Wonderfully rendered recollections which resonate with so many of us. I don't think the Golden Weather ended, more like it retreated to our memories.
May I just put in a totally subjective and unscientific plug for the clumsy. My theory is that such minor disabilities, just like verbal non fluency or a certain amount of shyness, often lead to empathy and insight later in life. If things always come easy for us, then it leads to an unrealistic expectation of the same in others (and more often than not the Linked-In/Koru life). I am pleased you missed that tendon however, imagine a David Slack who couldn't type for us!
Well that was a lovely bit of writing.
Took me right away from the current chaos and worries and on to a lovely nostalgia trip. Thanks David.
My first time in a plane I’m with mum and my little sister, we’re going to Nanas in Gisborne, I don’t know it’s cos mums finally left dad, but we stop in Wellington first, I’m looking out the window as we come into land and I see all these little houses, “whose are all the doll houses?” I exclaim loudly and everyone around us laughs and the air hostess fills me and my little sister pockets up with lollies.
My never-ending childhood beach summers were spent at Waitarere Beach - farm boy and siblings find salt water, bluebottles, shelfish and the rusty wreck of the Hyrdabad. You’ve bought those memories to the surface for me, thanks David. Lovely story.
So neat to read and picture you as a kid and your family. Instantly brings back memories of a Sunday morning running to the front gate to bring the milk in, tripping up the front steps, smashed glass, milk everywhere, still have the scar under my chin! Flying unaccompanied to Whangarei to stay with richer cousins in their flash house in Kamo, endless games of draughts and dreaming of moves, having steak for dinner which we couldn't afford at home. Hundreds of bluebottles on the coast at Glinks Gully (Ripiro Beach) legendary tales of ambergris from whales and heaps of glass balls from the Japanese trawlers, scary trips down the beach to the lighthouse at Pouto, itchy bites from sea lice on the coast at the Akl Eastern beaches where we grew up. And later for me the wonderful smell and ad for Coppertone! Thanks for a wonderful start to the day, big sigh as I return to the realities of now.
"Memory filters out the grey days, so maybe what remains is too golden and generous, but memories are places you live too and they make a warm place to be." So true.
Orewa was where Uncle Ray and Auntie Bernice owned a Motel for a while. But before they were too busy with that to do anything else it was where I would be taken out fishing on Uncle Ray's boat with cousins Donald and Stewart. About 1972, it's also where and when I first learned about real grown up swearing. One morning the outboard motor spluttered and died after we had passed under the bridge and were heading out through the quite high surf on our way out for a day fishing. The the rapidly deployed emergency seagull motor then fell off into the sea as Ray was pulling madly on the rope to start it. By this time we had drifted close to the rocks north of the bridge, the front hatch came loose and started banging around the front of the deck. The last thing Uncle Ray screamed before he jumped off the back was "You kids get get in the cabin and some cunt close that fucking hatch!" A few seconds later the seagull came flying back out of the water onto the boat, followed by Ray dragging himself up the small ladder. Cousin Don meanwhile was lying under the hatchway pulling the hatch by its chain as we topped another wave and, when we hit the bottom, I watched as he floated up and broke his nose on the hatchway edge. Just as Uncle Ray got the main outboard started - he'd forgotten to turn the fuel tap on and the carburettor had run dry. No fish were caught by us that day.
Coromandel was Uncle Beam and Aunty Hilda's batch, even earlier - mid to late '60s. Just Beamish and I (little Ish) plus the dog and the 12-gauge in the dingy up the creeks among the mangroves. Sometimes we'd come home with a dead duck or two (and be spitting lead balls onto the saucer at dinner the next day or two) but more often Beam, Ish, and Dog would be duckless, soaked to the bones and covered head to foot in mud. Grinning ear to ear.
I can't remember any of the early '70s school student exchange trip to Kawawaka where I was boarded with another family for a week (or was it two) and felt utterly, completely miserable and homesick the entire time.
Oh, David! This is just what I needed today. A delightful wander down memory lane to the joys and dramas of childhood holidays. So sad for your lovely cousins, amused by the world but so few years for them to enjoy it. My first holiday away from my home in Dunedin was on a sheep farm in Waimumu near Gore, staying with family friends. I was seven. Fred the farmer invited me to join him on a "bunny hunt" the next morning, and I was beyond excited at the prospect of cuddling bunnies. Your imagination can provide the reality ...
It is unfair to make me cry on a beautiful Sunday morning. Also the Coppertone jingle is now stuck in my head: “Tan tan tan, get a Coppertone tan tan tan. Whatever kind of skin you’re in, red skin, white skin, yellow skin, brown, Coppertone makes you go browner”. Was a geeky kid myself with no clue about anything - thanks for this lovely piece xx
Kia ora David, What a beautiful, poignant story. It’s a lovely tribute to your generous aunt Adrienne and uncle Brian, and to your cousins, smiling Trish and Nicky who saw only 39 summers. Thinking of Charlie in his tinny on the Manukau, the last of his family of origin. And thinking of all the new stuff we’ve learned over the past two years as a result of covid. Not as much fun as lilos, curry, coke, surf, flying! What joy, despite breakages, blood and bandages!
Your beautiful writing nudged lots of joyful summer memories of beaches in Tai Tokerau Northland before they were Auckland satellite suburbs, with people long gone including my brother who knew too few summers.
Ngā mihi nui David. Enjoy your Sunday.
I'm stunned. That photo of you in the shallows looks the spitting image of me circa 1965. Except that I would have had my collar buttoned up, and it would have been Petone or Eastbourne not Orewa. You've brought back memories I didn't know existed.
Supplementary question. Did Aunty Adrienne's curry have sultanas and apples in it?
Gosh that was lovely. Thanks.
Thank you David, I have been pondering what your storytelling made me feel and I think it was a sense of hope and changed my thinking to what is worth striving for rather from feeling the despair of what I am fighting against, and the difference is powerful.
Man, this one resonated with me.
We used to drive through Orewa on our regular journey from rural Northland to Auckland to visit our city cousins.
As we came in through the satellite communities, someone would always say, apropos of nothing, "Hatfields Beach, that's where Rob Muldoon has his beach house."
I too carry an interesting scar on my wrist from a childhood accident. However, we lived in a very small rural village and a trip to the doctor was a long (and rare) journey, hence no stitches for me. Bandage it up and carry on. I quite like my big old white hypertrophic scar these days, but it does look like I've had a real go at self-harm at some point in my life.
And you guys had Coppertone? Ooooo! How Fancy! We had good old Rawleigh's sun lotion. We got some impressive sun-burns anyway. My brother and I took great enjoyment from sitting in the tent and peeling strips of dead skin off each other's back once it started to slough. How we are not both melanoma statistics, I have no idea.
I think I might have known your Uncle Brian – after all, how many Brians were there back in the day (I knew him in the late 1970s) who sold books to schools?
We camped at Waikanae. Bluebottles and so many crabs in the water you'd put a foot down and feel them scuttle away. Another foot. More crabs.