My Nana made me laugh when she reckoned, I would soon be catching up to Elizabeth Taylor, with my many marriages, however Elizabeth was up to husband number five, and I had found my ‘keeper’ with husband number three. Like that saying goes, ‘you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find the handsome prince’.
The new husband’s oldest son took over the organizing of the shearing run, and his other three eldest, who had left school, and were also working with him, went flatting together in a house in Featherston.
Whenever the gang went to shear sheep at farms that never supplied the workers any food, I was sometimes called upon to fill in, by sending daily hampers, or if they were camping out for a few days, we provided meals from the kitchen at the shearer’s quarters.
A favorite past-time on days off, was attending the crowded weekly auctions, held in a massive second hand emporium, in the town part of our Church street. The husband knew a lot about old stuff and with a good eye for antiques, loved bidding to get us a bargain.
He won us a lovely wooden hutch dresser with a mirror across the top for our kitchen. A ginormous old fashioned wooden wardrobe that went together in three parts and just suited the period of our house. As well as a beautiful old piano in lovely condition, for me, because, I had always fancied learning to play. I discovered we had a music teacher lady, Joan Arther, living just up our street a bit and she agreed to take me on as a pupil.
To top off our bargain hunting trips, we always ate lunch at a Cafe in the main street, where the interior looked exactly like the one in the, Vincent Van Gogh paintings. It was run by a family that spoke only broken English, but served delicious meals. I loved a bit of everything and ordered their mixed grill, but for the husband it was nothing but a good steak.
My eldest daughter, who had been living with her father since getting into trouble with stealing, and had left school to work in a coffee shop in Wellington, decided to come home to live. Joining the others working in the shearing gang, she was notoriously hard to wake up, for the very early morning starts.
In desperation one morning, the husband who didn’t muck about when action was needed, picked her up, mattress and all, and dumped her on the floor. It was the last wake up call she ever needed, she was permanently cured.
Every morning when we got up for breakfast, the kids would rush to get the little white lolly bag on the breakfast bar, containing a chocolate fish for each of them. Before leaving for work at five am, their father walked to the dairy to buy his morning newspaper and their little treat.
Meanwhile, during every break in the shearing world calendar, we took to the road visiting new places far and wide, staying in motor camps all over the North Island. On one of our trips we took the little white poodle cross dog we had acquired. The husband, an avid reader of any book about cowboys and the wild west, especially ‘Zane Grey’ got the name for the dog, ‘Gringo’ from them, some connection with him being white, and the names use, for white people.
However, after ‘Gringo’ blotted his copy book, by secretly eating the kids chocolate Easter eggs, hidden under the van’s front seat, on an Easter trip, and getting us thrown out of one camp where dogs were not allowed, by running wild all over camp, his travels came to an end. He also was a very hard dog to train and liked to cock his leg on the bright flowers all over the hallway wallpaper, getting him a short shift outside when caught.
I decided I was going to have one more baby, to give our new little girl, named after her father, a companion to grow up with. I did have a niggle in the back of my brain that my age was getting on a bit, mid thirties, but decided to carry on trying hoping for the best.