NannyGranny’s Olden Days’ Beginnings 25

Nana had no other option but to leave the children on the farm with their Grand-parents and strike out on her own to find work. Jobs for women were far and few between in those days however she managed to get a live-in housekeeping position with a family, named Franklins. They lived way out in the country and allowed her to have one child, her littlest, Mona, my mother, with her.

That never worked out too well and she got another job as the live-in cook at the Hunterville hotel, sending my mother back to the Bainesse farm. Talking about this time in her life, Nana got very emotional again. By the time she had paid her board and sent money home for the children’s keep, it took her a whole month to save up enough to buy the bus ticket to visit them.

As soon as the children were older and my mother had turned thirteen and achieved her school leaving certificate, the family reunited in Palmerston North. Nana was now the manageress of the, Adams Bruce shop, where my mother also got a position.

Our school holidays in Christchurch were coming to an end and Nana decided, for a special treat, to take us three kids on a sight-seeing, bus trip. On the morning, Auntie Bonnie who woke up early to look after the shop, told me I could help myself to anything I wanted to wear from her wardrobe.

All spruced up in our ‘Sunday best’ and excited about getting to have a day out with Nana, the three of us rode the bus into the square, where the big church called the ‘Cathedral’ was. For our sight-seeing tour we changed buses and were soon leaving the city behind and climbing up into the foothills above Christchurch.

All along the way, our bus driver kept up talking, getting us passengers to crane and stretch our necks from side to side, as he pointed out all the sights to be seen.  We drove along the hilltops with glimpses of the harbour on the Lyttleton side and views out over Christchurch and the Canterbury plains, as Nana called the country bits, on the other. Our driver pulled the bus over at a large wooden sign, saying, ‘THE SIGN OF THE TAKAHE’. It had a painting of a large, red beaked, blue, bird on it.

Climbing down off the bus, we discovered we were parked in front of what looked like a real castle, but was really a fancy tearooms. Everyone filed in to enjoy afternoon tea refreshments. Nana had a pot of tea and treated us kids to fizzy and scrummy eats. Back on board, our bus driver carried on across the Port hills before weaving back down to Cathedral square.

Auntie Bonnie also took us on a last outing to the Christchurch, A and P show. In the sideshow part, we had a ride on the merry-go-round and ate pink sticky candy-floss. Exploring in a big hall full of displays of the latest gadgets, my sister and I, in separate rooms, were able to talk to each other with one of them. We also saw a box that was showing pictures on a screen much smaller than at the picture theatre.

On one of our last holiday days, the new Queen, Elizabeth the Second, who was visiting our country came to Christchuch. This was an important event for Nana, who loved the Royal Family, and she took us into town on the bus early in the morning.

The whole square in the middle of Christchurch and surrounding streets were jam packed with masses of people. Everyone was jostling to get the best spot to have a good gander when she came past. Nana asked the people in front of us, to let my sister and me go through to the very front. She told them we were all the way from Wellington, and they opened up a gap for us to stand in the front row.

The Queen came driving past, waving out to the crowds with nice white gloves, in a shiny black car that had no top on it. I thought how very young and pretty she looked. Going home on the bus, Nana told us she wanted to live to be one hundred years old, because if she did, the Queen would send her a telegram to congratulate her for being so clever.

And then it was the very last day and we had to say goodbye to Nana, Auntie Bonnie, and cousin Judy, and get on the Aeroplane for home. I was feeling very sad.