Donald (Don) Louis Clapperton & Dorothy (June) Clapperton Interview

Today is the 21st day of January 2019. I’m interviewing Don [Donald] Louis Clapperton of Hastings. Don, would you like to tell us about your family? Thank you.

Well, this is the history of the Clapperton family living in the village of Havelock North. To start with I must mention my grandparents ; firstly Dad’s: Henry John Clapperton, born 2nd April 1871 in Clapham, Surrey, England. And his wife was Marion Rasbrook, born 12th October 1871, Windsor, Berkshire, England.

Now Mum’s grandparents: Thomas Epplett, born 14th January 1855, St Mary’s, Cornwall, England; wife Angelina Edwards born 11th March 1856 … but I won’t mention that name because I can’t read it … she was in Cornwall, England.

Now Dad: Arthur John Clapperton, born 11th July 1902, Crescent Road Clapham, Surrey, England; died 19th July 1973 at 610 Jervois Street, Hastings, Hawke’s Bay. Arrived here from England at Wellington at ten fifteen, on the Shaw Saville steamer ‘Gothic’, with two sisters, Alice and Charlotte.

Our mother, Hilda Annie Epplett, born 1st February 1907, Te Aute Road, Havelock North, Pukahu; died 17th December 1984 at the Hastings Hospital.

Hilda Annie Epplett and Arthur John Clapperton were married on 2nd December 1925 at the Presbyterian House, Hastings. From 22nd July 1926 -23rd February 1948 they were blessed with sixteen children – nine boys and seven girls; name[s] Annette, Reginald, Raymond, Donald, Marion, Lindsay, Mona, Eddie, Percy, Wilma, Frank, Margaret, Maurice, Ian, Robin and Diane.

When Mum and Dad were first married their home was in Napier, with Dad working at the soap works. After the Hawke’s Bay earthquake they moved to 121 Middle Road Havelock North, with dad getting a job with the Havelock North Borough Council, and settled there for nineteen years. He then joined up with the Hawke’s Bay County Council. Over a period of time he was joined by two sons, one daughter, four son-in-laws and one niece. Hawke’s Bay Clapperton Council, I call it. [Chuckles]

After some time living in Middle Road we shifted to 15 Napier Road, Havelock North – that was in 1939. It was not long before the boys were called on to do odd jobs around the village, especially lawn mowing, paper boy, gardening; and all nine boys took their time as milk boys. Most of the girls when they left school worked in shops. There was a mixture of jobs when the boys left school, such as plastering, mechanic, engineering, builder, sheep farmer, cowman/gardener, storeman, aircraft mechanic, sheep shearer and truck driver. My dad, who most people called Sam, was a man of all trades such as painter and paper hanger, mechanic, engineer, hairdresser and boot repairs. That’s all I’ve got written Frank.

Don, what was it like growing up as a young boy in the village?

Oh well, it was a good life growing up in our little village, which is no longer a village. We had great fun playing rugby; a bit of cricket; didn’t do much swimming but we used to do aerobics. Loved school … well, I think all the family loved school … and we were all brought up in the Havelock North School, the sixteen of us, and then moved into Hastings high schools – Karamu and the Hastings Girls’ High School.

Of course those days the Havelock School was just the three big rooms fronting the Te Mata Road …

Yes. There was two classrooms, one classroom and then three classrooms. And Garibaldi Nielson was in the end class, who took woodwork. He was a tough old rooster. Miss Evans was in the middle class; Mr McDonald was the headmaster. Miss Crombie [chuckle] … been at the school for a hundred years; and Miss Gunn who was another single lady

Primer teacher.

Yes she was a lovely old girl …

She was very grey. We used to think she was very old but she was probably only fifty!

[Chuckle] And the tough old one was in the middle room, and that was Miss Crombie who lived down Thompson Road. And she had a great saying on a Wednesday morning – “All right everybody, bring out your hankies and blow your nose.” ,Well, I’d forgotten my hanky many times, so I was sent to the horse paddock to pick up a dock leaf, bring it back into the class and blow my nose in [chuckle] this dock leaf. [Chuckle] It wasn’t very good, but …

You might have gone home for lunch ‘cause you lived so close to school …

We did. We did.

but the rest of us used to sit under the walnut trees in the hollow there; milk in the mornings … beautiful milk [chuckles] sitting in the sun.

[Chuckles] Yes. But there were good days when we used to get cases of apples given to the school, always Golden Delicious, and they were one of the best apples we had.

