Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 16, June 1972

By A.D.W.W.

Les Hume's article on "Service Cars" reminded me of some of the things Les did not mention, but which I feel are worth recording.

Many years ago I was a very young Postman attached to the Tauranga Post Office where Les Hume terminated his trip from Waihi. Part of my duties was to go back to the Post Office after Tea and await the arrival of the Waihi Service Car driven by Leslie Hume. The time of arrival was always indeterminate because of the very bad conditions on the road between the two places; however Les did usually manage to arrive sometime and we would then sort the mail he brought to us. I can remember one occasion when he did not arrive as planned, in fact we did not see him for several days. At that time, the road between Omokoroa and Tauranga was impassible and Les would arrange for a launch to be stationed at a point on the route. He would park his car at this place, tranship mail, etc to the boat and complete the journey by sea, returning the same way next day. On the occasion when he did not turn up it seems that he was so tired and (fed up, I guess) he decided to take a few days off. As we were told, he just holed up somewhere where no one could reach and annoy him and had a good spell of rest. I believe the Authorities took a dim view of such behaviour but no one on the Staff at Tauranga blamed him from 'getting away from it all'.

Some time later I was stationed in Waihi with the Post Office and part of my duties was despatching mail. At this time Les Hume was still carrying mail between Waihi and Tauranga. A train left Waihi (the railway had not reached Tauranga) at about 9.8 a.m. and mail had to be placed on this. Les would leave Tauranga at some early hour with mail for the train but often would experience holdups on the way due to the state of the road. When he left the Post Office at Kati Kati the Postmistress would phone us in Waihi giving the expected time Les would arrive in Waihi. Usually his arrival time would be very close to departure time of the train, so the pattern we adopted was to get our mail bags out on the foot path outside the Office and when Les heaved in view get ready to take a flying leap aboard the car and away we go to try and catch that train. The Station Staff would have been advised we were on our way and they would try and hold the train until we had delivered the mail. If we were just too late, Les would take off for Waikino and we would usually beat the train to that Station where we could then unload our mail bags and everyone would be happy. The only thing left then was for us to return in much more leisurely fashion to Waihi.

In Journal 15 [see Journal 15: Service Cars in the 1920s - E] mention was made of the fact that Alan Carter and Les Hume were the two remaining Service Car Drivers and this reminded me of the way that Alan and Bert (Alan's brother) used to keep their vehicles on the road under extremely difficult conditions existing at the time. I have no doubt that Les Hume had to do the same. On one occasion when I was stationed at Taneatua I had a spot of leave and wanted to come home to Waihi. The only way I could get from Tauranga to Waihi was by Service Car. Having arrived in Tauranga on a Friday I wanted to travel home on the Monday and sought Alan Carter to arrange this. I ran him to earth at C.F. Washer's Garage, Tauranga. He and some other chaps were extremely busy working on a car. It was a 'Dodge', open tourer type, and had seen many ups and downs on the Waihi-Tauranga Road. They were going over this vehicle completely, almost pulling everything on it apart. They appeared to be re-boring the motor, they were tightening every bolt visible; the vehicle was certainly getting the full treatment. I was told that this action was done regularly to ensure that the service was carried out at all times. This work was done in Alan's weekend time, with I imagine no extra pay. Hat's off to the Service Car Drivers.

P.S. We do enjoy the Journal, especially the references to people we once had the pleasure of knowing. Regards. A.D.W.W.

(Reciprocations and thanks. Ed.)