Tuesday, August 23, 2016



Taken in May 1947 so I was 6½ and looking quite grown up.

There’s nothing much to report memorywise I’m afraid so I’ll just post a few photos, if I can find any, not many cameras were found in homes in those days.


The journalling reads:-

Although I was born during the second World War we three girls were always beautifully dressed. Mum made all of our clothes, including the hand stitched smocking, out of whatever material she could get hold of.  She hand knitted baby clothes and all of our woollen garments. We never seemed to be without a ribbon in our hair. We didn’t own a camera in those days but  there were photographers in the streets, parks & the Zoo, so I have lots of photos when I’m all dressed up but not a lot of candid shots.

29 Jan 1948 – the youngest and last addition to our family was born today, Sandra Mary Eleanor, the most gorgeous baby I had ever seen. I remember being woken up very early this morning with someone knocking on my bedroom window very loudly! It turned out to be our doctor come to tell us she’d been born and he couldn’t raise anyone when he knocked on the door! No telephone in our house as yet. Karin and I used to argue all the time about whose turn it was to feed her!


Journalling on this one reads:-

I didn’t get my first real doll until I was 7 years old. She came all the way from England after the war when my mother’s sister & her family came back to NZ after being stuck in England when war broke out. I loved my dolly dearly but oh boy did I covet that beautiful outfit my cousin’s doll had on! My sister sitting between us is holding my youngest sister who was 8 weeks old. March 1948.


Although the ball-point pen had been invented in 1938 I do remember still using nib pens & ink right upto at least 1948 at school, a bit like this one but not quite as flash! I also remember when we started to use ballpoint pens I was quite disgusted you couldn’t rub out your mistakes like you could with pencil! I’m sure I had my hair dipped in the inkwell more than once too….


Despite the fact that the long-playing record had a history that went back to the 1920s it wasn’t until 1947 they were finally perfected.

In 1947, Columbia (which did not have its own record player manufacturing facility) kept the LP a secret while they made a deal with the Philco Radio Company in Philadelphia to manufacture the new players necessary for the success of their new type of record. They saw that it was pointless to attempt to market the LP without a good collection of recordings so they assembled a library of recordings in the new format before releasing it to the public. Although all types of music were released as LPs, they were especially ideal for longer pieces of music, such as symphonies or operas.


Ours was similar to this one although Dad had built it in so it looked different, we weren’t to get it until I was a teenager so more of that later.

One last photo, not a good one, quite blurred but it is a candid one that I said I didn’t have many of, taken one day with our visiting cousins in our backyard, in front of our old Continental Beacon car. Starting at the front: my sister Karin, Bill, Me, Winsome, Bubbles & Marae. You can see the passionfruit vine climbing up the shed in the background, every summer it would cover the roof and be full of yummy purple fruit and the taste of summer, one of those tastes or smells that instantly reminds you of something in your past.



Saturday, February 6, 2016

1945 to 1946


1945, this was the year Mum must have decided to start having our Milestone photos taken every two years so there isn’t one this year!

Surprisingly, I do have a very clear memory of my first day at school although not exactly sure if it was in November on my birthday or the start of the new school year in February.  Mum left me at the door with the teacher and fled, she was probably having a little cry outside, or maybe a yahoo or two. I was quite overwhelmed and scared but I didn’t cry and was soon accepted into the fold and started looking forward to going each day. In those days the first two years were called The Primers (Primer 1-4) and the next four years were called The Standards (Standard 1-4).



Westmere Primary School (originally named Richmond West School) was a brick building built in 1914 and renamed in 1930, the primers were in a separate building which I think from memory was one of those prefabricated classrooms. 

The old school buildings were demolished in 1978 (the school hall still remains) and the current school was built to comply with the earthquake building code. This is the front of the old main building in the 1930s, I was later to move into the room front left with Mr Jennings as my teacher in the Standards.


Westmere School was in the next street parallel to where we lived and although in this map it shows there’s a Reserve with walkways between our two streets in those days that wasn’t there, it was just an overgrown mess we used to call ‘The Gully’, sometimes if we were running late for school we’d take a short cut but it wasn’t such a good idea, there was lots of cutty grass and all sorts of horrible insects & animals we thought were about to attack us!


