Sunday, 4 June 2017

#52Stories, Week 20, Stories they tell

So this one has had me wracking my brain a bit. Favourite stories about Mum's childhood, or stories that my grandmothers told as well.

I don't remember too many that Nana told. Apart from the one about her grandfathers both having more than one marriage which got me hooked into genealogy, and ones about her great aunt going to America, and her uncles and their families emigrating there too. She didn't talk about much else. 

There was an aunt who ran a green grocer shop and some twin cousins who were blind. There was also someone else who would shut the doors and windows to them (as children) when they walked by. Who would do that ?! I used to think it was the same aunt with the shop - but now I wonder if it was the step-grandmother ? She also told us that if they were walking along the street and saw their father while he was at work, that they were not to acknowledge him. He was a motor car driver - originally a groom and carriage driver, later a taxi driver. It wasn't a good look to have your kids waving to you as you went about your business apparently.

Occasionally she spoke about infrequently going to visit their mother, but not in a lot of detail. Life must have been pretty tough, I think.

I don't know any at all from my paternal Nana, which makes me a bit sad.

Mum had stories which I remember her telling us though, and which she could tell in more detail.

Sitting in the fields at Grandma's in Middleton Road hiding amongst the raspberry canes and eating raspberries until you were full. Walking from Riccarton to Addington/Hilmorton to visit Auntie Edie. Mis-steering the pram with her baby sister into the ditch drain which ran along the side of the road. Having her hair cut short when said baby sister was born and her father had had enough of dealing with the curls and knots and morning hair drama of a 4 year old on his own. Sunday school at Church Corner. 

The time they were staying at Grandma's and the bed collapsed in the night with Nana and Auntie Anne ending up on the floor. 

The "pet" magpie at Grandma's who was a bit territorial and would hold her hostage as a small child in the outside loo until she could get away using the wooden lid as a shield to make it back to the house.

Sliding down the hill on cabbage tree leaf sleds after school at Highbank because the road was too steep for the bus to navigate.

The time of the big snow storm when her Dad had to hitch a ride on a railway jigger and climb down the intake pipes to get back to work at Highbank, from Christchurch.  The big storm at Highbank that blew in the roller door on the power house, and the slip which buried some of the houses. 

The wild cats that her brother would catch in the bush and bring home to try and domesticate. I can't remember all of their names. Spitfire was one !

Then there are the ones about the shenanigans as student nurses living in the hostel at Waikato...

I hope I have told some of my stories too - in case anyone ever wanted to remember and record them in the future.

#52Stories, Week 19, Mothers' Day

Mum was born in Kurow. The little town that had founded a support system for it's community which became the basis for our Social Welfare system. Where if you didn’t dig the carrots before the first frost, you might as well leave them in the ground until spring – because you would never get a spade into the frozen earth.

The family moved around a lot since Granddad worked with what became State Hydro, in the construction of hydro power stations. Waitaki, Highbank, Mangahao, Maraetai, Whakamaru. But actually looking back, the time spent at Waitaki, the station with it's aesthetically pleasing curved dam across the Waitaki River, near Kurow, was one of the longest. About ten years all up.


Reflecting back on my childhood for this topic - Mothers' Day - I have been thinking about things.

Mum went to floral art and pottery classes at night school when we were kids. She sewed (and sometimes un-sewed in frustration), she knitted and taught me to knit too. Patiently stopping whatever she was doing to pick up all my dropped stitches and getting me back on the right track - for a couple more rows until she had to repeat the process.

Mum loves to read, and if it is a good book don't try to talk to her. She will be in another world, absorbed with story. Oblivious to anything else she might need to be doing - like cooking dinner. Reading, like jigsaws, often resulted in burnt dinners, or dinner not even being started...and fish & chips instead !

She's very determined - she says it is a middle child thing. But once her mind is made up, that is the way things are going to be and woe betide anyone or anything that tries to say or do otherwise. She is a tad impatient too. If things aren't happening quickly enough, or going to the plan - she will be there tweaking things and hurrying them up, to get the desired outcome.

Like deciding to wallpaper their bedroom one day by herself because she was tired of waiting. The wallpaper was a thinner paper than normal and didn't like the extra weight of glue. It kept pulling itself apart from the corners and falling to the floor before it could be stuck to the wall ! But not even something as frustrating and inanimate as unco-operative wallpaper was going to beat her.

Or going to the bank to withdraw the housekeeping money when Dad had been paid (in the days before computers and simple banking) to find that the Government pay run had been delayed. That bank manager must have shaken in his boots every time that happened and he saw Mum enter his building.

To keep us all on our toes, she used to reorganise the contents of all of the cupboards while we were at school. We'd come home and discover that the glasses & crockery or the food wasn't where it had been the day before. Or she would rearrange all the furniture about. That still happens !!


Life seemed so simple. Mum was quite relaxed about things - even the incessant bee stings we would get from that bee & bucket game we made up. We would wait until the grass was long with lots of clover and daisies, get a small bucket (sandcastle size) and invert it over a flower with a bee on it. Then dare each other to remove it and free the angry bee ! When the inevitable happened Mum would just produce a wet blue bag from somewhere (what were those ?) remove the sting, place the bag onto the wound and so "it serves you right".

That go-getter attitude can be a bit frustrating at times. Like when she mentions that she has seen something she would quite like, and you think to yourself "Now there is a good idea for a present". But she just goes ahead and buys it herself, because "why not ?"

She's a great Mum, my Mum. Interested in all sorts of things and with so much going on. I hope we have had some of those go-getter qualities and drive instilled in us too.