. Bernard got slowly to his feet and made a grab at Bully, got him by the scruff of the neck, gave him a jolly good shaking and then dropped him to the ground and then laid himself down on the path again. My Dad said that Bully never went past that house again. As soon as they came near to it he would take a detour down a side street and go around a back street and meet up with my father at the top of the next side street.

One time when my Dad came up to Auckland, he left old Bully at home. At the time a rival Shipping Coy had set up in opposition to the N.S.S. Coy and one was trying to out do the other with cheap fares and cargo rates. This was a fine time for the settlers. They could go up to Auckland and back for the price of 2/6d.

My Dad travelled to Auckland on the S.S. Kawau and old Bully who didn’t take kindly to being left behind evidently chose the opposition boat the “Rose Casey” to travel on, the next day. The first that my Dad knew about this was when one of his mates mentioned that he had seen a dog that looked the spitting image of Bully down in the pound at Freeman’s Bay and he was to be destroyed very shortly if no one claimed him. My Dad went down to investigate and sure enough it was Bully. He learned later how he had managed to get himself in such a dangerous situation.

When he was an old dog and he, himself, was working at Coromandel he gave Bully to some friends, the Battys, who lived in Ponsonby, to look after. He was away a good long time and he thought that Bully would have forgotten all the tricks that he had taught him in his younger days. One consisted of–when he was running out, to greet him–my father would put up one finger and Bully would stop in his tracks; then if the finger was pointed to the ground Bully would drop down on all fours; if the finger rolled over and over to the right, Bully would roll over to the right; if the ringer rolled to the left, Bully would roll to the left and then if the finger went up and down he knew he had to stay put. He always came rushing out at one as though he was going to eat one alive; barking and making a great old to-do, but he was actually the gentlest of dogs and would never hurt anyone. When my father came back from Coromandel, he had with him a young fellow who knew nothing of Bully. When they opened the gate and out came rushing a fearsome looking dog looking as though he was about to challenge their right of entry to the place, the young fellow drew back and was a bit hesitant about going forward to meet such a one. My Dad said to him, “Don’t worry, John, I’ll hypnotise him.” He said that he wasn’t at all sure that Bully would remember or respond as he had in days of yore. Anyway he raised his finger and pointed it at Bully and Bully immediately stopped in his tracks; then with a roll of the finger he went down on his belly and rolled first to the left and then to the right, and then from the given signal to him to stay put, the two strode past him and on into the house. Poor old Bully, it must have been absolute agony for him to stay “put” like that when his whole being was wanting to jump up on and greet his old master whom he hadn’t seen for so long.

The young fellow was utterly amazed and he said that if he hadn’t seen it all with his own eyes he would not have believed it. My father said that he never let on that the dog belonged to him and that it was all a trick that he had taught him. He said he was lucky in that he never had to do any more hypnotising of dogs for the young man’s satisfaction. One time my grandfather and Mr Batty had the job of building a palace for the then King of Tonga. It was a round affair as far as I can remember from a photograph we used to have of it, and was two stories. It had an upper and a lower verandah with long round white pillars connecting each part and all very ornate.

They said the King, only a boy then, had the time of life, sliding up and down the pillars, like a monkey on a stick. One of the Batty’s sons, Gerald, married a Tongan princess and they had quite a lot of children all very handsome and clever. They were all sent home to N.Z. whilst they were very little, to be educated and were brought up by their Aunt Edith, Gerald’s sister. There was another brother, Walter, too, but he had died of tuberculosis whilst in the Islands; whilst looking after one of his mates he had contracted the disease. The eldest son of Gerald’s was named Walter after his uncle and in his prime was a very well known All Black.

We had a lovely lot of Island coral and shells that had come from the Islands. My father made a large glass case and the coral showed to advantage in this. Once a year the coral would be put out in heavy rain for a `fresh up’. We also had at one time some lovely Island fans and some Island long spears. The latter adorned the walls of a passage in the house along with an Australian boomarang.

One time our grandfather came home from Auckland with hats for all of us. There was a sailor’s hat for Arthur and fisherman’s hats for us girls. The latter were long stocking like affairs with pompoms on the end. Mine was a peachy-red colour and I was very proud of my new hat and wore it all day long when I was allowed. One Sunday whilst we were sitting down to our family dinner in the middle of the day, there was a loud explosion somewhere in the near vicinity and someone wondered if it might be an earthquake. I had heard that when there was an earthquake, sometimes the earth opened up and houses and trees and things disappeared down the big chasm and never be seen again. I had been playing around at the back of the house when there was a belt of acacia trees, all the morning and there I had placed my precious hat on the ground and had forgotten to pick it up when I came into dinner. When someone mentioned an earthquake I immediately had visions of the earth opening up and my hat disappearing down into the bowels of the earth. I remember that I was terribly frightened but I crept around to the back of the house and hurriedly picked up my hat. The `earthquake’ was subsequently found to be an ammunition barge boat that had blown to pieces whilst hafl way across the Bay in front our house. A lot of burned wreckage was washed up on the Back Beach at a later date.

