Carrington, James Donald (Jim) Interview
Today is the 29th of April 2014. I’m interviewing Jim Carrington who now lives in Hastings. He’s going to tell us something about the life and times of his family. Thank you Jim, I’m looking forward to hearing from you.
Well I was born in 1921 of course and they were on the family farm at Twyford, but my grandfather actually owned the farm, and he came to Hastings … and I’m not sure what year he came to Hastings, but he rented the stables at the Albert Hotel, and he hired the horses and gigs and whatever they wanted in those days. It was all horses and gigs of course. And that must have been before 1912 because 1912 he got the farm. And how long he was in Hastings I don’t know. And another thing – I don’t know where … I haven’t got his family history and I can’t somehow get round to get it. Yeah, but my Grandmother – I’ve got her family history – I mean – although I’m not sure whether she was born on board boat, or whether she was born just before she left England, or whether she was born in Prebbleton down Christchurch, I don’t know, but they landed there.
What was her surname, Jim?
Kathleen Donald. They come from Scotland. And she had a younger brother – as far as I know I think there was only one brother younger and I don’t know when he came out, but anyway he took up a farm in Taranaki and I don’t know very much about him.
Now my Grandfather … the first recollection that he sort of communicated to us, he was with a contractor that cut down the Forty Mile Bush in the Wairarapa and they cut everything down except a tree that was over five feet in diameter. But they were allowed to build a stage up fifteen feet and cut it off there. [Chuckle] I mean … sort of – it was just ridiculous – they might as well have left it there. However, I mean they only had six foot saws anyway. And he always said “well all I got out of that job was a new pair of boots.” [Chuckle] Yeah – I don’t know how long he was in there.
And then he came up to Hastings and he had the stables there. But he evidently had a bit of fun there with hiring out the horse and gig, and when they came back they had no money and … sort of things, you know. So he used to take something off them when they took the gig and horse away. He always had a pocket watch, you know – wear a waistcoat, and he ended up with a lovely watch – a bloke left it and he never came back for it. And it was a Rotherham watch. Now he had that until I think Mum put it in the washing machine during the War. [Chuckle]
And he had five girls, and they were all … actually they were teenagers at Twyford … the youngest girl, she went to the Twyford School when it first opened in 1912. And when we had the school reunion – their 75th it was – and I was looking up at different things you see – I was still at home and Mum come [came] to light with a photo, and it was the first photo of the school 1912 – the end of 1912 – and here was her sister. She’d only started that year, but I mean that year was the school opening, and here was the photo. And it had got a wee bit damaged, and she gave it to me you see, and I said “oh” I said, “that’s interesting.” I was on the School Committee at the time and they were looking up records and things, and I said “I think I could do better than all that”. I said, “I think there’s a photo at home of the first year at school.” So when I got the photo it was a little bit damaged in one corner and I thought … it was getting old, you know. And I thought ‘oh’ – I couldn’t give them that. Anyway I went into town and somebody put me onto somebody else, and they said “oh, we’ll get that restored for you”, and I said “oh good”. Well, they got it restored, a damn nice job of it, and it went from – they did it in Taradale evidently, so how many times that thing changed hands … [Chuckle] And then I gave it to the Headmaster at the School Jubilee – 75th. But in the meantime I went and got it framed and the bloody thing … in the end I think it cost me about £20. [Chuckle] Anyway they’ve still got it at Twyford.
So you went to school in Twyford?
Yeah, but wait a minute I haven’t got that far yet. Grandad had all the five daughters, that’s right. There was [were] twins – they were the oldest and they both married officers that came back after the First World War. One was an Artillery Officer and the other one was an Infantry Officer, and the Artillery Officer took up a farm up North Auckland and the other Officer he took up – he worked in the – a well-known insurance … very old insurance … Public Trust.
That is old.
[Chuckle] Yeah. He worked with those all his life. And anyway, that was Wellington and with the next daughter, I mean she married an Englishman that came out after the War and they lived in Hastings. He was an accountant at de Pelichet McLeod’s all his life.
What was his name?
Toothill – Arthur Toothll. And the youngest one, Doris, she married Ernie Goodrick at Mangateretere, and they took up a block of land down the Tukituki … over the Tukituki River and he bought a little orchard there, but it was pretty hard going, and I don’t know how long he was there – he must have been there four or five years.
And then Campbell, the politician for Hastings, Campbell … oh, I don’t know his first name now. Anyway being a politician and pretty shrewd – they cut up a big block of land in Tokoroa and developed it – and he bought it. And then he sold it – he cut it up into … oh, fifty or sixty acre blocks … and sold it. And Aunt Doris and her husband – I mean they heard about it and they drew a block and they went up there and milked cows, and they did very well on those.
Now, my father came onto the scene then. He was a Carrington and there was a big family of them and their ancestry went up to that second photo there. He was the surveyor that was sent out from England – he landed in New Zealand on the last day of 1839. He hung round Government House for a few days and then they put him on a barge and dumped him off at the Waitara rivermouth, and I don’t quite know how long he spent there. There was [were] no other white people, there was only a Maori Pa there. And he walked over that area from north and south and had a good look and he took – they must have been fairly well educated in those days, because he sort of took samples of the soil and analysed them himself. And he said it would be a good place for farming. So they left him there for oh, three months I think it was, then they came and got him and they tipped him off in Nelson somewhere, not sure there, and he walked round there for another three months and then he went back to England and he took all the reports and everything back.
And in the meantime, while he was back in England he and his three brothers – they were all surveyors – and they started at Paris and they met the German surveyors at the border with the railway line, and when they got there they were an inch out. [Laughter] I mean, I’ve often thought – I mean, I don’t know how far it was from Paris to the border of … or from Germany, but to measure this far and be – when they joined up the rails they were an inch out, and I thought ‘my God!’
Anyway, then he came back to New Zealand and he stayed in New Zealand then – he properly surveyed Taranaki. Did I show you the photo? And he drew that bloody map, it’s astounding really. I mean I don’t know what sort of a hut he had but he did eventually build himself a bit of a hut. They sent out enough for him to build himself a little hut when he got to New Zealand, but I mean they put it all on a barge and pushed it up the Waitara River. [Chuckle] And they left him there for about twelve months. Yeah, he went back to England, did the railway line and come [came] back, and ended up … he was Principal of the New Plymouth District, which is – that’s what they called them in those days. That was for the district. Well he, was sort of a Member of Parliament for it, but I mean there was only Maoris there so … [chuckle]
Didn’t know who he was representing. [Chuckle]
Anyway they gradually settled there and he did all the surveying and laid out all the bloody roads and sewerage and water and … yeah, I’ll come back to that. The family all come [came] out and they’re all buried in New Plymouth. Yeah – I’ve seen all the graves, they’re still there. There’s five brothers came out to New Zealand and three of them stayed and two of them went to Aussie. Now they were all surveyors – I mean they couldn’t do any more round Taranaki, so two of them went down south, but I’ve got no history of those two. They ended up in Nelson anyway. Yeah. Whether they went back home – he never went back home – whether the others went back home or not I don’t know – I haven’t got round that one.
