2400. A country bumpkin

Happy Easter to the many who celebrate Easter!

By a happy circumstance this story, numbering 2400, is a nice round figure and occurs on Easter Day. Usually when a round figure arrives this blog deviates into some hitherto unexplored area. Hence, today I have boarded the Google Maps Bus and thought I’d show you photos of a few significant and insignificant places in my early life.

How time changes things! As you will see, memorial edifices have eluded me as there’s hardly a building in my past that is still standing. There is nowhere for adulating fans to erect a commemorative plaque apart from my birthplace.

1. Riverlea Private Hospital, 15 Helmore Street, Whanganui, New Zealand.

This is where I was born. Back then (1949) it was a private maternity hospital – presumably because that’s where the midwife lived. These days it looks like it is a private home. There was one amusing thing about getting to 15 Helmore Street in 1949. Mum and Dad were new to the city. It was 3 in the morning. They couldn’t find the street and had to stop and ask the milkman. Apparently the part the milkman played in my coming into this world was a bit of a joke in the pub my father ran.

2. Wakarara Road, Hawkes Bay.

This was the site of our house when Dad sold the hotel and bought a farm. I started going to school from this house. We would have to walk to the top of the hill on the right to catch the school bus as it passed.

3. Corner of Wakarara and Hardy Roads, Hawkes Bay.

Here at the top of the hill is where we waited for the school bus. There was no shelter so in the rain the school bus would come the extra half mile to our house. The teacher at our one-teacher school, Mr Allen, drove the bus.

4. Wakarara Road, Hawkes Bay.

There was never a building here but there was an old wooden gate obviously replaced by this one. It was while swinging on this gate that Sue Cullen (a year younger than me) told me that Father Christmas wasn’t true. A picturesque setting for dramatic news.

5. Wakarara Road, Hawkes Bay.

This is not far from where we lived. Back in those days it was a gravel road (unsealed, unpaved). By the little bridge (which back then was just a culvert) I skidded on my bike and fell off, and the car behind me stopped a fraction from my head. It was a blue Holden station wagon. The driver got a heck of a fright but from memory I didn’t seem to mind.

6. Springhill School, Wakarara Road, Hawkes Bay.

This is the site of my school. It no longer operates and the single old classroom has gone. The tennis court is the same, and that is where a nesting magpie chased me. Dad (a qualified plumber and chairman of the School Committee) put in the swimming pool the year we left the area (1960). There were usually around 20 pupils attending the school in any one year.

7. Main Road North, Waikanae.

In late 1960 we moved to a dairy farm hundreds of miles from our sheep and cattle farm. Here is a picture of where our house was. In fact my bedroom is now in the middle of the road!

8. Tongariro Street, Paraparaumu.

Here is a picture of where my new primary school used to be! The school has since moved and the land has been sold to a developer. These tennis courts are where Peter Lopez told me that Marilyn Munroe had been found dead IN THE NUDE!

9. Heretaunga Road, Trentham.

Here is a photo of the gates of my high school. The buildings (which you can’t see in the photo) are all new. Years later I was teaching there and germinated gum tree seeds in a little container on my window ledge. You can see in the photo one of the gum trees that sprouted. (It’s the big tree in the middle!)

10. Stanley Road, Te Popo.

Given the rurality of the pictures, you can probably see why I like living in the country. To conclude, here is a photo looking out my current window. I keep the binoculars on my desk, mainly to see if I can spy any edible field mushrooms!

32 thoughts on “2400. A country bumpkin

  1. umashankar

    The brief and rather fascinating glimpses of your worldly journey are endearing. It is amazing how we remember with crystalline clarity the moments, faces, and at time even voices, of people who broke momentous news and scandals to us. I have too, tried visiting the old places that have had a bearing on my existence and it’s furtherance, but have been grossly disappointed by the banality of their appearance as against the snippets ensconced in my memory. You are, therefore, much more fortunate than the average Joe!

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    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      Thanks, Matthew. The Maori have a word – Turangawaewae – which means sort of “the place where you stand”. It’s the place you identify as being yours – and I must admit that Springhill of my childhood is my Turangawaewae!

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  2. Badfinger (Max)

    Great scenery in every picture… love the pictures Bruce.
    Why did Sue Cullen lie to you? He is alive and well!
    Happy Easter…but I’m not sure if it’s already over with there or not.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      Yes – Easter is over, although there’s still some chocolate left. Years and years later, I was teaching in a distant part of the country (and on a different island) and a kid said “Mum says hi!” I asked who Mum was and it was Sue Cullen! Needless to say I got invited to dinner! Her father and my father would frequently meet over a whiskey – so of course we had to have a whiskey! Sue’s father was a Scotsman, was a qualified doctor, had given up medicine and had a huge farm way in the mountains. He never wore socks, and he put his false teeth in only for funerals!

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  3. Sarah Angleton

    Your number 7 reminds me of the song “Our House” by the band Madness. When I was young, I always pictured, “Our house, in the middle of the street,” as being a road running through the middle of the house rather than a house in the middle of the block, which would have made a lot more sense. I always thought that would be such a strange house to live in. Sorry that so many of the monuments to your childhood are gone. I’m always amazed when I go back to my hometown and there’s a new Starbucks or another gas station has gone out of business or whatever. How dare they change things up without telling me?

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