James (Jim) David Kelly & Glenys Kelly Interview
Today’s the 15th of August 2016. I’m recording the life and times of James David Kelly, known as Jim. Jim?
I could start off by my great-great grandad – he was a John Kelly, but we cannot get any information on birth or death. But great-grandad, he was James Bernard, known as Edward Kelly, there again, circa about 1843 to 1923. My grandad, John Charles Kelly – he was born in 1872 and died in 1954. He was married to Amelia Therese Anderson, 1871 to 1954. My dad, he was Edward Joseph, known as Ted Kelly. He was born in 1907 and died in 1974.
My mum, who of course was dad’s wife …. or Edward’s wife … Muriel Lilian [Lynette] Cantelin, born 1910, and died 2006.
Dad – all his life he was a commercial rabbiter, which was great for us kids, ‘cause he taught me how to handle rabbit poison, flead and looked after the twenty-four dogs that we had. And also I loved helping on the farm, horse-riding, and he taught us very, very strictly how to use a rifle, which ranged from the .22 to the shotgun which I borrowed one day when Dad wasn’t around, held it about two inches off my shoulder … that was a bad mistake. [Chuckle] Yeah.
So just pause a minute – where were you living at that stage?
Well, Dad actually had two lots of rabbiting – one was up at Mohaka on the Wairoa Road, and my biggest memory was when he was at Sherenden on [?Tuanui?] Station. We had a little bach up there on the side of the road, and that’s where we did … I can remember most of my life, of Dad’s career of rabbiting.
Our family of six – I had three sisters, Joan, Gail and Glenda, and two brothers, Ray and Brian. When I was born I was not expected to live. I was classed as a skinny rabbit. Mum was not well and could not look after me as well as Brian, who was only thirteen months old, so I was lucky in having a second mum which I really appreciated in my later years of life. It was a Mrs May McIntyre – and everyone knew her as ‘Mac’ – who took me in and looked after me until I commenced school. I think being so skinny when I was born, my lungs never formed properly. And I could walk to school, but once arriving at school I’d find myself in hospital. An ambulance was called and I ended up in an oxygen tent, very regularly. Currently, thank goodness, my asthma now is controlled by daily asthma and medication puffers which I will take for the rest of my life. I was into the doctor’s about a month ago – gave me a full examination and he was very, very pleased with the way it is controlled now – modern medicine.
Schooling – I started at the local Catholic School in 1949 – I went through classes of Tiny Tots, Standard 1 to Standard 6 Primary, and one year at Secondary before leaving at the end of 1958. I did actually end up in one class two years running because of my absenteeism … of my health problems … and I spent very little time at school in one particular year.
After leaving school I got a bit of employment – different jobs. But during 1959 I was employed at A W Holder and Sons, a wholesale plumbing outlet which is still operating today. When I first started there, Dad Holder from New Plymouth, he opened up a branch here in Hastings with the two sons, John and Alistair Holder. Alistair and his sons are still running the company today … pop in to see them every now and again, and have a good laugh with Alistair.
And then I decided, well I wasn’t very cut out to be a store person I don’t think, and I had itchy feet like most youngsters. So I wrote to the Cooks’ and Stewards’ Union in Wellington, and also the Deck Hands Union in Wellington. Never heard back for a number of months, then one day I received a telegram from the Cooks’ and Stewards’ Union – if I was interested in a job becoming a cadet steward, call into the Union Steamship Company office in Hastings. This was on a Tuesday, about three o’clock in the afternoon, so I went down there straight away. I had to get a doctor’s certificate Wednesday, and I was down in Wellington Thursday. My dad being a good dad, took me down by railcar, took me to the ship where I was interviewed; told me roughly what would be happening in my life. Then I had to go to town – had no money, so poor Dad had to dig in his pockets to buy me the uniform, and we actually sailed out of Wellington on the Friday at three pm.
You didn’t have much time to change your mind, did you?
No, I did not. I was given a top bunk – there was five of us young cadets there. Friday night was very good. Saturday morning I was asked how I felt – I says “good as gold”. “Oh, that’s good”. Got out of the bunk, put my feet on the floor – I had morning sickness. [Chuckle] And I came right during the day, went to bed at night, but it took three days before – not to be sick. And every morning same performance – seasick. But no, that was right.
We arrived in Sydney on a Tuesday morning. At eight o’clock sharp we were tied up, where we stayed until Friday three pm – left again for Auckland. There again, every morning – seasick. And I thought ‘oh – I don’t know if I can stand this’, ‘cause it wasn’t very pleasant. Arrived in Auckland after three days, four nights’ sailing; three days in Auckland; left Auckland – same performance – seasick, every morning. And I thought ‘no – no, no, no’. And I was ready to say “no, I’ll quit”, and then – hey! Got over the seasickness. So we sailed, doesn’t matter how rough it was. We had a real, real rough crossing about … oh, I think it was about August, September … and some of the crew that had been on that ship for years, were seasick.
What were the boats that you were on?
I was on the TSS ‘Monowai’ which is a Union Steamship Company liner – well, they called them a liner in them [those] days – two classes of passengers, first class and cabin class. As a cadet we would spend three weeks normally, on first class, and then we’d be put into cabin class area for a week. The only difference really, that I could see, was if you were in first class and you ordered a steak you got a porterhouse, but if you were in cabin class you got a rump. [Chuckle] Chicken was another real good thing – chicken first class would be the breast; second class you would have got the legs and the wing. [Chuckle]
Otherwise meals and that were really the same, and I think we treated the customers the same as anyone if they were first or second.
That was the only way you could get over to Australia wasn’t it? By the boat?
It was very expensive apparently to fly, and they never had the aircraft that they have today. So yeah, the majority was ships, because there was the ‘Wanganella’, which was a different line – I can’t remember which line that was. But we’d see each other now and again at see – we’d pass each other and wave out to each other. [Chuckle]
But it was a great life, I enjoyed that very much. But in the end, the ship was getting older, and we did have a lot of breakdown, but even if we broke down at sea we still seemed to get to the destination on time. There again, I was very, very fortunate – very short time on the ship I was called into the Chief Steward’s office, and I said “hello – what have I done wrong?” And he said “Jim, we would like you to become head cadet”. And I said “well, hang on,” I said “there’s another three boys older than me … been here longer than me”. “Hey Jim, don’t worry about that. I’ve asked you would you become head cadet”, which I did take on. “Okay”, I said. If there was a job not done properly I was the one that got the kick for it, but hey – I could control the boys after they settled down, having me as their boss.
One area we had which was quite funny – we had a big area in front of the Purser’s office which was our area to look after. When we arrived in port we had to get on our hands and knees and scrub all the polish off. And then once it was scrubbed to our satisfaction I had to go and get the Chief Steward. He would come out – he had a little moustache, a bit like Hitler – fold his arms and have a look. And I’d be standing next to him. “Jim”. “Yessir?” “Look over there – can you see a bit of shining lino there?” “Yessir”. “Scrub the whole lot. Get the boys to scrub the lot again – not just that little bit – the lot”. So that’s what would happen – we would have to scrub the whole lot again – hands and knees. When it was dry, we were happy – go back, get the Chief. “That’s good. Now polish it. And I want to be able to see my face in it”. And that’s what we did, but we did have an electric polisher. When it was all polished up he would come out, have a look … “Well done. Now we’ll cover it”. And it was covered usually from about Wednesday to the Friday before we sailed out again.
