|Teenage years in the Frankton railway settlement around 1950|
An interview with Ann Gibson
HAMILTON PUBLIC LIBRARY
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAMME
YOUTH ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
INTERVIEW WITH : Barbara Ann Gibson
INTERVIEWER : Jan Lindsay
DATE : 12 October 1995
ABSTRACT BY : Kayrn Kee
|Entertainment and Socialising|
Click on a speaker icon to hear the interview.
|Tape 1 Side 1 ||Tape 1 Side 2 |
Born 31 October, 1934 at the Campbell Johnstone. Quite a new hospital at the time. Jeanie, her mother, was a housewife. Second to youngest child in a family of four, three girls and one boy. Mother was patient. Father did the disciplining. Grandfather had a farm in the Waikato. Recalls grandfather visiting them. Lived in the railway settlement in Frankton. Remembers father going to work in the railways and the community there.
Recalls that dishes were the children's responsibility. Attended Frankton School. Remembers first teacher Miss Wolfe and Mr (Polly) Boyd - "nick" name. Recalls different incidents of disciplinary measures taken in school and at home.
Remembers fathers ambitions, work and his relationship to his family.
"He's a very artistic man, as you can see. That beautiful painting he gave me. It's written on the back with his best writing. I can see him now, turning that picture over, writing ever so slowly...that painting was for me. And he said, "I'm not giving you girls anything with a handle on, `cause that means work. I want you to remember me for my art"
Recalls getting a fridge.
"And when we got a fridge we thought we were rich. Really thought we were rich because we had a fridge...we really did think we were rich because we were one of the first people in the railway settlement to get a refrigerator. It was just so wonderful. We thought we were very Americanised, so to speak"
Mentions father washing the clothes in a copper. Remembers having a holiday in Tauranga with family. Remembers "children's" dances on Saturday/Friday nights at the Railway Institute Hall.
Went to Girls High, when it was Hamilton High School. In the first year of High School, there was the poliomyelitis scare. Mentions school being closed because of the polio scare and influence of parents during this time. Had to learn shorthand by correspondence. At fifteen, left school to pursue a career. Explains why she did not carry on with school. Mentions love of Shakespeare and classical music. Mentions having to write lines, of Shakespeare, for riding without a hat and eating ice cream up the main street of Hamilton.
Learnt Art with Ida Carey. Enjoyed art and music at Secondary School. Remembered the different kinds of treatment she received from teachers during her education. Mentions first job. Remembers feelings of schooling and life. Reads poem: "Depression Children."
I was not aware of the difference with my small town roots
I believed all men were equal until I trod the path of growing up
It was painful to realise my family were poor
We had a fridge. I thought we were rich.
We did not have the social graces
Nor the sense to realise we're not regarded with favour
To be invited to the Annual High School dance.
My skin was white. Was there a difference from my brown skinned friends?
I learned I must neither speak out for nor against
We mixed and matched to our father's occupations
My eyes widened as I viewed the world for what it was
I have nothing to offer, though I look quite good
Pair of solid pins to hold a proud head.
I could never express the love I felt for my caring parents
They wore cardboard in their shoes to give greenhide leather on our growing feet.
I'm older now, though sometimes wiser
I see my fathers crippled body and wonder if he resented rearing us
Walking off a farm he loved to join an occupation he worked and hated.
His two pound two and tuppence collected each week
To keep his cherished brood
Not born a public servant, fortunate to have a job at all.
I wonder if he thinks about the gentleman in the well cut suit
Who talked him into buying worthless shares at Moke Creek
My father never was a gambling man nor a greedy man
His thoughts were for helping us with his modest means
I hope the Aussie bloke sleeps well, with peace, we bear no grudge
Dad had his first flight in his life to check his bona fides
"It's okay" he said to mother, "He would not cheat on smaller folk."
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
Now my folk see things they want to see and hear the things they want to hear
God bless them for their gentleness.
In the twilight of their lives they debate politics to stimulate lonely minds
Perhaps it medicates the pain of failure I sense they feel they've been
Sometimes I'm a traitor to their cause for I have thoughts that contradict
They're quite sure New Zealand is heading for another deep depression
Though, I've been brain washed through my childhood years
I hope I'll prove them wrong.
Relates religious attitudes in Frankton community. Mentions division between Catholics and Protestants.
"And I used to swing on the garden gate and yell out, "Catholic dogs dead night frogs on a Sunday morning." and they'd say very rude things back"
Recalls the friends she was allowed to have.
Relates how she applied for and got her first job at the Herd Improvement as a receptionist after over hearing a conversation on a bus. Describes how parents reacted to this news.
Remembers going skating when it was first in Hamilton.
Remembers incidents about the appropriateness of dress and make-up at work and at home: Mentions words such as: sun frock, slacks, peasant dress and top, pedal pushers, shorts.
Remembers that they were encouraged to participate in social activities at work. Recalls artificial breeding programme at the Herd Improvement.
Recalls when a friend went into hospital for appendicitis and being told by someone else that she had had an abortion.
Mentions going to dances at the Y.M.C.A., not the Frankton Town Hall where the older crowd went.
"The boys that I met were usually quite innocent, but there were some that you'd say, "Look don't. He belongs to the Wandering Hands Society. Stay away from him"
Relates the relationship that she and other friends had with their boyfriends.
"Sex wasn't a priority. We were too busy having fun. Perhaps we were very young in our minds but that wasn't a ...they say it happens naturally but I must have been awfully young in my mind and so was Allan. Nothing went on"
Was sixteen when parents were happy for her to have a regular boyfriend. Talks about her boyfriends. Went out with Mr New Zealand 1954.
Discovered Starlight ballroom. Remembers the influence of Rock `n' Roll in Hamilton. Describes the people, music and fashion.
"The adults thought it was haywire because Rock `n' Roll was...only the racy people did that, but all the young kids were dying to learn Rock `n' Roll, instead of dancing the three step polonaise they used to call it the three step mayonnaise and anybody that could Rock `n' Roll was really socially acceptable. I mean it was just change. And then I met Steve, my husband now, and I remember seeing him with his "Drake cut" haircut and his Drainpipe trousers. And he looked wonderful. It was all new, you see, new blood into Hamilton"
Mentions the Pigeon's Coffee House. Recalls the mode of transport being the motorbike, cars and buses.
"But I decided after a while that it wasn't really nice being called a pillion pussy. They used to be called milk bar cowboys with their pillion pussy's and I found that not quite nice. So I decided I wouldn't ride on the back of my boyfriends motorbike and I'd only go out with him if he could borrow his mother's car, his father's car which was a little Series E Morris Minor"
Mentions an incident of class distinction with her 21st Birthday.
Obtained her Drivers Licence after she was married.
"When you look at the Massey street area now and see the traffic, you realise...where has fifty years gone? It's such... We've seen so many changes our age group, we really have, a lot of changes"