Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 50, September 2006
(By Lillian Walls, daughter of John and Mary Wall. John was a well-known butcher in Arney Street, Paeroa, for over 50 year, taking from his father who started the business in the late 1880s. Lillian recorded her memories in 2004 at the age of 74 years. She now lives in Sydney.)
In Arney Street and within the frame work of Primrose Hill there was Mrs John Craig who played the piano superbly. I always asked her to play "Claire de Lune" and the "Girl with the Flaxen Hair". Near her lived Mr and Mrs Aitken and their daughter Julie, then Mr and Mrs Pascoe.
Noel Thomas' sister, Kay, expressed a desire to hold her 60th birthday on Primrose Hill. During the war they planted turnips on Primrose Hill as part of the war effort.
When I was six or seven Noel Thomas took me with other of our friends to a little playhouse in the roof of the bus depot. His father later sold all the buses to the Government. That's when we had free apples and milk in the schools with Micky Savage's Government.
I remember Barney, an Indian who used to clip the hedge in the domain. I loved the domain and all the lovely trees, especially the macrocarpa and Japanese maple. In my pre-school years I always cried if I did not get taken through the domain.
The McAuley twins, Bob and Jim, often walked through there with their father. Behind the domain lived Miss Keller and the Lanafears were nearby and also the saleyards. Off the lane behind the park that led to the fire station lived the Kibbles. Later on Noel Thomas' mother married Ernie Moore and lived near there.
The garden parties at the Vicarage given by Archdeacon Weadon and his family were a great highlight. The garden was a joy with the big blue bells and lovely blooms. I have fond memories of all the Weadon family. Once Father O'Meara and Father von Rotter from Waihi, came to a gathering in the hall and blessed us.
The Caledonian Society often met in the hall where I tasted haggis on Burn's Night, danced the reeled and heard Mrs Stevenson sing. Young pipers came from Te Aroha. Mrs Stevens, Alan's mother, used to sing. I think I sang there once or twice. My cousin Claire Fennell is a fine musician. She and Elvie Tilsley used to do highland dancing at the Paeroa shows.
Children's parties were held at Father's Hotel for Jocelyn's birthday. They had a house just behind the hotel where the parties were held. We each sang or recited a poem. My poem was Wordsworth's "Daffodils" and I still know it today. I even visited Wordsworth's cottage when in the United Kingdom.
A group of us used to frequent Waihi Beach in the summer. John (Jack) McLeod, who lived with his mother in Puke Road and used to write songs, Rene Lanafear, Marie Bethune and the Saunders girls, Valerie and Betty, Lorna Gallagher and Phil Fathers joined us sometimes.
Marie Bethune used to live near us in Victoria Street and a man used to have an office in the side portion of their house. Her father was George and I think he worked at the Criterion Hotel. Tooty Woods used to live there before the Bethunes. Jill Stewart lived down further on the main road to Waihi. Anne Shuttleworth lived further along, her dad was in the Army.
Pickford's Service Station was next to the Bank of New Zealand and further up Victoria Street was the police station. Opposite the homes of the policemen lived Milton Chamberlain and his mother Minnie. Mrs Gleghorn was a relative and at 80 years she was always flying around New Zealand in planes on holiday.
Milton lived over here in Australia. I did not meet him, but spoke to him a few times on the telephone. A few years ago now I heard he was burnt in a fire above the pet shop where he lived. His sister was Leah and she married Tommy Majury and there was an older brother, Max. I heard he was over here for Milton's funeral.
Leah and Tommy Majury lived in Puke Road and lived next door to my grandmother, Mrs Tom Rolton. The Hoars used to live there at one time and Douglas Dormer lived opposite.
While we are on Puke Road I will mention that when I was a child we often went to the Puke Wharf and sailed to Auckland on the boat called "Taniwha" (the same name as Taniwha soap). We used to see Chris Horn, who was one of the boat men. We would spend the night on the boat and arrive at Auckland in the morning. The trip was a great delight to me.
Back to Victoria Street there was Mrs Robinson and then Tommy Pye who was the manager of Marriotts' Grocery Store. The Pope's lived nearby. I went to school with Margaret and knew Laurie and Gilbert. Occasionally, Gilbert and a few of us cycled to the baths at Te Aroha. Gilbert died at a very young age . I took some flowers in to the Presbyterian Church when his body was there in his coffin just because we all knew one another. It was a sad time for their family.
We also cycled down Junction Road to pump out some Paeroa water. It was much better than the Te Aroha spring water.
Mr Day, the school headmaster, lived opposite the school. He was a really fine gentleman. Miss Paterson was my first teacher and then Miss Towers. Miss Rosser taught Standard One and then Miss Noble had Standard Two. A Captain Tippler from the Salvation Army used to come for Bible Class. I won 3d (3 cents) for reciting the beatitudes. Ross Harris taught Standard Three. He was born on the same day as the Titanic disaster, April 15, 1912. We all thought he was very good looking. Miss Tarrant taught Standard Four, Ray Cleary and Standard Five alternating with Standard Six each year with Mr Greenslade.