Yes. And our final trip that we did on the ‘Monowai’ was … we had a [an] Island Cruise, they called it, but it certainly wasn’t like the cruise ships of today. They had the basics, but no air conditioning in them [those] days, and just a jet air blow, and man! It was hot down in them [those] cabins. But very enjoyable.
After a ten-day cruise we got back to Wellington. All the crew … Auckland crew were put off. We actually sailed that night down to Wellington, which was a day and a half, down to Wellington, and we were all given our final pay and sent home. I could not get another job on the ships that I wanted. They offered me Interislander, but after doing overseas you know, I wasn’t interested.
So that was the finish of it?
That was the finish of it, yeah. But one thing I did forget to tell you – the wages on there … when we left Wellington and went to Sydney … my wages, we got ₤2, which equalled to you know, $4. That was from Wellington to Sydney. And then when we got to Auckland we got ₤2/2/-. [Two pound two shillings] So that was our money to spend. After one month on there we were called, and we’d go to one table and we got all our pay excepting [except] holiday pay. After three months we would actually go to one table, we’d sign off the ship, everything was paid to us – wages, holiday pay – they owed you nothing, you owed them nothing. If you wanted your job back you took five steps to another table and signed back on again. But you did get a certificate to say that you had very good conduct … very good working … etcetera, etcetera. And you signed back on again. That’s the way your pay went. Yeah, so it was an interesting life.
So how many years in total were you with Union Steamship?
It was only a short period of time really – it was only ten months. As I say …
But even so, that’s … lot of crossings in that time.
Oh yes. It was as I say, it took us three days, four nights. When we arrived, what they called the quieter period, we’d be in port from Tuesday until Friday. When we had our busy season, around Christmas holiday period, we would be sailing … arriving Tuesday, out again Wednesday. So it was a quick turnaround, and what jobs we used to do in the three days we had to get done in a day.
And so when you finished then – signed off – what did you do then?
When I signed off I came back to Hastings, a wee bit disappointed – wanted to go back to sea but as I say, the only jobs I could find, or offered, was one on the Interislander which I didn’t really want. So I come [came] back and seen [saw] me [my] old mate at Holder’s, and I went and seen [saw] Alistair and got a job back there for a while.
But when I turned eighteen I decided – or I didn’t decide, my older brother Ray, he was working for Napier-Wellington Transport, which was a trucking company in Hastings, and also there was a branch in Napier. And in them [those] days all freight had to come up by rail. It was a licence thing put in by the Government that you could not run trucks unless you had a real special permit, or a real special load. So our main job in Hastings was – you’d arrive there in the truck in the morning and you would have your set customers, or set area of Hastings to do. All that freight for that area would be loaded onto your truck and you’d deliver, which hopefully you’d finished around about lunch time. And in the afternoons you got the bulk freight, so you could have a load for Morrison Industries, Furnware, that type of thing. But we’d never had curtainsiders like they’ve got today, so all our freight had to be tarped if it was raining. One of our favourite freight on a rainy day was the Unilever soap – trying to deliver soap, keep it dry, [chuckle] ‘cause it had to go out that day – we had no storage for it.
Now Napier, Wellington and Hastings was that big, we had more trucks than we had parking space for, so we used to take our trucks home at night. And on the way home I used to call in and see the Hastings Hotel, have a couple of ales, and then go home. It must have been good for the publican one way – here’s all the trucks parked outside. But it was six o’clock closing in them [those] days, so it wasn’t like … you had to go home.
I was offered a job at Napier-Wellington Transport, and my brother actually worked for the company – Ray – he worked there. He says “come and join us”, so I thought ‘oh, I’ll have to go for a HT, so …’ “Don’t worry about that, we’ll get you a truck licence, you just learn all your answers and questions”. And being kind, my brother was to me, he picked a V8 truck, which was good – plenty of power – but it had a crash box. Now people that have never driven a crash box – no syncromesh so every gear had to be double clutched until you got to know the vehicle. Once you got to know it you could actually change it without a clutch.
Anyway, on the day of the test I was nervous like anybody else – I did miss a few gear changes and graunched and crunched, and after I settled down with the traffic cop beside me, he said “well, you’ve handled this very well, Jim”. He says “well, tell you what – I’ve got a bit of time up my sleeve”, he says. “We’ll go up to Te Mata Park”. In them [those] days the road wasn’t as wide; it wasn’t tar-sealed. So we went up to the Park, and back down, and he says “very, very good”. So I started off with Napier-Wellington there, and stayed there for a number of years.
And then I was offered a job with Ace Transport. Now Ace Transport – I started off on the same type of thing – local delivery. It used to be Ian and Colin Muir’s company, and they sold out to Ace. So I went and worked for them for a while, and … said to the boss, I said “look, I don’t really want to do town and around … I’ve done six years, roughly no, town and around”. I said “how about getting me onto the bulk side of it?” So there again, I had to go and sit another licence to get an articulated licence. I ended up with an artic, [articulated] so I ended up carrying concrete posts from Awatoto Concrete Company which were on Maraekakaho Road. I’d cart them from there to the rail – they were forklifted on but they weren’t forklifted off. We had to do that by hand, even the strainer posts. So after a full day on concrete posts, I think if I’d ever done anything wrong they wouldn’t have been able to take fingerprints off me – there nothing left of my fingers. And I also got onto bulk fertiliser, from Napier Wharf to the Fertiliser Works, in the ship’s room. And that was a good job.
But after a while I thought ‘well, Jimmy, you’re going to wear yourself out … all this heavy lifting etcetera, etcetera, etcetera’. By this time I was a twenty-one year old, and I had an uncle … or Glenys’ uncle … Uncle Sam – he worked for Nimon’s. So I thought ‘oh well, I’ll go along and see Sam’. He said “it’s a good job, Jim”, he says … “vacancy coming up”. So I was introduced by John Nimon, and John said “oh well, you better go for your bus licence”. So there again, had to go for a medical, driving test. And I ended up doing what were in them [those] days when I first started, was Havelock to Hastings Hospital – that’s as far as we went. We had morning shift, afternoon shift, late shift on a Friday night, finished about ten o’clock. No school runs. And after I’d proved myself there, that I could handle a bus with about ten in them, I was put onto charter work as well. And my favourite charter work, believe it or not, was school kids up to Camp Kaitawa. My wife used to say “well Jim, you won again”. “Yeah, another holiday”. But once we got up to Camp Kaitawa … our first trips up there we didn’t have hot water heated by electricity, so the bus driver, which was Jimmy – he has to cut firewood, and we had a boiler there and we used to boil the water up by that. Then we got the electric power in, and Camp Kaitawa was one of my favourite charter trips. But we did a lot of different ones, like the Mormons … once a month they used to go up to Temple View, and that was leaving around about ten o’clock on a Friday night. And the Taupo Road was not like it is today … used to take us approximately three and a half to four hours to get to Taupo, and then from Taupo – we’d have a break there, and carry on to Hamilton – deadline of four o’clock in the morning to be there so they could start their services. We went and had … went to a hotel, stayed there, picked them up again about two o’clock in the afternoon – Saturday afternoon – and bring them home. So we did have a variety of different charters – it was a good part of the job.
