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A Nasty Four Letter Word - WORK

Updated: Mar 9, 2023

That little word work came to all of us at sometime, mine started at an early age when going to Birkdale Primary School. My dad being a market gardener found plenty for me to do after school. It may be making fruit cases in readiness for when the crops were harvested, chopping firewood as we had a wood range never forgetting to get the kindling wood. In the wintertime hot caps had to be made. They were made of 24” square waxed paper with two strips of the same, joined and then moulded over a steel mould to form a small cap like a dunce’s cap. In the summertime it would be chasing birds off the strawberries, picking, wiping, grading tomatoes and in the evening branding and nailing down the cases. At 9 PM dad would say “Time you were in bed”.

Sometimes coming home from school I would see the horse harnessed up to the spray barrel – this meant that I would have to hand pump while dad did the spraying, making sure that I kept the pressure up. My first job in the wide world was working for a grocer on the corner of Rugby and Hauraki Streets (Selwyn Brooks). Delivery was done by push bike and it was not funny taking a basket of groceries and a 70lb bag of sugar on the handle bars down the wharf hill to Mrs. McGillip.

I can still remember part of one customer’s weekly order- 6lbs sugar, 6lb flour, 1 pkt milk oaties, ½lb cheese and a packet of wheaten water biscuits. Being a grocer wasn’t for me. I wanted to get into the motor world, so off to the big city. Starting with a firm, McClymont’s Transport who ran nightly to Hamilton. My job was servicing the trucks, greasing, fueling and tyre checking. Most of this was done on the side of the road in The Strand in Parnell. The fueling was not a very easy job having to receive three or four 44 gallon drums of petrol that were dumped on the side of the road, stand them on end, and then fight my way into a small outbuilding. When fueling, out with a drum, then the mobile bowser, one hose into the drum, another into the truck then pump away, fill a glass bowl with one gallon of petrol and flip a lever. That bowl then empties into the truck and another one fills. When you have done this to several trucks, wet or fine, your arm feels it doesn’t belong to you. After 12 months of this, that steering wheel was beckoning me so that was when I started driving trucks and it has stuck with me ever since. They were happy days – no industrial strife, no unions to worry about, but a great bunch of guys. Then the war came and that finished McClymonts Transport, a sorry day.

- Glad Durham


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