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!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Adenoids, Ears & Tears

Of course I don’t remember anything about those first few years, but I think I must have cried a lot and my parents most probably rocked me to sleep because to this day I can still be comforted by rocking myself to sleep! I’m sure I did cry a lot because at the age of 13 weeks I was found to have abscesses in both ears and at the tender age of 16 weeks & 3 days I was given an anaesthetic and they removed my adenoids. It was to be another 9 weeks before I could keep my food down, during that time they were giving me castor oil and milk of magnesia, that would be the reason for the ‘green motions’ I guess! Poor Mum & Dad!
Just as I was starting to improve I started teething, by age six months I had two teeth and weighed 15 lbs 10ozs, that was about when they found I was allergic to spinach! I grew out of that allergy eventually, shame, I could do with an excuse not to have to eat it! Sometime before then we had moved to 75 Grafton Rd, Grafton which is now a busy business area on the way to the city, with a few of the old houses on the opposite side of the road, as you can see from this view driving down Grafton Rd.
I seem to be happy enough in this photo, ears and all! By 12 months I had 9 teeth and the castor oil had been swapped for cod liver oil! At 14 months I had 10 teeth and was starting to walk,  and once again I was treated for abscesses in both ears. On the 10 Apr 1942 I had 12 teeth and was 31 inches tall, weighing in at 26lbs 6ozs – and this is where my Plunket book ends. Four months later my first sister was born.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

And so I was

You know, in all the years I lived with my parents I never did find out where they were living when I was born! I was born on 12 November 1940, the first child of Ron & Gwen Whitney, in the St Clare Maternity Home in Williamson Ave, Grey Lynn.


I don’t have a photo of the old maternity home but with the compliments of Google this is where it used to be before it closed down in 1956, it’s now a fitness gym. On the corner of Williamson Ave & MacKelvie St.


This is my very first photo taken when I was three weeks old, outside the house we were living in at the time.


As I said I never knew where that was until recently when I found this little snippet in the newspaper dated 4 Dec 1940:-


This was the list of over 2000 names & addresses of the men who had been called up to serve their country in the second World War, my father was living at 8 Margaret St, Ponsonby. As this was just a month after I’d been born I presume I was living there also! I’ve been to Google Maps and had a look at 8 Margaret St and it looks to me as though it is still the same house with no alterations since then. However, I can’t really tell because of the overgrown garden and also the house next door has gone so it’s hard to say if it is the same house or not, what do you think?

8-Margaret-St,Ponsonby-hou2 8-Margaret-St,Ponsonby-hous

I think I need to go and look at it in person to compare properly.

When I was nine months old we moved to 42 Wellpark Ave where I spent the next 23 years of my life.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Blog Name

I was going to name this blog ‘Me’ as it’s going to be the continuing story of my life growing up in Auckland. So much has changed over the 73 years since I was born and as I love to reminisce about the ‘good old days’ to anyone who will listen it seemed like a good idea to blog it!

If nothing else I’m sure my grandchildren will get a good laugh from it in years to come. As one of them put it one day - ‘you’re old Nana’ – I’d better get on and do it before it’s too late.

As I go along I will include the happenings in the world during the years I’m talking about, like this one which happened a few months before I was born:-

* May 1940 – Nylon hosiery went on sale to the general public for the first time, it was a huge success: women lined up at stores across the country to obtain the precious goods. The first year on the market, DuPont sold 64 million pairs of stockings.

But from 1942 most nylon production went into parachutes and tents, so stockings were scarce during the war, we probably didn’t get them in NZ until long after the war finished.

The photos are of 42 Wellpark Ave when I was living there and how it looks today. #42 was the reverse image of the lovely old bay villa at #40 before Dad rebuilt & what he called ‘modernised’ it in the 1950s, totally ruining it!


One day I was playing around with the latitude & longitude of NZ & so was born the name I decided on,  –36,174 South.