* 42 Wellpark Ave
* Westmere Primary School

* Pasadena Intermediate School
* Western Springs Stadium/Speedway

westmeremap1950x450px'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZ Map 3505'

'Sir-George-Grey-Special-Co'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZ Map 7276'

This next photo was taken sometime in the 1950s, the shop is next door to the school, you can see the school gates and where the milk bottle crates sat all morning curdling in the hot sun, and the building in the far corner on the right was the ‘murder house’, I guess it was built the farthest away from the main building as they could get it because they didn’t want the pupils being upset by the screams! Believe me, going to the dental nurse in those days was a whole lot worse than it is today. For our first break, called ‘play time’, every child in the school was given half a pint (that was before metric) of milk that came in a glass bottle with a round cardboard lid that had a hole in it for the straw, usually by that time the cream on the top of the milk (only full cream milk back then) had gone hard in the sun and tasted horrid! I remember using the cardboard discs to make many a pom-pom for my dolls’ clothes. We were also given an apple each from a box where every apple was wrapped in it’s own tissue paper. school-gates

'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 580-946'

(New Zealand's First Labour Government introduced free milk for children at school in 1937 to improve the health and welfare of young Kiwis. In the midst of the Great Depression, it didn't hurt to find a steady demand for surplus milk either. For a time during the Second War War, school children even received an apple a day.

School milk meant better bone & teeth development, as well as a "meal" in the stomach at time when widespread economic deprivation caused by the Depression meant many kids did not get full nutrition at home.

Between 1937-67, school children received a half pint bottle of milk during their morning class sessions. In an era before widespread refrigeration, crates of milk boats were often stored in a small slatted shed raised off the ground in some shaded spot close to the school gates. At least that was the case at the primary school I attended in the last years of the programme. Boys in standard 6 would pile crates on a hand cart and deliver the milk to each classroom, later collecting crates of empties to be returned to the shed for later pick-up by the milkman.

School milk was not to everyone's taste, especially on warm, sunny days when unrefrigerated milk would warm and start to turn. The crown of cream on top of the bottle's contents could also be a bit off-putting as it clogged one's way into the liquid below. Website Reference: )

I’m fairly sure the apple a day continued on for a few years after the war because I didn’t start school until the end of the war and I remember getting the apples for quite a while.


'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, awns-19420513-23-3'


I became an avid reader and a recent memory flash back is of my favourite books at a young age, they were Mary Mouse by Enid Blyton, I loved those books and couldn’t get enough of them.


Events of 1946:-
Family benefit of £1 per week becomes universal.
Bank of New Zealand nationalised.
24 Nov: general election, won by Labour, Peter Fraser becomes Prime Minister.
20 Aug: Railway disaster in Manawatu Gorge.
Best Picture: The Best Years of Our Lives.
Top Song: Prisoner of Love by Perry Como.


Friday, January 8, 2016

April 1945



So we are up to 1945, I’m not quite 4 & a half in this one. I can only vaguely remember living, playing outside & sleeping before I went to school so there’s not much to tell before then except perhaps that I was looking forward to starting school, who knows. The above photo was taken the same day as this one with Grumps, she’s not smiling, doesn’t feel obliged to do what Mum is telling her and there’s me the proper little angel:-


This one is taken on Browns Bay Beach, also with Grumps along with Grandpa Courtney Parks & Dad in their Sunday best. Note she gets the bucket & spade and I get an old tin & stick!


Boy was she spoilt, I was invisible after she was born! I was just so jealous I guess, I remember trying very hard to please my mother so she would know I existed. She didn’t believe in filling us up with bread at meals like a lot of families did in those days but sometimes she just had to and would ask if we wanted white or brown bread, she was always drumming into us how much better brown bread was for us so I’d say brown bread thinking she would give us brown anyway and Karin said white and she got it! I was most put out because I wanted white too.

Taking the opportunity here to add a photo of each of my parents when they were babies:-


Gwendoline Eleanor Parks 1912-1983


Ronald Charles Whitney 1910-1966


Not sure of the date of this one but looks to be around about the same year, I had to clean this photo up as it had a very thick crayon mark right across it, I wonder who that was? Not me surely…

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

January 1944

Three years old, what do I remember? Absolutely nothing!
The next photograph in my Crichton d’Ora album, taken when I was 3 yrs 2 mths old.

By now my younger sister, Karin, was 17 mths old so I have lots of photographs of the two of us. This next one is probably the first of many I have that were taken at the Auckland Zoological Gardens. Because we lived only a 5 min walk away most of our relatives & friends came to visit us first then we would all walk to the Zoo.

With Mum (left) & her friend, this was before the end of the war, is that an Army uniform, possibly the WAACs.