I know. And then cocoa in the winter time; had to take a mug.

Yes. During the war years we had a job of digging our own shelter. There were several of these dug up in the top of the … by the horse paddock, and I remember one boy Mitchell, who lived in Joll Road, and he dug an extra good one. But we had some heavy rain and it filled up with water, [chuckle] and [chuckle] he came to put a roof over it and he fell in, so it was [chuckle] … he had his own swimming pool [chuckle] in the school grounds.

No, of course we always played rugby at lunch time, chasing the ball round. There was [were] no teams; you just grabbed the ball and you took off and everybody took off after you. And one thing, I always remember Mr Warnes coming down Napier Road, stopping outside Beaumont’s house delivering some bread, and he always threw over a half loaf to the boys in the school grounds [chuckle] and there was always a scatter to see who got the biggest piece of bread, but [chuckle] it was quite … headmaster stopped that in the finish; he said, “No”.

When you think about the Warnes’ bakery and the pies they used to cook in that big oven; you’d go along in the morning and have your name put on a bag, and you’d come along at lunchtime and the pie’d be in the bag.

Well you must have been at a different stage because we didn’t get a name put on a bag. We went down this long passageway to the oven, and you paid thrupence [threepence] for a coffee bun and thrupence for a beautiful meat pie; and back to school and [chuckle] … yes, it was very nice. The Warnes family were there for a long time. And the Warrens, of course – they started off in that section. Yes, it was very good … very good.

So did you go into Hastings for woodwork, in the bus?

Yes. Yes, we went to Hastings in the bus. Yes, I remember Ivan Jakes wanted to race me from the dental clinic woodworking classes to the end of the Central School gateway, just for a race because he said he could beat me. So anyway, half way down the track I got a piece of glass in me [my] foot, and … but I still beat him to the gate. Yes; so any rate, I had to go back into Mr Tindall and get him to take this piece of glass out; and I can still remember him sharpening a chisel on his oilstone [chuckle] so that he could cut my foot, because I never wore shoes. In fact I never had a pair of shoes until I was fourteen years old. So any rate, he managed to get this piece of glass out and of course by the time we got in the bus and back to school, the school was in – working a way nicely. So that was quite an exercise, that was.

Yes. Mr Tindall was there when I was going to school – he was a great woodwork teacher, wasn’t he?

Oh absolutely, yes. Yes, one of the best, he was.

And so did that give you some idea of what you might want to do?

Not really. Not really at all, because my brother Raymond was shepherd out at Ohiti Station … was out beyond Fernhill. And his boss wanted another worker, so they approached me if I would come out there. And I said, “Well yes, I would”, but I said, “One thing I can’t stand in farming is watching a sheep having its throat cut.” I said I didn’t mind them cleaning up the sheep but I could not watch while they were cuttin’ its throat, and I thought, ‘Well at some stage I would have to do that’, and I thought, ‘No, I wouldn’t.’ Any rate, I was due to go out there and start the job and I was at that time working for Mr Freethy, the boss of the milk run. And any rate, I worked for them for one year at their house down by the Show grounds. Any rate, my father rang him up and said, “Is Don there?” And Mr Freethy said, “Yes, he’s here.” So he handed me the phone, and my dad said to me, “How would you like a job carpentering?” I said, “Yes please … yes please!” So he had to go home, ring Mr Toop and said [say] “Yes, he’ll be there.” And then he had to ring Ohiti Station and say, “I’m sorry, you’ve lost your shepherd.” [Chuckles] No, I didn’t … I liked farming I like it, but I … no, I couldn’t do that.

I rode out there one weekend; all the way out there, and I caught a little black rabbit and I put him in my coat pocket when I was riding back home. And when I got home I said, “I’ve got a nice little rabbit here”, but when I put my hand in my pocket [chuckle] he was gone. He must’ve dropped out … yes, he must’ve dropped out.

I enjoyed working for Mr Toop; he was the local builder. And Johnny Pankhurst who was the cabinet maker. Johnny had … what we call ‘a big boot’. He came from Gisborne, and he’d gone down the beach to have a swim at lunch time; and he was laying on the beach on his towel just having a bit of sun bathing, drying off, and somebody came along the top. There was a drop-down of about four feet to the beach, and this chap jumped down and landed on Johnny’s back, and he ended up with this big boot. It didn’t hinder him at all. He was a wonderful chap; beautiful builder – he could put his hand to anything, and he taught me all the working trade … cabinet making. He’d been at Archie beforehand, before he went to Campbells, and after he left Campbells he went back to Archie’s, so it was a follow on.

