Oral interview with Margaret Bailey and Brian Hunter about family life, growing up and living in the Feilding area. Interviewed at the Coach House Museum in Feilding.
Summary of interview:
0.43 Born in Feilding, moved to 20 acre block, there for 7 years. Father worked in town, but needed extra income in the depression. Had a few cows. Several neighbours doing similar things.
4.24 Father went to work by car. When at school (1937-1940), he would drive her home and back at lunch (‘dinner’) time. Returned to town in 1940 after father died.
5.56 Large family? 2 brothers, one older, one younger. Memory of biking home, dive bombed by a magpie.
7.02 did not like riding down Kimbolton Road because of a swagger’s hut.
8.56 Comparison of town versus farmlet living? Memories vague, including of her father. When married, husband Graham 7 years older, so more memories of her father.
10.25 back in town was still very rural, uncle’s farm across the road. Neighbour’s horse trough outside her bedroom.
11.20 Outdoor life? Yes, but quite organized. Mother protective. Not allowed to river unsupervised. No father, so lots of chores. Conscious of lack of father.
13.07 Heard teacher saying, “But they haven’t got a dad at home”.
13.56 Uncle gave goose at Christmas, children had to pluck it. Many other chores.
14.56 gender division in chores? No. Wanted to do the same as the boys.
15.54 Mr Bryant over the back fence, wicker worker, made baskets, grew own willows.
17.03 Animals? Not many. Horse? No, not an option, and no friends with horses.
18.28 Memories of local hospital. Grandstand at Johnson Park (engineers housed there in the war, mother had telephone, unusual, soldiers used her phone, also ran Bedand breakfast for men’s wives and children.
20.25 How broad was your world, Palmerston North a big trip? Yes, although had car. Parents had 7 year courtship while saved to buy a house. Also had washing machine (described, Canadian, tub and wringer).
21.43 Mother had married sister in Palmerston North, the couple would go to Feilding at weekends to help them.
22.16 Did not travel far. Holidays with friends at Foxton Beach (very common for local families, but they only went for a couple of weeks). Other holidays with friends at Waitarere Beach, once to Tauranga. No overseas travel (even for her school riends, South Island was far).
25.21 Tramping holidays? Never, was a minority interest then, partly because few cars. Not much use of horses, even for school children. Lytton Street School had large catchment.
26.58 When at high school, Halcombe children came by train, always late. Boarders at her home, so she shared a bedroom with her mother until married. Mother on widow’s benefit, did not work (“not many mothers did at that stage”). Money was tight, so strange that, unlike most, they had car, phone, washing machine.
29.21 Memories of school? Good. Only 1 teacher she didn’t like, no difficulty with lessons. Academic ambitions? Enjoyed manual training classes (cooking and sewing), so wanted to teach these. University not an option. 4 years at high school, then worked in office of Hodder and Tolley’s mill for 2 years to save enough for teacher’s college.
31.49 Course offered in Dunedin. Accepted, with friend Colleen Smith. Went by train, overnight ferry, and all next day by train to Dunedin (a day and a half). Boarded at YWCA hostel, then second year in Christchurch, third year a preparationary year at 3 institutions in her area, 1 term in each. Actually got early registration, then to job in Hawkes Bay. Engaged just before left for Hawkes Bay and returned after a year.
36.03 What sort of cooking did you teach? Basic, things that could be done in a short time (scones, no time for meat). Trying to give enjoyment of cooking, different methods of cooking. Meals were boiled vegetables plus meat, followed by pudding.
39.28 Sewing? Basic, using sewing machines, following a pattern. Normal for women to make their own and children’s clothes.
41.28 His mother made his clothes.
41.33 Margaret’s 4 children did not have a bought garment until intermediate school. She made everything, sometimes by cutting down other clothing. It is what people did. Brian’s wife does that with woolens, using the wool to knit something else.
42.53 Needlework? Samplers. Covered in training, but did not teach.
43.31 No zips, so buttons. Early zips and elastic, quality not so good at first. Button holes made by hand. Treadle sewing machines, so no fancy stitches.
