|Country childhood in 1950s|
HAMILTON PUBLIC LIBRARY
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAMME
YOUTH ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
INTERVIEW WITH : Norman Colin Keyte
DATE : 13 November 1995
INTERVIEWER : Joan Keiller
ABSTRACT BY : Joan Keiller
|Social Life||Local Issues|
|Courting and Marriage|
Click on a speaker icon to hear the interview.
|Tape 1 Side 1 ||Tape 1 Side 2 |
Born on 13 March 1941 at Hamilton. Lived in Te Mata most of childhood. Parents, Esma and Arthur Keyte, farmed near Hamilton and worked for the Ministry of Works also. In family of nine children, all worked at odd jobs to subsidise family income, all contributing. Extended family featured a lot in his life, including Church family.
First people in the District to have a radio. Recalls telephone - party line. Involved in social activities at church, in addition to local sports activities. Holidays were described - at beach or at a farm. Travelled by bus. "Lived off" family garden - worked at by each family member.
Frankton Primary - "not very pleasurable". Went to School Cadets Military training, at Papakura, while at Hamilton Technical College-Co-educational. Some time of schooling because of ill health. Recalls the good influence of a teacher, Mr Rhodes and Trevor Church, Headmaster at both Frankton School and Maeroa Intermediate.
Family particularly encouraged education - but "higher education" not considered a possibility.
First job as an apprentice plumber - apprenticeship for six (6) years. Describes working conditions as excellent. Continued working for Plumbers after coming out of apprenticeship. Plenty of work and workers.
Describes movie interest: "James Dean was good". Regular weekly attendance, "We dressed up for it" - Regent, Civic, State. Going to the late movies was quite something.
Recollects Rugby greats. "Ponty Reid, The half back, was my idol". Kirkpatrick, Fred Allen, George Scott, the Clarkes.
Read motorcycle magazines, comics.
"First pair of black jeans I had, I was just about run out of home!"
A bit much for Mother. Ivy League pants - pastel with coloured shirts, thick rubber soled shoes. Motorbike enthusiast - sported leather jacket: Didn't have to wear a crash helmet if travelled under 30 mph. Although most people wore them, metal roads encouraged this.
Enjoyed Rock `n' Roll music on radio.
First car bought in 60's - a 1948 12 hp Vauxhall - bought when he came out of his apprenticeship.
Licensed to drive at 15 - learnt on farm tractors and trucks. Actually learnt to drive on a 1927 half ton Chev truck- "experienced" when he had his driving test! All of family acquired their licences within twelve months of leaving school.
1958 moved to Hamilton, had board. Loved it - elaborates on this.
Recalls "the great to-do" when they built the new City Council buildings, the expense - that it would never be utilised - the rates would have to be doubled. Describes Alf Bridges, a councillor, "as blind as a bat". Recalls a story about a policeman holding Bridges up (been drinking) making him give details on a nearby building, which Bridges did. After was told that Bridges did the plastering on the building three weeks ago and knew what was written!
Recollected Mabel Howard - listened to her on the radio, starting "a storm" in Parliament. Also Hilda Ross, and her patriotic involvement.
Godparents lived in the King Country, designated a "Dry Area". Maori in Kawhia couldn't get alcohol so those living at Aotea could, so they'd visit and be involved in "quite a bit of sly-grogging. Police could never catch them." Policeman visiting a local house didn't recognise all these bottles turned upside down with just the base showing - forming an edge to the path, "until discovered when he pulled one out of he ground. Had gone past them past them often without recognising the situation." Parents had good relations with Maori people, as did their children.
Tuesday clearly farmers' day in town to do their "buying and selling". They lived fairly isolated lives - "Twenty miles out of town was fairly remote." No sealed roads, even major roads were not sealed until early 60's, perhaps late 50's. More influential families had big American cars, Dodges, Chryslers etc. - "they took the pounding on the metal roads". Recalls the long and dusty trip going to Raglan. Most travelling within the country - little overseas travel.
Met wife-to-be at a Sunday School picnic at Te Aroha.
Went to youth club dances at the local Church, Rugby Club dances, pictures. Dressed to go out always.
Parents of girlfriend said they had to wait until she was 20 before getting engaged. No questioning of this, a general tendency with his peers. "Would never have married without parental approval".
Difficulty with relating to girlfriend's wealthier parents - "had to prove myself". Social acceptance of unmarried bachelors (in particular) but less so for "unmarried spinsters".
"A year's wages paid for a section and a house was equivalent to 3 times the annual wage"