In those days the main entrance to the Zoo was the top entrance in Old Mill Rd and just inside the gate is where the photographer would pounce and line everyone up sitting on the stone wall. In this old map of the Zoo, c1950, it shows the Old Mill Rd entrance on the right and it was those first few caged areas as you walked down the hill towards the main part of the Zoo that the Lions, Leopards or similar species were housed. Although the maps don’t say the Lions were there I’m about 99% sure that I remember seeing them there at some stage during those early years. I remember thinking I wouldn’t like to have lived in one of the houses that backed onto those caged areas!! Or maybe I’m just remembering a very fanciful imagination. 
(One memory I do have, although it would have been a few years after this, is that we used to hear the Lions etc roaring for their dinner every day and one day one of them managed to escape the Zoo and all hell was let loose! We were all warned over the radio to stay inside our homes until it was caught, eventually it was cornered in the garden of a house in Old Mill Road and shot with a tranquiliser gun (I think).)

The old Zoo entrance as it is today, well 2012, from Google Maps! 

Not quite as I remembered it but near enough! A shame they had to kill it though, grenades & sten guns are a bit over the top!

Well, I’ve digressed slightly from 1944 but if I don’t mention things as I remember them I might not remember them again!

At home in 42 Wellpark Ave, the buildings in the back are no longer there, there’s either a new house or an extension to the old one on this spot now. Some photos aren’t scanning very well but what can you expect when they’re as old as Methuselah?

Taken at Browns Bay where Mum’s parents lived, that’s grandpa Courtney Parks & Dad standing.

Me with a Kangaroo of all things! Little did I know that I had an Aussie grandfather, oh the ignominy of it, but that’s a story for another time. I think I was a bit younger than three in this photo.
Food rationing started in NZ in 1942 and by Oct 1943 we were up to the third issue of rationing books, they were printed in three different colours, to signify the three different age groups they were for: children six mths to 5 years, children 5 to 10, and everyone else. In this photo two women are examing their new ration book, it also shows the clothes fashions of the day.

Which brings me to another memory, again I would have been older than three as I had gone to the shops by myself to get a half loaf of bread for our next door neighbour Aunty Caddy, there was no sliced or wrapped bread in those days and not many choices of what sort of bread, white or brown and I don’t think it was even wholemeal, probably white was coloured with treacle or similar. On my way home I gradually ate most of the soft stuff so there was just the hard outside crust left and my excuse was that I hadn’t noticed I’d dropped it and when I went back to get it the birds had eaten it all! Oh dear, the things we remember!

Events of 1943:-
New Zealand troops take part in the invasion of Italy.
Eleanor Roosevelt arrives in New Zealand for a visit.
NZ general election, Peter Fraser was still our Prime Minister.
The top song was Paper Doll by the Mills Brothers and the top Broadway musical Oklahoma.
The Academy Award winning movie was MGM's Mrs Miniver starring Greer Garson.
The Jitterbug was the dance of the 1940s.
George Harrison and Mick Jagger were born.
The Glenn Miller Orchestra provided the most popular music.
Stockings were very scarce so woman would colour their legs with gravy browning and draw a straight line down the back to make it look like a seam, that was before seamless stockings became available. I remember wearing seamed stockings (when I was older) and what a pain they were to keep the seam straight!
A woman's clothes essentials were a turban, the tied headscarf, a basic sensible military style suit and the sturdy wedge shoe.

Friday, August 1, 2014

12 November 1942

Two years old.


This photo taken on my second birthday is from my Crichton D’Ora photograph album. Although my hair was naturally curly I remember my mother wrapping long strips of old sheets around my hair at night to make the long curls even curlier. She also did all the smocking on my dress which she had made herself. I do remember going to the photo studio over the years but probably not this early.

Crichton D’Ora Photographic Studio was at 338 Karangahape Rd, upstairs. I went there to have my photo taken regularly up until I was 21 so I know they were in business from at least 1940 to 1861. They were a very popular photographic studio and I’m sure most of Auckland in those days have an album of theirs. I think mine must have been one of the earlier ones because after searching for them in Google I found there isn’t much information on them at all and the Photographer’s Database on the Auckland Library website has them listed as in business from at least 1943.

They were associated with Thea of the Auckland 1ZB Radio Station (Thea’s Sunbeams) at the time and she was the inaugurator of The Milestone Sessions.

milestone-album poem-page


The Milestone Album is dedicated to Thea’s memory so perhaps she had retired or died by then. I found her name mentioned in the newspapers regularly up until 1939 but nothing after that.

