Karangahake School and District 70th Jubilee 1889-1959
Can it he nearly 55 years since, with a quick beating heart, I first answered "Present Miss" when Miss Lavery call the Roll at the Mackaytown School? I spent five happy years at that intimate little school, the toil of learning being more than compensated by the companionship of such friends as Eileen White, Beryl Gubb, Phoebe Littlejohn, Ormsby Lloyd, Jim Coll and many others. (... One boy, I remember, used such outstanding language that it was a daily occurrence for him to have his mouth washed out with soap and water!).
Once a month the Headmaster of the Karangahake School came to visit us. His arrival almost always numbed our brains, for Augustus Scott was a stern man. However, we felt more kindly disposed to him after one little incident. He let us laugh at his downfall! While we were in the playground, one day, he tripped over a water pipe and fell full length in the dust!
As a school girl I made many friends with the mothers of Mackaytown, for I delivered lemons (14 for 1/-), eggs (1/- doz.) and butter (9d lb.) to many homes. They were dear kindly souls, ever ready to give good cheer and many a helpful gift, especially after mother's tragic death in December 1910. There were dear Mrs Rickard and Essie, Mrs Milroy, Mrs Ladner, Mrs Lloyd, Mrs Flavell, Mrs Smith, Mrs MacNamara (at P.O.), Mrs Dickey (who later taught me to make bread) and many others.
We were transferred to Karangahake and started in Standard 3. It was hard leaving the little school we loved and the friendly folk living near — no more trips across the road to Mrs White's hoarding house to get the teacher's tea-pot filled at lunch times. The 2½-mile trek to 'Hake School seemed a very long way but we were sometimes given rides on wagons (Brenan's) or with Mr Tierney in Hague Smith's lighter wagon. It was always a thrill to be perched up on a big load of goods and go jingling past the others trudging to school. The roads were so horribly muddy it was a welcome relief to get a ride even in a dray. The stretch of road from the railway bridge to the township was always the worst, because the coal carts plied up and down from the Railway Station to the Talisman Battery. I well remember how black were the drivers' faces and how gleaming white were their teeth when they smiled at us.
For the newcomers, the 'Hake school seemed very big and forbidding with its five rooms, multitudes of children and so many teachers. With Mary Fitzgerald as desk mate, I settled into Std. 3 under the kindly guidance of Mr Robert Corbett, a splendid teacher. Two years with him, then on to Std 5 to the care of Mr H. I. Blows, a keen teacher of geography and a firm believer in the cane! He organised a trip to the top of the Trig, which we all enjoyed very much.
By this time, Mr Scott the Headmaster, had left and Mr Craddock relieved for a while. He took Std. 6 children to Auckland for a three-day trip to see the H.M.S. "New Zealand." It was a wonderful event — first visit to a big city for most of us and it left vivid memories. Mr Hamilton was next appointed and ruled over Std. 6 with a very firm hand.
Now we look forward to a wonderful reunion. For those of us who can meet again in the old haunts, the years will roll back. In spirit and in truth we will be schoolmates, as of old. But there will be an undercurrent of sadness for the absent ones. To those who are unable to attend, our thoughts will speed in loving remembrance. For the ones who have passed on, we can only bow our heads and say "God Bless." It will be a deep grief that our bright and clever class-mate, Ormsby Lloyd, will not be with us. He always gave of his best and has left happy memories for us to cherish.
"High hopes that burned like stars sublime
Go down i' the Heaven of Freedom
And true hearts perish in the time we bitterliest need em!
But never sit we down and say
There's nothing left but sorrow —
We walk the Wilderness Today
The Promised Land — Tomorrow."
(The above is first verse of "Today and Tomorrow," a poem learned by Std. 6 in 1913.)
Mary Lewis (nee Scott)