Now that was my father’s … his name was Frederick Alonso, and he had … what did he have? One boy and four girls. Anyway, I mean that’ll be another history – that’s another on. Well the one boy, he was married and he had two boys, and that then was my Grandfather. And one lad came back to Hastings and the other one went to Gisborne. And they’re still there, they’re still in Gisborne and they’re still here. I mean it’s getting further down the line now of course.
My father – he married one of old Charlie’s girls – one of the five. And they were on the farm then, and they decided that instead of trying to find him a home, that the four of them would live together, and it worked out quite well evidently. But I mean Grandfather – he was very keen on the horses, and they had two four-horse teams … Clydesdale draught horses … and they used to go contracting with the teams of horses. And with that and the farm there they milked a few cows and had odds and ends and ‘course they used to grow a lot of barley in those times. And then Grandfather leased a property in Yules Road. I never found out exactly which property he had down there and of course by the time I got interested in what property, nobody could tell me.
Which was Yules Road? It must have been renamed was it?
Yules Road, yes I think that was renamed Trotter Road – I’m not sure of that one.
Yes, well that would make sense, ‘cause there were Trotters on either side of it weren’t there?
Yeah, that’s right. Where did we get to?
Your father had the teams and contracting.
Yeah, they had two four horse teams and they used to go contracting ploughing, and there was plenty of breaking in land in those days. And of course – I mean that was my first experience with horses was with draught horses, until one trod on me [my] foot. [Chuckle] But he didn’t damage it, so – I mean they were – the draught horses were very, very lovely horses. They were placid, and if they trod on anything that wasn’t flat they never put any weight on it. So he knew that he’d trod on me foot, so [chuckle] he lifted it – ‘course it hurt me though. But I mean I was only a kid, and I used to walk round underneath the horses and yeah, I was told not to but you do these things.
Now you mentioned that they grew barley – they obviously had to thresh it – did they have threshing mills?
Yes, well I mean that’s a bit later. Anyway the farm ended up with fowls, they had a couple of hundred fowls and … now this is more or less when I can remember … and they were milking twenty-odd cows.
Now another thing that stuck in my mind was they bought a milking plant. Now how I remember this was … I don’t remember how the plant … I know it was in bits, all in bits and a bloke came out from town and his name was Mr Penny and I always remember that. And he altered the shed and installed the milking plant. Now all we had in those days was you know, the [makes sounds of milking machine] – you know …
That’s right – to drive it.
… bloody engine.
Lister or Petter.
[Chuckle] And now that went for oh, quite a long while.
From there I went to school, that’s right. And I don’t know how long I’d been at school, only two or three years, and the electricity started to come on. And here they were employing the unemployed – they’d dig holes by hand and put up these bloody great big poles. And it was a contract you know, I mean they had a drain on the road of course, there was always … all round Twyford there. And there was only that much bank and they had to dig a hole there, big enough … you know, I mean when they dug a hole they had to dig a long trench and then they lifted the pole into that and they jacked it up straight. It was a real art they had. Anyway, that was long gone but there was big excitement because they were getting electricity. Now that must have been about 1927 or ‘28. But previous to that we had lamps and candles, and that’s all we had for lighting. We had plenty of firewood and heating and things. Then of course … I can’t remember whether the phones … but the phones must have been before that because when they connected up the electricity at the house – oh, our house was about a hundred yards from the road – it was sort of … they built your house on a dry spot they could find you know. And anyway the telephone poles were there before the electricity went in, so the phone must have been before that. I can’t remember the phones going in there. But anyway when the electricity came in, they put in four power poles. But they only put in enough – I suppose it was finance I don’t know – but they only put in enough power to go to the house, and that was only two lines if I remember – or three lines, I forget now. Anyway this oil engine they had – one day it flew to pieces, [chuckle] and I think it must have been in the winter time when they weren’t milking cows. They thought ‘now what the hell do they do?’ you see, so … that little old oil engine … they rigged up a saw bench to cut firewood you know, carted lengths of firewood and then they put it over the bench and cut it up. Anyway the oil engine flew to bits – there must have been a good pow-wow – and they decided that they’d put electricity right to the cowshed. So it meant another power pole so then five wires came into the shed and then they put – oh, the telephone wires – they took their poles out and put two little arms on the electric light poles. Evidently that was illegal too, but I mean – it was never moved. And that’s when I remember the milking plant went in, and it was in bits and anyway this Mr Penny – he worked it all out, what the speed of the electric motor was and the vacuum parts you know, they had a big thirty inch flywheel and that only had to go at a certain speed and everything. And from the electric motor he had a shaft and there was … there was [were] four belts went on that shaft. No five. One went to the pump – water pump, separator, vacuum plant, and a pump to pump the skimmed milk out to the pig sty.
We had the diesel … we had the single cylinder Lister engine too.
Anyway we put in a two-horse [power] motor and that worked well. I mean it was a bit slow for the saw bench, you know, you could make the electric motor die a wee bit. We had to just feed it in slowly that was all.
Mr Penny, that’s right, and he put the milking plant in and that was great because we had three machines and I think they bought a few more cows then, but before that – I mean I’d even learnt to milk before that, by hand. Then the milking machines, well they were marvellous. Took two or three milkings before the cows liked it all the same, but they didn’t mind it once it was going.
And ‘course there was another problem that they had with the separator and the cream. There was this hundred yards of track to the gate, and the cream had to go to the gate because they collected up the cream … the dairy factory at Stortford Lodge, they collected up and they took delivery of … they had their own trucks and they were electric trucks – solid rubber tyres. And you’d never hear them coming, they’d go along the road and if it wasn’t for the shingle you wouldn’t hear them coming. I remember Dad had to find a way to get this cream can to the gate. Anyway, he must have taken an old cart … an old gig to pieces, because there was the big wheels and the axle – he had two big wheels and the axle – and he got the axle shortened somehow or other, and he made this – he made a tray so that it was just enough, when you – and he had a bowl or something that you pushed or pulled and it went up in the air and they put the can on, and as you brought it down it lifted the can off the ground – only just off the ground.
‘Cause they were twenty gallon cans and …
Forty. I mean we never filled them up. Yeah, twelve … yeah, twenty … there was [were] all sorts …
There was sixteens, twenties …
Sixteen, yeah … twenty, but then they went to forty, but there was – we never got a forty one.
No we didn’t either, no.
Yeah, I mean it was the bigger boys that got those. We used to – oh, the fun and games to take that to the bloody gate, and then of course some time during the day it had to be brought back. Just another job, although half the time when we come [came] home from school we’d drag it back.
Yes, so that was that … time went on and yeah, as I say they used to – they grew barley and things, and grass seed was a great thing then. And then of course they had to be threshed, so – I mean the threshing mill – yeah, there was Tommy Ramsay – he had a threshing mill and he lived at Fernhill. Then there was Alf Watkins – I think he had two or three mills. And then there was a joker by the name of Pilcher out at …
Percy Pilcher, yeah, and oh I think there was another one somewhere – used to drive it round with an old John Deere tractor with three wheels … three-wheeled tractor, and he used to drive round with that and it used to drive the mill too. I can’t remember his name.