Embarrassing moments – yes, I did have a very embarrassing moment on the service runs. I’d been going for a few hours I suppose … got out to Havelock. In them [those] days we used to take the mail from Hastings to Havelock – that was part of the job as well. Got to Havelock North village, unloaded the mail, stepped back in the bus, looked … “oh, I’ve got no passengers on board”, so away I go heading up towards Simla Avenue, and … had a bit of wind in the tummy. Looked up in the mirror again – no, nobody in the bus – actually stood up out of the driver’s seat and I let a ripper go. And then I hear this shuffle, shuffle, shuffle – oh! Looked up in the mirror and this lady, must have been bending down getting something out of her bag, she looked up in the mirror – she’s as red as a beetroot – I think I must have been redder [??] – looking back on it … [Chuckle] But I stayed there for a number of years at Nimon’s. Got a bit tiring I suppose, doing the same thing.
So I was offered a job at Havelock North Motors, on the forecourt. So I went there, and my main job there was doing the forecourt from Monday to Friday, and Saturday, I ended up doing Saturday as well. But I didn’t stay there that long, but it was a fill-in job.
And I’ve got a brother, Brian, which I mentioned earlier on. Brian was in the supermarket arena – started off in a dairy – built up in Hastings to three supermarkets, one in Wairoa and one in Waipukurau. So he said to me “Jim, how’d you like to come and learn the grocery trade?” So I did my training in Hastings and then I went down to Waipuk [Waipukurau] everyday and managed the supermarket down there until he was bought out by Consumers’ Co-op … which offered me a job, but I declined. I’ll be cheeky and I’ll tell you the reason I declined – my wife, Glenys, she worked at Wattie’s and we could buy staff sales. Consumers’ Co-op I had to sign a form to say that I would – and my wife – would buy all our groceries from Consumers’ Co-op. I says “no”. So I never joined them.
So I ended up back at Nimon’s, and I did my time there again, back on the road. And the opportunity came to be an office manager, so I took the big plunge and thought “oh, we’ll see how we go”. I had to do all the supervising of the drivers, make sure all the buses were ready for charter work, school runs were covered. Did that for a number of years, but John Nimon decided he’d retire and new management came in and they didn’t really want me. They’ve got to start off fresh, so – yeah, bit disappointing at the time. So yes, I did leave – fairly short notice I was given, but I think they [???], but never mind – I got over that.
And my brother, Brian – he had a business, a small canning factory at Whakatu where he canned kiwifruit and asparagus – they were the main crops. And we also did berries in the berry season. And that was only about a six-month job, and I was offered a job for the other six months in a packhouse, packing … well not packing apples, but it was an apple shed … and I ended up as despatch clerk. And I must have done the job all right because I did three consecutive seasons at the pack house. And the last season I was there we ended up with a terrific hail storm, and a lot of the staff were laughing. And the manager came out to them and says “I wouldn’t be laughing”. He said “this could close the factories down”. And he came up to me and he said “Jim, I think before the big rush is on, have a bit of time off – find yourself another job, ‘cause”, he said “there won’t be any”.
So – what am I going to do? So I ended up with a man by the name of Don Richards from Waipawa, who I had a lot to do … he had Waipawa Buses … I had a lot to do with him over previous years with Nimon’s – we used to help each other out when we were busy. So Don said “you’d better come down for an interview”. So I said to the manager of the pack house. “look, I’m going down to Waipawa. Half an hour to get down there, say a half-hour or an hour … no, about an hour interview … half an hour to get back – be about a couple of hours”. “No problem at all”. Believe it or not it was a four-hour interview, and I still had no job. [Chuckle] Then about five days later he rang me up … “Jim – come down and see me”. So I said to John, our pack house. manager, I said “he wants me to go down again”. “Yeah, away you go”, he said, “we’re not busy, busy”. So I went down, and he said “look – got a job.” He says “oh, what are you like at buying parts?” I says “I’ve never bought parts in my life”. “Oh, you’ll be able to manage that”. So he sat me down at the computer – “okay, Volvo B10 … we need some pistons or something – whatever the part may be … go onto this, see what we paid for them last time, hunt around” … ‘cause he knows a lot of the places ‘cause he delivered to them. So that’s what I did.
So I started the job down there, and he also supplied a car to run down to Waipawa and back. I wasn’t there that long and I was called up to the office. He said “Jim, how’d you like to run the workshop?” We had two mechanics down there – one was a Kiwi, a very, very good mechanic, but very, very slow. And the second bloke was an American. He would not fix anything. It was new parts all the time. Okay, and in them [those] days you had spark plugs which could be pulled out and cleaned, but no, no – he wouldn’t do that. So him and me had a few little arguments, and he decided to leave.
And then we got bigger and bigger of course, and then Don decided well, he’s got to get another mechanic. So he brought a chap in there – had many, many years of experience in buying ‘cause he was his own boss, so I was actually asked to relinquish my … that part of it. But in that period of time we had grown very, very big, and we started a depot in Hastings. So that’s why I ended up in the Hastings depot – started off as a management position – there again, what I was doing at Nimon’s, excepting [except] the pricing – another chap did the pricing – because my area of looking after staff ended up Wairoa because he bought out Wairoa Bus Company. He also bought out White Buses in Dannevirke, which he named W & W. And my area really extended from Wairoa right through to Dannevirke looking after school runs; if drivers had a problem go and try and sort it out for them – a lot of the drivers were part-timers – also to look after the fuel tanks – we had fuel tanks on farms, so go and make sure we did have enough fuel to last for the month; make sure it wasn’t going walkabout in other cars – all that type of thing. So yes, there was a lot of stress involved … a lot of travelling involved, and I decided well really, I needed a break from transport, which I did.
And my son, young Ross, he’d gone over to Melbourne, and he rang up. He says “Jim,” he says, “I’ve just applied for a job at Firefly Coaches, and they run buses from Melbourne” – or coaches – “Melbourne to Sydney and Melbourne to Adelaide. I’ve told the boss over there what you do. He says, ‘get him over here now.’ So we hummed and hahed, and anyway I went over to Australia, ended up accepting a job … the money over there was tremendous compared to what you earned in New Zealand. So we came back, we had to sell the house, sell the motor home etcetera, etcetera. [Chuckle] It was quite a hair-raising thing but we did go over there, and when I got over there the job that was actually vacant when I applied, he had to relinquish and give to somebody else. Well we were delayed a bit in New Zealand on a matter which I don’t really want to say. He said “Jim, don’t worry”. So he put me into the car, we went down to his cousin’s place. His cousin only had about – oh, four hundred buses, but it was suburban running. So I spoke to him, and he said “well, Jim – I haven’t got a job for you, but what I’m going to get you to do – it’s right for you – come down here every day you want to come down, you don’t get paid, but jump on a bus and you’ll learn your way around Melbourne”. Because Melbourne’s a big city. So it did help with the geographical side of Melbourne, by going there.
