Relocating and melding, his, hers, and soon to be ours, children together into a new family group was a serious challenge to face. To get the ball rolling, we installed a full size pool table in one of the two large lounges of our huge old fashioned house. All the teens and younger children, eagerly looked forward to our after dinner, pool battles, fighting hard out to team up and beat the dad of the house.
Colour televisions, a whole new world from black and white, had recently arrived in New Zealand but were hard to get your hands on, ‘scarce as hen’s teeth’ as the saying goes. Trying to get around the rationing, pre-ordering and long wait, we headed to the big city of Wellington to try our luck and found a shop that agreed to sell us one of their display, ‘Phillip’s K9’s’.
Our Saturday nights were a big family time together. All lined up in front of a roaring fire and the new colour telly, we loved being entertained with the live concerts featuring Dean Martin, Cilla Black and Abba, the big stars back then.
For our suppers the older two boys would go out to get takeaways and milkshakes for everyone. Onetime, we received a phonecall to say they were unable to get the car started. On going to check it out, we found they had crashed it and were stuck over the top of a large gutter.
The house was in need of major redecorating and with twelve foot stud rooms this was a major mission to be fitted into the evenings, after work. With the help of the bigger boys, wobbling around holding upside down brooms supporting massive gib boards on their tops, when relining the ceilings, the home handy man was able to replace all the old fashioned scrim and paper from the early 1900’s with the gib boards.
After a few heated discussions, and the coming down off his ladder to throw the ‘Reader’s Digest’ home handyman tip’s book into the fire, all the painting and re-papering was finished. The carpet man who came, reckoned he had never laid so many meters of carpet in a hallway before.
Shearing wool off sheep’s backs was really hard work and in the breaks we packed the kids up, to become ‘Kings of the Road’. The new husband, aware his own father had died young, had a bucket list of of all the places in the country he wanted to visit.
At first we used a car and caravan, to stay over in different areas and explore, but towing was too slow so we changed to a large transit van, installing extra seats in the back. For a bit of a laugh, I had it sign painted across the back, saying, ‘THE ALGIE BUNCH’, taking-off the kids telly program they loved, ‘THE BRADY BUNCH’. Often people recognizing the van from the sign writing, would approach us to recount the many, varying locations, they had spotted us at, previously.
We also kept up traveling with the two older boys who were still excelling in their wrestling competitions. Returning home late at night, on one of those trips with me driving, I took what I thought was a short cut, but discovered after driving all around in the countryside for ages we had done a full circle back to the original signpost.