Mum met her new boyfriend, Ivan, a Polish man, through her friend Iris, who was married to another ‘foreigner’ Anatoly, from Russia. During the war, Ivan had been walking down his hometown street in Poland when the Russians came and forced him to go to work for them.
At the end of the war, when the Americans arrived, handing out chocolates, they set everyone free. Ivan got to choose a country to go and live in, so he picked New Zealand. He now worked at the Railways’ workshops at Woburn in Lower Hutt and was living in a hut at their camp.
Mum took us in our little blue bug car to parties at Iris’s Petone house. They were full of other ‘foreigners’ as she called them, who talked flat out in languages us kids never understood and ate strange foods, I had never even heard of. They also drank plenty of stuff that got them arguing with each other a lot. Mum decided she needed to start going to Esperanto classes, a universal language supposed to help you understand other peoples languages.
Iris’s girl Shirley, about my age, and me, bored with all the adult goings on, asked to be allowed to go for a walk up the main street of Petone. Usually mum never let me go out at night but this time she agreed. We walked as far as the fish and chip shop, where, friends of Shirley’s were gossiping with a boy named Costa, who lived and worked at the shop.
Hanging around on the street having a good old gasbag, we were surprised when a large black, square car, with white walled tyres, pulled up to the kerb beside us. The male voice inside shouted out asking if any of us wanted to go for a ride. Shirley’s friend egged us on to pile into his car for a bit of fun, joyriding, and thinking he was somebody one of them knew I ckimbed in the back beside Shirley.
Our driver, a bit older than us, was friendly and we all chatted away as he headed out of town. Turning onto the highway, headed past Percy’s Reserve, I guessed he was going to do a loop and come full circle back to Petone.
Further on, past the road where mum used to do her driving lessons before dad left, he suddenly swerved the car off the main drag and up a dirt track into the hills. Now the mood in the car completely changed. Shirley piped up telling him to take us back home, NOW! but he paid no attention, just kept driving, deeper and higher into the hills. Everyone now silent, waited for his next move, feeling a wee bit scared.
The lights of the town twinkling away down below us, seemed a long, long, way from help. Coming to a halt in a clearing at the top, he turned around to us girls in the back and said, he wanted a ‘fuck’,(the word that I still didn’t know what it meant), He also said someone better ‘turn it up’ now, whatever that meant.
In my head, I was panicking, knowing I had better get back home real quick, or I would be in for it, from mum, real good! I was just about to say, I would do whatever it was he wanted, so we could get going again, when Shirley beat me to it. She screamed out in a big loud voice, he could go and get lost, no way was he fucking one of us. This really got him all riled up. Swearing and shouting, to get out of his car, right now! There was nothing for it but to do what he said.
Standing in the silent, pitch black, night, darkness, on the top of the hills we watched our enraged car driver, rev up his engine, do a big wheelie and roar off out of sight. After our eyes got adjusted, we began hoofing it back down the track to the Western Hutt road. It took hours to traipse along the miles of highway back to Petone.
Shirley and I were both relieved to see the house come into sight again. Mum had been hanging around waiting for me, so I got an ear bashing, but was grateful she never asked where we were. My dumb adventure gone wrong could stay a secret.