Hello to all, you asked for more info re my early days so here goes,
Written August 2005.
People most involved in my life during these early years were,
Mother, Mabel Rose Hodgkinson [Crook]
Father Eric Vivian Hodgkinson
Brother, Ronald Eric Crook
Sister, Audrey Colleen Viney
Gran & Grandfather Alice Mary & James Edward Cottle
Aunty Ivy & Percy Krebs
Aunty Alma & Ernie Cottle
Stanley Eric Crook
l was born on Xmas day 1932, we were living at 16 Jessie St Petone at the time although I have no recollection of this. Audrey says that we were placed in a boys Catholic home, St Thomas’s Boys School, Naenae, l was about 5 years and Ron about 6 1/2 years.
My father was a Catholic and Mother was not but as my Father had left her she had no option but to send us to the boys home for the meantime, although this was to last about 7 years in all.
We also attended during this time other primary schools although many were short lived, these included Taita, Thorndon, Mt Cook, Johnsonville, Marist Brothers at Newtown & Thorndon and others, we also stayed at Mrs Robottoms place at Johnsonville [about 3 weeks] and Mr & Mrs Tynan’ at 231 Thorndon Quay [18 months].
It was at Mrs Tynans old house that Ron used to catch big black spiders and put them down the inside of my shirt sending me right off, one night l was sent to pick up a scrubbing brush that had been left outside, as I picked it up the bristles brushed my ﬁngers, thinking it was a spider I threw it away, unfortunately the brush went through the kitchen window smashing it, I can still recall old Mr Tynan saying “l know you didn’t mean to do lad it but you must be punished ” SMACK. We always went home during school holidays although Mother was working full time, this gave us latitude to do as we liked and we weren’t always on good behaviour.
One time Mother was renting the top story of an old weatherboard house, Ron and I had heard that you could set fire to wood if you magniﬁed the suns rays and we wanted to prove it, well it worked, Ron managed to get the rotten weatherboard to smoulder so he sent me upstairs to get some water to put out the smoking wood, that’s when the comedy started, I went upstairs and asked for a glass of water, when l went to walk downstairs with it Mother insisted l drink it there, when pressed as to why I wanted to take it away I blurted out that Ron had set fire to the house, Mother panicked and we all went downstairs including me with the water but there was no fire as Ron had managed to blow it out.
Lesson learnt “don’t tell anyone what you are doing”
It was at this house that l was given a large wooden train engine for Xmas, l got sick of pushing it so decided to light a fire in the cab of the engine to make it go, I was disappointed when it smoked but still would’nt move by itself.
Later we moved to 32 Arthur Street and Mother and Audrey stayed there for a number of years with us only coming home on school holidays, Audrey went to a Catholic school just down the road in Buckle Street, unfortunately she went on to embrace her religion almost to the exclusion of everything else, more on this later.
She was a good sister to me and when I lost the top of my little finger that had been jammed in a school desk drawer she came from Wellington out to the boys home & took me to the Wellington hospital, she would also visit us at Naenae.
Life at the boys home.
The day began in summer at 6 am & in winter at 6-30am, the home/school catered for up to 65 boys up to standard 6, about 12-13 years old and l have no illusions about my education, after getting dressed we walked down the hundred or so steps to the main building.
There we washed and went to the chapel for prayers and mass, about 7-30 we went to the refectory [dining room] for breakfast which always was porridge and bread and dripping, in winter the bread and dripping was warmed, those boys that were lucky had jams and honey in their locker, after breakfast we were on a roster to do the washing up, there were sinks to use and the soap was in a wire shaker, others swept the dining room and tidied up, on Fridays there was confession and mass as there was on any sacred day, sometimes at Easter we went to mass 3 times a day, the home was run by the “Sisters of Mercy” with Priests there for mass.
I can tell you that after 7 years of this carry on I have no time for religion.
As written earlier both Ron and myself ran away 5 times from this home at Naenae, stealing milk money to get the train and bus fare home to Wellington to be with our Mother, of course we were always returned and we knew what to expect, a bloody good whacking.
l will write page 2 later as I still find referance to Naenae upsetting. dad g/dad.