As my age grew, so to does my memories of events and people.
My first teacher at school was Miss Walters. She was old and cranky. Actually she was the same age as my mum but let me tell you, she seemed a fearsome old lady to me. She ran a tight ship of routines and discipline in room 1 at Port Ahuriri School. Miss Walters taught us the fundamentals of letters, numbers, music, art, science and sport. She had a little clothes line about 20cm long with mini clothes on it that changed colour if it was going to rain WOW!! She was magic!! Miss Walters also had a human side and I recall her inviting a group of girls to her home for afternoon tea.
I think it was Missy, Kim, Gaylene and I that got the invitations, we all got to wear or best dresses and shoes with our hair done proper. Miss Walters showed us around her garden before we went inside to have our refreshments. There was one stand-out item on the table that day – these tiny boat shapes pastries with a creamy filling and little silver balls on the top – the memory of which is with me today. I was fascinated by the shape, the filling, the flavour and the extravagance of silver on food. But more than that, I loved the sense of occasion, the specialness of the ‘event’….. I have a happy feeling all-over just thinking about it. Thank you Miss Walter.
Missy (Sonja Christensen) was one of my very early friends. We probably went to kindergarten together but I’m not sure. Missy lived down the hill from us in “The Gully” and it was her Nan that was everyones Nan. Nan & Pops house was where the ladies got together some mornings to talk and sew – probably because Nan had the biggest section for all the kids to play outside. But It was at Missys home along the street that we played as two. It was Missys Dad, Uncle Bub, that let us practice tying the laces on his boots, while he was napping in his chair. It was Missys Mum who spanked my bum and sent me home in disgrace after we were singing loudly on the front – WHAT – and I got another spanking when I got home – and had no idea why!!! I think I was about ten when I realised the song we were singing had ‘rude’ words in it!!.
Later when they moved up the hill and over the ridge I remember going for sleepovers. They had two dogs – a scruffy terrier called Cilla and a big dalmation with a band aid on its tail. Missys Mum, Aunty Pam, let us mess with food in the kitchen and bake things, all without recipes – we just mixed stuff and cooked it and ate it. Even the adults ate it – or at least pretended to. Aunty Pam sewed us matching winter nighties with lace trim that we so pretty, we twirled and whirled. Aunty Pam also babysat my brother Chris on somedays and he will have his own special memories of that.
It was with Missy that I performed my first ever criminal act. While walking to school we stole the dog bones that the butcher had delivered to one of the houses where I’m sure her Aunty lived. We carried that paper wrapped package of bones nearly all the way to school then realised they would need explaining – so we hid them under a tree. Problem solved. Except we then felt guilty because the dogs would go hungry – what to do? So we went and told the teacher what had happened…sort of….we actually changed the names of who had stolen the bones and hidden them. The people we blamed were always in trouble so our story was believed, they got in trouble and we were dispatched to collect the bones and return them to the rightful owner. It was such a long walk that after delivering the bones we returned to my house where my grandfather, Dee, gave us (the heroes) morning tea before driving us back to school in his car.
Missy was also my ballet partner for exams and she went on the dance around New Zealand and in New York. I was so proud of her although I don’t think I have ever told her that – I really should have because she was an amazing dancer and my friend.