Begley, Victoria Roberta (Berta) – Memories of Michael (Jim) McIntyre
Recording by Michael (Jim) McIntyre, father of Victoria Roberta (Berta) Begley; father-in-law of Daniel (Dan) Guerin Begley and grandfather of Douglas (Doug) Guerin Begley
Doug Begley: This tape would’ve been recorded in late 1957 or early 1958, so Grandfather [Michael (known as Jim) McIntyre] would’ve been ninety-one, approaching ninety-two. It was recorded just talking after lunch one day, and it came about because earlier Grandfather had been reminiscing, and we’d had a tape recorder going. And we got a very good tape; unfortunately, it was recorded over, and so on this occasion we got Grandfather to do approximately the same. So there’s a certain amount of prompting along the way, but basically it’s my mother, [Victoria (Berta) Roberta Begley, née McIntyre] and my father, [Daniel (Dan) Guerin Begley], and at one stage you will hear [Great] Aunty Eileen [McIntyre] in the background saying something; she was there, but sitting in the background.
Berta Begley: Now come on, Dad, you tell us the story from the time you left home as a boy when you lived in Clevedon; and you worked with two of your cobbers, didn’t you?
Jim McIntyre: Went to work for a Mr Bell in Clevedon, and I worked for him for about twelve years. I started work at six shillings a week, and when I left I was only getting seven [shillings]. And I left him to try and better myself of course; and I went to down to Auckland. And I had a brother-in-law; he had a baker’s shop in [?Onehunga?]. I stopped there for a day or two, and I got a job over in Mangere working for John Massey. John Massey was the brother of one of our Premiers, [Prime Ministers] and I worked for him for twelve months. And then we were feverishly combined to do a man’s coffin. [???] After the coffin was done, times were pretty hard in Auckland; nothing doing much, so we decided to get a boat and come down as far as Napier.
When we got to Napier things were worse, if it was possible, and there was nothing doing here. Eventually we spent all the money we had, and we took a ticket as far as Dannevirke. Then in the [?] we landed and tried to work with [?]. And I worked there for a month of course, but the work was too … a bit too hard for me; I was only just in the twenties. And I come [came] down as far as Waipawa; had a look round all the way down to see here if there was anything doing, and there was nothing doing.
There was a chap, but he was one of the two driving the baker’s cart, working for a bakery in Waipawa. And I said to him, “I know something about this this job.” I said, “I used to do a bit with my brother-in-law in Onehunga.” And he said, “Well, I’ll be leaving this job in about a month’s time – if you want to see the boss you might have a chance at this.” So I did and so on, and I got the job, and I worked for him for about twelve months, I think it was. The wages were pretty poor and the hours were very long, and I had to do as much as twenty hours some days; most days about twelve. And I asked him for a rise, and he couldn’t give me it, couldn’t afford it, and then – well, I said, “If you can get somebody that [who] can do it, you’d better get them, ‘cause I can’t.” So he told me that he’d got a young fellow coming. So I got a job at Otane; then I was doing work at Otane for twelve months. The boss at Otane was a bit of a boozer; he was boozin’ and gamblin’ and that, and I had to do his work and my own too. And I had a bit of a barney with him.
Previous to that when I was in Waipawa, the baker in Waipawa stopped me and asked me if I knew where he could ‘get a man’, he said. And I said “Well I don’t know, bakers are pretty scarce.” And then [???], which he got. So when I went back on my own, the boss and I had a bit of a barney over – he was gamblin’ all night, and I had to do his work and my own too. And he asked me if I’d done his round yesterday; I said, “No, I didn’t”, I said, “I couldn’t do it.” I couldn’t do all the work, and had a bit of a barney. So I got on the train and I went up to Waipawa, and I asked the baker up there if he’d got a man yet, and he said no, he hadn’t. “WelI”, I said, “how would I suit you?” He said, “You’re just the fellow I want.” And I was working for him … I think four and a half years. He and his wife of course, used to booze, and were always fightin’, and … oh … I got tired of it.
Dan Begley: What was his name?
Jim: Robinson … or Robertson, rather. But he bought a business in Dannevirke, and he was running the two. And his wife used to drink terrible. [?] His wife went up to Dannevirke to manage the Dannevirke business, and things didn’t go too well there. They got a chap bakin’ for him, and there was more waste batches than good ones.