Then one day I was called into his office, and he said “Jim, one of our drivers is going away for three months – how’d you like to do his run?” “Yeah,” I said, “I’ll be in that one”, ‘cause it was a nice easy run. We started around about six in the morning, and there again you were … shifts. Your latest run was about nine o’clock at night. So that’s what I did – I did that for three months as a casual. So – no holiday pay – but that was all built in … very, very lucrative – very lucrative. So that run finished … “oh, Jim,” he says, “so-and-so’s leaving – another area. Do you know that run?” I says “well I went out with him earlier on”. “Go for a couple of rides”, so I went for a couple of rides … “yeah, I could do that”. So I ended up on that run, and I did carry on with that for a little while. And then I got a ring from Firefly, which was the original company. “Oh, Jim – would you like to do a charter for me?” I says “no, not really”. I said “you, know, you taught me how to do the Sydney run and Melbourne run – I’d rather do that for the day, or two days”. He’s says “okay”, he says “you can do the Melbourne to Adelaide”, which left the depot at eight o’clock at night and arrived in Adelaide approximately six pm Adelaide time, slept the night then came home the following day. And I ended up doing that for two-and-a-quarter years, so it wasn’t just a one-day job. [Chuckle] But there again, I was only a casual.
Christmas time came – “Jim, what do you think about working Christmas?” “Well, look I’ve got no family. There are drivers out there that have got family. I’ll go”. So I let this person stay home with there children. So Christmas Day at casual rates …
Oh! I can imagine – like a goldmine.
I’m going to be honest – left there after two and a quarter years, and the reason I left was the age … was getting a wee bit older. And I did find on a nice, hot summer’s day, even though we had the most modern coaches … well looked-after vehicles … that I’ve ever, ever driven. And I’ll go a wee bit more into that one … if I had a vehicle, it had a rattle. And I arrived back in Melbourne and says “Number 50’s got a rattle”. “Whereabouts?” “Somewhere on the left”. They’d look at the board – it’s due to go out tomorrow – they’d rub it off the board, put another coach on. Two mechanics would jump on it the next day, go for a ride, find that rattle, fix it. Joe, the owner of the place, says “Jim, I like my passengers travelling” … it was seven-hundred and forty-five k [kilometres] one way to Adelaide, or nine hundred and forty-five to Sydney … “I don’t want them listening to a rattle”. No, very, very lovely coaches. But as I say, after two and a quarter years, my age was creeping up a wee bit, and I was starting to get a wee bit dozy on a nice, hot summer’s day, and … back then started to ache. And I though ‘well Jim, I’m going to get out of it while I can’.
And I was offered a job, there again without too much trouble. It was driving a new coach … a coach company in Melbourne Airport had put in a tender for running the big car parks which held three and a half thousand to four thousand cars when it was full; also to shift all the staff from cleaners to security … everybody … Customs … to shift them from their car park to the airport. And I said “yeah, I wouldn’t mind having a crack at that”. But the only downfall of it was in one way – it was 24/7, so you had morning shift, afternoon shift, night shifts. And after about six months I said to the boss, I said “how many staff have we lost? ‘Cause I got on with the boss very well. “Why?” I said “how many have we lost?” So he told me the figure was about fifteen at the start of it. He said “we’ve only got about seven years left, haven’t we?” I said “yep”. “Why?” he said. I said “look, our bodies don’t know if it’s daylight, dark time, lunch time, breakfast time.” I said “why don’t you sit down and try and work out days, nights …”
Yes, yes – roster.
So that’s what he did, and I was very fortunate because I came in after a break and there was a notice on the noticeboard – ‘We’re looking at putting on am, pm’ – and he had the hours up there, what they’d be – night shift. So I put my name down very, very quickly, and also texted him very, very quickly – ‘am please’. And I got my am. But – okay, you know, you had to start some mornings at four o’clock, but you’re finished by one, and the latest we started was about ten o’clock. But we did eight-hour days. Odd time I’d get pulled off to do a night shift because somebody wouldn’t come”.
Somewhere in the middle of all this you met Glenys?
I met Glenys, yeah, I did, believe it or not.
We need to recall Glenys to the table – I’m sure she can hear.
Yeah, she’ll be there. Here it is, here it is. Now you’re asking about Glenys. I came up off the ship, after the TSS ‘Monowai’, still a youngster, still really wasn’t settled down. But I met up with a very good friend, our next-door neighbours – there was a young girl living there. She had a boyfriend came from Opotiki, and Mike and me got on very, very well. We used to go everywhere together, you know – Friday night, jump in the car – we were young. “Where’re we going?” “Going to Opotiki”. So we’d head up to Opotiki. Sometimes we’d go over the Taupo Road, sometimes we’d go through Gisborne, and one night we even decided to go the Coast road – this is after doing a full day’s work. But Mike and me got on very well, we did a lot of trips away.
Anyway, we were back in Hastings here, and he said “Jim”, he said, “I’m going to the old-time dance tomorrow night”. “Nah! Not going to the old-time dance”. I said “I’ve got two left feet”. “No, no, no – come to the old-time dance”. So, went to the old-time dance, and Glenys was there. I didn’t really take much notice. She got me up for a Gay Gordons, and I told her I couldn’t dance, so she learned [taught] me a rough few steps that’d get through the Gay Gordons. The following Friday night we were up town, Mike and me, and who did we bump into – Glenys. “Jimmy, come to the dance tomorrow night”. “No, no – no, not really my cup of tea.” “Come to the dance”. So she twisted my arm, and I ended up going back to the dance. So the following Saturday night when I walked in the door – here she is, surrounded by boys. Anyway, I must’ve had something a wee bit better than them, and we started our friendship from there. She was only sixteen and a half, and I’d just turned seventeen. And our friendship grew – we came [became] engaged on 12th August 1964; we got married fourteen months later on 9th October 1965.
Out of the marriage we had two sons, one born in 1969, which is Shane, and young Ross – he was a ratbag – he was a real hard case, our little Ross, and he was born in 1972. They in turn have married now and left home, both gone over to Australia to live. Shane, the eldest – he’s in Brisbane – Joshua, our grandson, he’s in Wellington, but he’s got two daughters, he’s got Michaela and Olivia. And Ross – they shifted over to Melbourne and they’ve got two daughters, Serena and Caitlin. So really, we’ve only got one Kelly boy who’s living in Wellington, in our Kelly generation. But he’s twenty-two now … oh, twenty-four – Glenys is just correcting me there – how time flies. Met up with a lovely girl down there, so we just hope everything pans out and we do get some Kellys out of it.