Another time, when the first airmail service had started between Auckland and Whangarei, the seaplane used to always fly over the Bay in front of the house. One Sunday morning towards midday, we watched it go by and disappear over the Takatu Pt towards Kawau Island and then all of a sudden we saw it turn and come back again and then land on the water in front of our place. We knew immediately that something was seriously wrong. My Dad made all haste down to his brother Joe’s place and the two of them got their fishing boat out and set sail and went out to see what they could do to help. They found that the engine of the plane had broken down. They set to work and towed the plane into the Whangateau Harbour where it was safe from rough seas. There was a Capt. Bolt and Mr Pheasant on board. The latter was just a young lad and Capt George Bolt was comparatively young too. The two men stayed with my uncle and his family for a couple of days, until another plane arrived from Auckland with spare parts and a mechanic to fix the engine. The two men thoroughly enjoyed the homemade bread that my aunt had freshly baked. I think most of the folks in the district came to have a look at the two planes as they floated on the waters of the harbour. Some folks came on foot, some by boat and some on horse back. There were no telephones to let people know of events that happened but some how news soon got around that there were a couple of planes floating in the harbour. About the only one who wasn’t very interested in the event was our Uncle Samuel, out from Los Angeles. He was our Grandfather’s brother and he had come to visit us from the States and was staying with us at the time. Seaplanes weren’t the novelty to him that they were to us. We children couldn’t understand why he wasn’t excited about it like we ere. Now there is a plaque at the Auckland Air Terminal in memory of Mr George Bolt. He was one of the early pioneers of N.Z. air travel.

We children all liked our Uncle Camuel very much. Although he had been Lancashire born and hadn’t emigrated to America until he was 21 years old, when he came to visit us he had not a trace of Lancashire accent left in his speech at all. He had an American drawl and manner of speaking. Where we would say “Pardon” when we hadn’t heard what the other person had said distinctly, he would come out with “Marm” if it was a lady and “Sir” if it was a man speaking to him. If he had had a bell topper placed on top of his head and the “Stars” for a waist coat and the striped trousers he would have looked for all the world like the Uncle Sam one sees in cartoons and posters. He told us all about radio and wireless which was well established in many homes in the States by then but was just something we had read about in books in our little part of N.Z. Later on my Dad studied up the know-how and rigged a kind of radio up for himself. It had to be run off batteries as there was no electricity in the district then. He also ran a telephone service between his and his brother’s place. He put in a series of posts all the way down the hills and rigged up some wires on them with insulating cups on crossbars at the top of the posts. He acquired two old fashioned telephones and two big glass jars. In the jars was some kind of solution with long sticks of salamonXXX in it. These had to have a stir up every now and again. That telephone line saved us children a lot of running up and down hills with messages from time to time. Later on he built a windmill on a very windy ridge at the back of the house and when the wind blew hard enough it generated enough power to light the house. It wasn’t a very bright light but it was much better than candles or kerosene lamps. One good light we had was an Arco lamp. It gave out a very bright warm light but it had two mantles that were very vulnerable to flies and as any light attracts moths and flies it was a constant worry if a blowfly happened to appear on the scene. It was a case of all hands and cook to the rescue to get rid of it as soon as possible before it dived into one of the mantles. Later we had an Arco lantern which was much better as there was a cover over the mantles. At one time we had a carbide lamp which was rather a queer-looking affair, all made of a grey metal–no glass on it. I think it had a mica front at the top where the light shone out. The bottom part was filled with carbide–grey-looking powdery stuff–and water dripped onto this causing a kind of gas which came up through a kind of valve affair and when lit burned quite brightly. I remember, when the top was unscrewed and the wet carbide exposed it had a peculiar smell which I rather liked. We also had a primus stove, always, and at one time a kerosene operated oven. The primus was very useful for a quick meal and the oven baked scones and cakes quite well. It was very handy in rough weather when the woodpile was low. All the wood had to be chopped into stoves lengths with an axe or if very thick sawn up by hand with an ordinary saw. It was quite a job keeping the wood pile replenished.

