|Memories of candy floss : summer and winter shows in the 1950s|
HAMILTON PUBLIC LIBRARY
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAMME
YOUTH ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
INTERVIEW WITH : Fay Dwyer
INTERVIEWER : Sarah Smith
DATE : 10 October 1995
ABSTRACT BY : Sarah Smith
|Events of the 1950||Hamilton|
Click on a speaker icon to hear the interview.
|Tape 1 Side 1 ||Tape 1 Side 2 ||Tape 2 Side 1 |
Born in Garthowen Nursing Home, Hamilton on 20 February 1942. Grandfather first butcher in Victoria St. Mother worked for Batesons florists on Victoria St. Family first lived in Claudelands in state house allocated to father after WWII. One brother, two years younger than Fay. Father worked on the railway at Frankton. Family bought their first home in Maeroa when Fay was 10.
Remembers Claudelands as having only two shops- butcher and bread shop.
Grew up in low-class state housing area. Walked to Fairfield Primary School and Fairfield Methodist Church (Sunday School). Moved to Maeroa, caught bus to town to go and see the Saturday afternoon pictures, trips to the Lake, bus trips to Auckland to watch father play social cricket. Mentions shops on Forest Lake Rd.
Father had a large vegetable garden, fruit trees, kept chickens,
"We hated the spring when we used to have to count the spring onions into hundreds"
Used to go blackberry picking at Te Rapa Racecourse. Had bikes by the time they went to Maeroa Intermediate, previously walked to Sunday School at St. Lukes, Maeroa,
"My parents then got a car which was very exciting"
Discusses how boring it was having to sit in the car as her father taught her mother to drive.
Car opened up more travel opportunities but,
"We didn't have holidays in the car because my father's brothers and sisters were
in Auckland and New Plymouth...and we got the train, particularly when he worked on the railway, it was a cheaper fare"
Remembers her father as very strict,
"There was a lot of hidings, there was wooden spoons broken over our backsides
in the shed"
Mentions her mother was a wonderful cook but Fay was a fussy eater,
"You'd get a hiding if you didn't eat your dinner"
"If we told the odd lie, which wasn't a lie, it was really a fib about something, we
would get soap put in our mouths over the concrete tub"
Had a good relationship with her mother, but rather scared of her father. Tells story about brother rebelling against her father. Talks about religion,
"Religion wasn't made a very big thing of. There was grace on Sundays for meals,
but it wasn't the thing that dominated the house really, but discipline and respect of parents was"
Discusses domestic appliances, mother didn't have even a fridge for ages,
"When she got her first fridge and wringer washing machine, that was quite exciting. She was very sceptical about having them. Her sister, who lived in
Hamilton, was the first one to get a fridge because she won a little bit of money on the... Golden Kiwi (raffle)...which we all trouped over to see"
Discusses novelty of home made ice cream. Mentions having a radio, a treadle sewing machine on which her mother sewed both her and her brother's clothes. Discusses more about holidays, overnight train journeys. Family from Auckland came down to visit them too. Talks about food, typical meal - meat and three veges,
"There was always dessert 'cos my mother made puddings every night"
Pavlova considered a treat, home made ice cream on a Saturday. Got a birthday cake every year. Discusses Christmas food, roast chicken, pudding with money inside,
"So you ate yourself silly so you could get as many thruppences or sixpences as you could"
Lemonade considered a treat as only fizzy drink around.
Went to Fairfield and Forest Lake Primary Schools, good at essay writing and poetry. Tells how brother didn't like school. Discusses subjects, followed her writing through to be editor of school newspaper at Maeroa Intermediate. Learned piano; everyone had to involved in sports, didn't really enjoy it. Talks about school milk. Didn't enjoy having to change schools. Discusses Maeroa, newly opened and rather controversial as first Intermediate in Hamilton,
"There was absolutely no trees, it was a bare school. Now the first summer we went was so hot there would be kids fainting out in the ground. You had school
assemblies where you stood out in the sun and the kids would just faint and the
teacher would call out `Leave them there' and they just lay there till assembly
Mentions school uniform. Had outside assemblies nearly every day, rain or shine. Attended Hamilton Girls High School,
"My mother decided it would be nice to send me to an all-girls school so I could
grow up to be a lady"
Focused on short-hand, book keeping, typing, embroidery, cooking. Discusses teachers, mentions Miss Alice (headmistress).
