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Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 26, November 1982

MEMORIES OF KARANGAHAKE SHOPS Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 26, November 1982

by THELMA CONWAY CUMMINGS, NEW PLYMOUTH

In 1902 my parents Mr & Mrs. P. Conway bought "The Dustpan" from Mr. Geo. Walters. I was then about six years old, and very excited at the prospect of going to live in the township.

The shop, which sold hardware, fancy goods, stationery, papers and periodicals, tobacco and cigarettes was not in the main street but faced the Lower Road near the bridges to the Talisman Offices. We had living quarters at the back of the shop, rather cramped but quite adequate for the three of us. Opposite the shop and still on the Lower Road, Mr. and Mrs. McLoughry lived in a small cottage. Alma McGruer their grand-daughter often stayed with them. Next I think was a small dining room "The City Buffet" kept by Mrs. McIvor, She served meals to many of the men who had shanties in the township, but no facilities for cooking. Her daughter Lily married Charlie O'Laughlin in later years and they had a hairdressing and tobacconist business in Paeroa. Tommy Wells butcher shop was next, right on the corner. When he left, this business was taken over by his brother Fred whose son Roy had a butchery in Paeroa for many years.

Mrs. Haughton who taught music to numerous Karangahake girls and boys later lived for a short time in the City Buffet. She always called it the "Rat Pit". Following on from the butcher shop came the Miners Union Hall, union secretary for many years, Michael Marrinau, McLoughry's Boarding House, later McNeils, then Whites store which was of the same type as the Dustpan. Mr. Ernie Hawkins had a billiard saloon in that locality too. It was just about here that the Lower Road joined the main street in front of Montgomery's Hotel.

We later moved from the Dustpan to a building facing the main street. It had been the Post Office, the living accommodation was bigger and with a few alterations the shop offered better facilities for display purposes. People called O'Saunnessy were next door, but later moved to lower end of the street. He was a boot repairer and may have worked in the mine too. It was later used as an agency for the Paeroa branch of the National Bank. Then came the Post Office with Mrs. Airey post mistress. When she retired, Mr. Harry Pearse was appointed Postmaster. Opposite the P.O. on a slight rise above the road, stood a small hall known to the residents as the Little Hall. It was used for meetings, Sunday night concerts, dancing classes on Saturday afternoons, (that type of thing) and I remember when the new room was being added to the school, Stds. 3 and 4 were housed in the hall, with Mr. Corbett as our teacher.

From the hall down the slight incline leading to the main street, was the small shed where the ambulance was kept, then came Noonaus' drapery shop. Later a man called Meikle, had it for a short time only, and the last occupiers that I remember were a Mr. and Mrs. Auld. There was then a vacant section, where my mother later built a two storey building - a shop and living rooms above - this would be about 1910, approximately two years after my father's death in 1908.

Down towards the hotel these are people who came to mind. Mr.& Mrs. Ryan who were Grocers in a small way, they also sold sweets, soft drinks, vegetables and fruit. They we're followed by Ruby Farmer and Pearl McNeil. The Jackson Bros., Charlie and George, Hairdressers and Tobacconists (Jim McNamara learned his trade here).

H. Cordes, Men's Outfitters, this shop was later used by W. Clavis who published the Goldfields Advocate, and moved later to Ngaruawahia where he established a paper also.

I recall too, a Mrs. O'Grady who for a short time sold fruit, soft drinks and sweets. Next to Mr. Sear.e's [as written, Searle – E] boot and shoe store, Mrs. Manton opened a toy and fancy goods shop. Next door to the hotel Mrs. McGlynn had a small shop. She later married a Dillimore. Montgomery's Hotel completed that block, but when no licence was carried in Ohinemuri a family called Lockley ran it as a boarding house.

Something that I remember very well during my years of living in the township, were the visits made every now and then, when pay days were due, of a Mr. Mathias, Jeweller; also a Mr. Baracatt who carried a stock of clothing of all kinds, manchester goods and materials to suit whatever season it happened to be. They chose different times of course - just rented whatever shop happened to be vacant, stayed for a week perhaps then off they would go.

Another character was "Jimmy the Chinaman" as he was known to everybody in Karangahake. He came from the gardens near the cemetery in Paeroa twice a week, his horse driven cart laden with vegetables, and fruit when he could get it.

My association with the township ended more or less in 1915 - 16 when I started my teaching career. In December 1915 the building was gutted by fire, a very serious loss. My mother had remarried and was now Mrs. Poland, and they carried on for a few months in what had been the drapery shop next door and which was then vacant. Eventually they sold out to Mrs. Fallon who lived up near the school, and who later moved to Paeroa.

As I look back now over three score years & ten I can only say it was a grand little town to have lived in & I still have wonderful memories.