Dan: Couldn’t make the bread?
Jim: He asked me if I’d go up and take charge of it, but I said, “No”, I said, “We’ve got [??].” To me – they couldn’t give me the business. So he closed it down, anyway. [??] He was a bankrupt through it, and the place was on the market and …
Dan: Place in Waipawa was on the market?
Jim: Yes. Ben Johnson was the land agent and auctioneer, and all that sort of thing; he come [came] to me and he said, “Robertson went bankrupt”, he said. “I’ve got that business for sale, and Mrs Johnson says that I have to sell it to you.” “Well”, I said, “you go back and tell Mrs Johnson, if she wants me to buy it she’d better find me the money to buy it.” Anyway, I said I couldn’t take it on.
There was a … I think it was a dance on in the hall; and Harry Baker and I were pretty chummy. And anyway, Ben Johnson called for me at the dance and he said, “Go and get your hat”, he said, “I want you …” And he took me way down to, you know…
Berta: In the bush?
Dan: To the land agents?
Jim: No, to the …
Dan: To the shop?
Jim: No! Down in the country there …
Dan: Oh …
Jim: Corkscrew Gully … way down as far as that and back again.
Jim: Yes. They were trying to sell me, and I said, “It’s not a darn bit of use”, I said, “I can’t – I can’t do it; haven’t got the money.” Well when I got back to the hall where the dance was, Harry Baker says, “Where have you been?” Harry and I were very chummy. “Oh”, I says, “I’ve been with Ben Johnson, and … trying to sell me that bakery, and I haven’t got the money to buy it.” He says, “Well I’ve got some money in the Post Office”, he said. He says, “You can have it tomorrow morning if you like.”
Berta: He’s a good sort of cobber, Dad.
Jim: Well, I said … I thanked him very much. And when Ben Johnson left he said, “Have you got £10 in your pocket?” And I said, “Yes.” He said, “Give it to me”, he says, “and I’ll give you a receipt for it.” That was the bargain.
Dan: And was this the fellow that took you to Corkscrew Gully?
Dan: So that clinched the deal?
Jim: They closed the deal, yes.
Dan: So you were in possession of a business then?
Jim: Yes, yes.
Dan: When did you take over? The very next day?
Jim: Very next day, yeah.
Berta: Then you had to think about gettin’ married, I suppose? Getting hooked?
Jim: Oh, well … no, it was two years before I got married.
Dan: And you run [ran] the business … you were single … and baked the bread?
Jim: We used to take it up to the Empire Hotel; [of] course that was Scrimgeour. It was no [?] distance to go, you see.
Berta: Mmmm. Did you board there?
Jim: No, I didn’t board there …
Berta: Slept on the premises?
Jim: Slept on the premises, but we got our meals there, you see.
Berta: Mmm. Well then, when you were on your own then, who did the delivery for you? Delivered the bread?
Jim: Oh, I had … who ..?
Berta: What did you get for a loaf in those days?
Jim: Tuppence ha’penny. [2½ pence or 2.5 cents]
Berta: Tuppence ha’penny for a four pound loaf?
Jim: Two pound loaf.
Berta: Two pound loaf – oh.
Dan: Sevenpence for a four pound ..?
Dan: Sevenpence for a four pound loaf. And did you do the baking but not the delivery?
Jim: Yes, I did the baking yes.
Dan: But didn’t you also bake and deliver at some time or another?
Jim: Of course – some time later on after I got married. I had someone to look after the shop you see.
Dan: Oh, yes. When did you start doing the delivery as well as the baking?
Berta: When he got married.
Jim: Yes, when I got married, that’s right.
Berta: And then you had to deliver just by horse and cart?
Berta: How many loaves would you cart at a time?
Jim: Oh … two hundred and fifty.
Berta: And how far would you go – like what districts would you deliver in?
Jim: Ooooh …
Berta: Go to Tiko [Tikokino] wouldn’t you?
Jim: Go to Tiko, Waipukurau, Otane, and Waipawa.
Berta: Onga? [Ongaonga] Wouldn’t you go to Onga?
Jim: No, no.
Berta: Didn’t go to Onga. Pukehou – you went down as far as Pukehou?
Jim: Pukehou, Te Aute.
Berta: Yes, Te Aute.
Jim: Not when I was by myself, ‘cause I was workin’ for [?Sheehan?] when I went to Te Aute.