And of course, working with Archie and Pankhursts and the others, you built some quite nice homes round the village, too?

Yes, we did; we did several of those. ‘Specially the Turner family – we did three; two boys and a girl. All two storey ones, yeah – with the garage in the bank … ground. They were all … no, that was wonderful, that. Ummm yes …

So when you were working for Archie Toop you were really training as a cabinet maker?

No – no. I was training as a builder, but if you were out on the job and it rained you didn’t just go into the shed [chuckle] and stay there, you were then told to go to the work shop and there would be a job for you there. And I can remember, we had one worker, Ernie Wiggins, and he loved to … if there was a piece of wood lying on the floor of the workshop he’d love to kick it. No matter who was in the way, he would just line this piece up and he would kick it. Well, we got the new glue that came out – ‘cause most of our glue was hot water glue, but this powder glue came out just after the war. Any rate, there was a nice piece of two by two laying on the floor, and I said to Johnny, “Hey what ..?” He said, “Ooohh, bring it over here and I’ll put a bit of this new glue on it – let’s try it and see how it works.” So he glued the bottom of it and put it down on the floor standing up. And it was about three days later before Ernie arrived, and I said to Johnny, I said “Here’s Ernie coming.” “Oooh”, he said, “this’ll be good!” Archie had been in several times and he’d tried to pick this up, and Johnny said, “Oh, leave that”, he said, “that’s for Ernie.” “Oh, okay.”

I could still see Ernie walk in the doorway and he spotted this piece of wood standing up about three inches high. Well he lined it up and he kicked it, and boy, did he go round that floor holding his foot! He said, “It wouldn’t move!” But when he did get it, he pulled up a lump of the floor with it. [Chuckles] Yes, so Ernie and … oh, we had [a] lot of builders; some of them were wonderful chaps. Yeah, we had one old guy … oh, I can’t remember his name now, but he was a smoker. And he rolled cigarettes all the day, and he used to use virtually a packet of tobacco a day. And we were working down Porangahau; we would go down Monday, come back on Friday. and he would sit in his bed at night time with a newspaper over his lap, tip out a packet of tobacco and just sit there and roll cigarettes for the next day. And sometimes you would see him with a pipe in his mouth

You’ve never smoked, have you?

Never. Never – nor has my wife.

So at some stage you met your wife?

No, I met my wife at the Foresters’ Lodge which I’d been … oh, I’ve got that there somewhere … been a member for thirty-three years.

As Secretary?

Secretary/Treasurer. Old Frank Redpath, who lives down Te Aute Road … I’ll get onto that in a minute … he died in 1968 on ANZAC Day, and he had been the Secretary/Treasurer for many years. At that stage we were in our office in the fire station, and it was put to the committee that we had to find a new Secretary. Well Frank Redpath’s two daughters took that on for about four months but they found the money side of it just too much, so they gave it away. And I said, “Well I will take it on until you find a new Secretary; let’s hope it’s only about a fortnight.” It lasted thirty-three years. [Chuckles] Now we’ve got a picture here … this is at the bowling club.

Well just coming back to the Foresters’ Lodge; it was …

Mechanic’s Institute.

Yes, and you had your own little hall in the village?

Well, the hall didn’t belong to us but it was given to us to look after. And we had to go to court in the finish to make sure that we got that hall; which we did in the finish – the court ruled in our favour. But we always had to supply a room for a library. It was the piece that protected out the front. Then Bob Thorpe came along and bought that building; pulled it down and built his shop.

Yes. Did he buy that off the Foresters’ Lodge?

Yes, he bought it off the Foresters’ Lodge. And while they were pulling the old building down they managed to find the original minute book of 1875, and that was just thrown around in the rubbish; and that’s sitting in the Napier Museum now.

My father was a member in 1897; I was a member of the Lodge.

Well out of all those members that we had there’s only three left, and that’s me, my brother Percy, and Winston Watson. All the rest have gone.

Now who was Winston Watson married to?

The girl Fox.

Sandra Fox’s sister.

You must’ve known a bit ‘bout …

No, no. Basil Fox, her father, was the pilot … top dressing pilot.

So coming back to the Lodge – tied to that was your love for the bowling club which really ran parallel, didn’t it?