I always remember when … our road was shingle the same as yours were, and you’d hear the engine coming down the road on the shingle with the mill and the elevator, then the stinky on behind that, man with the water cart behind that again.
Water cart, yeah, then their sleeping van. Then they had a trolley that they used …
As a platform, yes.
… and then the big mill and then the water cart and the sleepout.
It was quite an event when the mill came to thresh.
[Chuckle] I mean I used to jump on me [my] bike and when I knew they were coming I’d jump on my bike and down road and through the bike on the trolley and he’d let me drive the traction engine. [Chuckle]
And then at night when they’d all knocked off you’d get up on the stack and …
… slide down the …
Slide down, oh … I never learned to stack – I never learned to stack. We used to grow a lot of lucerne – we’d stack that. My grandfather used to – he used to be the stacker – he was a good stacker he was, he’d done it all his life I suppose. I don’t know whether they leased the farm at Yules Road, I think that’s all they did, and whether they lost the lease, or something happened – it was sold – I don’t know. But he bought a farm in down Chatham Road I think it’s called now … we used to go Polo Ground Road. And we had the first section – we had thirty acres there and Willy Wall had a house there. And there was a little one-room cottage that was on the corner there. I think it was a drover’s cottage, but anyway Grandad had no trouble to rent that to people. I mean it was amazing. But I remember that farm because I used to cut a lot of oats and Dad was stacking. And my Grandfather – he never took that round stacking on. And where my father learnt it all I’m buggered if I know. But there used to be a chap named Bill Black. He lived on the corner of … I don’t know what road it is now … right opposite the hospital, he lived on the corner there – Bill Black – and he was a good stacker. I mean he was employed, practically everybody employed him when they were … he followed the mill round more or less.
‘Cause it was a real art wasn’t it, the way they put them together?
Oh, God yes! And those round stacks – oh God – they were art in themselves. Yeah, and then the old chaff cutting days, and the rats – holy cripes! You’d get down towards the bottom layer and it was bloody near all rats. God! Yeah.
Yes – you never got used to rats did you?
No. No. God they used to run all over us – I mean oh, God, I don’t know. The last time we grew oats there we had a little fox terrier [chuckle] and towards the afternoon he’d just lay down and the rats run [ran] over him.
He was worn out. [Laughter]
He’d had enough of them.
So were you at school those days then?
Oh yes, I was at school those days, yeah. I left school when I was … I’d just turned thirteen – no, twelve. My twelfth birthday was in October, and I left that year.
But in the meantime, I mean the Twyford School – I went to the Twyford School right from the start and during my time there until I got to Standard 5. Mr Rigby, Mr Riley and then we got an Englishman there Mr Arthur … Cyril Arthur, and he was there two years I think, and the people got very dissatisfied with him. He was a great sportsman – he was good, he was teaching us cricket and all the sports that we could think of, you know, and that was his main thing really. Then the parents began to think ‘well now, those kids didn’t go back at school at nine o’clock, the bell didn’t go until ten past … quarter past,’ and they were getting very dissatisfied with him. I think he’d been there about four years, and they tried to get him moved and they had big meetings with the Education Board and they said well they couldn’t do anything, they couldn’t move him because … dislike to the parents or anything you see, so … Anyway one of them said quietly to some of them, “the only way you’ll get him moved is to drop the roll of the school.” So that year, I mean … some of us went to the West School, some of us went to Mahora. We started off at Mahora, and the Headmaster got a bit suspicious then – I don’t know how many he took on … eight, nine … he thought ‘now what the hell’s going on here?’ and he refused to take any more. So the rest of us went over to the West School and we got in there, and he started to get a bit suspicious, but we’d done the damage at Twyford and that had to be downgraded. So I mean we all stayed with the town schools. We had to bike that five miles on bloody shingle roads and everything, but – I mean okay, so we all finished our schooling Standard 5 … Standard 6. So that downgraded the school and we sort of had no more interest in the school after that, until the Jubilees came along.
So when you left school what did you do then – a thirteen year old?
Yeah well I got a little job in the bookshop and I was only there three months. That didn’t interest me at all, so I went back on the farm then. Yeah, of course, I mean I did my apprenticeship fencing and Christ knows what. [Chuckles]
Drain digging, drain cleaning, stacking hay, feeding out hay.
And then the draught horses began to die off and yeah. In 1929 we bought a new Plymouth car – sedan – oh yeah, there wasn’t [weren’t] many sedans about then – only the Model A Ford. There was a Chev or two, and there was a Dodge knocking around, but I mean the Chrysler and the Plymouth and De Soto and the Pontiac – they had a good hold. And then we bought a Ford ton truck, that was 1929 too. I think the horses must have been getting a bit scarce then because every time me [my] old Grandfather used to take the horse and dray to town to get the fowl food and stuff. Yeah, we had plenty of drays, a low dray and a big … two tip drays. Yeah, and then the horses as I say – they started to get scarce and when I came home … oh, I was at school in the earthquake of course – yeah, I remember that quite well. Yeah, there was nobody hurt at the school at the earthquake. All the chimneys were down – I remember we were the nearest ones … we lived next door to the school and we were the nearest ones to the school and we were the last kids to leave the school that morning. Parents all come down and got the kids, you know, and they wouldn’t let the kids go until the parents came. And my parents were … they were all over on the farm at … by Flaxmere there, on Polo Ground Road – no, it wasn’t Polo Ground Road, it was the one further out – it was the next one … I don’t know what road they called that. It was between Polo Ground Road and … Henderson Road it was called, that’s right. I think it’s still called Henderson Road.
Yes, it is.
It came to a dead end, and we had the first farm there. And they were all cutting oats, and they had the binder. And of course the horses went mad and they had to settle them down and get them all sort of settled down. Then they came and – by that time of course, time had gone round and we were the last to leave Twyford School to go home and yet we were the nearest.
Yeah, so I mean – that was a different thing. From there on I mean from the earthquake, we couldn’t get inside. The chimney had come down through the roof and through the floor and blocked up the back door. Couldn’t open that at all. Anyway we managed to get one of the windows, and my brother – he was a bit younger than me, nearly two years younger than me – they pushed him through the window and he found enough things to … flour and … drag out, although they kept the flour and the sugar and oh, there was [were] odds and ends. It was in a big bin, and … lifted up a lid, and – well that was all good. I mean everything come down off the shelves and mixed up with glass and broken bottles. Oh God – a hell of a mess. But anyway, my brother managed to get some flour and sugar out. That’s all we had and then – ‘course we couldn’t get into town, but old Bill Lynch at Stortford Lodge – he must have done a great trade, ’cause he had everything – didn’t matter what you asked for, he had it – he was a proper store. Anyway old Grandad used to … horse and cart and go to Bill Lynch – get our groceries and things. ‘Cause it was no good taking the car or the truck because you couldn’t get any petrol. Although we used to buy petrol in four gallon tins – four gallon tins and the case – oh, those cases – they come [came] to good use too, didn’t they?
