Over the Christmas Holiday break, I went with my friends Judith and Jimeece to Lyall Bay beach to have swims and lay around sunning ourselves on the sand. Some young boys Jimeece knew got talking to us and invited us to go driving in their van.
When the driver stopped at a local park, suggesting we all go for a walk, I felt a bit windy, the others paired off and the last boy took my hand to lead me into the bushes. He said we should lay down on the grass, and then without another word climbed on top of me, squashing himself down, so I could hardly breathe.
I lay there thinking, what the heck was he was doing, as he rubbed himself up and down on me. Then suddenly he jumped up and said we should find the others. Another weird experience, I couldn’t understand and never told anyone about.
Judith, my friend since Intermediate days, who I spent most of my time at College with, was moving away with her family to Palmerston North. I was sad, missing her heaps and very lonely. Because all the girls at Wellington East had established their friendships and clicky buddies, it made it hard to break in and make new friends.
Wandering around alone at lunch-time, I came across, Joan another girl sitting alone and we got talking. She told me she was an ‘Open Brethren’ girl, like Kathy my Christchurch friend.
Joan and I got chummy and I visited at the tiny, quaint, old fashioned cottage, where she lived. It was up a very steep street, off Cambridge Terrace, at Courtenay Place and looked like it had been one of Wellington’s first houses.
Her family had the same idea as Aunt, they also kept their front room for special occasions. Joan’s special room had an organ they used on Sundays for family gatherings to sing church songs. I loved the sound of organ music and when Joan played a song for me it reminded me of the Church visits with Aunt and the home kids.
It felt nice at Joan’s house, I liked to visit them as often as mum would let me. Her upstairs bedroom had sloping ceilings and a window seat we sat on looking out over the rooftops and backyards of the city houses nearby.
Her mother was very kind and the other kids were cute, but I adored their little baby, even though it always looked a bit grubby. Joan’s job was to look after the baby after school and push it out for walks in an old cream, cane pram, with the hood up or down depending on the weather. On her visit to the dentist in the city, we couldn’t fit the baby in its pram into the lift to go up to the right floor. I was left to amuse it in the foyer downstairs, while Joan got her teeth fixed upstairs.
I was invited to go with Joan to their Saturday night, ‘Brethren’ youth group. On the day, mum and my sister were away visiting in the little blue car and I came up with the idea to raid mum’s wardrobe for something to wear. Trying on her long white woolen coat, I fancied, I thought it was a bit big. I decided to use my new sewing skills and take it in, sewing darts right up the back with big running stitches. Then I matched the coat with some of her high heeled shoes.
Tottering up to the tram stop, my first time in high heels, I found it actually very difficult to walk. At the tram stop, I noticed the Chemist shop man over the road, where I went to get mum’s Napro blonding emulsion, for her hair washes, staring out his front window at me. Thinking back now he must of thought, I looked a sight got up in mum’s gear. Joan’s mother however, never batted an eye, acting like it was quite usual for Joan’s teenage friends to turn up in overgrown adult clobber.
Downtown, inside the hall, coat and shoes shed, we joined a group of boys and girls enjoying all sorts of fun games and quizzes with a yummy supper. Afterwards, while Joan waited with me for my tram to come along, she told me, she was glad they were ‘Open Brethren’ and not, ‘Closed’, or she would never would have been allowed to be my friend. Back home, I quickly unpicked my makeshift sewing and got mum’s things back into the wardrobe before she appeared.
In the March, I turned fifteen and for the first time ever, I spoke up to mum and told her, I was going to leave school and start working. I was bored at School, the housework stuff had been my job for years. I was also fed up being poor and ‘making do’, like cutting up cardboard to put in my school shoes to cover the holes in the soles that still let the water in on rainy days. Wet cold feet all day was horrible. I wanted to earn some money to buy the things I needed.