Well I only joined the bowling club because I put my knee out of condition when I was playing in the Third Grade, and my doctor said, “No, you cannot play rugby again.” So my pop, who was a bowler, was working at the club, and he said, “Well, why don’t you join the bowling club?” And I said, “Well, don’t you think I am too young?” And he said, “No, no, no – ‘course you’re not.” Well, he was the only one that thought so; when I joined all the old chaps … Redpath, Grant, [chuckle] Jones … they all [?] “What’s this young fellow doing here? Never … no!” And I said … Something that still shocks all the boys – in those days all the old gentlemen wore a tie! Had a tie on playing bowls on a hot day! And also, most of them with their jackets on.

So any rate, I retired from the greenkeeper in 1990, but I still do odd bits of jobs. But everything that’s in the club – the shelters, the fences, the greens, everything you see in that club is what I’ve done – everything. And this picture I’ve got here is … it was our closing day; [I] forget the date now, and we had planted the green in Cotula and we were to transfer the cuttings from that green into the bottom green, which is now, as you can see, underwater. But they had sprayed the green; they had rotary hoed the green and this left all this dry grass that was in the green, floating on the top. Now how do you get that dry grass off? You can’t put a mower on it. You could sweep it up, but it would take ages.

Well, as you can see on this photo, I squeegeed the water off. I rolled the green at half past twelve and we had an afternoon of bowls. In the meantime I’d cut two channels, one down each side of the green, and let the water flow to the bottom. Now [chuckle] the breeze came up in the afternoon and it floated all that dried grass to the east end of the green, leaving it about a four foot strip that all we had to do was pick up. And then I … on the Sunday I used a slicing machine which put channels in the green and pulled up these little wee pieces, which we transplanted down onto the bottom green. And of course in those days they had the croquet, had the bowling green, and four tennis courts. And in 1968 they decided that, “No”, so they made the three greens into two and that’s what we’ve got now, in carpet. This is our third lot of carpet and they are going to put another one down now.

It’s probably got a lot better now …

Oh, yeah.

the technique of putting it down?

Yes – the new carpet is totally different. The problem with the carpet we’ve got now is, you go down on a chilly morning, probably after a frost or something, and the bowls would … oh, they were beautiful … take a lot of green. But once the sun come [came] out it pulled up the carpet and it just slowed it right down. It is not the same … not the same. Any rate, yeah.

Yes, so these old boys [chuckle] … oh, dear! Oh, gosh. Yeah.

So any rate, how we got that water on there is somebody came in overnight and turned the main on. And of course Neil Howman, who was the club Captain, had arranged for the closing day tournament which was supposed to be started at nine o’clock. And he rang me up at quarter to eight and he said, “Don, the bowls are off.” I said, “What are you talking about?” I said, “It’s sun shiny – it’s going to be a beautiful day”. And he said, “Well you wouldn’t believe it”, he said, “the green’s under water.” And I said “What are you talking about?” He said, “The green is under water, bank to bank!” And that bank is nine inches high, so you can imagine how many millions [of] gallons of water was on that green. So that’s when I opened up the two channels and let the water go. So those boys – they did me a favour, in a way. [Chuckle]

They helped you float the stuff off.

Yeah. But we’ve had all sorts of bottles, cans … everything; stones, boulders … oh, everything; eggs, lemons …

So you played actively right through that time?

Yes. Yes. Twelve of them there … singles, pairs and fours.

So where did you meet June?

Well I met June at a meeting one night at the village hall where we were. And of course Heretaunga, Hastings and of course Havelock – they always joined together when it was a meeting night so any rate, every time there was a meeting at Havelock her [she] and her father and her mother, they always attended. And then we would go to Hastings the next month, and we were slowly … lookin’ at one another. Now June’s father was a very strict man. Really he shouldn’t have been been born; he was a terrible man.

But any rate, I was in Waipukurau one night and we had been playing bowls, and we were sitting having supper and she was sitting beside me. And I said, “Oh”, you know, “would you like to go out?” She said, “Oh – I’d have to ask Dad.” I said, “No, don’t ask your father; you’re old enough”. She said, “No I can’t – I can’t do that.” So any rate, we teamed up in the finish and we went together for five years before we were married. So we had four children …

When did you move to Guthrie Road?

A week after we were married.

But you built the house?

I built the house for my boss, Archie Toop, and then I rented it for fifteen months, and I asked them if I could buy it because I didn’t want to pay rent all my life. And he said, “Well no, not really”, and I said, “Well, if that’s the case I’m going to leave.” And he said, “Why?” And I said, “Well I don’t want to pay rent.” He said, “Well, I’ll see what Joan said”, who was his partner. And he came back after lunch and he said, “Yes you could” [can] “buy it as long as you don’t leave me.” And I said, “Well I don’t want to leave – I’m happy here.” So I said, “Well that’s very nice – thank you, Archie. How much?” And he said, “Oh, £2,500”, and I thought, ‘Well that’s pretty reasonable’, so …

What year was that?