I knew the Cleary family well. Ray was married to Jess, who taught us cooking up at the Tech., which was quite away from the school. Mr Trebilcock taught the boys woodwork. (The Tech was on the site of the present Miller Avenue School).
I worked with Ray's brother, Bernie, at Wiseman's, the sports store conducted by experts in Auckland. I went out occasionally with his brother, Viv. and travelled to Australia with his sister Doreen. One of his brothers married one of the Poland girls.
I was in high school during the war years. At that time I had bouts of rheumatic heart and muscular rheumatism. My school chums were Patty McVeigh and Margaret Pope (with whom I went to Girl Guides after a short period in Brownies), Ruby Hing, Pat Handley, Norman Faber, Alex Currie, Joyce Person, the two Gerrand girls, Aroha and Marrion. Marion lives over here now in Tweeds Heads.
We communicate occasionally. I still keep in touch with Ruby Hing, Malcolm Boyes and his wife Stella and Noel Thomas who lives in Sydney.
My high school teachers were Miss Gwen Gilbert, for whom I had great fondness and taught us French; Miss Bowman, Miss Estall, who taught us the best music a school could ever teach (she was a vegetarian); Miss McFarland, who lived at the Criterion Hotel, taught us ancient history. Mr Calloway was the head teacher.
On the way to the haunted orchard lived Ginger Jenkins. Sometimes her mother, who was one of the Baker family, used to get so mad at her and chase her with a big stick. I could never believe that she could have been as naughty as all that. Her father had a birthmark on his face. The whole family were shortish people and think her father was called "Shorty" Jenkins.
Occasionally I took the Russell twins, Jean and Mary, to the haunted orchard. Tom Russell had a fish shop near Nevin's ice cream shop. They were Scottish and used to call it Hauchy Borchie. Once I took them for walk near the Railway Settlement where there was a big gully. When their mother moved to Ponsonby in Auckland, my mother and I used to have holidays with them in about 1943 when all the Americans were in Auckland.
Next to Russell's fish ship was a shop-front and behind it lived Miss Phipps. I used to gather a few children, usually the Russell twins and my cousin Oriole and visit Miss Phipps who played a small organ and we all sang hymns together.
Miss Cock was another single woman who surprised us all by marrying Mr Denton. Another surprise was when Miss Wilson married George Lakin, she had a haberdashery shop. I faintly remember another single woman who had the Bargain Stores near Wallace Supplies where Bill Dixon worked. I used to sing him a song when I was little and he would give me a piece of ice or a sweet.
Joyce Barraclough and her family lived in the street of the local swimming baths. I spent quite a lot of time at the baths and we had our school swimming carnivals there.
I remember the fairly large Midwood family who lived behind Milton Chamberlain's place. I used to go over there and we would all sing and pretend we were Judy Garland and other singers of the time—even Deanna Durbin.
At high school Beverly Bain and Pat Morgan were great friends and both of them died very early in their lives. I went to Pat's funeral and remember that the boys from the school were the pall bearers—Phil Pennell, Bruce Brown, Doug Martin. Some of boys started a misogynist club but as Doug Martin spoke to girls this was soon disbanded.
The Gregson family had a menswear store once owned by Mr Williams. They, like Gamble's store further along Normanby Road, had a system of giving change by wires. The money for the purchased item was put into a small round wooden box which was sent along a wire to the accounts department where the change would returned the same way. Muriel Sarjant worked for Mr Williams and possibly for Mr Gregson.
Another sad funeral was that of Mrs Hing, the mother of Rugby, Rose and Carter. The girls were dressed all in black. Following the Chinese custom, two sweets and two pennies were given to all who attended.
There were quite a few Yugoslavian people living in Paeroa: Martinovichs, Jurkovichs, Markovichs, Tomichs, and Kurtoviochs. There were quite a number involved in the fish shop near the cinema. Mrs Markovich was the midwife who brought me into the world. Most of them had been in New Zealand for many years. I think there had been some religious disagreement that originally forced them away their country probably in the 1920s or even earlier. History has repeated itself again recently in the same land.
The Handleys were a well known family in Paeroa. I remember one of the women having a diamond engagement ring that was in the shape of a question mark. I went to Audrey Handley's wedding with my father. Her frock was truly beautiful. Audrey's father told my Dad the cost of the occasion so he took me aside and advised me that when I married, I was to have a very quiet affair as they cost so much money. This advice has stuck with me all my life, thus my avoidance of the whole occasion.
I could go on reminiscing for some time. When I came back from overseas after my mother had died I worked for a short while for Bob Donovan, a solicitor, whose rooms were in Princes Street opposite the Post Office and then for the accountant, Mr Button.
Then I took off to Ardmore College to train to be a school teacher and taught on Waiheke Island and at Murray's Bay before returning to Australia where I had lived for two and half years before spending the same amount of time in the United Kingdom, mainly in London.
I've had a truly great life. You could write on my tombstone: "Thank you all very much I've had a truly great time here".