Author reunited with long-lost story
Just like a classic children’s story, there’s a happy ending in the search to find the 1940s Hastings schoolgirl author of a handwritten story found after a Tokoroa flood.
Tokoroa Creative Arts staff stumbled upon the 1943 handwritten and illustrated story tucked away in a pile of old magazines and newspapers while cleaning up after major flooding.
The story, Touring The North Island, was written and illustrated by Hastings Standard Three schoolgirl Helen M Hortop [now Helen Moroney] and the creative arts team was eager to see it reunited. And reunited it has been.
Now in her 80s and married, Helen Moroney is living in Bay View near Napier with husband Toby.
“I remember it well. It was a long time ago, I was nine,” she said as she sighted it for the first time in years.
“I had been in Hastings Hospital for six months. It was during the polio epidemic and they thought I had polio but it was rheumatic fever and I was going home on bed rest.”
“I wasn’t allowed to move for a while and had six months to recuperate before I was allowed to go back to school so this was one of the projects I did via correspondence.”
“It is amazing that it hasn’t been damaged in any way as I love collecting things like this. It is quite fun isn’t it,” she said.
Moroney found it hard to hide her emotions when she saw her name written by her father on the front of the story.
“It gives me goosebumps, I loved my father,” she said.
“We’d go on a holiday like this every year. He had a joinery factory which he would close for three weeks and take the family away.”
“He always wrote a beautiful hand as he was taught that when you write things you do it clean and tidy. If for nothing else it’s worth having this just to remember Dad by,” she said.
The wallpaper covering of the story also brought back memories of her mother.
“It was the wallpaper we had in our house and Mum was a bit like me, saving all sorts of things. We didn’t have cardboard much in those days so Mum thought it would be nice to use instead,” she laughed.
She had no idea how it ended up at Creative Arts. “We lived on a farm in Mangakino for 40 years and Tokoroa was our shopping centre but I can’t think how it would have got there,” she said.
“I can’t wait to read it again,” she laughed.
Photo caption – Bay View’s Helen Moroney with the story she wrote as a nine-year-old.
PHOTO: LUKE KIRKEBY/FAIRFAX NZ