1952 … yes, 1952. So June and I had been going together for five years, and got married, and now we’ve been together for sixty-seven years.

And your children? You had four.

My wife had … single, Gary; and then she had triplets. She lost the last one of those, and then she had twins and she lost the last one of those, so we have four in the family. Gary’s in Havelock here; Rosemary’s in Havelock; and Janice is in Gordon Road, Hastings; and Cheryl and her husband from Rotorua; they were here yesterday – they come [came] down. It was good to see them, and he’s been in radio for probably forty years, so he has just retired.

And they would’ve gone to Te Mata School?

Yes – oh yes; they never had to cross the road. They just walked up the footpath. And the same with me when I had time on me [my] hands; I was working for [a] chap by the name of Jim Bettany, who was an engineer, and he just lived round the corner from me – it took me one and a half minutes to walk to work. And I used to work there from six o’clock to nine o’clock at night working on a Capstan lathe, making bolts, nuts and hose threadings for Industrial Gases; and that was all right. I was working for a chap by the name of Alf Harbottle, building. He was a terrible builder; he did some shocking things, and I couldn’t stand it in the finish so I gave him a week’s notice, and he [chuckle] ended up by telling me, “You can go now”, which meant he had to give me a week’s wages. So I went to Jim and I asked him if he could give me a job for a fortnight ‘til I found another building job, and he said, “Ooh yes,” he said, “I’d love to take you on.” And I stayed there for fifteen years. Well, he always paid a good bonus.

I remember once we set up the machine and I was turning out this little item, and he always came along ‘bout every half hour and he would take one of the items to measure it, to make sure that all the measurements were right ‘cause you were working in millimetres, and all this sort of jazz. Any rate, there was something wrong and he blew me; he went to put … and I kicked the stop button on this machine, and I turned to him and I said “Jim, don’t you ever speak to me like that again otherwise I’ll go out that door faster than what I came in.” And he never, ever said another cross word, and we worked well together – we did. And I was very sorry when he gave up; he just run [ran] out of work. Industrial Gases had nothing for him, and he said, “Don”, he said, “I can’t give you another job for a day or two.” And I said, “Well, the bowling club have asked me if I’d like to take on the job as greenkeeper.” He said, “Well, you take it on.” Well, it wasn’t a month later and he came to me and he said, “Oh, can you start back at work?” And I said, “No, I’m sorry – I’ve taken this job and I’m not leaving it.” So that was the end of that.

And so how long were you green keeping then?

Twenty five years.

Everything you’ve done has been for a long period, hasn’t it?

And I can honestly say that if there was a meeting, I was there at the meeting – I never missed. And I think if I can remember rightly I attended about eighty-four meetings … can see it all there. I think it was about eighty-four meetings in a row. I never missed. [Chuckle] Yeah.

So what’s happened to the history of the Foresters’ Lodge and also the bowling club?

All that … regalia and all that is at the Havelock library – our certificates, collars … yes, that’s all at the Havelock library.

Yes, all right. Well if you want to know about my June, would you like to speak to her?

Yes, I would; but I don’t want to frighten her.

Oh, [chuckle] as if you’d do that!

June: Well, Mum was from Dannevirke. Her parents came from Dannevirke, but my grandfather was from Porirua; I think the family lived in Porirua. And Mum was in Dannevirke, met Dad – Dad had come off the boats, and he got into the railways … was working in the railway. He was on the goods shed. We were living in Frankton, ‘cause Mum and Dad lived in Palmerston and that’s where my sister was born, but I was born in Napier, same as Don – the same place … the maternity place in Napier. And Mum and Dad shifted from Napier – ‘cause I was born in Napier – they shifted to Palmerston. Dad got a transfer, and I don’t know how long they were there; and then they shifted up to Auckland and we were in … I can remember two or three places – Mt Albert, Ponsonby … yes, there might have been another one too, that we shifted to.

Don: And then you shifted to Hamilton … Frankton.