Berta: Oh. Were you working for yourself when you met Te Kooti?
Jim: No. I was working for Robertson.
Berta: Oh, what happened then? What was that episode? You were coming home from a delivery, weren’t you? When you ran into Te Kooti?
Jim: I was going to Otane. [?] it was down [?] …
Dan: Now you let your father talk more; and you tell us about meeting …
Jim: [??] about meeting them …
Dan: Band of Māoris, were they?
Jim: Yes, band of Māoris; some were on horseback, some were in old buggies and old gigs and that sort of thing; mostly all tattooed, you know?
Dan: Walking along the road.
Dan: Did you know it was Te Kooti at the time?
Jim: I knew he was in the district.
Dan: But you weren’t sure whether it was him or not?
Jim: I wasn’t sure, no.
Dan: Did they interfere with you?
Jim: No, no. Nobody took a bit of notice.
Dan: You drove past, and they went on and ..?
Jim: They went on, yes.
Berta: I bet you were shaking in your shoes?
Jim: Oh, shaking in my shoes, yes.
Dan: And were you worried about Mrs McIntyre being back at the shop? Because they’d be going towards Waipawa …
Dan: Oh, you weren’t married then?
Jim: I wasn’t married. It was one of our [?] … this man Robertson that I bought out.
Dan: And did they do any damage in the district?
Jim: None whatever, no. No.
Dan: Went right through without any damage?
Eileen: What about your friend, Mr Lightfoot, in Waipawa?
Jim: Oh! There’s a Mr … what was his name?
Berta: Billy Bourke?
Jim: No, he was in Gisborne at time that Te Kooti was doing all his mischief; and he was living in Waipawa then. And he got his rifle … got his gun … and he was going to shoot him, but they had … two people took him and put him away somewhere out of the way.
Dan: So he wouldn’t do any shooting?
Jim: So he wouldn’t …
Berta: But his reason was because Te Kooti killed some of his family.
Jim: His wife.
Berta: His wife?
Jim: Yes. Murdered his wife, yes.
Dan: And they locked him up while Te Kooti went through …
Dan: … [in] case he started a massacre?
Jim: Yes. [Of] course the Māoris wouldn’t allow him in their pa, or what was every [?] …
Dan: Oh yes.
Jim: And I just forget where he camped.
Dan: He never mixed with the other Māoris locally?
Jim: No, they wouldn’t mix with him.
Dan: Didn’t he eventually go out through Porangahau and call in to Mrs McIntyre’s mother’s house?
Berta: No – that was the Hauhaus.
Jim: The Hauhaus, yes. Well that’s earlier. That was …
Berta: Before Mum was born, wasn’t it?
Jim: That was … they were friendly Māoris then. Te Kooti had been condemned and sent to Chatham Island.
Dan: Oh, that’s right.
Jim: And he got off somehow or other; and Queen Victoria pardoned him.
Dan: Do you remember what year it was that you took over the business in Waipawa, roughly?
Jim: Oh, about the nineties, I think.
Dan: About the 1890s?
Dan: And if you took it over in the 1890s, when did you sell it out? You went farming?
Jim: Yes, well …
Dan: You drew the section in Lindsay.
Berta: Mum drew the section.
Jim: I think it was in 1907, I think.
Dan: So you’d been farming from 1907 on Lindsay, right through to ..?
Dan: After the war. Did you build the house on the farm ..?
Dan: … yourself?
Dan: Who built it for you?
Jim: Chap named Charlie Cullen.
Dan: And he built it to just as it is today?
Jim: Yes, yes.
Dan: And did you build the croquet green in front of it?
Dan: And lay it out in garden and orchard?
Jim: Yes, yes. Everything that’s on it was … I put there.
Dan: Did you?
Jim: That’s on today, yes.
Berta: But then it was pretty hard work, Dad. And tell them about how you used to ride to all the neighbours, and how many miles, harvesting. You went as far as Ben Grave – how many miles would that be, harvesting?
Jim: Oooh, I don’t know.
Dan: Five miles.
Jim: I never went to Ben Grave …
Berta: Didn’t you?
Dan: Malcolms, you used to go to?
Dan: Malcolms used to come to you, and Hamiltons?
Jim: Hamiltons …
Jim: Old man Grave; Cochranes …
Jim: Mitchell, yeah. I was about quite … I suppose a month away harvesting.