My grandfather must have had one of the very first Edison phonographs to come off the “assembly line”, it was a small oblong box affair made of oak and it played cylinder records and had no trumpet only a long cord affair with round hearing discs which one clamped to one’s ear if one wanted to listen to a record. I think two people could listen at one time and the volume was not very good.

When we were quite small my father bought a phonograph with a trumpet to it. This enabled a whole roomful of people to listen and enjoy a record. The records for this machine were cylinder ones, too, and they played for only two to three minutes each. My word, we did enjoy that old phonograph, although by today’s high standards of stereo and record making I guess it would be pretty terrible, like someone singing down a drain pipe. We had a set of records, a corner cupboard full, each in a little round cardboard container with the name of the artist on it. My Dad was very fond of Peter Dawson and of Susa’s marches. Sometimes we would go along to Mr and Mrs Stanley Rogers place–about half a mile distant–of an evening. They had a phonograph too and we would spend the evening listening to their records. Then another time they would visit us and enjoy our ones. One of Stanley’s records that was a hot favourite of us children was “When father papered the parlour”. The chorus went “When father papered the parlour, you couldn’t see Pa for paste. He was slapping it here and slapping it there, There was paste and paper everywhere. Mother was stuck to the ceiling, the kids were stuck to the floor, You never saw such a blooming family so stuck up before.”

Stanley was quite a character. He had a very loud hearty kind of laugh that could be heard a mile off. He would laugh heartily and then draw it back into his throat with an equally sort of loud sound. No-one else could laugh like Stanley. He was always barefooted around the place and consequently had an outsized pair of feet that were very hard to fit into any pair of boots. When he went to the city and had to wear a pair it was just plain agony for him and he came home again as quickly as he jolly well could. To hear him talk and joke sometimes, one would imagine he was fond of his grog, but he didn’t touch the stuff. Many time when we children were very little, Stanley has carried us pig-a-back along the long road home from a social occasion at Leigh.

He was a very strong swimmer and diver and yet he met his death through a drowning accident. It happened when he was getting on in years. He and a young lad who they say couldn’t swim were out fishing or lifting cray-fish pots between Matheson’s Island and the Pah when a storm suddenly sprang up and big breakers started to roll in. No-one knows for sure what happened but the young lad was found drowned and one of his feet was tied to the anchor rope, and Stanley was missing. His body was found, washed ashore, a few days later. The folk that found him came to the conclusion that Stanely had dived and swam around trying to find his young mate only to find him dead. He tied him to the anchor rope so that he would be found but then was either too exhausted to reach the shore or else his heart had given out. It was a terrible tragedy at the time as both victims were very popular and well known for miles around and they were very sadly missed by all their relatives and friends.

I think we had most of the recordings that Harry Lauder, the Scottish comedian, made during his hey-day, when we had our old phonograph. Another popular record that we had was one called “Lasco”. It was a recitation and was rendered by a supreme artist and so expressively and with so much pathos that it was inclined to make all but the very hard-hearted shed copious tears when first they heard it. It went “Oh! I wasn’t free life and I want fresh air and I sigh for the XXX after the cattle; the crack of the whip like shots in a battle, the melee of horns and hoofs and heads that wars and wrangles, scatters and spreads. The green beneath, the blue above, dash and danger, life and love and Lasca. Lasca used to ride on a mouse-grey mustang XXX to my side; down by the Sansaba’s shore and the Hunter’s tide in Texas down by the Rio Grande. She was as bold as the XXX lows that beat; she was as wild as the breezes that blow; from her little head to her little feet, she was swayed in her suppleness to and fro, by each gust of passion. The sapling pine that grows on the edge of the Kansas Bluff, that was when the wind and the weather is rough, is like this Lasca, this love of mine. She would hunger that I might eat; would take the bitter and leave me the sweet; but once when I made her jealous for fun at something I’d whispered or said or done, to a glorious girl on the Alamo, she drew from her bosom a dear little dagger and quick, sting of a wasp it made me stagger, an inch to the left or an inch to the right, and I wouldn’t be meandering here tonight. But she sobbed, and sobbing so swiftly bound her tawdry sash about the wound, that I quite forgave her. Well but scratches don’t count in Texas down by the Rio Grande. The night was heavy, the air was hot, I sat by her side and forgot. Forgot that the air was close oppressed. Forgot that the herd were taking their rest, that the Texas Northerly comes sudden and soon, in dead of night or the blaze of moon, and once get that herd in a frantic flight nothing on earth will stop their fright. Then woe to the rider and woe to the stead of falls in front of their mad stampede. Hark! was that thunder? I sprang to the saddle she clung behind and then for a hot race down the wind, the mustang flew and we urged him on. There one chance left and you have but one. Jump to earth, shoot your horse. Crawl underneath the carcass and take your chance and if those steers in their frantic course don’t batter you both to pieces at once, you may thank your stars. If not, goodbye to the flickering kiss, the long drawn sigh, the open air and the open sky, in Texas down by the Rio Grande. The cattle were gaining and just as I felt for my good six-shooter, behind in my belt, down came the mustang and down came we, clinging together; what was the rest? A body that spread itself on my breast; two arms that shielded my dizzy head, two lips that close to my lips were pressed. Then came thunder in our ears, and over us surged that sea of steers, blows that beat blood into my eyes and when I could rise” here a long pause and then with a sob in his voice and very hushed, “Lasca was–dead. I gouged her a grave a few feet deep and there she is lying and there in earth’s arms I laid her to rest. And no one knows and the summer comes and the winter snows and the flowers let fall their petals over her head and the black snake glides and slithers and slides into a rift in the cottonwood tree and the Budda sails on and is gone, stately and still like a ship at sea. And I wonder why I do not care for the things that are, like the things that were–does half my heart lie buried there–in Texas, down by the Rio Grande?”