After two years at Girls High Fay was sent to Brains Commercial College to concentrate on secretarial skills,
"I think it was just accepted that I would go into secretarial work because most girls did"
Left school at 16, walked straight into a job, earned five pounds a week as office junior at Hamilton Hardware,
"You had an initial interview...but when you got that interview, automatically you knew you were going into that job"
Gives details of job, enjoyed it. Mentions she used to write articles for children's newspaper pages in the Waikato Times and New Zealand Herald, so keen on writing.
Continues talking about newspaper contributions, and work,
"Five pound a week when I started work was to me an absolute goldmine"
Keen on clothes so spent a lot of money on material.
"I worked Friday nights `til nine and didn't think anything of biking home at 9 o'clock. Girls did then...it would never ever occur to you that somebody
would jump out and assault you"
Discusses work conditions,
"The bosses weren't friends .... they were Mr, and you looked up to them, and the junior took their cup of tea and their two biscuits on the silver into their office everyday"
Mentions a work uniform at Odlins (formerly Hamilton Hardware),
"Mini skirts came in and some of the girls .... wanted them shorter. There was quite a debate with the bosses about the length of these ..... uniforms, that the hems were taken up because if you bent over the bosses would see your knees or a bit further up"
Mentions bosses, Mrs Maureen Black, Mrs Knowles. Recalls the odd social occasion organised by the firm, held at the Lake Kiosk, romances with male colleagues,
"There would be a bit of talking to them in the storeroom and some of us dated the odd ones, which was looked at with great speculation to see what was going to happen"
Discusses unusual overhead cash system,
"So if you were extra friendly with any of the guys or wanted a bit of fun, we used to sometimes put a little note in them"
Was promoted to cashier after 4 or 5 years. Transferred to Frankton branch just after getting married, secretary to the boss.
"Because my parents didn't have a car for quite a few years it never occurred to my brother or I to even want to learn"
Didn't learn to drive until after she was married.
"It was all a bit secretive. My mother would read my brother and I a book, every two or three nights she'd get this book out to read, and it was always about the chooks or the cows, and it never really got to the nitty-gritty, which I found a bit puzzling".
"I can remember my brother saying to me once did I know what a "French letter" was, and I looked at him very puzzled and said `what's that word?', and he said `oh you don't talk about it'. And that was as far as it got, I would never have asked my parents what it meant"
No sex education in school. Discusses getting her first period.
"You didn't tell anyone else .... and you didn't have a bath for 5 days".
"You didn't really talk about it with you girlfriends, they would sense that `oh Fay's not swimming this week' but you didn't talk about it"
Mentions getting her first bra.
Didn't have that much spare time as she was growing up, did jigsaws or listened to the radio at nights, enjoyed cross stitch, board games,
"You certainly didn't go out at night"
Entertained family and friends at home. Went out more as she got older, met a boy through church,
"But I was very strictly to the pictures and then home afterwards"
Chaperoned to teenager dances, friends around for tea, Saturday pictures, swimming in Hamilton Lake.
Recalls seeing `The Sound of Music', `The Student Prince'. Discusses James Dean and Elvis Presley.
Talks about Sunday afternoon request session on radio 1XH,
"So usually Sunday afternoons if we were home, it was the Sunday requests, much to my parents' disgust who hated it because it was all teenagers that wrote in asking for the music they wanted"
Mentions The Satellites dance band and the Starlight Ballroom, dances at Matangi and Whatawhata, caught the bus from Garden Place.