Dan: And everyone used to help everyone else?
Berta: For nothing?
Dan: That’s the way they did it in the early days?
Jim: Yeah. Yes.
Berta: Come home at dark and milk the cows?
Dan: And was Malcolm and Carrs and Cochranes – all those sections in the same ballot?
Jim: Yes, yes.
Berta: And Sunday was the big day, fishing.
Dan: Who used to go fishing?
Jim: All the family [?] …
Dan: Uncle John?
Dan: Wouldn’t Uncle John go fishing?
Eileen: Tell them about Fergie riding the horse, and the river was flooded when you went fishing.
Jim: They used to come up, you know, at the beginning of the season, and he would say, “I was going to have to come up, make [?a set?] of rules and we’ll go and see where the fish are.” And I said, “All right.” So he had an old horse he called … what was it?
Eileen: Napoleon Bonaparte.
Jim: Bony, Bony. And he was on Bony and I was on one, and [?] … sheepdog …. used to follow me, you know. And we were crossing the river and it was a bit high; and Fergie was a few yards below me. [??] And the dog was following me in, and I couldn’t take the dog under the horse’s belly, you know? And it started bucking and … had to put … and Fergie was … fallen off in the river. [Laughter] And I had to get a get the wee dog, you know to get his hat – it was floating away down the river. And he says … and I never laughed so much in all me [my] life when the dog went out. “Whoa! Whoa, whoa, Bony”, he said; when I heard him say ‘Whoa, Bony’, I looked round – just [to] see him goin’ head first into the water. [Laughter]
Dan: And did he swim out, or did the horse pull him out?
Jim: Oh, well, it wasn’t that deep, it was just up to … only up the horse’s belly, you know, and the dog went under the horse’s belly, you see, and he started bucking and jumping in the water.
Berta: What did old Gray used to say about the fish, you know, when he’d find them under the papa ledges? He had some funny expression, didn’t he?
Jim: ‘No tooken back’, was it?
Berta: Oh, yes – he’d say ‘no tooken back’.
Jim: No tooken back.
Dan: And is it always … you fished properly, you never used any gelignite, I hope?
Jim: Oh no, no, no, no, no.
Dan: Always fishing.
Berta: You caught some big eels too, for the Māoris, didn’t you?
Dan: And did Tawa ever go fishing [?]
Dan: Uncle John and Tawa never fished?
Jim: No. No. No.
Dan: These used to be a Sunday’s occurrence, I suppose?
Berta: Tawa used … do with the watermelon.
Jim: Tawa one Sunday, and John the other Sunday. Turn about, you know.
Berta: In the summer it was fishing, and in the winter it was crib? [Cribbage] Playing crib?
Berta: And singing hymns?
Dan: Who was the lady that used to come there?
Jim: Mrs Charles [?].
Dan: Oh yes. She went home to England afterwards?
Berta: And little Eileen used to get the chocolates every Sunday, ‘cause she was the pet … box of chocolates for little Eileen.
Dan: Who was running the mail coach to Onga in those days? Can you remember? Graham and Geddes were in later years, about 19 …
Berta: Beasley, Dad, wouldn’t it be?
Jim: They run [ran] the [?] the other [?].
Berta: Well he used to run the papers, old Jack Beasley. And he used to say, “To heck!” as he went out to get the papers. “Stick your toes in, Jimmy.”
Jim: Yes, it was [?].
Dan: It would be horse and cart for the mail in those days, of course. And all the wool would be carted by wagon.
Dan: How many sheep would you run on that place when you first took it over?
Jim: Oooh, I think it was ‘bout seven hundred.
Berta: And old Alec Mackie – he was the first one to have a motor car, wasn’t he?
Berta: And then when Carr’s got it, Mrs Carr used to drive along with the umbrella up in the back; sitting in the back seat with the umbrella up and the hood of the car down. [Chuckle]
Jim: Mmm. They were [??] when these old … you know, like a buggy.
Doug: Well, there we are. Not a very big tape, but I hope it’s of some interest. Running it over again, it’s unfortunate that the original tape was recorded over because Grandfather just flowed along on that one, and doing it again is good but it doesn’t have quite the same spontaneity. Anyway, all the best to you both. Cheers.
Original digital file
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Recording donated by Lynda Therese Begley, great granddaughter of Jim McIntyre; dated 1957-’58