Sunday, February 17, 2008

Where I'm From .

Part 1 - Pre My Memory. (from letters, documents and photos )

A 4th and 5th generation Kiwi, I am from brave adventurous ancestors who crossed the seas in sailing ships called, "Strathmore;" "Euterpe;" "Fernglen;""Halcione"and "Harwood," between the years of 1859 and 1877. From UK places called Lambeth and Middlesex ( London ),Stockton On Tees, Kent, Hertfordshire,Hornchurch( Essex ),Foresthill and Milton - Under - Wychwood ( Oxford ).

They sought a better life, a new start, these hardy folk with surmanes; Taylor;Ireland; Humphrey; Wheeler; Caush; Chown; Burson; Eden; Mann. ( paternal ) Or Price ; Lound; Lister ( of antiseptic fame ); Fox; Waterson; Burt and Richleau.

More recently, I am from an Anglican Mother and a Brethren Father who compromised and married in the Presbyterian Church just as WW2 broke out. Both lived through Depression Years and felt the Napier earthquake in Feb 1931.

Where I'm From - Part 2 - My Memory.

I am from the white house with the green roof, a huge neat garden, high on the hill surrounded by lush paddocks and pockets of bush. 8 miles from town, down a long drive, with a bodyguard of Lombardy Poplars, across a poostick bridge, over the misnamed stream that fed the town reservoir.There was sheep, and chooks, cows and dogs; fields of mushrooms, patches of blackberries good for pies. A wool shed , cow shed, barn and crops.

With just one, 3 year older, strong willed sister,( but 9 cousins ) I am from a small happy family; hardworking, self sufficient, green fingered, education loving; where no punishment was needed or given to me. Self reliance, helping others - early habits taught me well.

From a Mother with very poor eyesight, headaches and car sickness, who loved to read and knit. Patient, kind, encouraging, who didn't drive till late in life, then not well and not further than the 8 mile town.

From a Father, who worked on a farm, then bought the part with our house and 50 acres, who loved sport, a harrier till nearly 70, a tennis player, a cabinet maker and woodworker and an incredible gardener.

I am from cherry red handknitted cardigans over navy school gyms, ( later green cardigans and blazers over grey gyms with brown stockings and brown brogues.) catching the red and cream Bedford school bus every day till I left home. 12 and a half years of school which I loved with a passion. Happy, successful years.
From fun and opportunities, high jump frames, tennis racquets, hulahoops, skipping ropes, basketball hoops/ goals, knuckle bones and piano lessons- walked to in school lunch hour. Coloured pencils, paints and crayons, dolls and prams and teasets. Board games, cards, radio serials and quizzes. Sunny Stories then Girl Magazine, pink Auckland Weekly and orange Freelance, daily Newspapers and lots of books; some too difficult for me, till later.

Strength and fitness from pushing those bike pedals the 8 miles back uphill from town or working in the shearing shed.Fun and laughter from picnics almost every summer weekend at black sand West Coast beaches, rivers or lakes. Flounder netting, games and swimming. Annual summer holidays in small cars pulling Dad made caravans and tents to every far flung corner of the North Island.From fancy dress balls in country halls to dances and Inglesides. My own box brownie camera with photo album from an early age. Collecting stamps and cards and keeping them in albums. ( still have them )

I am from a time of change.Wood range, windmill, meat safe, hand milked cows; changed with power poles to water pumps and electric appliances of all sorts.From a new black hand cranked semi automatic 13 party telephone line. Short, long, long - that's us - answer it!

Grace before meals, prayers before bed, Sunday School with new patent leather shoes, singing "Hear the pennies dropping, listen to them fall, every one for Jesus, he may have them all." Little verses to learn and stickers to keep in your book.( see photo )Later Bible class and Bible class teas followed by Church and twice, bible class camp at Easter, all good opportunities to be with friends and boys.

I am from a maternal widowed Nana, in the town 8 miles from us where 2 teachers boarded, who'd let me 'help' them. I stayed there often. A home with different things, books; a treadle Singer sewing machine, an Queen Anne Chocolate box full of buttons and old business docket books with carbon paper that I could fill out and draw in.The lav around the back corner of the house with a high rough caste ceiling and a very long pull chain.This Nana went many places with us.

I'm from my own small bedroom, sharing it with the sewing machine , with my own proper writing desk with drawers and shelves and secret places and cubby holes. With a small, before it's time, walk in wardrobe. With windows looking out to fruit trees and strawberry beds where possums cackle in the night and the moon shone on the concrete path to the outside loo. Fond memories, happiness and achievemnet were my early years. Where money gifts were saved for me from birth and I was encouraged to continue to save and bank my birthday money or money earned from the pet lambs I fed. The wool and dag man would come around and unroll a big wad of notes to pay the farmer( and me).We also got pocket money, but did lots of jobs, inside and out teaching us to help and work and be responsible.
I am from happy times where work was rewarded and life was mostly safe and fun.


kirsten said...

Fantastic Ali! I had those same Sunday School stickers! And I swear, the same Queen Anne chocolate box with buttons in it!

meggie said...

I love this post!! So many familiar things. So many similar events, activities, milestones, values.
Wonderfully well painted.

Unknown said...

Lovely memories, like a poem.

Thimbleanna said...

Oh Ali! It's beautiful. What fun to read. It is just fascinating to me how those ancestors in the UK spread out all over the world and we ended up so far away from each other. Many of your lines made me smile with things I forgot from my own story -- party lines! Who could forget those old phones! Resources were so scarce everyone had to share and now look at us -- people have their own line they carry around in their pocket! Thanks for posting your story!

molly said...

What a wonderful picture you've painted Ali! It's been many years since I read "What Katy Did,"but this made me think of it....Does this mean that when I rinse with Listerine it connects me to you?! So glad you did this...

julieQ said...

Thank you for sharing your memories of where you are from. A beautiful post! Almost can see the home and shearing shed, and hear the hum of the bicycle.

Mariajaan said...

What a lovely post. I was thinking long ago about the same type of exercise of love and identity and even on making a blog for my children with very detailed explanations...Your post inspired and encouraged me again! Thank you for sharing and setting such an example of appreciation.

Melinda said...

Wonderful! We had a button box too!! You wrote this so beautifully.

Mariajaan said...

Ahhh, and I forgot to tell you, that I am also a quilter. I keep a very low profile because I just started doing it. Nobody in my family has ever sewn anything, I have never attended any class, nothing. I just did it intuitively, and still do it after many,many years all by hand. Needless to say I take no measurements and it always generates surprising results, like magic! My most consistent line, so to say is to use my children outgrown clothes, those very favourite pieces that I cannot give away and I make the blankets with them. I have also tried recreating few of their drawings, but that is terribly difficult. I have also done it on wood, by painting their hand made figures. The memories then last this way forever. Maybe I will take some pictures and upload them to our blog, but I still feel a little shy about these...Anyway! Loving your writing and recommending it to all my friends! MariaC.

molly said...

Lovely to reread this Ali....It was a fun one!