They used them for picking fruit into, all sorts of things.
And the old kerosene tins – my God, they were a godsend – cut the lid out and hammer them all.
Buckets, and carrying milk to feed the pigs, and …
Oh, God yeah! The uses of that thing … oh, we never wasted any of those. Never wasted any of those boxes either. When you think of it now … [chuckle].
I was at home then until 1939 when I joined the Army. I joined the Army, and I was only eighteen then. I joined the Army then, and I never went away of course until I was twenty-one. I had four years in the Army so I was away from the farm for four years.
Yes. So where did you go when you were in the Army then?
I went to the Islands … tropics, and … I mean we were only a bloody – well, there was a whole division of us there. As far as we were concerned it was an utter waste of bloody time. Well I was there twelve months, and there was a battalion or a – don’t know quite what – I think there was more than a battalion of boys that went to Fiji and they were there twelve months and then they came back to us and they joined us in New Caledonia. And that was another twelve months. So they had trained soldiers there for two years and they eventually persuaded the bloody Americans that we should help them with the Islands, because we had to depend on them for transport. We had to depend on them for food, and it got more and more … dependency on the Americans and anyway they let us go … Vella Lavella and Green Island and that was the end of the whole lot. We were only a political force there.
So you didn’t actually confront the Japanese?
No. No there was – I was in reserve all the time and it was just a waste of bloody time.
But I believe you got dengue fever didn’t you?
‘Cause that’s not very good is it?
No, no, no. It’s fatal really. I mean there was two of us got it together. I didn’t know him and he didn’t know me, and he was in one camp and I was in another, and we ended up in the Fort General Hospital on the same day, and they put us together in the big hospital tent. And we both got over it. And they couldn’t understand why we got over it because very seldom – it was a death job. I mean the chances of [not] getting over dengue fever was about ninety-five per cent or something, and I’d been in hospital – well you actually died, but they brought us round. And I was in BTD … when we got out of hospital after about three weeks, they sent us down to Base Reception. And we were down in Noumea, that was the only town in New Caledonia – they had a sort of reception depot down there. And they used to send those that were in hospital – they’d come out and they’d spend time in Noumea. Well your time was your own as long as you were there for breakfast – nine o’clock. You know, they didn’t give a damn where you went to and you had free time all the time.
So I was there, and then word came round that they were taking all the farm boys home. The farm boys – anybody that worked on farms, they sent home. And ‘course I was recuperating after dengue fever, so I was one of the first ones to come home. It was rather funny – I mean, I was home twelve months and I took crook again, and I thought ‘what the hell’s going on?’ And I thought about it and I thought ‘Christ, it’s dengue fever come back.’ And those days, dengue fever never come [came] back, malaria did but dengue fever never came back. I ended up in hospital and the doctor didn’t know what it was, and I said to him “it’s dengue fever.” He said “no, you don’t get dengue fever, you never get dengue fever … over the Islands” … He says “how the hell do you know it’s dengue fever?” He says “there’s very few blokes that had dengue fever and survived.” I said “well, it’s bloody dengue fever.”
Anyway three years running I went back to the hospital on the same day every year, and the last year – and that was three years later, but each time my spell was a long way … was gradually getting fainter and fainter, you know. And the next year I didn’t even call the bloody doctor – I said “oh – they don’t know what the hell it is.” And about a year after that again – there was about five or six years, later it came out in a medical report that dengue fever does re-occur [recur] every twelve months. I mean malaria was every three to four weeks or something.
I mean – that was another funny thing – I mean when we were in New Caledonia they drafted two Fijian boys to our camp. They didn’t do anything, they never did anything, but we had one of them in our tent and he was a big solid bloke – hell of a nice bloke he was – he was dark of course. And every three weeks, I think it was three weeks, the doctor used to deliver a stretcher to our tent. He said “oh, look after …”, I forget his name now. “Look after Joe” he says, “he’s due in today.” [Chuckle]
With recurring malaria?
And sure enough we’d be sitting there and he’d just collapse. Yeah, and then he’d shiver, so we used to have to roll him onto the stretcher and it took four of us to lift it. And four of us had to take him up to the bloody doctor. We hated that job because he was so bloody heavy. Anyway, that was just one job we had to do every three weeks. I mean there was six of us in the tent – I mean sometimes there was … we weren’t there and he had to call on some of the other boys – whoever was there.
So when you came back to New Zealand you were discharged from the Army?
Yes and no. We didn’t get a full discharge. We were just told that … you were on leave without pay. And I was home twelve months. In the meantime, while I was home I sort of found out a wee bit about what was going on there, you know. And somebody said “oh you’ll probably get called up again.” He said “you’ll want a bloody good job so that” he said “whoever you’re with” – and I was with my home there – and if they didn’t – when they called you up again, whoever you were employed by had to appeal against the call up, you see. And if they thought that there was not enough work for you – well, you went back. And anyway, my parents knew the accountant pretty well – Harold Carr – and he was one of the directors at Asparagus Limited. He said to my parents, “look”, he said, “if they call me again”, he said “you haven’t got enough work for him here, on the farm”. And he said “but I think we could get him off.” And they said “well, what do you mean?” And they [he] said, “we’ll employ him at Asparagus Limited.” Well when I got there there was [were] four tractors in the shed and one driver. [Chuckle]
So there was plenty of work but no one to do it.
But I mean – now I’ll have to switch back to when the draught horses started to disappear, through old age I suppose and some of them foundered, and oh – we were left with one draught horse. And they decided that – we still had the farm and Dad was pretty close to one of the orchardists, and he wanted to plough up a ground and plant oats at Henderson Road. So the orchardist bloke – he had an old Austin tractor, and he says “oh, I’ll pull the plough for you”. He said “as long you sit on the plough or something or drive … Anyway he ploughed the ground, and I don’t know who worked it up, I can’t remember now. Anyway they grew the oats and then of course had no horses to put the binder on, so they bought an old Fordson tractor. And ‘course they said “well you know, all the implements are horse drawn, and somebody had to sit on them or walk behind them or work them or something”. So my job was learn to drive the tractor. Bloody old Fordson tractor with steel wheels – shake the guts out of you [chuckle] – oh God! However I mean – that tractor – oh, we had that tractor for a long while. Anyway, it blew a piston through the head one day and that was the end of that one. And we never bought another one. I mean I’d left there then, and old Grandfather couldn’t do anything. And Dad … he had to do it all and there’s only a certain amount of work one man can do. So that was the end of that lot.
But that tractor, we bought that before the War, must have been about 1936 when we bought that tractor, it was a second hand one. Yeah – kerosene. And they were no good until they started to boil. Yeah. That thing did a lot of work for us.