Now we’re going to ask Glenys to tell us something about where her folks came from.
Hi, I’m Glenys, born in 1944, and only daughter, having three brothers, to John Douglas Corbin who’s just recently passed away at the age of ninety-seven and a half, and my mother, Kathleen Frieda Wiechern (or Viechern) depending on whereabouts you come from. And she was born in Petone; my dad was born in Hastings. So they were both around I think at the 1931 earthquake. Dad was a labourer. He met Mum, the only one that he ever wanted to settle down with, and it was reciprocal.
His dad, William Alfred Corbin – he was born at Tikokino in 1872, and he married an Ada Everelda Millet. She was born in Christchurch in 1881, and died in 1952. On the Corbin side, William Corbin came out from Jersey in the Channel Isles – he came out to New Zealand in 1849, and he met up with a Jane Glennie who was born in England, and she died in 1923. The Millet side came out from Cornwall, and they were married in 1874 and came out straight away, and they settled in Christchurch.
So it goes through from there. On my mother’s side – even though it’s a German-sounding name, that particular family was really on the Prussian side of the Danish border, and that was how that came out. So we understand that the Wiechern came out and ended up in Nelson, and many years later … was written in German a letter saying that there was money in Chancery. He had to go back and get it, but no way – because he was supposed to be conscripted into the German Army. And he got away over to England eventually, so there was no way that he was going to do that.
The Mullany side, which – Harold Frederick Theodore Wiechern married this Kathleen Ellen Mullany, unfortunately not registered, and we understand that she was born in 1892. But we’ve had to release that, that’s come back to 1891 – there’s no way that she could have been born four months after her brother. And she died in her forty-ninth year in Hastings, so she was very, very young.
My grandad, Harold Frederick Theodore Wiechern, was actually an alcoholic – lost his business, plumbing business, and his house through drink, which was a shame.
So both Mum and Dad worked at Wattie’s. Jimmy Wattie at my farewell in ‘69 – I was having Shane – he remembered my parents. And my mother also did housekeeping for Jimmy Wattie’s mother. So we’ve got this long association with Wattie’s. And then even in Dad’s Corbin side, in Gisborne, there has been members in the family, and extended members of those members have worked at Wattie’s, and each of us have had a very good report from working with them.
You will have seen that book that was written by one of the local newspaper people about the history, “The First Fifty Years”?
Got that. Plus the coffee mug that we got for the sixty years. Even with Mum’s surname being the German-sounding one, Jimmy Wattie had some people coming through his factory one day, and he wanted Mum – he asked specifically for Mum … she was on the line – if she would peel these Black Doris plums. And the ridicule that she had to put up with – she actually went to Jim, and asked him … “I really feel that there could be other people that could do this job”. And he said “you’re the one I want, and you’re the one I’m going to have”. And she said “well, I’m getting very rude remarks”. But then – bullies, you see? We’ve had bullies all the way through our lives, whether it’s at school, whether it’s at workplace, whether it’s in clubs – you don’t get rid of them.
Black Doris plums – we’ve been trying to find out where they were bred – d’you know, nobody knows where they came from.
Jim’s mother … that’s all she’d make … plum jam, was Black Doris.
But where did they come from?
Off a tree. [Chuckle]
Yes, but nobody knows who bred the tree.
Have they googled it?
We’ve done everything. We’ve got some of the oldest nurserymen in Hawke’s Bay that want to know.
Well that was it. Mum and Dad basically – I can remember doing the housework at home, ‘cause Mum was brought up into service, where she had to go out at the age of thirteen, live in people’s homes for the week, come home … and her father stood at the door and took two-thirds of Mum’s money so he could go off down to drink it. Made it extremely … and Mum always had this fear, because they shifted house so often – they couldn’t pay the rent. And it was just one of those things – I mean … they just shifted house so often. But he came up here after … they must have come up after the earthquake, ‘cause Mum must have felt it down in Wellington or somehow or other … And he came up to be a plumber, and he plumbed the old dentist rooms. And there was a big house in Pepper Street that I understand that he did – my brother may remember more on that side of it. But Grandad ended up with Parkinson’s Disease and lived in a home, and that’s how he passed away at fifty-nine. In those days us kids didn’t go to funerals, so we never went to our grandparents’ …
So how many brothers and sisters did you have?
Three brothers. And I was number three – they didn’t stop at perfection – they had another one. [Chuckle] They reckon we poked our noses in whatever barrier cream that Mum and Dad used – it didn’t work with either me or my younger brother. Yes, so I was born in ‘44 and he was born in ‘48.
And then I started work at Wattie’s after – oh, I worked for John Drury first off. I basically left school – I got five firsts in the fourth form, and that’s quite unusual in the sense that the first equal part of that, I got core maths. I would recite the times table, and Dad was pretty strict on all this sort of thing, but I’d get D (for David) all the way through for my maths, and they couldn’t understand it. It wasn’t until I got to Intermediate and had a Yannis Cater, who was my teacher in the first form, and all of a sudden things started to click into place, and … ended up in the fourth form getting five firsts. From there I went and … one of the teachers, one of my commercial subject teachers – typewriting – she rang my mother up and said that there was a firm in town, and accountants’, that wanted a junior, and I went for an interview. I got that interview, but after thirteen months I didn’t want to work ‘til seven o’clock at night without getting paid for it, and I was only getting ₤5 a week. And he was charging out 3/9d [three and ninepence] a quarter hour, and you had to write down everything. And if I three letters in fifteen minutes, then I had to charge each of them fifteen minutes. And I thought that was rude, so I would only [chuckle] put down the last one. And the next time if I did it, I made sure that that one didn’t get it, that somebody else got it.
So the long and short of it was I ended up by having an interview with Christie’s in town – they were going to pay ₤7/10/- [seven pound ten shillings] a week, and Wattie’s were going to pay me ₤7. But then we looked at it and we thought ‘well, Wattie’s would be a better choice because there was the opportunity perhaps of overtime, of long-term employment, and that’s how it worked out. I ended up by being their punch-card operator, and was teaching people. I was their first computer operator; I had somebody standing in the office all day, watching me. There was girls on punch-cards and verification cards; there was a big … what do they call it – an IBM 1440 – oh, that was our first computer … but they had the 420 accounting machine going. That would do a hundred cards go through a minute. I was working on a collater that would do a hundred and fifty cards a minute, and then I was on the sorter, and that would do six hundred and fifty cards a minute. And I kept those three machines going all day without stopping. And I became their first computer operator on that – I would step on four, five girls’ toes if I didn’t take it. I’d only step on one person’s toes if I did take it. That person was actually at school with my older brother, Tony. So I thought ‘well I’ll step on his toes because he could be a computer programmer’. And I didn’t have the ability to be a programmer. And so therefore I became their first computer operator, which resulted in going up and down the country – “Who was this Glenys Kelly? She gets more out of this computer than anybody else”.
I think you’re mentioned in the book.
Yep. So anyway, that’s how it worked.