June: Oh yes, and then Dad was living in Frankton – ‘course it’s very low there and you’ve got fog, and Dad had rheumatics. So we had to – he put in for a shift to Hastings, so we shifted when I was about eleven. We were there probably for a while. And we used to go to the Farndon Day [Labour Day] sports when they used to have those. And Dad said to these people … friends … he said oh, he’d never had an accident. He had a motorbike; well, it’s only a low one. And we went to the Labour Day sports, and he said to these people he’d never had an accident. ‘Course the next day, on the Tuesday, [he] had an accident at the King Street / St Aubyn Street crossing. ‘Cause Bullivants was on the corner; it was a blind corner. Dad never went fast ‘cause I was on the back – I was only about eleven, and he was going slow and I said to him, “I heard a noise.” So he slowed down I think – yes, he must’ve. And Jean Irwin – she worked at Wattie’s; she was one of the heads there, and she would come home – she had a little car with the whats-a-names on the front …

Don: Bumper.

June: … and he’d come to the corner and he thought, ‘Well …’ Something must’ve come into his head. ‘If I go round the corner I might miss’, but I think he just put the spurts on and tried to go. But the bumper bar caught him on there and he had a compound fracture of the right leg. Three years he was on the railway, and [of] course he got put off, medically unfit. He held his leg like that, ‘cause he knew what this was, ‘cause he’d been with St Johns. So yeah. And somebody came and said, “Can I stop the … so they got him to press in here for the … stop the bleeding, and he got carted off to hospital. “Cause Doctor …

Don: Cashmore.

June: No, it wasn’t Cashmore, it was … oh, I did know the name. He lived down where the sports centre is, down Railway Road – Doctor … oh, I can’t think of his name. [Chuckle] And they’d got him ‘cause they couldn’t get anybody else. And he checked me out and he said, “Oh, she’s okay; she can walk home.” But [chuckle] no, I couldn’t, so some chap took me home and had to explain to mum and … [it was a] big deal …

Saying “we never had accidents.”

No, no. We lived in the railway houses down in Willowpark Road.

So you went to school ..?

Parkvale. I’ve been to the seventy-five [75th] and I’ve got the hundred one [100th, or centenary] coming up.

That’s right, yes.

I haven’t done anything about it – I don’t know whether I’d be able to; wait and see.

And then did you go to the Hastings High School?

Well it was co-ed. Dad was the caretaker … put in for the caretaker. There was an elderly couple and they wanted to give it up, so Dad applied and got it. So we lived there, and I met Don through the Lodge … through Stan …

Don: Cunningham.

June: … Cunningham.

Yes.

Don: Carol’s just over the river here.

June: She lives here.

[Speaking together] Yes. Yes, I know.

The sister died; one of them died, down in Wellington. She was a florist. Brenda, she had a flower place by the Showgrounds, and she had to sell because they were bankrupt.

Yes. And when you left school what did you do?

I went to the Farmer’s Tea Rooms. I worked there for about six months, I suppose. And then I was the message girl – had to go to Thompson’s to get meat; out of the hot steamy kitchen into the cold, and I was getting colds so I tried to give it up because it was registrations during the part …

Don: During the war.

June: Yes. You couldn’t leave, and I had a job to leave but managed through. And then I went to the Women’s Rest. I was working there for a while with Mrs Skipper.

Yes, yes. Most of us have been there but we don’t remember being taken there.

Don: [Chuckle] Don’t want to.

So I left, and I went to the Women’s Rest. I was there for probably about three years. And then I went to the Cake Kitchen … Warren’s Cake Kitchen … was working there for a while. And then I left there and a friend that was boarding with us at home …

Don: Jim Bettany.

June: He boarded with us. His father was a great friend of Dad’s; they met down at the … So he got me a job at Morrison’s. I was on the brazing … brazing the handles, the piece round here, and doing the soldering of the petrol tanks. [Chuckle]

He was Sid Morrison’s brother, wasn’t he?

Don: Yeah.

June: Yes. Yeah.

So you worked there ..?

Yes, well I left there and got married from there. I was like … twenty-one, nearly twenty-two.

Don: What about the little … Saturdays, used to have the fairs there at the old village hall … Church fairs. And I can recall one day, one of the competitions was, you had to pick a certain breed [brand] of cigarette, and us kids, we got to know this one; the paper had a sort of a ring around it … spiral ring. Any rate, [chuckle] we won, and we got a packet of cigarettes. [Chuckle] So some of the boys went down to the little creek running down the front of the hall, and next minute, come [came] over the loudspeaker: “Mr Farquharson, if you’re listening down there can you please come to the hall? I think we’ve got a fire in the front [chuckle] paddock.” [Chuckle] The smoke came [chuckle] from the cigarettes. We knew what we were doing. Lot of fun.