The next thing after … the threshing – the old traction engine and threshing mill and I mean there was a lot of men you had to employ. He thought ‘well, it would cost him a hell of a lot to get everything threshed’. So anyway, the year before that, I think it was 1936 – the neighbours down the road, Burgess, the old man there, he bought a Sunshine portable harvester and we saw it working. I thought ‘well next year – that’s us.’ Then of course that came in boxes, and the old Ford truck had about three trips to the railway station and they hoisted all these boxes onto it, and then ‘course when we got home we had all these bloody boxes and we had to get them off the truck. I remember Dad, he said “oh, we’ll dig a hole so when they back down it was level with the ground and we might be able to put pipes or something and pull these boxes off.” And then – somebody was there and somebody said “Christ, you’ve got a block and chain … you’ve got a block hanging out in the tree.” We had a big willow tree and it was old and it came up and it went out like that, and it was huge. And anyway they had this block and tackle up there and they killed all the sheep and things on it you know. They said “oh, God – what we worrying for? Just back the truck under there and put some chains round it and lift the boxes off and put it down”. It was ideal.
A lot of people wouldn’t know the uses that block and tackles had. They used them for pulling cows out of the bog, lifting stuff … you know they had a huge rope on them and big blocks.
Oh, ours was just a chain. Yeah, chain … an endless chain. And anyway, we stored all these boxes under a tree, and then a bloke came up from Christchurch – and he boarded with us I think – and he put it together. And my job was to take all the boxes to pieces, and ‘course we took all the boxes … took all the bloody nails out, stored all the boxes and that bloody timber – it was Australian timber and it was beautiful timber, and after we’d taken all that and got the build going and we got it ready – they took it down to the Show. And it was idling all day there and it was running in nicely, and they were all watching it for heating bearings and things, you know. And it was all run in before we started. I forget the name of the joker that put it together, but we put it together under this bloody willow tree and of course in October the leaves were out and it was nice and cool. It was an ideal place.
So when you took it out, the first job, did it work all right?
Yeah … I think he came back. He came back with us on the first day, and I don’t know what happened but one of the cog wheels on the pickup flew to bits. We never found out why and he took it into town and a bloke welded it up and put it back on and a new one arrived about a week later from Christchurch. It was never replaced again.
Must have been a faulty one.
Must have been a fault on it, yeah. And that was the only break that we had on that mill – yeah.
So you used to pull that with the old Fordson?
Yeah, God yeah. I mean it had big steel wheels …
Cleats on it.
The big one in the centre was about that wide, and the one on the outside of the pickup was about that wide. God we used to travel … then we used to do a lot of our neighbours with it.
‘Cause that was the original tin mill wasn’t it, they called them?
Yeah, it was all tin. Yeah. We would put some boards on the top of it. There was always a lot of dressings, or seconds came out and it more or less … you had to tip it in slowly on the riddles at the back and it all go through again and take a lot of stuff out that shouldn’t have … but I mean everything was in a smaller way, and the crops were really too heavy a crop for them. They weren’t really built to take the amount of crop that was … you know, but however … I mean you got over it, but we had to stand on the top of the mill and just put all these seconds through again, but we had to put some boards across the top there, because the tin wasn’t strong enough for us to stand up there.
Now was that before you went to Asparagus Limited?
Oh yeah, that was before the War. When I went to Asparagus Limited of course there was the boss and I don’t think he’d ever driven a tractor, and I don’t know – he didn’t seem to know very much at all, he was depending on whoever came for a lot of information. I mean, I don’t know, when Dad first went there when I was there, we planted … oh, about a hundred acres of asparagus which was more or less the last block that they planted. And they had two little Allis Chalmers that they used for cultivation. And everything was mechanical – nothing hydraulics about it, and they were bloody heavy hard work. When you got to a corner …
You had to lift the cultivators.
… you had to lift all the way – yeah, God yeah. And anyway they had a Massey Harris Senior, which was a beautiful tractor, but it was on steel wheels. Then they had the small Caterpillar tractor with – it was a kerosene bottle, and it used to … I mean we used to plough there with a swamp plough and that was the only tractor that would handle that. I mean the big Massey would handle it as long as the ground was quite solid. If the ground got a bit soft she used to bury herself in the ground. So the Caterpillar was – she used to go along quite nicely and then it used to – when it come [came] to planting we used to plant with a mole plough. You’d go along and you had two mole ploughs, they were six feet apart and we had them on the draw bar of the tractor and we had a mole plough on each, and I mean we could go along that slow and you kept them as straight as a dart. [Chuckle] And they were good for that but it took a long time and there was me on the tractor and one each on the mole plough, it was a long job. And then you’d have the blokes come along with the plants. They used to carry them in a box round their neck and they’d just go along and drop a plant every eighteen inches, and then you’d have two blokes behind there with hoes, hoeing – not too much – as long as they were covered. Yeah, they didn’t put a lot of earth on top of it until they grew, and then they gradually – well you were cultivating, you were gradually pushing the … cutting the weeds out and pushing the dirt back in the hole.
‘Cause that farm was quite unique ’cause it was the biggest planting of asparagus ever in Hawke’s Bay – ever.
Yeah, there was two hundred and fifty acres.
There were others that had a hundred acres, but no one … and that was the first major planting wasn’t it?
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And I mean old Donald Wilson was the nurseryman, he grew all the plants. No … I don’t think he did, he only grew some of them – he couldn’t grow them all, some of them come [came] from somewhere else, but it doesn’t matter. I mean but he was a shareholder, and old Ralph Paynter – he was a big orchardist.
Yeah. Who was the other one? Harold Carr, yeah, and Ralph Paynter and … oh, and Donald Wilson. Yeah, the three of them and the three of them every Sunday morning the three of them were over there looking round the place.
So how long did you work there, Jim?
I was there three years I think.
So you would have been there when the crop came … when the plants had their first major …
Oh no, no … they were still not cutting that block. The first block that they bought was a hundred acres – that was on one side of the road, and they put ten acres of Golden Queens right down on the riverbed. Yeah, but there was a big lot of silver poplars along there – between that and the river you couldn’t walk between them. The river never come [came] up to the orchard then anyway. We never got through the fence and went down to see the water anyway. Yeah, that was a hundred acres there, and then they bought Beatsons’ place which was a hundred and fifty acres. And they gradually … yeah, well the first year I was there we planted the main block. I think it was fifty.
It must have been very difficult because you didn’t have weed spray to kill the weeds did you?
Yes – yes we did have weed spray, but it was 24T. And that killed everything. [Chuckle] No, it was difficult. We couldn’t find a spray – while I was there we couldn’t find a spray. And ‘course every five weeks or six weeks or every month or something, we had to run the discs over the lot and cut everything up and I mean you lost two or three days cutting then. There was about a hundred acres … was cutting, but the next year the whole two hundred and fifty acres was ready to cut. It was a bit of a nuisance. I mean it took you – if it was over to me I used to take the big Massey Harris tractor and a set of John Deere discs, and if I got up and did a twelve hour day I could disc fifty acres. So I usually had three days of that, maybe they were not consecutive days fortunately, but I had to do that otherwise it would have taken four days. I used to do it in three.
Well that would have been good experience for you?