And from then, I was pregnant with our eldest boy, and I had eight brand-new girls to teach from school. So we took two on the Mondays and the Tuesdays of two consecutive weeks. It didn’t take very long to find out – you had daily jobs, weekly, fortnightly, monthly – of who was good out of that. I had four months to teach these girls, and I did it all. And then at the end of it, we come [came] out, she said “oh, we hated your guts for garters, because you were so strict”.
But that didn’t stop them from falling into a trap, which … I said to them, “watch out for whatever it was, otherwise you’ll end up by really digging a hole for yourself”. And sure enough, they did it. And one of them did have the opportunity to turn round and say “that was what Glenys was trying to avoid us getting into”. But that’s how it is.
I had a boss who … I had two bosses really. One was the person who interviewed me and got me the job, and he was sort of a hands-on guy, and he died at the age of forty-two with cancer. The other was a Catholic chappie who left to go and be a publican. And he died at the age of forty-two. And he was the sort of person, if you asked him a question he never answered you – except he answered it with a question – every time. So that’s how it works out. But then we had other people that worked at Wattie’s and said “oh, we’ll look into it”, and they had the nickname of ‘The Mirror Man’, [chuckle] so there we are.
And then I really had to fight to get back into the job in a sense, 1973 after I had my second son. I did the odd time through … “We would like you to work the weekend Glenys”, except it was a long weekend, Jim was going to be away on buses for the weekend, I was expecting my second child – seven months pregnant – and they said “oh no, they only want to work Saturday morning”. “Well, I’m not coming in just for that. If you say you’re busy, as you are, then you need to have somebody there the Saturday, Sunday, Monday, which I’m prepared to do”, but because I’m pregnant they wouldn’t allow me to do it on my own. So they did get one other girl to come in, and we had the security people coming in every half hour to an hour, just checking to make sure I was all right. [Chuckle] I’m … two months I’ve been pregnant, but I was so large. But anyway, the long and the short of it is I kicked up with that, managed to go back in ‘73, and then from there we went from punch-card to VDUs to proper computers. And if something happened it was documented down – we had to work it.
Rob Muldoon put on a price freeze and because we hadn’t completed the full price increase, we had to revert it back so for two hours I sat and key-punched away.
So how long did you stay at Wattie’s the second time then?
I’d got my twenty years … I had to wait twenty years to get my gold watch when everybody else got theirs at fifteen. Now they’ve changed it. And I was made redundant June of ‘97, so it was from ‘83 through to ‘97. And for the following three years after that I worked as an outside contractor, which … I had to pay ACC and everything else, so when the boss turned round and said “well, how much do you want?” I just said “well I don’t know, what’s the going rate?” And he said “well, $16 an hour”. And I said “well that’s what I’m getting now, and I have to pay ACC, I have to pay all the GST and everything else that goes with it”. So I leant forward to Ray Knowles, and I just said “shall we double it?” Well! [Chuckle] I sort of thought between $20 and $25, so I went right down the middle at $22.50. Working two hours a day, I got more money that way than working all week, [chuckle] and having to do everything else.
So yes – so that finished in the year 2000, and we were actually looking after our grandson at the point, for fifteen months we had Joshua with us. And they came up and said Australia turned round and said they didn’t want me any more. So that was fine, and my job was going to come to an end at the end of that October. I said “well, that’s all right Ray, I’m due to go away on holiday in ten days’ time”, and I said “I won’t be back then”. And I was the first outside contractor that they ever gave money – I got $100. That’s been altered, but the flowers in the corner we got put into that vase. The vase we’d already had, but we’ve had those re-done since we’ve been here, and they cost $130 to have it like that, but for $100 … and they went to Australia, they came back, so …
See that’s fascinating. You know, Jim’s had a very interesting life and you know, to hear your story …
… the full package.
Well my mum always mentioned that things go round, and they come back. And our very first telephone number that we had ended in 067. Those same three letters [numbers], the same … Melbourne. I started off with John Drury – he was an accountant … ended up in an accountants’ tax office position in Melbourne before I left. So yes, it does go round.
And you didn’t search for those numbers, did you?
Okay, so during this period you went to Australia and had your adventure with the tour buses and living a different lifestyle – then you came back home. Did you work when you came back to New Zealand or did you retire?
Jim: Yeah, we did work in one way – I still work, I have a part-time job – I mean, it is a part-time job, and that is relocating rental cars for a company. So, yeah we do … you know, might take a car from Napier Airport up to Auckland and come home in the van. They don’t fly us there and back, people think they do, but no. We go up by van – just as well I do too, we get more money them. [Chuckle] We get paid the minimum per hour. [Chuckle] So that keeps me occupied – some months we get no work at all; last month we had three trips which … you know …
Glenys: Basically we did come back to retire, because when we arrived back on the 3rd February, 4th February we were at WINZ, because Jim was at that stage a good eleven months, coming up, to sixty-six, and I was only three to four months over sixty-five, so because we’d gone in on that day and we couldn’t make an appointment until 10th February, we managed to get our Super started straight away, at that point. We got all our money from Australia back out, because we were retiring, we were leaving the country and we weren’t going to work any more. And we got a very good … the exchange rate and the interest rate that we got when coming over, we were able to retire.
And so did you come here?
Not straight away. We bought [chuckle] …
Jim: I’ll tell you a little story before Glenys goes into that one. I retired on 5th January which was a …
Jim: No, no … the day – Tuesday. So finished work on Tuesday, yeah? Finished – that’s it. And Glenys and myself love bike riding. We bought a tandem push bike – we’ve also got two singles which we’ve still got. So we go bike riding on Wednesday, on the tandem; we go bike riding on Thursday on the tandem … [chuckle] this is a great life – no work. Go bike riding on Friday, and you’ve heard the old saying – a tree jumped out at us. And … picked myself up off the ground and looked at Glenys. She’s there playing round with her thumb. And I said “when you’ve finished playing with that,” I said “how ‘bout grabbing the bike, give it a good almighty yank and get it off me”. Because my right leg was on the ground … had the bar of the bike, I had tree branches in my face; my glasses – everything was bent. So she finally decided she’d pull the bike off me and I stood up, and I said “ooh … ooh! Think I might have twisted my ankle pretty bad”. So anyway, instead of using her mobile phone to ring up her son to get us … staggered over to the bike, straightened up the handlebars, glasses like this – away we go. Got about oh, I suppose four hundred metres, there’s a hospital on our right – no, no, we biked fourteen k [kilometres] home, didn’t we? We get home – by this time I’m not using my left leg, and Glenys is using [the] bike from the back. We got home, staggered in, put the bike in the shed, looked at ourselves, and I said “well, you’re … I think we’d better go to the chemist”. So we jumped in the car and just went over to the chemist and he sold us a lot of ointment. And he said “I think really, you should go and see the doctor”.