And so the children have all grown up ..?

June: Yes.

I have known Gary over the years from his association with …

Don: Forest & Bird?

the arboretum … visited there a couple of times while he was there.

Don: Now you were talkin’ a while ago about railway sleepers. Well I did a job for Ian Mason, who was in a back section; you come up St Hill Lane, across Te Mata Road; you went straight up his driveway. He was up in there, and the little creek that came through there was full. He had a bit of land on the other side, but he couldn’t get to the other side unless they had a bridge. So he made a bridge up; he got two pieces of three by two steel, and it was bent. And I cut railway sleepers with my skill saw with a tungsten tip blade, into four pieces. So I cut it down one way, turned it over ‘cause the blade didn’t go right through, otherwise you wouldn’t do it; put the blade half way through, cut through, turned it over, did the rest. That cut it into two pieces, and then I cut those two pieces in half again. And I fixed those to that bridge, and that bridge is still sittin’ there.

So Gary was the eldest and now he’s become the historian?

June: Yes.

Don: Oh, he drives me up the wall, Frank.

Well the Warsnocks lived next to you …

Don: Yes.

And he was quoting a lot of things about the Warsnocks – it was wonderful.

June: Yes.

And then of course you had Henry, the electrician; and there was …

Don: The Steel …

Then there was Whelan, the …

Oh my, yeah – our next door neighbour.

He’s still holding together all right.

Yes, he does, he’s pretty upright.

So that was Gary; then the others – what are they doing?

June: Cheryl and Janice – they were triplets, three girls, and I lost the youngest, the last one. The biggest one. Janice was working for Bon Marche in the office at the back …

What was her married name?

Douglas – Kevin is her husband. He works for …

Don: Hulena Brothers Engineering.

Then there’s another daughter …

Don: Cheryl.  She had been married before, and they had one son; then he decided he’d have another son, so she got pregnant, and when he was born his remarks to the doctor was [were], “Can you put it back and bring out a girl?” Greenbank, his name was. So any rate, she joined the Happy Hearts Club; she left him and she met up with this Cliff Ballantyne, who come [came] from New Plymouth, and he is just one wonderful man. He’s treated her well; they’ve been all over the world. He’d been in radio for about forty, fifty years.

And so you have another daughter?

June: Rosemary, yes. She worked for the hospital, going round like … looking after people. But she’s got her own business now, and she’s on her own.

Don: But she worked in the mushroom farm for several years; [speaking together] same with Janice – she worked there all the time, full time … well now, she’s still workin’ there now, Janice is.

June: She’ll be retiring at Christmas time because she’ll be sixty-five. [Chuckle] Well the other one’s piggy-backing with her husband. Cliff is retired.

Have you played bowls?

Yes.

The same enthusiasm as the lad here?

Yes, I used to play; I played up to 2002. Well I won the triples with two other ladies. Yes.

So it’s played a huge part in your family, hasn’t it?

Don: Mmm.

June: Yes, yes.

Don: She used to love playing the indoors, because we were all a team. June and her mother and father – we were a team. [Chuckle]

So … grandchildren …

June: Yes. Eighteen great grandchildren.

Have you?

Nine grandchildren and …

Don: Eighteen.

June: … great grandchildren.

Have you?

They’ve just had one just before Christmas.

You’ve really had a fair amount of fun in the village, haven’t you? With your bowls, and the Foresters’ Lodge …

Yes.

and your family – interesting.

We lived there for sixty-four years.

Don: In the same house, sixty-four years.

The Warsnocks used to come and visit us …

June: Oh yes, ‘cause she was a Cooper …

Yes, she was.

… Mrs Warsnock was a Cooper.

They were a lovely couple.

Don: Yeah. No, we loved the Warsnocks. I did quite a bit of work for the son up in Wakarara … Bert Warsnock.

June: And for Freddie.

Don: Fred’s just died, just recently.

So what have you forgotten to tell me?

I’ll write a few things down that happened in the village; like the day Mr Hodges found a young deer, and he brought it home. He was a drover, and he brought it home when we were in Middle Road. And it took off, and he [chuckle] … running round the country chasing this thing, and it went into Buck’s property – his house in Middle Road, which is still there where the little church is, on the left. Any rate, he had it baled up there by a hedge; and he thought he had it [chuckle] and it got underneath his arms. And it took off just over the road from our place; and it jumped the fence, and it broke its neck. And that was the finish of that.

