The Avondale Historical Journal
Volume 11 Issue 63
and his family fared no better than any others. The motor in-dustry collapsed and so the family depended on support fromgrandparents and the money that his mother brought in fromteaching music. But there were always vegetables in thegarden and chooks in the yard so no one went hungry.
Dad went on to Mt Albert Grammar from primary school. Hedid not enjoy secondary school and remembers finding it adifficult time in his life. Both his siblings had gone on totertiary education but by the time it came to him, there was nomoney and he had to go to work.
He started at Motor Specialties Ltd in Anzac Ave; with Jack Johnson who had not long started the business. He was thebicycle delivery boy and remembers giving his mother a shil-ling a week for his board and the remaining amount he wasallowed to keep for himself. Not long after he started, theSecond World War broke out and he was eventually calledup. He went into training in the air force and then the armyand was on final leave six times but much to his great disap-pointment was never sent overseas. He never joined the RSAas he felt very strongly that he had not served overseas. How-ever he never missed an Anzac Day and went with Val eachyear as his father had served with the Australian Armed Ser-vices, in Europe.
He used to tell a story about being in camp in Rotorua in themiddle of winter and the sergeant asking "Who can play theviolin?" A few boys stepped forward but Ron always beingfairly quiet wasn't quite quick enough. "Right" says thesergeant "You men go and dig the latrines."
As he said, helearnt from that day never to volunteer for anything!
If you ever looked closely at his face, you would notice hehad no eyebrows - not that it ever bothered him although aschildren, we thought it highly amusing. He had managed toblow up a weather balloon in his face and was probably luckythat he didn't do himself more damage.
There were some great stories of escapades around NewZealand and those of you who will remember Hughie Francis,from Auckland Teachers College, will be able to have a clearimage of the two of them trying to get home one night to thecamp out of Waipapakauri, completely drunk, doubling eachother on a bike, but managing to fall off into the ditch morethan they actually rode the bike. Hughie was never small andDad was never big so he was pretty sore for a few days after,but he always roared with laughter when he told the story.
He had many girlfriends in those days, and there was alwaysa pile of photos of pretty girls at home in his photo albums,with “To my darling Ronnie, with love from....." signedacross the bottom of them all.
When the war was over he went back to Motor Specs andpicked up with his life, where he stayed until he retired 42years later. In 1947 he met Mum, who took him home toWhawharua, Otorohanga to meet the family. Val's father wasnot very impressed with this young whipper snapper fromAuckland - he didn't know one end of a cow from another,couldn't shear a sheep and worst of all, didn't know how todrink whiskey. The Rasmussen boys were good Danes - andif there is one thing a Dane can do, it’s drink. So on the an-nouncement of the engagement, the whiskey was brought out- there were a couple of uncles there from Halcombe thatnight, so the story goes, and of course they took great delightin completely annihilating this Townie and drank him underthe table - a fact that Dad was never allowed to forget - andhe never drank whiskey again and in fact hardly drank morethan the occasional beer. From then on, he stuck to his gingerbeer.
Mum used to tell the story about when they were driving upthe hill to the house for the first time, Dad asking her if theyhad electricity!!! She was highly offended ......Cockie meetsTownie took a bit of getting used to.
Mum and Dad got married in Otorohanga in December 1949and celebrated their 60th Wedding Anniversary last year.Dad’s parents subdivided their land in Roberton Rd, andMum and Dad built their house on what had been theWaygood pond and bomb shelter. They went on to develop abeautiful garden which gave both of them great pleasure alltheir lives. It supplied all their fruit and vegetables but morethan that, it was the great love of gardening that they bothenjoyed together. Until Dad moved to Everil Orr 18 monthsago he lived on the land he was born on, all his life.
In later years Dad would drive to Otorohanga each month tosee Val's parents as they could not travel. Mum pick him upfrom Anzac Ave at 5 'o'clock and he would then drivethrough the night, in a variety of uncomfortable old cars.
Dad was a great "fixer". He would fix anything from thetoaster, to the cars, to the kids bikes, blocked drains, theclothes line that was forever falling down, to tiles blowingoff the roof, the water pump at Piha - which he had made upfrom an old washing machine pump.
Every few years he would paint another side of the house - itwas always pale blue and each year he would buy a gallon tinof Dulux white paint and start adding blue until he thought hehad the colour right - eventually every side of the house wasa different colour, but unless you knew, you would neverhave noticed. He got it close enough!
One year he decided that he would dig out the clay from un-der the house and get some more room so he could put bothcars away. He got going and then all of a sudden none of thedoors in the house would close; then the windows wouldn'tclose and finally Mum put her foot down and said, no moredigging. The house is going to fall over.
The same year as he started the digging, he tried the newpaint that had just come out- acrylic. Unfortunately whoeverdeveloped the paint had not tested it on heart rimu which iswhat 1728 Great North Road was built out of. It failed andfailed badly. So he had to get it all off. The only way it wouldcome off was with a blow gun and so he set about burning itoff. Our neighbours were highly amused by this - ReneBrown over the back, commented to me one day, "He could-n't knock it down with the digging, so now he's trying to burnit down!"
It was good old enamel high gloss every time from then on.Painting the house went on forever and between paintingAvondale and painting Piha it probably seemed like it wenton forever to Dad too.
The years in Avondale with Mum, and us -- Sandra, Beryland Howard -- were good, happy years for Dad. His mother