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We were asked to bring any old lead or copper orbrass to school to help the war effort. Dad milked thecow in the paddock where the Auckland Rifle Clubhad their mounds for shooting from. On Saturday af-ternoon, while Dad milked the cow, I would collectthe cartridge cases. By the time we were asked to takethis metal to school I had seven one-hundred-weightboxes of .303 cases and I used to take one box toschool at a time on my trolley. Amongst the metal atschool was a lead fishing-sinker. I asked for it, andwas refused, as it was wanted for the war effort. Aweek later, I took some old lead wastes to school froma neighbour, and was told to put them in the shelter-shed with the lead, and that was when I got my sinker.
Fishing was always something I enjoyed doing, and Ihave been going to Doubtless Bay and Mangonui forfifty-six years, but in those days I used to fish off theMangere Bridge and Onehunga wharf, a walk of sixkilometres each way! We would catch kahawai in theAugust school holidays. If my father arranged a fish-ing trip for the freezing works social club on a Satur-day, we kids would go along too. My father wouldtake an ox liver , tie it on a light rope and poke holesin it, and hang it over the side of the boat. He couldnot leave it there too long, as it would bring sharksaround. He would pull it up and use it for bait., andboy did we get some schnapper.
In 1942, when the Americans came to New Zealand,they took over Waikaraka Park, covered it with tents,and that is where I saw a snake. It was a green grass-snake that had come in a load of canvas covers beingbrought in from the islands. A serviceman promptlykilled it with a stick. I used to take my trolley down tothe camp with a kid from down the road, whosemother used to do washing for the servicemen, and wewould return it a few nights later. The Americans al-ways looked after us with tips -quarter-dollars-hatbadges, pocket-knives, sheath-knives, candy chewinggum, and comics. When I started work I had threepairs of American overalls and three pairs of suedeboots, also a couple of Eversharp pencils and pens.We used to run errands for the Americans while theywere assembling the jeeps. They loved our ice-creamand our Chesdale cheese. We used to buy it in the bigboxes for them. I got six and a penny for an Americandollar. That is sixty-one cents; today an American dol-lar is worth two dollars seventeen!
We used to go to school barefooted, and take short-cuts through the paddocks.
On a frosty morning two of
The Avondale Historical Journal
Official Publication of the
Volume 2 Issue 9
my friends had chilblains. The farmer always kept acan of oil by the gate-post for the hinges, and the kidsused to put the oil on their toes to ease the pain. Itseemed to help. We found bare feet better than bootsin wet weather, because they dried quickly, whereasthe ones with boots sat all day with cold wet feet.
As an apprentice I was fortunate to be able to work-onmidget cars from Western Springs, also Philip Lewis'copper car and his 1924 and 1927 Sunbeams. I didvalve grinds on both of those cars.
When I was about four years old Mt Smart was amountain, not a stadium. From the east side It stilllooked like a mountain, although the west side hadbeen quarried for many years for ballast for the rail-ways. About 1935 they started on the east side and wewatched that mountain disappear, until today we haveEricson Stadium in its place. It was interesting theway the blasting was done. They would start at 7.30 inthe morning, drilling holes and putting the plugs of gelignite in, and at 10.00 a.m. they would start blast-ing - the signal for morning tea. The same procedurewas followed for lunch, afternoon tea and knock-off.These were the only times blasting was carried out, togive time for any delayed action shots to go off.When our family moved to Remuera at the end of 1944 we were near the Orakei Basin, and Dad hadbought me a ten-foot sailing dinghy. I soon found outabout the flounder in the Purewa Creek, beside theOrakei Basin. I took the mast out of my boat andfound that it could be rowed successfully, and afterabout a year I was able to buy a flounder net with themoney I had earned delivering groceries for the Self Help grocery chain, after school and during the holi-days. The net cost £10 and with Dad and my friendand his uncle, did we catch some flounder! I don'tthink the creek had ever been fished with a net before.We took hundreds of fish out of there over a period of nine years, and fed the neighbourhood every summer.(Not many fridges in those days!)Walking across the bridge at the bottom of OrakeiRoad I saw about six wheels off cars in the water.People used to steal the wheels to get the tyres, andthen dump the wheels. I spoke to a chappie at work whose father was a blacksmith, and asked if he could
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make me up a couple of grappling-hooks to get thosewheels, and afterwards I used the grappling-hooks asanchors for my net. We finished up with seven oreight wheels. I took them to work, where we cut the
Growing Up in the 1930s and 1940s (continued)Growing Up in the 1930s and 1940s (continued)Growing Up in the 1930s and 1940s (continued)Growing Up in the 1930s and 1940s (continued)
by Bruce Spencerby Bruce Spencerby Bruce Spencerby Bruce Spencer