close this book"That's when life really started to live" : move from country to town late 1930s - early 1940s
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"That's when life really started to live" : move from country

to town late 1930s - early 1940s

An Interview with Ida Smith




OH 0245


DATE : 16 August 1995

INTERVIEWED BY : Megan Peinell

ABSTRACT BY : Sarah Smith


Background Education
Employment Entertainment
Fashions Relationships
World War II

Click on a speaker icon to hear the interview.

Tape 1 Side 1
Tape 1 Side 2


Born 1922. Lived all around the Waikato as father was sharemilker, longest time spent in Te Pahu for two years. Te Pahu had one room school, two teachers. Four brothers, three sisters, "Fought like mad." Recalls a very strict childhood (very religious parents) and rebelling as teenager. Father on relief work during the Depression. Ida remembers Depression very clearly. Aged 10, no pocket money.


Te Pahu school. Melville school aged 10 then Hamilton West School.

Used to go out picking blackberries, "about five shillings for a golden syrup tin of blackberries." - pocket money for six months. Remembers spending money at Dolly Vardens, Victoria Street tea rooms. Sugar sack of peas for five shillings from the Chinaman's Glenview market gardens. Left school at fifteen from Te Pahu, recalls homemade hockey sticks from teatree.

Rode horse four miles to get mail Saturday mornings, a lot of fun up Pirongia Mountain with friends on horses. Chores before and after school. "Lots of fun" at school, country school, play ball, boys and girls hockey. Recalls Mr Marks headmaster.


Worked at Horsham Downs milking and general farm duties, " first break away from home." Not unusual to be a woman farmhand. "Came back into town and that's when life really started to live." Went to work at Waikato Hospital aged 17, personal maid of Matron Nancy. Made a lot of friends and " thoroughly enjoyed it."


Didn't go to the pictures, dances until 18 and met boyfriend. Remembers dances in Te Awamutu and Otorohanga, " No such thing as sleeping in, in those days." Believes she had a good teenage life once she left home. At home the only place the family went to was church, strict observance of the Sabbath. Religion was impacted on her, difficult to make transition from home to "real world". Not allowed to visit friend's houses while at home or have them visit. Enjoyed the freedom of the hospital hostel. Went to the pictures with siblings, saw mainly cowboy films with brothers. Saw "Hop-Along Cassidy", Gene Autrey. Brought records from Mr Gittos, corner of Ward and Victoria Streets.

Tape 1 Side 2


Talks about hand me down clothing, home made stockings and hats. Very "hat conscious". "Always went out in a long frock." Safe to walk at night, describes dances and bands they followed, "Sid Strange." Dates on pictures and dances, details about picnics.


Describes the loss of her boyfriend in a car accident and its affects. Describes relationships with her parents and friends. Stopped going to church after leaving home, Sundays became " getting over Saturday night." Highlight of career helping to bring a baby into the world, Otorohanga Nursing Home. Would've liked a nursing career but stopped by illness. Mentions country and western music.

World War II

Aged 20, not much influence on her, one brother away. Sent food parcels to brother in navy and knitted. Didn't travel as a teenager, shopped in Hamilton. Not aware of politics, little contact with Maori, but remembers being frightened by old Maori lady with moko, scared by swaggers by the roadside. Describes fully Hamilton shops and stores of the time. No ambition to travel, would have liked to play the piano and sing. Went to Women's Institute in the country. Recalls favourite school subjects.