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Memories - What Are Memories

Updated: Mar 9, 2023

30 years – 40 years – or 80 years. Does it really matter? Mine only go back to 1933. That is when I first knew Birkenhead existed. As a very young teenager I had my first glimpse of a cow! And horror oh horror my first experience of an outside toilet. Years later when I married and came to Birkenhead to live I became quite proud of my own little outhouse. With sandsoap and elbow grease “One could eat off the floor” as my mother always said. And Oh! What a lovely vegetable garden we had. Why I can remember one cabbage weighing in at 25lbs. We gave that one away. I always kept a vase of flowers in the corner and woe betide any spider who thought to make a home there.

I wonder if there is another such as I. Where would there be another unfortunate bride, on the Sunday morning after her wedding to be seen standing in the middle of Highbury dressed in a glamorous Molleton dressing gown. My new husband decided at 6am to light the old coal range and make me a batch of scones. Oh well, if that’s the sort of thing new husband’s did then good luck to him. Unfortunately he set the chimney on fire. As we lived opposite the fire station (the original one at Highbury) off he went – hoping they would come quietly over and smother it in some way. Instead, off went the siren – bang open the doors and out shot the pride and joy of Birkenhead manned by one voluntary fireman. The others were soon on the spot though. Up on the roof they went and down the chimney went the hose. Glory what a mess. I, being a very new resident, and this you must remember was 7am on Sunday morning – thought all Birkenhead had turned out to see the fun. I am sure we were a topic of conversation for weeks to come.

No 11 Bus over the bank

Skip a few years to when we were living in Seddon Road, now Colonial Road. The times I cowered behind locked doors and windows when those great monsters, the Sugar Work’s Horses got out of their paddock and galloped past the house. How they towered over our 2 foot 6 inch picket fence. All was well when the man came to get them – they just trotted calmly back and I could breathe once more.

My next memory is of the bull which had wandered all the way from Takapuna and was shot right outside our gate. Do you know I can’t remember how they removed the carcass. I think I must have been out back being sick.

I can remember one occasion when I was ready with my old Brownie camera when the old No. 11 bus went over the bank. Poor old bus, everything happened to that one.

After I had managed to get my driver’s licence, which I did driving a large American car, I found it most difficult to turn in Hinemoa Street. Everytime I was down that way I would always go down to the wharf. Was my face red if the buses were there. “Here She Comes” would be the cry. Those drivers would then hop in and move their buses right over to the edge of the wharf to give me plenty of room to turn. What a nightmare to go to town on the vehicular ferry. I feel quite sure to this day the mate deliberately put me behind the funnel just to see me trying to get out. He would lean against the rail watching me make up my mind which way to turn the steering wheel to make the car go the way I wanted it to. Oh well, we all have our memories, some good, some bad.

- Kaye Bland


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