Another record that I remember was one sung by a comedian, very dolefully within a range of three notes up and then three notes down. It went “Major Fitz-Jones was a dashing young fellow, he took a girl for a stroll on the beach. A boatman was painting a boat on the beach there, he painted V.C. then he stopped for a rest. Major Fitz-Jones came along and sat on it. He’s got a V.C. now; but not on his chest. My wife advised me to go and see a doctor. She said I was fading away from her sight. The doctor advised me to go and play at football, he said play outside right, you’ve got no inside left.”

There were other similar verses but I can’t remember them. One day my Dad bought a recorder. It was a gadget that fitted onto the needle arm of the phonograph and when one spoke into the trumpet one’s own voice was recorded onto a record that had been previously cleaned and all grooves removed, with benzine. This proved lots of fun. One of these home-made records was made by a Mr. Tom Thatcher who was a brother of Selina’s husband (Our Grandfather’s sister in Toronto, Canada). This Mr. Thatcher paid us a visit one time. He had a country store away up Hikurangi way, which was just about as far away in those days as Australia from us today. This is something like the record he made. “One day, poor old Noble, the Maori, came into my store and he said, `Heigho! Py Kori, I got the headache, eh? I wery sick, you got any of the physic for me?’ I said `Ever tried a Seidlitz Powder, Noble?’ `Kahari’ said Noble. I got down two Seidlitz powders then I got out two tumblers and put water in each tumbler; into one tumbler I emptied the contents of the white packet and into the other tumbler, I emptied the contents of the blue packet, got Noble planted on his feet and then I said, `Now you drink this, Noble,, it’s kapai.’ First Noble drank the water containing the blue packet, then he drank the water containing the white packet. `Whoo!’ said Maori. `Whoo’ said Noble he looked for a minute as though he was about to explode; then he started belching wind up by the bucketful. He was waving his arms around and his eyes hung down. They stuck out so far I could have knocked them off his face with a stick. `Help me bob, boys!’ I was scared. I jumped over the counter and tried to grab hold of him but he was waving his arms around and his eyes hung down. At last he gasped `How much I owe you?’ I said `Nothing, and for the love of God get out of here.’ ”

Grandfather Torkington lived with his youngest son Joseph and his wife Minnie. They had seven children and he was very good with them, especially the little ones. He generally had the youngest toddler with him. He would carry him pig-a-back fashion along the way. He would entertain us children no end by telling us stories and singing songs. Some of his songs were `rounds’ and needed three singers so two of the elder children would join in the singing with him. `From Wibbleton to Waddington is fourteen miles. From Waddington to Wibbleton is fourteen miles. From Wibbleton to Waddington from Waddington to Wibbleton from Wibbleton to Waddington is fourteen miles’ the tempo got quicker and quicker until one ended up quite out of breath and with a twisted tongue if one wasn’t careful. Another one we liked was “London’s burning, London’s burning, pour on water, pour on water.” Sometimes he would sing songs like Annie Laurie and the “Skye Boat song” and one about “Sweet Rosalie”. The latter was a very pretty little song but I can only remember the first verse and chorus of it. It went, “On a distant prairie, where the heather wild, in its quiet beauty lived and smiled, stood a cottage with a creeping vine, love around its porch to twine. In the peaceful dwelling lived a lovely child and her blue eyes beaming, soft and mild and the lovely ringlets of her flaxen hair floating on the Summer air. Fair as a lily, joyous and free, life of the prairie, home was she, everyone that knew her felt the gentle flower of sweet Rosalie, the prairie flower.” I think it was a sad song as I have an idea that in the last verse, Rosalie dies. There were lots of Lancashire songs like “Did you ever hear of the Black Knight of Ashton-under-Lyne? Four hundred and twenty wives he had, all in the olden times. It was said he was a villain and he used to treat the ill. For he put them in a barrel and roll them don the hill.” Another little ditty was “Gaily the troubadour waltzed round the water-butt, singing `My own true love come, come to me’. Softly a brick-bat dropped on his cocoa nut, the old man was watching in the old pear tree.” There were lots of old-fashioned songs of a ballad type. One was about a bride in a castle and on her wedding night who, whilst partaking in a game of hide and seek, with her husband and wedding guests, found such a hiding place, that she wasn’t found until about one hundred years later. She had hidden in an old heavy chest and the lid had locked down on her and she couldn’t escape. This song was founded on fact and so was the “Black Knight” one.