Oh, hell yeah.
And so when you left there what did you – did you marry at any stage?
Oh well yeah, I was married before I … they had a house there, and when I came home – I came home in April, Anzac Day – I landed in Auckland Anzac Day. It was a day like this and the next morning there wasn’t a frost but it was … and we shivered all bloody night. [Chuckle] When we got to Papakura Camp our first thing was to … issue us blankets, and I mean they gave us five blankets. We thought ‘how the hell are we going to sleep under that lot?’ [Chuckle] I mean, ’cause in the Islands you had a blanket, but I mean we weren’t allowed to sleep naked but we could sleep on a blanket and pull it up between your legs. You were allowed to have your legs and arms out but you had to have your body covered. And that’s the way we slept, you see, and I mean one blanket – that was it. Then we got to Papakura and they give [gave] us five blankets – we thought, ‘five blankets?’ Anyway, there was about thirty of us I think – we took up a hut anyway. And do you know that first night, the lights never went out in that hut, never got turned off. We were up and down piddling, God! I don’t think I’ve ever piddled so many times in the night as that night.
Because you were cold … the chill?
Yeah. And I mean there was about thirty of us in the hut – I mean sometimes there was [were] two or three of us going down there.
‘Cause in the tropics you would have sweated it all out.
Oh hell yeah – oh God, you never got up up there. You were bloody lucky if you piddled once a day. Yeah. I mean you were wet all the time anyway. Yeah, it was rather funny.
Yeah the next night – that first night, you know, they had the canteen open – geez, we were into that, and ‘course that made it worse. [Chuckle] That was April, and I came home and … oh, we were married in November that year, ’44.
And who did you marry?
Dulcie Doray. They were town people – he was a bus driver, all his life he was a bus driver with the railway …
Yeah. NZR, yeah. Now that was after the earthquake. He was mechanic for the Public Works on the Napier-Gisborne Railway, and I mean the railway got, the earthquake came and – I mean that folded the railway up, it didn’t start again for years. Anyway, seeing he was on the Public works they gave him a job driving buses. So I mean, he stayed with that until he retired.
And so there was a house at Asparagus Limited?
Yes, there was a house at Asparagus Limited. We were looking for a house at the same time, so I mean things worked out pretty well for us. A big old house they had – it’s gone now.
It was a big – I remember …
Oh God yes, it was a huge place. Twelve foot studs, and the rooms were huge. I mean you put a bed in the middle [chuckle] and you could have put three more beds in the same room.
So then when you left Asparagus Limited ..?
Yeah, well I put in for a farm and there was a little one at Twyford there, it was only a lifestyle block really, thirteen acres, but it was quite handy to … well there was only one place between that and my parents. And there was a big house. That’s the house up there. There was a big old house up there, on that one.
I remember that house.
Still there. It’s all been repainted again, and they’ve done a big operation round the back there, but I’ve never been round there to have a look.
Now that was another funny thing – I added four feet on – no, the house – when you went down the farm a bit and you looked back at the house – now this was at the back – and it looked as though they’d built the house and then decided they didn’t have a kitchen on, or a laundry. So then they built a lean-to …
It was normal.
Yeah, and ‘course the lean-to went into another room. Well the lean-to that they put on was the kitchen and the laundry. They had a big wooden stove there, and they had a square with a copper in that corner. So anyway I demolished that and I put four feet on that room there, and then I rebuilt this. But I cut that down in size and I ended up with … the four feet that I put on there I made that as … the cooking area for a kitchen. There was only the stove and the sink, and that was all nice and tidy and small. And you went straight into the dining room. Then I left a gap of about five feet and I put a shower and a laundry in you see, and then in between that I filled it up with stones and put concrete over the top and I had a nice long terrace, and I put a roof over that. And that was a lovely spot in the winter time.
I mean after we’d got it all concreted and stuff, all the terrace, and it was working well, and one night there was quite a little decent earthquake. Anyway when I got up in the morning and I walked down there and down the three steps – I had quite a wide concrete path – and I noticed a crack, a fresh crack – I mean you knew it was fresh. So I mean, that was that – I didn’t take any notice of it, I just saw it across there. And then about three days later I was sort of walking up the steps and I thought you know, that crack – and there was [were] three steps up – and that crack went [demonstrates] across here, along there, up there, down there, up there, and then across to that corner of the house and that was there. I did that … I don’t remember what year I did that … I think it was before one of the kids were born … before Michael was born … no, it must have been after him. But anyway, that crack gradually got worse and when I – for me, what I did – that area went up … the kitchen door was there, straight across here was the shower and that was enough and it cut across like that to the corner. When I first noticed it – I didn’t take any notice until about twelve months – and that crack got wider and wider ’til it was about that wide, [demonstrates] and then this bit kept dropping. And I thought ‘what the hell can I do?’ So as a temporary … I bought a piece of waterproof carpet which you could buy then, and carpeted that and down the step and I stopped at the bottom step. And it didn’t matter whether it rained or not, the carpet was washable and everything – and that covered up the crack. Now when I sold it that’s still covered up but they must have taken the carpet up and discovered this crack. And I always meant to say to the … ’cause it was one of my neighbours that bought the place. The next thing I knew he had a digger in there and they smashed all the terrace up and took it all out. And then they put a wooden one in. They did have a job because I carted some bloody big stones and rocks and things under that terrace, then tipped a whole lot of small stuff so it covered up all the cracks and things.
So you never found out why it cracked?
No, well …
It must have been this earthquake, yes.
But why it kept going. Now, my neighbour next door, he built a new house and he built that about five years before that quake. And I was talking to him one day and I think I mentioned that crack and he said “my bloody house, although I built myself and I didn’t stint on anything,” he says “I’ve got a crack right through the middle of my house”. And I’ve never asked him whether that crack opened.
So when you were living there what did you do with the land, Jim?
Oh well I mean mostly cropping. Now peas – I mean everybody grew peas and they were a good paying crop. Then one year I grew beans, but you could only grow peas two years in a row because the third year it was a bit of a loss.
So while you were there you had, you told me you had one child, how many children did you have?
Oh I had three more then – four more.
Boys … girls?
Well the first was a girl, then a boy.
What are their names?
Janice, Michael – then I had twins, Alan and Marie, and then ten years … thirteen years later we had another boy. Yeah, so there was – but I mean the kids brought him up. [Chuckle]
Yes they would. So that ensured that Twyford School had a reasonable roll.
We were at Twyford School for a long while.
So even though you grew peas you were doing other things obviously.
