Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 26, November 1982
By Kathleen Morrison
I have lived at the Thames Coast for the past ten years but visit my home town of Paeroa very frequently. I spent the first five years of my life at Prospect Terrace where our neighbours were Mr and Mrs Ted Mettam and their daughter Muriel, and Mr Chas. Clews and family, followed later by Mr and Mrs Gunn and their family of six daughters. Mr Gunn was Master of the dredge for the Waihou River scheme in 1920. Mr Sam Silcock lived in the fourth house and worked the quarry which had the entrance on Station Road. His mother lived further down across the paddocks.
In 1921 we moved to Junction Road. Across the road from us lived Mr Jimmy Hamilton, a bewhiskered gentleman (mutton chop whiskers as they were known, and were quite rare at that time). He was well-known for his milk delivery at 5 o'clock in the morning. I was sometimes privileged with one of his grandchildren to accompany him on the round. Milk was ladled out of a can with a pint measure into a jug at the gate. The old loft in the stable on his property as mentioned by the late Mrs Jeff Poland in Journal 15 [see Journal 15: Old Junction Road ? - E] was a great favourite with us too when his grandchildren came to stay. One was Marjorie Ellis who attended Paeroa High School.
Many references have been made in previous journals of the famous Soda Water Springs. My first taste of Lemon and Paeroa was either by using the pump in the shed or the overflow outside. We were occasionally allowed a visit over the swing bridge to the Silt Works, but Pereniki's Bend was our favourite playing area. There was quite an expanse of sand there until the first flood after the stopbanks were built. The 'borrow pits' which had been scooped out by the dragline were filled and teamed with carp and goldfish so we had much fun netting them.
My school days were very happy and rewarding. With our great infant teachers Miss Minnie Shaw and Miss Whitton, we were taken on a never-to-be-forgotten school picnic by train to Thames and thence to Tararu by horse-drawn waggon. Another teacher I remember well was Miss Gibson - a very stern lady who wore high-necked blouses and hair piled high. Frances North and I were chosen alternately to walk to the Paeroa Hotel to collect her freshly-cut lunch. I was also fortunate to be taught by Miss Ethel Freeman and Mr J.E. Bigelow, and at the High School by Miss Ethel Taylor and Mr Edgar Preston, an excellent teacher who gave us much encouragement and individual tuition. My first sewing effort at school was a white pillow case laboriously French seamed and hemmed by hand, but the cooking classes at the Miller Avenue Technical School were much more exciting. Cornish pasties, and steamed ginger pudding in a cup. The teacher, Miss Millington, a very rotund lady was apt to fall if she turned around too quickly, so when this happened we had to go for assistance from any men at hand to set her on her feet again.
My father was a keen beekeeper and at one time kept forty hives at the back of the section. Mr W. Barclay helped him to extract the honey. The extractor was a large drum in which the frames were turned around at great speed by hand. My brother Bill and I kept well out of the way at this time as I remember on one occasion being stung so badly on the face that I was unrecognisable for several days. We sold the granulated honey in 5lb billies for 4/- and 2lb cartons for 1/8d delivered in a trolley by my brother, mainly in the Hill Street/Station Road area.
In 1922 the N.Z. Dairy Co. built their first office next to the river and railway line. Two of their first employees stayed with our family. One, Ray Hunter, was a radio enthusiast. He introduced us to the marvel of the Wireless as it was called then. It was anything but wire less as the table in his room was a mass of coils and wire contraptions. We had many visitors in the evenings to listen with earphones to the four N.Z. stations as well as 2FC Sydney and other Australian stations, the beginning of much to come in the next sixty years.
My mother was a tireless worker for the church. She belonged to St Paul's Choir and Ladies Guild and worked enthusiastically for the Bazaar held in November each year. Other ladies I remember were Mesdames Morland, Barclay, Talboys, Innis, James and Hayward. I was taught at Sunday School by the Vicar's wife Charlotte Dobson and daughters Florence and Alice.