Apart from WWII nothing much worth mentioning happened in 1942 it seems. On the 12 June the first five ships of American troops from the 38th US Army Division land in Auckland & the filming of "Casablanca" with Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart, is finished. Peter Fraser was our Prime Minister. The Top Song from Oct 1942 to Jan 1943 was Bing Crosby’s White Christmas.  The ‘Zoot Suit’ was back in fashion and it became more acceptable for women to wear pants as they entered the workforce, and also for the first time, bathing suits for women came in two pieces as opposed to the more conservative one-piece suit. My sister, Karin Laraine, was born on 20 August.


With baby sister Karin, Dad and my mother’s parents, at Browns Bay.


And how about these classic Kiwi slang words from the 1940s:-

hangava, bobbydazzler, dag, pearler, stunner, ripsnorter, corker, jake, bonzer, rube, grouce, stinker, rumpty, dinkydie, wonky, batty, barmey, dotty, looney, dippy, skite, sheila, chutty.

Monday, December 9, 2013

November 1941

I came across this today, 72 years old and still going strong, it will outlast all of us I’m sure! Apparently I started off as a blond blue eyed babe, shame it didn’t stay that way!


A 30 Year Old Mystery Solved

Well, is my name Sherlock or what? I’ve had this photo forever it seems although it’s probably only since my mother died in 1983 when I inherited a lot of her candid photographs, most of them not named or dated!


As I mentioned yesterday, I had only recently found that my father was living at 8 Margaret St in Dec 1940 and sometime before I was 6 mths old we had moved to Grafton Rd. Over the years whenever I came across this photo I had thought it was of Grafton Rd because I had another one very similar that did have ‘Grafton Rd’ written on the back.

For some reason I’d really like to know where I was living when I was born, I don’t know why. So today I spent all day pouring over hundreds of photographs in the Sir George Grey Special Collections on the Auckland Libraries website looking for anything that compared with the above photo, no luck at all. Until all of a sudden as I was looking at it through a magnifying glass I spied two words on a sign on the building on the extreme right with the row of six windows – it said ‘Suffolk Hotel’.

Hello Google and Wikipedia!

  • 1865-68 The Suffolk Hotel (now the Cavalier Tavern) is built on College Hill.

Lo and behold I found a few photos of the Suffolk Hotel, this one was taken about 1895:-

suffolk-hotel-blog 'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 7-A4941'

If you compare the top six windows in this photo with my photo you’ll see they are the same, there’s a shorter distance between the first two windows than the rest of them and the last window is not as high as the other five, the same in both photos. And this one taken on 25 Mar 1904:-

suffolk-hotel-25-3-1904 'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1-W1106’

In this one the hotel is obscured by the trees but you can see that it’s on College Hill Road as you come down the hill from the Three Lamps Corner at Ponsonby. When I saw this I knew I was onto something, because back up the hill on the right just out of the picture is Margaret St. Thanks to Google Maps I was able to finally work it out, I’m about 99% sure that my photo was taken from 8 Margaret St. This is the Hotel as it was in 2012 & the four houses next door:-cavalier-tavern-blog college-hill-blog

There is a service lane that runs up behind these houses but Google didn’t go up it so I could only get a photo of the back of the first house (far left):-


And finally a photo from Google taken from above that shows the back of the houses today, the left arrow points to 8 Margaret St and the right arrow to the Suffolk Hotel/Cavalier Tavern:-


This photo is probably a bit small for you to compare properly but although the houses have changed considerably you can see by the shape that the rooves on at least three of them haven’t changed much at all:-


So, at least now I know where the photo was taken and why it was in my mother or father’s possession, surely it must have been taken when they were living there? The one problem I have now is that the photo of me taken at 3 weeks with Dad outside the house I thought might be 8 Margaret St doesn’t look like it was that house after all! I was having another look at it today and found another view (in Google) that I hadn’t noticed yesterday, this one:-


This time it’s Mum with me, it’s definitely not the same house is it, I guess it could have been changed since 1940 but it still looks very old and to me it looks original, but then what would I know, I don’t even know where we were living when I was born!

My theory now is that they were living at 8 Margaret St before I was born but by the time this photo was taken they were in Grafton Rd and that the address the ballot gave for Dad in Dec 1940 was an old one that hadn’t been changed since he signed up. Or else it was just where Dad lived before they were married. There’s no-one left who would remember now so it’s just going to have to be one of those unanswered questions or is it? I still have the house in Grafton Rd to find a photo of, that would be like looking for a needle in a haystack, but hey stranger things have happened!

  • I noticed that my spell-checker was telling me that ‘rooves’ was wrong so I looked it up and found that more commonly today the word ‘roofs’ is used. Apparently ‘rooves’ is the archaic version, so be it, I’m archaic!