So we go home again and have a cup of coffee and had a talk and that. So Glenys rang up her doctor, ‘cause at this stage I’d got all my paperwork from my doctor. So we go to the doctors’ and she says “well, I’m going to send you down to a unit another k [kilometre] down the road – they’ve got x-ray, they’ve got plastering”. So anyway, away we go down there, and Glenys goes and gets her x-ray first, comes back out and I’m still staggering without crutches or anything else, on my crook leg. And get in, and he starts laughing. “What are you laughing at?” He said “you won’t believe it”. I said “what?” He said “your wife’s got a broken thumb”, and he said “you’ve got a broken leg”. I said “it’s not my leg, it’s my ankle that’s sore”. “You’ve got a broken leg”. So – sent us down to the plaster room, and they were flat out. Glenys and me [I] were sitting in the corridor [chuckle] thinking about our bodies, and the doctor came out and saw us. “What are you doing here?” “Oh, they’re flat out in there”. “Don’t worry about that” she says, so she wrote us out a letter – go to the hospital. I said to Glenys “I’m getting hungry”, so we went home, had lunch. After we’d had lunch, we get in the car and waved to the next-door neighbour, and Glenys winds the window down. “Oh, I’m just taking Jim up to the hospital”, and she just laughed.
Away we go up to the hospital. There again, get my leg put into plaster. He asked about Glenys – she said “well I’ve got the paperwork and x-rays, but they’re in the car”. The poor girl had to walk out – a real hot, hot day …
Jim: Walked out to the car, get her stuff. The long and the short of it was he made up a splint for her. Says “right, well you go to a different hospital on Monday where they’ll make you up a permanent cast”, type of thing. “And you will go on Tuesday to the same hospital she went to on the Monday to go to the Orthopaedic”.
So Monday she goes – she drove herself down and got growled at for driving herself home, by the hospital. She said “well, you know – I’m all right – I can still drive the car”. So she got me down there on the Tuesday morning, and at this stage the packers were coming to pack the house.
Glenys: On the Monday.
Jim: So I said to her “the stress factor is very, very high”. So we get down to the hospital, found where we had to go … “you’ll have to come back about eleven o’clock – there’s no beds”. So … stress factor was getting up. So went home again, back down there at eleven o’clock – “still got no beds, but we’ll put you into the heart unit”. So I went into the heart unit, and they took some more x-rays, and the Orthopaedic said “we’re going to put a screw in your ankle”. So that’s what they had to do, put a screw in my ankle ‘cause I’d actually pulled the ankle out. And they never picked it up at one hospital, but they picked it up at the second one. So that put me into plaster for another three months.
And of course we had everything booked to come home – we’d arranged to fly to Brisbane to see my son. “No way are you allowed to fly, lad, unless you can keep your leg elevated”.
Well, how did you crash?
We were biking and it was a beautiful day. Glenys says “look at all the rabbits!” [Chuckle] And she swung the bike over to the right – I’m saying “straighten it up!” And I’m trying to straighten the bike up. So then she did realise what was happening, so she sat up. By that time I had just a wee bit of lock on it to go to the left – straight into the tree. We could see the tree coming, I was on the anchors. We do not – both of us – do not remember falling over.
Glenys: The last I recall I huddled in behind Jim, because all the smaller tree branches were breaking. And the next thing as Jim said, I started looking at my thumb, but there was blood coming away from a very small sort of hole, and I did this to my thumb, brought the thumb in, but it went ‘click’. I thought ‘well, I can’t leave it like that, I have to go back this way’, and I over-corrected it and just broke it. But you know – can’t put the key in the car, you know. I had to use the left hand – put the key in the ignition. Got told “you shouldn’t be driving”, and I said “well, I can still hold here”.
So the tandem obviously has since departed?
Glenys: We still ride it.
And do you maintain total control now?
Jim: Yep – she knows now, not to be silly with it. As I say the stress factor was very, very high because as I say, we had the packers coming in, I was in hospital – instead of one night I had problems, so I was kept in two nights. Got home, into bed – the packers had done a day’s packing. “Glenys!” She came into the bedroom. “Where’s the remote?” Guess what? The packers had packed it. TV’s still there – remote’s gone. Have a shave the next day – “where’s my razor?” They packed that. Oh, you know, it’s just – the stress factor got higher and higher and higher and higher.
So then of course we had to keep flying, so Glenys went to the travel agents and said “well Jim can’t have a foot on the ground” – you know, on the deck. “He’s got to have it elevated”. She said “well the only way we can do that is upgrade you into …” what they call first class. And Glenys said “what will that cost?” So they gave her a figure, and she said “aargh! I don’t want to buy the aeroplane”. She said “well, that’s for two”. Glenys said “no, I’ll travel baggage class and Jim can go …” I could get my leg elevated.
But anyway, we got to Brisbane – you’ll laugh at this one. I had to go and see a doctor there. So our daughter-in-law arranged it with the doctor.
Glenys: She made the appointment.
Jim: They said to Glenys “now, if it’s a Doctor John, tell the nurse you don’t want him”.
Glenys: This is what our daughter-in-law said. She’s in the medical profession.
Jim: So we get there, I’m sent down to a room. So Glenys asked the receptionist “What doctor’s Jim having?” “Doctor John”. “No.” Glenys said “he’s not having Doctor John – we’ve told you the reason why”. So anyway, next minute this man walks in and he’s got a pile of paper and he throws it on the bed and – whoosh – gone. So the nurse comes in and she takes the stitches out for me – that’s what I wanted [chuckle] – stitches taken out.
Was that Doctor John that ..?
Glenys: He was Indian, and the guy that came in to do Jim and see him, he was Asian. He was so nice, he was just different, mmm.
So then you got home?
Jim: Well to get home it took a little while, because as I say, we decided we’d fly to Brisbane. And my first obstacle was going through …
Jim: Even though to go domestic you go through the x-rays, and I had a smart … I might have upset somebody when I was delivering stuff, I don’t know. But he gave me a very, very hard time, and told me I had to walk through there, and I told him straight, I couldn’t walk, I had to have my crutches. He got a little shirty with me and I got shirty with him, and of course the sweat – the tension …
Glenys: And he told him to take his belt off.
Jim: Buckle off … buckle off, and take my belt out of my pants, and I said “I’m not doing that – pants’ll fall down”, and I was getting very heated.
So anyway, we finally got through there, and we got to Brisbane – very nice flight, sitting in Business Class – yeah, lovely. But what annoyed me was, that seat was empty – I was sitting by the window. Glenys could have come in, but no, no. But she was only sitting behind the curtain – there she is.
But then when we flew to come home, we booked Qantas again. There again, staff … Got up to go through Immigration, Customs and all that rubbish … the joker said “can you walk through there without your crutches?” I said “no, I can’t, I’m sorry. I’ve got doctor’s …” “No, no, no – don’t worry ‘bout that”. Got a wheelchair for me, put me in the wheelchair – out that door, out that door – when I come back in the place I’m past all that. He said “oh, we’ve got to do something, Jim”, so he got the old wand and put it into my armpits – “no, you’re right”. And it was as quick as that.