And there’s another little story I could tell you – opposite us in Middle Road was this monstrous hedge … macrocarpa hedge. Big trees, they were, and the branches are hanging right over towards the road. There’s a big grass verge along there, and on the weekend you’d see these boys coming down on their pushbikes, and hullo! We knew what they were doing, or going to do. And they would park underneath the hedge, ‘cause you couldn’t see them and you couldn’t see the pushbikes. But we knew what they were up to, and we had a fair idea how long it would take, between the time that they put their bikes down to the time they got to the watermelon patch of Mr Pomeroy. So one of us would scoot down to Mr Pomeroys, and say, “Mr Pomeroy, there’s some boys going into your watermelon patch.” “All right! Okay, we’ll get ‘em!” Well! [Chuckle] The boys would come down, and as soon as they saw Mr Pomeroy they would drop their watermelons, grab their bikes, and they were gone! [Chuckle] And Mr Pomeroy’d say, “Well, you boys – you’ve done us a good favour. Go and pick up those watermelons; take ‘em home.” [Laughter] So I don’t know whether these guys ever twigged that it was us that were …

Cause it was part of the village, wasn’t it?

I know it was … I know it was. And there was the big hole they had in the fence to go through to Mr Taylor’s next door, and we used to go down to Mr Taylor’s but we relied on rainwater. Taylors had a well down in the paddock, and we used to have to go down after school; Reggie with a yoke over his shoulders and a bucket on each handle, and we used to have to get water. And we used to have to go round and pick up all the walnuts and put ‘em in a drain that was there with a board over the top so Mrs Taylor could come down the next day and pick ‘em up. So that was one of our little jobs.

You know, I can still remember seeing your father driving the grader …

Oh yes

when they used to mow all the verges with the old Gravely mower.

Yes, yes.

It never looked untidy, the village, did it?

It didn’t. No, it did not, even when Mr Symes used to come along with his horse and the mower, when it was a bigger job; much broader cart.

June: We lived in Frankton when Dad was on the railway …

Yes.

… and we used to go to school down the road. There was [were] not many houses or anything around,‘cause they used to bring the wild cattle in from out at Raglan. And there was a rough road, but you had nothing to keep you happy, or keep you secure if the cattle came. So they’d made places like that white, and we had to go and stand in those while the cattle … there was about four of them down Rifle Range Road and Weka Street, was the corner we lived at. But we used to have to go down, yes, and stand in these cattle things, ‘cause these were very wild cattle coming to the sale yards up in [?Paeroa?] I think it was, they had cattle yards, so quite often they’d bring these cattle through.

Okay, I guess you’ve retired now to Summerset in the Orchard; it’s very nice here, isn’t it?

Both: Yes, yes.

Don: We love it. And the thing about it is, you can go for a walk which a lot of people here do, just around the village … just around here. But on your way round, there’s somebody doing some gardening – you speak to them; and it’s lovely. You know, you learn about different people, and what they do.

Okay, well unless there’s something else, I think we’ve got a pretty good little bit of …

Oh, I should think you have. If I can think of anything I’ll write it down, and when you return those papers and that …

June: He [Gary] found out something too, didn’t he? Just recent, through a photo; he put it on [online] and he’s had a lot of people ring up about it, hasn’t he?

Don: This is what he’s … you know, its name is Advance Havelock.

He was trying to find out who lived along Napier Road by the Scout Hall. Well, we used to own the land from where the Scout Hall is right back to Joe Pickerings. And we also owned the land on the other side of the road where Jeff Lewis, the butcher …

Lewis – oh, it was on this side of Lewis when I bought a section there for £150. Yes, £150.

We sold those sections for $45,000; now I see they’re $320,000. And it’s crazy.

Yes. Absolutely.

June: Yes, yep; yeah.

Don: How are the young people today going to cope? They can’t.

No.

Well I worked for Jock and Russell for seventeen years.

He was our landlord for a couple of years.

June: Donnie designed the house.

Don: I designed the house …

That was the new house?

Yes. I designed that for him; then I put a room on the back for that German guy that arrived, who worked for Russell … I forget his name. Yes, I did a lot for Russell.

Okay, well look, I think we’ll just stop it at this point; so thank you Don …

That’s all right.

and June, for giving us an insight into the Clapperton family of Havelock North. Thank you anyway, for that opportunity.

Original digital file

ClappertonDL2325_Final_Aug19.ogg

Additional information

Interviewer:  Frank Cooper

People

  • Donald Louis Clapperton
  • Dorothy June Clapperton

Accession number

417166

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