Oh yeah – I was still doing work around the place and then … there wasn’t a great lot to do anyway. One of my neighbours, Donald McNab, he decided – he’d been married for some time and there was only a sort of two-roomed place on the orchard. It was an old bachelor that planted the orchard and he lived on his own. And anyway when Donald got married, they decided – after about twelve months – they decided they’d build a house. So the builder I knew – he came round to me one day and he says “Jim, could you give us a hand – I want to put the roof on the house round there – could you give us a hand? It’s only a matter of passing the iron up to me”. And I said “oh yeah, I’ll give you a hand.” Of course that was three days, and after that he called on me again for a day you see. I think he’d finished the house and I’d been there three or four days with him, and he had a lot of work on and he said, “would you stay with me?” And I thought ‘well, there’s not much …’ I had about … nearly five hundred fowls, but they were gradually downhill, downhill, downhill you know, and I said to Dulcie one day I said, “when the sales of eggs get down to a certain price I’m going to sell all these bloody fowls because they becoming uneconomic.” Anyway I got down there and I knew what we were going to get for … when you sell the fowls, I knew what price we were going to … I’d worked it all out and I thought ‘now’s the time, otherwise I’m going to get … underneath.’ So anyway I sold the fowls – well, I killed them all off, and that was the end of that. Well that was less work. [Chuckle] So it was then that he said “do you want a job permanently?” Well he didn’t say ‘permanently’ – he said “can I call on you any time?” I said “oh yeah,”. And it gradually got to five days a week, you know.
Who was the builder?
Nelson Borden. Yeah, so I was with Nelson for about ten years. Then he got in a bad way somehow or other. There were two jobs he couldn’t be paid for you know. I mean that was fatal. I mean Wally Bateman – he went bankrupt by one job that wouldn’t pay. He never got money for probably three years later. He said “I can’t stand that.”
So that would have been a new experience ’cause you would’ve been a builder then.
Well I was ten years with Nelson.
He was a good tradesman.
God yes. He was a hell of a good tradesman. And I mean I learnt a lot about joinery because he started off as a joiner and the dust got at him. That was before the War, he actually got TB with the dust.
So then when you finished working with Nelson, what did you do then?
Well then I went out – it was rather funny. I had to have an operation for a hernia. And he said “oh no, you’re not going back to building, you’ll have to find lighter work than that.” This was after about … I mean they kept you in bed for three or four months in those days. They don’t do it now of course. And he said “oh no, you’ve got to find lighter work than that for a while.” So one of my neighbours – they were up on the top road – he had an orchard. And he had … Leeton Patmore … and he had a lot of glasshouses. He said “oh – could you – it’s not a very … are you any good at puttying up?” I said “oh yeah, I haven’t done a hell of a lot of that, but glasshouses – there’s not a great lot of puttying.” “No, no” he said, “there’s not much puttying at all, but …” The sides were only about six foot high. He said “I want to take all the glass off the sides, clean up all the studs, repaint them then put it all back. He said “there’s nothing heavy here” he said. And I said “yeah, I’ll do that”. So I started off there and I was there ten years. [Chuckle] Now we took the bloody roof … but I mean we could only do it sort of in the winter time when the houses were empty. Then I helped him in the orchard, and then he died … well he gave it up and his son took over but his son was an ex-university type and I couldn’t work with him.
And anyway, that’s when I knew the Field … [?someone?] from the Apple & Pear Board and he came to me and he says “you gonna chuck the job in?” I said “yeah, I can’t work with the boy.” He said, “do you want another job?” And I said “oh yeah, what do you want?” He said “well I’m from the Apple & Pear Board”, he said “I can get you a job.” “Well” he said “I’ll just see. What else do you do? If I take you on down there it’ll only be seasonal.” He says “there’s only four or five months work”. He said “we can work that one out later” he said. And he said “I’ll see if I can find you something else to do down there”. And he said “what did you do before you came here?” I said “oh, I was a builder – ten years.” “Oh” he said, “that might be handy”. So anyway off he went. He came back the next day, he said “how would you go as a handyman?” I said “what do you call a handyman? What does he do?” And he said “well” he said “you’d do maintenance work round the Apple & Pear Board. There’ll be all sorts of things – there’ll be holes in walls you’ll have to repair, and probably doors”. And he said “they reckon they’ve got enough work for you”. So … “okay”. I went down there and I started, and it was the season coming up so I did the season you see. Then the boss – he came down and saw me before the season closed and the foreman on the job, I mean he came down – he was a Maori boy – he was all right – he was pretty hard on the Maoris – I mean they had to be at times. And there was one or two more and we all had a little conference you know and they said “well there’s a room down on one of the Inspection sheds” he said “that’s not being used. I don’t know how it came to be a room, but they sort of built the Inspection shed, and there was [were] two lanes of traffic. The trucks came through, and then at the end”, he said “they went up and they put a toilet sort of upstairs. And then it sort of went out, so they built a sort of … another room”. He said “all that’s in there is rubbish.” And they said “oh, you can have that.” And I said “oh well … yeah. Can I make a saw bench?” They said “well – can you make one?” And I said “yeah, I’d have to get an electric motor”, and they said “oh, the engineers will fix that for you.” [Chuckle] We made a saw bench and anyway, I could have done with a … there was [were] all sorts of things I started. You know.
And then one day during the winter the main boss came down to see me and he said “I want to talk to you, Jim.” And I said “yeah – okay”. So we sat down and he said “have you got enough work?” I said “well yes, there is enough work” I said “but there’s some of it I could get through a lot easier if I had a planer”, you know. And he said “and what would you do with that?” And I said “well, there’s [there’re] all sorts of things you can do with a planer. I know how to use them.” And I said “they’ve got to be maintained.” And he said “oh well, the engineers here”. I said “yeah, I know they’ll maintain it”. And so he said “we’ll go down town and see what you can find.” Anyway I went down town, and these bloody buzzers were about $6-700 and I thought ‘oh, geez that’s a lot of money.’ So I scouted around a bit further you see, and I found a place where there was a second hand one – they were good second hand ones you see. I knew what they looked like, and I went back to the boss and I said, “I can get one for I think $200-odd.” He said “go get it.” [Chuckle] So anyway we got that.
And then the foreman – he was away on holiday at that stage ’cause he took his holiday during the slack time. He got back and – I mean here was this bloody planer on his account, and he didn’t like that. He came storming down to me and I said “now hang on, I didn’t ask for it. Tony come [came] down to me and asked me what I wanted … or would I like anything, and I said yes. I said I’d like a planer, and I said Tony told me to go down and get it. Now what would you do?” And he stopped in his tracks you see. He said “oh well, I can’t do anything about it – you’ve got it and the boss says you can have it so – you know.” And after that he never worried me, that joker … never worried me. And I used to do two or three little jobs for him you know. I went up to his office one day and the phone was lying on the floor and I said “what the hell’s the phone on the floor for?” “Oh,” he said “I’ve got no other bloody place to put it” he said. I said “can I make you a table?” [Chuckle] Made him a nice little round table beside the … and he thought it was bloody Christmas, he put his phone there. And I was quite good friends with him after that.
So how long were you there then?
So everything you did for ten years.
Yes. I ended up by doing exactly ten years with everybody that I worked for.
And did you retire from ..?
Yes, I retired from …
From the Apple & Pear Board.
So during this period the children all grew up – where are your children now?
