Tag Archives: memories

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!

2261.  The date palm

When little Yolande was helping he mother cook some scones she was allowed to eat one of the dates. The date still had the stone in it.

“Why don’t you plant it in the garden and see if it grows?” suggested Yolande’s mother. So Yolande did that. It didn’t take long before the date stone sprouted.

In fact it took only a few years before the date palm was taller than Yolande and she was now at high school.

When Yolande was sixteen she was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder. She died just before her seventeenth birthday.

The date palm is now huge, and being right next to the house, it is upending the house’s foundations. Yolande’s mother doesn’t have the heart to have it removed.

1989. Daughter memories

It was a tragedy when Diana and Mansell’s seven-year-old daughter, Destiny, died. It had been a medical mistake. Destiny had gone in “for a little operation” and the surgeon had left a sponge inside her when he sewed up. Destiny died.

Diana and Mansell were, of course, heart-broken.

“We have to sue the doctor,” declared Mansell. “We have to sue the hospital. We have to sue the Health Board. We have to sue…”

“I think we should remember little Destiny and the happy times,” said Diana. “To sue would simply extend our grieving forever.”

”It’s not the money,” said Mansell. “It’s the principle. We don’t want this happening again.”

“I think we can rest assured that it won’t happen again, whether we sue or not,” said Diana. “I would prefer to remember Destiny the happy way she was.”

But Mansell went on and on. He wouldn’t let the topic drop. Whenever Destiny’s name was mentioned he went on about the irresponsibility of the doctors and the nurses and the hospitals.

It was impossible for Diana to ever share memories of their daughter with her husband without a diatribe. It lasted a lifetime.

1556. Memories

It seemed like just an ordinary old photo. Granddaughter Natalie was showing it to her grandmother. Grandmother Lilianna had been born in Poland but had come to her new country with her parents and siblings when she was nine.

Which one are you? asked Natalie.

Lilianna had not seen the photograph before. Where did you find it?

It was with a pile of stuff in a box, said Natalie. What are the names of your brothers and sisters?

Lilianna pointed them out as she named them. There’s Franciszek and Filip. And there’s Zofia and Maria. You know great-aunt Maria. And I don’t know who that other little girl is. She must have been visiting at the time.

But, said Natalie, it’s written in Polish on the back. Daddy translated it for me. It says “Our six children”.

The photograph had taken Lilianna back to that terrible day. She knew who that fourth girl in the photograph was. It was her sister Dominika. Dominika was still alive and living not too far away. Dominika was ostracized. She had never been spoken about for decades. And now her photograph had emerged. It brought back extraordinary memories of… of…

Can I keep the photo? asked Lilianna.

Of course, said Natalie.

After Natalie left to go home, Lilianna threw the photograph into the fire.

1445. Graceful horses

Two horses were frolicking in the meadow. They were being watched by a vehicle parked near the side of the road. How graceful the horses were as they cavorted around!

“You’d think, considering their size,” said Rupert, “that they wouldn’t be able to stop in time before hitting the fence.”

“I wonder if they are exercising or playing a game,” said Anselm.

“It’s amazing!” said Rupert. “Such grace of movement! And how green the grass in the meadow! It’s idyllic!”

“It’s so lovely, so beautiful. I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life.”

“I wish we had horses like that at home,” said Rupert.

Anselm took a photograph, and then their spacecraft lifted off to begin the long journey back to their home planet. Such memories!

Poem 77: Now that summer’s over

Now that summer’s over
I’m a season older, and find
each summer season mines
less memories. It’s kind of sad
to think of times we had.
The heat-strewn days were glad when we
were children; so carefree,
chasing bees, climbing trees – the days
all melded in a haze
of ever-sunshine glaze. And yet…

It’s easy to forget
age casts far wider nets to catch
a varied vaster batch
of joys than those dispatched to girls
and boys. For in life’s twirl
of memory there swirls wise dreams
far deeper, so it seems,
than younger days we deem as fine.
Here, in my autumn time,
(I thank this God of mine) there calls
no need to live it all again.

Listen to the poem read aloud HERE!

(Based on the Vietnamese luc bat poetic form. For those who don’t know, I usually challenge myself with a weekly poem using a set poetic form each month).

680. Nora remembers


Nora didn’t have any photographs of her mother, but she had two vivid memories of her. Nora’s mother had died when Nora was quite young.

One memory was of her mother poking her head around the doorway and saying “Peekaboo! Peekaboo! I see you!” The other memory was when Nora had tripped over. She looked up at her mother and her mother said “Whoopsie-daisy!” Nora remembered her mother’s eyes. She could see the colour of her hair; the style of her hair. She could see her smile; every inch of her face. She couldn’t remember what her mother was wearing, but her face was an indelible image forever etched in Nora’s memory.

And then… how exciting! One of Nora’s older brothers found a box of old photographs; a good half a dozen black and white photographs of Nora’s mother. There she is at the beach! There she is cooking on the camp fire! There she is… All were taken before Nora’s time. Nora didn’t know her then, of course.

But now something had happened. The photographs had replaced Nora’s memory. For the life of her, she couldn’t remember what her mother looked like.

615. Old Mrs Greville

© Bruce Goodman 17 June 2015


Old Mrs Greville leaned over her garden gate and surveyed the street. She was eighty-four and had lived in the same house for sixty-two years. The street hadn’t changed much. Some hedges had come and gone. New owners had planted others.

Three children; nine grandchildren. That was satisfying. Her husband had died now nigh on thirteen years. And the garden here! Goodness! She had planted yellow climbing roses at the gate early in the marriage. Long gone, the roses. Long gone. But the pansies had wept a stint of sixty-two generations. They’d reverted to a common blue but each with different flecks of black. Year after year. Never the same. It used to be a cottage garden, but now it was too much work and quite overgrown.

Two dogs, three cats and a canary all buried in that garden. Pets. Little crosses had once marked the spots. Rotted away, the crosses, some time ago.

And the cook-outs. The fun! The kids playing ball and camping in the back garden in summer. Pretending to be in some great national park with bear and moose and chattering wolf, but with nothing scarier than a cat or a dog. And mumps and measles and chicken pox. Year after year of kids’ home works and sports games and girlfriends and boyfriends… And then their weddings celebrated in the garden…

And friends. Young Mr and Mrs Greville’s friends on the back porch. Calling and drinking and laughing on occasion, sometimes till almost the sun came up. Most passed now. Most long passed.

Old Mrs Greville left the gate and went into the house. She made a nice cup of tea.

The house was sold. Tomorrow she would move to the retirement home.