My father was fond of music. He was a foundation member of the Paeroa Municipal Band under the conductorship of Mr George Fallon and later formed the Paeroa Silver Jubilee Band. Bill played the cornet well, along with Len and George Vercoe, Len Roberts, Sanderson and Beillby. Dad played the violin too and I liked accompanying him, but often he tapped me on the head with the bow for playing too fast. My first music lessons were given me by Miss Dorothy Miller and later by a well-known pianist and organist, Mr T. A. Moresby, to whom I have felt indebted for the introduction he gave me to the classical world of music. It was a big step from 'The Norwegian Credle Song' to works of Brahms and Debussy. Among his pupils were Bill Forrest, who later became music master at New Plymouth Boys High School and then Paeroa College, Margaret Dean, Connie Silcock, Dorothy Towers, Hilda Williams, Bowen Miller and Bill Parry. While awaiting our lessons we were given the 'Daily Mirror' to read but can only remember the comic strip 'Pip, Squeak and Wilfred'. At the end of term we performed in a musical recital and then afterwards took part in a series of table games with the guests, and a sumptuous supper to follow provided by Mrs Moresby. All this for a mere two guineas a quarter.
1928 saw the opening of the rail link to Tauranga so in the winter the High School pupils were invited to take part in basketball and football. What a great weekend that was for us, with a social on the night of arrival as well. To be billeted in another town was an experience for us all, almost like a blind date!
By now it was the beginning of the Depression but most of us were able to get reasonable jobs. Marjorie Buchanan worked in an office (next to Mr O'Loughlin the hairdresser) for the Loan and Mercantile Agency with Mr Gordon McMillan as their first manager, until the company built their own store across the road, which is now Dalgetys. Muriel Mills was secretary for Mr Wm. Marshall in an office at the County Council Chambers. I was employed by the Thames Valley Electric Power Board with Mr Joe Walmsley as Depot Clerk. With a six-weekly round of accounts, I soon got to know all the consumers in Paeroa and the street where each lived, as well as many in the outlying districts. The employees were a congenial lot, Bert, Neil, Bill Taylor, Sanderson and McQuillan on the lines at that time, and Harold Mayne, Lew Wrigley and Joe Weedon were the trouble men.
After four years there, I was transferred to the Head Office in Te Aroha. With my neighbour Rene Hamilton and George Bramley, I biked to the Railway Station at 6.45 to catch the train to Te Aroha, sometimes very cold and wet. At 6 p.m. we boarded the 'Wild Cat' to return to Paeroa, often not arriving home till 7.30, due to much delay with shunting operations at Mangaiti and a wait at Waitoki for a train to pass. When it was advertised that the train would be delayed for the Te Rapa races, the three of us would cycle to Te Aroha and back again at night arriving home much earlier than the train. It took us 1½ hours on a metalled road. However I enjoyed the position there as an Accounting Machine Operator, and for such an exacting job I received a little over £5 per week with 8/- to pay for a weekly train ticket. Rene Hamilton was secretary-typist for the Manager, Mr R. Sprague, and George Bramley wrote up all the meter books and checked them when they were returned by the meter readers. There were over 30 000 accounts then. He was most efficient.
In 1938 I married Roy Morrison and our house on the family farm at the bend of the river at Netherton was built by Mr Joe Pinder of Station Road. He biked from Paeroa each day and it took him six months to build but it is a fine example of his workmanship. It cost £850 for 1 160 square feet.
My late husband, Roy, took a great interest in school affairs and was on several committees and the Board of Governors for Paeroa College. The family, Gay, Roger, Pamela, Brian and Betty all attended Netherton School and the Headmasters in their time there were Mr C. W. Malcolm, Mr Ernest Morgan and Mr Bowen Miller, all former pupils of Paeroa School. I am proud that my family received their secondary education at Paeroa too and were fortunate to be taught by as fine a band of teachers as I had been.