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KELVIN EDWARD (TED) BAKER 1927-2008
Branch Committee Chair Lily Baker’s husband Ted died suddenly on 6 April.
Ted Baker was born at Pahiatua in 1927 the son of Robert Loosemore Baker and Marjorie Annie Wakely. At the age of 3 he went to live with his grandparents Robert and Mary Baker in Hastings because his mother was not very well. Grandfather Baker was 64 and Grandmother was 53 and Grandfather had retired at the age of 50 years. Ted was lucky to have had his grandfather live until he was 90 years, and many were the tales he shared with Ted about his life in Devon and pioneering farming in the East Coast where he drew one of the first ballots of land.
Ted went to Central School in Hastings, and then on to The Hastings High School. One of the Social events he enjoyed in recent years were the class reunion held at regular intervals.
On a hot and sunny morning on 3rd of February 1931, Ted was at the front gate of the Eastbourne Street house where he lived with his paternal grandparents. He was talking to his aunt Maud who had her son Robert, Ted’s cousin, in the pram. They were waiting for Ted’s grandmother to go downtown shopping.
Then the Hawke’s Bay earthquake struck. Ted ran up the drive to get back to his grandparents, but with the severe ground movement, he fell just as their brick house collapsed in a pile of rubble around him. Miraculously Ted and his grandparents escaped injury. The house was duly rebuilt, but timber was the material used.
Ted’s cousins Robert and Sam spent a good deal of time together in their younger years. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Ted introduced his cousins to some of the more adult pleasures and pastimes, including experimenting with tobacco and alcohol. During the war many things were in short supply including alcohol. Ted’s grandfather, who had emigrated from Devonshire in England, set up a small cellar in his backyard principally to make cider from the plentiful supply of apples in the district. But he also made a very pleasant, mildly alcoholic peach wine which Ted and his younger cousins were very partial to. Many times when the adults were enjoying a glass or two of fine Devonshire style cider, Ted and cousins sneaked down to the cellar and had their own illicit party of tasty peach wine.
Ted was always keen on driving and at quite an early age he acquired his first car – a baby Austin of about late 1920’s vintage. A notable adventure was a trip from Hastings to Ohakune via Gentle Annie on the Napier Taihape road. The Austin 7 was gravity fed and Ted and his grandfather had to coach the car over some of the many steep sections in reverse gear to keep the petrol supply to the labouring motor. It was an arduous all-day journey. Needless to say a much easier route was chosen for the return trip.
He started work in Baird’s the Drapers, which he did not enjoy because he wanted to be an Railway Locomotive Driver but was persuaded not to take up that calling because it was a dirty job with all the grease and coal. He always regretted not being an engine driver, as when diesel engines came in it was no longer a “dirty dusty ‘ job. His love of trains and steam engines took him on several journeys over the years and if he heard a whistle of a steam engine he was off to the station to find out what was going on.
The trade his grandparents encouraged him to do was carpentry and joinery and he was good at what he made, but his heart was never in it.
He was a member of the Hawke’s Bay Car Club and Lily and Ted were both made Life Members of the Club in 1977 in recognition of the many years of voluntary work they had done.
He always enjoyed the bus trips that were organised for the Hawke’s Bay Branch of New Zealand Historic Places Trust and it was on the recent trip to Kairakau Beach that he died at the Elsthorpe hall. Earlier in the day he was delighted to have seen his old classroom which had been transported from Central School in Hastings to Rochford Road by Denise and Bill Dodds. Part of this building was being converted to start a new life as a homestay and the other part of the building was a beautiful workshop attached to their home.
He was a great support to Lily his wife of 52 years and will be missed by his family.