And when we got back to NZ – I’ve got to be honest – we flew Qantas, but top marks to Air New Zealand. Soon as I stepped off the plane Air New Zealand were there waiting for me, put me in a wheelchair, waited for our baggage, loaded it all out; we got through Immigration, Customs like that, transferred the bags to that area to go domestic; got out onto the terminal, there was a minibus waiting for me, put me into the minibus, took us over to Domestic; girl waiting there with another wheelchair, she wheeled me in, got us booked in; and of course being local aircraft … couldn’t walk up the steps, so they had to get the forklift … forklift in Napier. I had that for … crutches and plaster on the leg for three months, which is a long time.
Glenys: But you can actually rent your crutches in Melbourne, but we said that we were coming back here.
Jim: It would cost you … I think it was $5 a week to rent them, and I was told it’d be three months, so the chap at the hospital said “you’re better to buy them – give them a ring when you get home”. So got on the phone, rang the hire place up, told them what had happened. He said “well what’s the number on the crutches?” They’ve got a little purple sticker on with a number, so I told him what the number was, and he said “well, I’ll sell them to you for $55 – how are you going to pay?” I said “oh, if you like I’ll pay you by Visa – there it is now – there’s the Visa number”. “Oh, if you’re going to do that” he said “we’ll make it $50”. I said “yeah – $50 with a receipt too, please”. I’ve still got them in the wardrobe there.
So then you came back to Havelock North?
No we stayed with Glenys’ brother … Peter’s when we first arrived back. And we got into you know, a room, and we had the old magazines with all the houses, and we found a lovely house in Barcroft Street. It was brand new, wasn’t quite finished. So he took us down there to have a look through it, and I’m walking round this lovely house with crutches. Where I walked on the carpet there were little round marks where the crutches had been. And his wife came down – it was just a one-man builder – his wife came down later on in the day. She said “what’re all these marks on the carpet?” So she told them the story about me being on crutches. So the land agent then took us to a flat in Lyndon Road – soon as I walked in the front door I said “no … don’t like it, don’t want it”.
So we made up our mind we’d buy this Barcroft property, so we went to a lawyer, put a price in, and he said “there is one offer in, so we’ll see how we go”. And we were at Peter’s place having tea and the phone rings same night, and it was the lawyer. This is quarter to six at night, somewhere round there.
“Oh – you own a house”, he said. So we actually got the house – we couldn’t shift in straight away because there was still quite a lot to be done, and the compliance of course for the house.
We shifted into there, and I’ve got to admit, it was a lovely house, but I found I couldn’t mow the lawns. Like yeah – I’d start mowing the lawns the old asthma would kick in. Couldn’t – it got that bad I couldn’t even wash the car. And I said to Glenys “oh, no … we’ll have to do something”. And she saw an ad about these places here, and I said “no … I don’t think that’ll do me or not”. Anyway we came down and had a look – this block was the four by twos, and a roof on the top. Seen the plans, so we decided we’d take … if we could get this one.
Perfect, isn’t it?
And the reason we took this one is that as you can see we’ve got the orchard out there.
Glenys: And if you have both the doors open there’s that wee bit of a breeze.
Jim: So this is where we are.
So this is the story of your life. Well I think that’s probably a good note to finish on, and I’d just like to say thank you very much. While we think a lot of the things we do don’t have interest, you know – your family – your great-great-great grandchildren one day will open this website up and they’ll hear this history in your voices. And you know, that really will be very special.
If you have got time just for a very quick … I would like to add another two things which I did forget to mention.
In my younger day of eighteen-year-old, the Government of the time decided we’d have national Army training, which was a ballot for your birthdays. And I was lucky … or unlucky … enough for my number to come up, so I was balloted to go into National Service. But me being a kind-hearted person, our neighbour came over from where we lived in Victoria Street and said “would you mind giving me a hand with the washing machine?” “Yeah, I’ll do that for you”. And I had jandals on, walked across this person’s front lawn – they had taken a fence out of totara posts – and I happened to walk down a hole … one of these post holes. And – went straight through my jandal up into my foot. And anyway, to cut a long story short, I ended up going to the doctor’s, ended up at hospital, sent home bandaged up. But I had a recurring problem for quite a while with this foot, and they decided they would operate on it after many visits, and they got a bit of totara post out … ‘bout the size of that. [Demonstrates]
Glenys: Tried to take it out with a poultice, and of course wood doesn’t come up.
Jim: So that … I thought ‘well that’ll be the end of that’. And I came right, go to work, pair of boots, and I’d be driving the truck – I was at Napier-Wellington at that time – driving the truck, boot feels a bit tights. Take my boot off, my ankle’s up like this. [Demonstrates] So I was actually driving round by Doctor Hopkirk – you remember Doctor Hopkirk, or at least Surgeon Hopkirk? So I had to put the truck up on the side of the road, went in and seen [saw] him – took one look at it, cut it open – bit of barley grass. Now I had trouble with that ankle for ‘bout three years, wasn’t it Glenys?
Glenys: Right through that year.
Jim: Right through that period – I’d be in and out of hospitals getting [the] ankle cut, or the bottom cut.
So how did the barley grass ..?
Well it must have been in the hole.
And gone through, up into your ankle? ‘Cause we used to have trouble with barley grass in dogs’ eyes and ears …
Well, I’ve cut out a lot of the story, but the last time I went for an operation was – how long before our wedding?
Glenys: You had complete bed rest eight weeks before we were married, and then you were back in hospital four weeks before we were married.
Jim: And the doctor said to me “You’ll be going up the aisle, or down the aisle, whichever way you like it, either on crutches or in a wheelchair”. [Chuckle] That’s how close it was, but no – I did manage the …
So you never had to go in to do your CMT?
No, I did. But instead of taking three years it took me seven years, not only because of my ankle, but because of my position of work. The company just kept putting – ‘no, we can’t do without Jim … we can’t do without Jim’.
So where did you go?
I ended up in Waiouru, First Armoured Division. But because of my expertise on trucks – which I didn’t really want – I was put straight on the GMCs – I ended up on a GMC. [General Motors models] We had a driving instructor to take us out for a half-hour run. I went for about five minutes and he told me to turn around and go back. I could drive better than what he could. So I went up on RLs [Bedford models] … it was a good experience.
We had a big laugh there one day – one of my mates had the RL because at this stage they were actually phasing out the GMs. And we were out doing manoeuvres and I stopped for a cuppa, and I said “I bet you this GMC can get up that hill”. “Ah, no, no, it’ll get up there”, and I said “bet you it doesn’t”. “Bet you it does”. “Okay, let’s go”. So they all got so far up, and being four-wheel drive, high, light … t, t, t … got half-way up. For the GM I just stuck it into first, crept up there. And I got up no trouble at all.
Did they have front-wheel drive as well?
No, they were tandem.
So yeah – no, we had a good time … not a good time, but – took quite a few years to get my National Service done because of the ankle problem, ‘cause it kept recurring.
All right, well thank you Jim, and thank you Glenys – that’s wonderful.
Original digital file
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Interviewer: Frank Cooper