Talks about the `bodgies' and the `widgies', congregated near the Carlton theatre,
"And right across the road was the milkbar that the bodgies and widgies hung about at. But if you weren't involved in that crowd you only heard about them or used to see them whizzing down with their motorbikes"
Went steady with one boy from 16-20,
"But then when I was 20 and actually going to the dances with girlfriends, every now and again you'd be adventuresome enough to come home with a boy who had his parents car, and he would bring you home at midnight, and he would kiss you on the doorstep, and you went inside and he went home"
Talks about dances,
"You sat on one side [of the hall] and the boys sat on the other, and yes, if you were a good dancer you were fairly fortunate to dance all night ..... I would have the odd shy girl friend that I'd have to take along sometimes and I'd have to push her in a bit, otherwise you'd turn around to see where she was and she'd be out in the ladies room, everyone went out in the ladies room and had to do their hair a bit more if they didn't want to dance"
Discusses fashions worn at the dances. Very keen on rock and roll, tells story about this. Didn't spend too much money on clothes, mentions wearing hats.
Mentions the Dolly Varden milkshake bar; very first coffee bar was the Black and White Coffee Bar in Ward Street. Talks about picnics,
"The annual railway picnic that we went to the Mount on the train was the highlight of the year for a lot of people"
Very keen on reading, especially Enid Blyton. Mentions teenager idols - Elvis, Rock Hudson, Esther Williams. Recalls comics,
"Comics were frowned upon because they weren't things that were going to give you any knowledge"
"There was the New Zealand Truth but I didn't get to read that .... that wasn't one that was given to children to read because it used to have the odd murder ..... they used to have a page for divorces in the Truth .....so parents didn't really show their children the Truth, it might be put under the cushion"
Continues talking about newspapers - The Students Digest . Remembers Selwyn Toogood and "It's in the Bag", John Maybury. Fondly remembers the winter and summer shows,
"You had a hot dog and you had some candy floss, and boy that was something"
"It was quite a ritual on Saturdays that you starched your petticoat ..... and it dried absolutely stiff as a board. It wasn't very comfortable to wear but the fuller your skirt, I think the more the boys liked you"
Details how your stockings always ripped on the skirts,
"If you did have a date and you came home with a boy in a car and he kissed you goodnight at the gate, the petticoat was such a nuisance it was so big, and I can remember actually pulling it off and throwing it in the back seat. And that was a very adventuresome thing to do in those days"
Men always wore white shirts, ties and sports coats. Talks about her first pair of trousers,
"My mother heartily disapproved of them, let me wear them, but only when Dad was at work `cos he did not believe in women wearing pants"
Talks about wearing hats. Gives details about hair styles, not much make-up around. Mentions the advent of pantihose. Remembers bodgies as having longer hair,
"..... which was quite unusual because there was no way boys had long hair"
Mentions The Beatles.
First boyfriend at 16,
"Because he was reliable, and brought me home on the dot, and there was no hanky-panky etc, kiss here and there, they were quite happy for me to have him"
Broke up with him at 20,
"Though there wasn't sex involved, there is a fair amount of pressure after 4 years in one relationship ..... I can remember him saying to me one day that he was going to buy some French letters, and I was absolutely horrified"
Talks about sex and relationships
"You heard about the odd girl that unfortunately had an accident and had to get married of course"
Most of her friends married at about 21. 21st birthdays very important, gives details of party
"It was a big exciting thing your 21st"
Remembers visits by the Queen, and the Queen Mother. Recalls the Ranfurly Shield and parades down Victoria Street. Mentions that the family actually went to New Plymouth to see the Queen because she didn't come to Hamilton [the first time] due to the Tangiwai disaster.
"When she came to Hamilton she stayed in the Hamilton Hotel ..... and it had a little balcony out from it and she would go upstairs and stand out on that little balcony and we'd all stand below on Victoria Street and wave to the Queen, and the streets used to be crowded, absolutely crowded"
Remembers getting days off school for royal occasions. Mentions Frankton Tornado (1948), and flooding in Beerescourt. Remembers Hilda Ross but no interest in politics as a teenager,
"Parents didn't discuss with children, politics or their pay packets"
Doesn't believe race relations was an issue.
Remembers buses and the railway going through Victoria Street. Mentions Centreway tea rooms, school holiday treat - two scoops of potato, watery peas and a pie.
Mentions various shops - Caros, Milne and Choyce, Pollock and Milne, Woolworths, McKenzies.
Remembers Garden Place as a car park, bus stop and taxi stand.
Remembers having to go to State Advances to pay the rent.