Well Michael and Alan took on farming, and they were – in those days which was at the tail end of that era, the stations took on anybody that had enough work to employ a boy, employed a boy, you see. Now Michael went to somebody out at Maraetotara Road – I forget the name of the bloke there. And then he went to … he was three or four years there, and then he went to Te Apiti Station. And a woman owned that and he was there five years, and she sold the property to the Japanese. And he said “oh no,” he said “I think I’ll get out”. Anyway they wanted him to stay on and he made enquiries, and they were going to bring out cattle that we’d never heard of, and a breed of sheep that we’d never heard of, and he said “no – I’m out of here.” [Chuckle] So luckily he’d bought a house in Flaxmere, and he left that and went straight to Flaxmere. But that was his – I think that was his third job, and he was married with two kids then.
And then the other boy, Alan, he started off at the other side of Maraekakaho – just the other side. And then he went to … no, wait a minute. No, Michael started off at Patoka, yeah. And he gave him a good grounding – he was a good farmer, and he was great on rodeo riding. He could ride bloody cows, calves, bulls, horses, wild horses, tame horses. He taught Michael to ride and he had a good grounding with him. And then he told Michael, “well I can’t teach you any more”, he said “you’d better try and get on a farm – a bit bigger” he said. Anyway, he said “I think I know where I can get you” he says. “I’ll let you know”. And he went to a place out on the Maraetotara Road – Palmers. And then he had five years there, and they said “oh, you’ve had enough here – you want to get something better still”. So then he got on to Te Apiti Station. He was there three years and that was the end of that lot. That was the end of his farming career. He came into town and he got a job out on an orchard out at Raupare Road and he sort of stayed with that.
And Alan, he had a stroke of luck. Oh, he started off at the back of Maraekakaho, yeah – that’s where he started off. What was the name of the person? Anyhow, he had one boy. Anyway he did his five years there, and he said “time you went to a better job,” he said “go to something a bit bigger.” So anyway he went up to Te Pohue – I don’t know how he came to be up there, but you might remember – there was a farmer up there – he went to the Te Pohue one night – one Saturday night – and he got killed going home. I can’t think of his name now. Anyway somebody put him onto her, and she took a bloody liking to him you see. And he’s there, and at the end of oh, three or four years, she said “would you buy the farm off me?” And he said “well, I’d like to but I haven’t got enough money for that.” She said “don’t worry about the money … I’ll lend you the money.” So anyway he said “well give us a few days to think about it.” He came to me and I said “well I don’t know.” I said “you’d better go to get better advice than me for that sort of thing.” I said “lending you money and that …” Anyway I don’t know who he went to … I don’t know whether he went to an accountant or a lawyer, but the lawyer wouldn’t have him borrowing money and not paying interest. See – the woman said “you needn’t pay me any interest – you can pay me … and that’ll come off … But the lawyer – “oh no.” But I mean they got over it some way, and he got in there and he’s still there.
I thought you were going to say he married her.
No, oh no, no.
Well that’s wonderful though – isn’t that generous of her to …
… make that offer to him?
I mean you only get those things [once] in a life time.
And so that’s the two boys – then you’ve got twins.
Yeah. Well Alan and Marie – they were twins. Marie’s still here, she’s married and living at Flaxmere. He come [came] off a farm at – oh down Te Aute, but he was back into the hills there … they had a district, I don’t know what they called it. But he didn’t want the farm. He had three boys and none of them wanted the farm. And he had a bloody nice farm … a bloody nice farm. And anyway he was driving trucks for Sherwood I think, or one of them anyway. And they decided that … they got into delivering parcels around the town, and he bought a truck and then they got two trucks and he had one and she had one. And then they bought another one and they employed a driver … well that was fatal. That was fatal – the business disappeared from there on and he bloody near ended up bankrupt. I mean he just got greedy, and the third truck with the paid driver … that didn’t work at all. So anyway they had to sell and got out of it, but he drove trucks for a while but … more or less, well he is retired now.
And so then you have one other – the baby of the family.
Yeah well Paul, he was the baby in the family and when he left school he was trained to be a stock agent and he’d actually got his … they trained here with Wright Stephenson’s. And they shifted him up to Matamata and he’d done his five years and got his licence. Paul – he left school and he trained to be a stock agent and he got his licence when he was at Matamata. And then he came home one day and he says “I’m off.” I said “where you off to?” He said “I’m going to do me [my] OE.” In ten years he came back. Yeah, he was away ten years … married a South African girl. And actually [mobile rings] that gave us a holiday because we went over to South Africa.
Where does he live now then?
Well he lives in Auckland, yeah, and he’s a town boy now. Oh, he seems to have a bloody good job – he’s with a whiteware firm and they’ve sent him over to Australia about three or four times. They sent him even over to Argentina, and he’s all over New Zealand. Sometimes he’ll give me a ring and he’s way down south somewhere.
Oh, grandchildren – Marie’s got two.
Jim: Oh there’s three. [Chuckle] Michael’s got two, Alan’s got three and Paul’s got one, but I mean – he’s on his third marriage so I mean the one was from the first marriage. He’s 21 this year … next year, and he’s taken on an apprenticeship as a joiner and loving it evidently.
Oh, so … coming out in them isn’t it?
[Chuckle] It’s coming back.
Well Jim, it’s interesting to hear the story of your life because it’s been over a long period hasn’t it?
Yeah, that’s right. Now your daughter’s going to say something.
Marie: Just there – did you say how many grandchildren did Dad have?
Jim: No, only children. Haven’t got to the grandchildren yet.
Marie: I thought you just asked him that.
And he told me how many grandchildren he had.
Jim: Did I?
Marie: Yes you did.
Yes you did.
Jim: Oh yeah. I didn’t say the total number though did I? I said there was … well we’ll start off with Janice – there’s three …
Marie: Four girls.
Jim: Four girls there, then Michael’s two, then you two [three], and Alan three, and Paul one. I think that comes to thirteen didn’t it? [Chuckle]
Yes. So anyway I guess that pretty well gives us the story of your life doesn’t it? Is there anything ..?
It does now, really.
Yes, and you know over the time when you think, the majority of your life was spent in Twyford. And Twyford those days was a wet, high water table area.
I didn’t say that during my time there – I think it was in the late ’50s or early ’60s there was a big drainage scheme went through Raupare. They started off way down here somewhere …
That’s right, yes.
… and they went right through Raupare, Twyford, and they deepened the drain about eighteen inches. Well that made a terrific distance of [difference to] Twyford. We lost a lot of crops through wet. I mean it would rain, and it would rain a bit too long and then …
Well, when the river came over it used to go right to the freezing works, didn’t it?
Yeah. Yeah, I mean 1938 it come right up to Morley Road.
So anyway I think that’s probably pretty well got that story, and …
We’ve probably missed out a few bits.
If you think of something later we can always tag it on on the end, and if you think of something extra that is important …
I can’t think of anything now.
Well you know, we’ve been going for two hours twenty minutes.
Have we? Oh, God! [Chuckle]
And you haven’t paused for breath! So thank you, Jim, that’s really appreciated. The people of Hawke’s Bay will get another window of history.
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Interviewer: Frank Cooper