My husband started staying away at the shearing sheds for extended periods without returning. His shearing gang boss, who I knew, as he was also a member of the wrestling club, came into the shop to warn me that he was shacking up with one of their shedhands.
Responding to a phone call to come and pick him up, I emerged into a clearing, from the farm’s driveway to see the shearers awaiting their pickups, were all perched along the top of a fence. They looked kind of funny, as everyone was dressed alike in the traditional black singlets of shearers, reminding me of a row of black Magpies.
Among them, I was surprised to spot one of the wrestling fathers, I knew from the gym, who gave me a wave out. He was not a regular, only helping them finish the sheep, as he had his own shearing run.
I had recently heard from local gossip, that his wife had run off with someone else and left him to look after his children on his own. Bending over in my mini skirt to load gear into the car, I caught his eyes having a look.
The wrestling club purchased a state of the art wrestling mat, the only one in the country, to host a tournament with our local lads competing against a touring team from an American college in Oregon. Featherston’s old ‘Anzac’ hall, the venue for the big night was packed out. The whole town seemed to have turned out to watch their local wrestlers take on the ‘Yanks’. Fierce battles with both sides not wanting to give any ground ensued and I lined up to cheer our team on. My eldest boy was happy after managing to have a win.
The wrestling father whose wife had left town, kept catching my eye from the other side of the wrestling mat with a cheeky grin. His friendly good looks, and larger than life, outgoing manner, as he chatted away to everyone, sent my heart into a spin. It was a crazy attraction, I had never felt before.
After the supper, everyone pitched in with the hall cleanup. Just as I switched off the lights in the men’s loos, he came in behind me in the dark, and without a word, pressed me against the wall, pashing hard out. Worried others would come in and see, I broke it off, but both of us knew there would be another time and place.
I was completely besotted and had lost all ability for rational thought. Both of our wrestling boys were entered in a competition in Hamilton the next weekend and we decided to go along to support our team and get to know each other better.
The following night, while my husband was working out front in the shop, I heard a little tap tap on our back door. Opening it, I was shocked by the audacity but not surprised, to see him standing there grinning. He wanted me to meet up with him later. Knowing, I was attracted to him so madly, I agreed, and on a country road on the edge of town, on the front seat of his car we got carried away and went all the way.
During our weekend, chaperoning wrestling boys in a motel, and shouting loudly egging them on while sitting ringside, we were able to talk freely together. He was a great story teller with a good sense of humour and we shared lots of laughs and meals together, getting much closer. I gave him the nickname,’Baby Blue’, because each day he arrived from his motel all spruced up in a suit or black reefer jacket with a different blue shirt.
On the final night, I was disappointed, when he attended a get together for the team’s management without inviting me. Returning to the motels we were all staying in, miffed, I went to bed early. In the early morning hours, myself, my son and a couple of the other wrestling boys in my unit were woken by the sound of our unlocked sliding door crashing open.
It was him, after scaring me out of my wits, he was apologetic about not taking me out, hadn’t been ready to go public, and did I want to become exclusively his, with no paddling in other people’s pools, as he put it. I knew in my heart, I wanted so badly for this man to be my forever husband.
On my return to Featherston, I told the husband I knew about the shedhand girl and that I had met someone else. He moved out to live in a Hotel in Carterton, owned by the shearing gang boss, where the shedhand also stayed.
When my lease on the shop ran out, the council refused to renew it, wanting the section to build a new Supermarket on, they forced me to close up. With no more income from the shop, I was fortunate to be entitled to claim the new government, social welfare benefit, for women and children without husbands. This had freed lots of women from being stuck in abusive relationships because they were dependent on whatever money their husbands gave them.
With great reluctance, I sold my Paraparaumu beach house and purchased another one in Masterton, for myself and the children to live in. I also had a bit of a splurge on a big American car called a ‘Rambler’ I fancied, because it was roomy for the kids and pretty to look at.