Out of the convent and into the fire….

When I returned home after a two day journey, I arrived in Auckland on a Friday morning to be met by Mum at the station. Her first comment was that I would have to do something about my haircut – it was a short ragmop style. It needed to be short all over because of the head dress I had been wearing. The next bit of unwelcome news was that she was not coming home with me as she was booked on a weekend bus trip and would not be home until Sunday afternoon. I had to go home and look after Dad until she came home on Sunday. The problem with that was he did not want me there and told me so in no uncertain terms. I made it clear to him that as soon as Mum got home I would go to stay with Mary. His reply was a sarcastic remark “That’s right go and sponge off your sister, you will get nothing here”. It was the type of welcome I expected and had already made plans to go to Mary but had hoped for a bit more time with Mum first. As things worked out I went on to Hastings a couple of days later, I stayed with Mary on and off for the next 7 years between jobs and my own flat.

I had a variety of jobs from seasonal work like fruit picking and working at Watties cannery, to making mattresses at Townsends. I also worked as a third cook at Woodford House Girls College, where one day I was the only cook there and had to manage the meals alone. Luckily I was well used to cooking for large numbers and all went well.

At one stage I was housekeeper to four young girls in Napier, whose parents ran a pub there and did not want the girls living in those environs, so rented a house nearby and I lived in as a Nanny/housekeeper.

As time went on I did quite a lot of orchard work as I loved the outdoor work. This work ended when I had an accident with a 12 foot ladder I was moving round a very tall pear tree laden with fruit. The ladder started to tip into the tree and in trying to save it from damaging the fruit I tore the muscles in my side and was off work for three weeks. I could not go back to orchard work so ended up as a shop assistant in Woolworths.

I stayed with them until I met Frank who at that time lived and worked in Palmerston North and would travel to Hastings at weekends to visit me. After some time I decided to transfer to Palmerston Woolworths. Eventually we were married and settled there for about five years before moving back to Hastings – where this story ends.

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