This is one of his Lancashire jingles. “In mudellers in clay nones in firtares, in oknonis, can’t a mare eat oats”. In mud eel is, in clay none is, in fir tar is, in oak none is, can’t a mare eat oats.

My grandfather died when he was 73 years old. (Actually 79 – VLS) He went into the old Auckland Hospital to have a prostate gland operation and although he came home after it was over, he was never well again and after a short time was back in hospital again. He was in a room which had only two beds in it, under one of the towers. I was seventeen at the time and working in Auckland. I remember visiting him and feeling awfully embarrassed because of my tears on seeing him lying in bed there, when he looked at me with his sad blue eyes and saw me. He had a hear of lovely soft wavy snow-white hair, which the nurses liked to brush and comb, so I was told, and he always had a little goatee beard like Lord Roberts of Boer War fame. He came back from the hospital, this time in a coffin aboard the `Kawau’ and was buried in the Whangateau cemetery, just across the harbour from where he had lived. Soon afterwards, our old friend Mr Boyd died. He went into hospital to be treated for yellow jaundice and he died there. In fact, in those days, if one went into hospital, no-one really expected you to come out alive. Mr Boyd was not buried in the local cemetery. His relations in Auckland saw to the funeral arrangements and I don’t know where he lies buried. I went to see him twice: the first time he was sitting in a wheel chair on the ground with some of his relations, whom I didn’t not know, around him and I thought how very yellow he looked. I took him a punnet of strawberries and he was so very pleased to see me. The next time I went up to the hospital to visit him I had some more strawberries for him I remember but I came home with them as I was told that our old friend was dead. The next one to die in the hospital and be brought home in a coffin on the old steamer was my eldest cousin’s first husband, Norman Smith. He had to have an operation for appendicitis and again the operation was not a success and he died of peritonitis. I remember going to visit him too, and he was in one of the tower beds. He was very ill, when I saw him, and so very, very thin and wasted looking. He, also, was buried in the Whangateau Cemetery. That was three, well-loved people, all in a fairly short time of each other, gone from us and everyone felt the sad loss very much indeed.

My father was coming home, up the long hill from the Bay, after attending Norman’s funeral, feeling very sad when my young brother, aged about five and just starting school, came bouncing down the hill to greet him. He put his hand in his father’s and walked along in silence for a while, and then he said “Well, did they bury him, Dad?” “Yes,” said his Dad, not taking much notice. Silence for a while, then “Did they bury him deep?” “Yes, pretty deep” said his Dad. “How deep?” “Oh, about six feet deep.” “How deep is that?” “Oh, about that deep” said his father, showing him with his hand. “Hmm! Pretty deep, alright. They put lots of clods on him, too, didn’t they Dad?” “Yes, they put a lot of clods on him.” “He can’t get out, can he Dad?” “No, he can’t get out.” “There I told them at school that he wouldn’t come out. They told me at school that as soon as he was buried he would come out and fly away up to heaven and sit up there on a cloud or somewhere, along with Grandpa and Mr Boyd playing a harp; but how can a man, buried six feet deep with a whole pile of clods on him get out, that’s what I would like to know.” By this time they had come to a place in the road where one very hot summer’s day, around about Chistmas Day, a man and his wife whilst driving a huge fat pig along the road to a relation’s place, had it suddenly develop apoplexy and die on them. As it was too heavy to cart away, and so they dug a hole on the side of the road and buried it there amongst the Ti Tree scrub. My brother pointed to this spot and said in a voice that would clinch any argument, “Look at Morley’s pig, there, it’s been there over twelve months and it hasn’t come out yet.”

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