45.11 Made button holes when boarding in Dunedin.
46.11 Only teaching after first year was in night classes (Feilding High School, about 1955-60). Night school very active then.
47.16 What subjects taught at night school? She taught young mothers to make clothes for their children (could not afford to buy).
49.04 Brian – mother at home and taught them to cook, etc.. Later girls did not learn these things at home or at school.
49.50 Was adult education active then? Yes, very active, but functional, not career focused.
50.47 Brian – L J Wild and his wife pioneers of “learning for life”, Feilding a leader in this. Also literature, debating, etc., and Feilding Little Theatre. Union activity in learning (as in UK)? Not in Feilding, little union activity.
54.23 Perception of capitalist-worker distinction? Perhaps in the freezing works, but otherwise not.
55.31 Back to women’s experiences, different from men’s? Most women stayed at home once married. Men and women met through families or church.
57.01 Suggested to join Country Women’s Institute, but not welcome because lived near a town, but was allowed to be a judge for them. Few women joined sports clubs. Now with cars easier to do more things. Men also had limited range of opportunities. Generally a close knit community.
1.02.21 Many outsiders moving to the district? Nothing comes to mind. Attitude to Maori, Australians, England?
1.03.39 First contact with Maori children, just accepted, no difference, but came and went by bus, so less contact out of school.
1.05.07 Ancestry? Scottish links, maternal grandfather came out in 1879. Paternal grandfather born in Australia, parents from north of England. Parents referred to England as home. She has been to UK and met family there. Youngest son working there for 15 years, so several trips. Seen as “exceptionally” strange relative from other side of the world. Saw them as stuck in traditions, more varied experiences in NZ. 1 relative in farming, but very different there (tenant farmer).
1.13.20 Are your children nearby? 3 stayed in the Manawatu. Youngest in Wellington.
1.15.30 On the farm, growing own food? After marriage, grew everything except bananas. Overseas visitors amazed that everything in the meal was home-grown.
1.18.15 Advent of home freezer had big impact. Also did lots of preserving. Pantry shelves designed for preserving jars, jam jars.
1.20.27 Entertainment? Radio? When young, played cards and board games. Singing and music through church. Music lessons as a child, piano, very common then. Record players came in when a teenager. Sundays for sitting quietly. When young, Sunday afternoons visiting grandparents, but mainly adults talking to each other, children to be “seen and not heard”. By high school, family could take a drive into the country with boyfriend.
1.27.46 On Wednesdays boy borders allowed into town, so girls would go too and go to milk bar for milk shakes. All very innocent, but enjoyable. One occasion of teenage pregnancy, the girl went away for a while.
1.28.58 Began high school in 1945. At end of war everyone celebrated, school closed. Conga line went through a hotel, first time inside one, but just in and out.
1.30.34 Troops returning. An aunt had been a nurse overseas. Continued to work after marriage, but no children. An uncle came back, marriage failed. Was 13 when war ended, so not particularly significant for her.
1.33.29 Television? They got it in 1967, but Graham’s parents lived over the road and had a set, so their children could see it there. That generation of grandparents closer than earlier generation, but his parents did no babysitting, her mother came out from town for that. Used to go to country dances (through the Masonic Lodge) on a Saturday night when children were small.
1.37.49 Brian on Savage Club concerts and the origin of the Savage Club.
1.39.04 Margaret remembering Savage Club in a parade.
1.39.20 Types of dancing? Waltz, Foxtrot, etc., not Rock and Roll.
1.41.04 Brian on Masons, men only, low profile. Records now with the museum. Different views in the community on the value of the Masons. Roman Catholics not members and not in favour if Masons.
1.43.08 Attitude to alcohol then (6 o’clock swill)? As a Methodist, not in favour. Women would rarely drink. First time dined in a hotel was on her honeymoon. Tobacco very common, nearly all men smoked, but not women.
1.45.57 Friend’s father smoked a pipe while riding a bike. Fell off and damaged his mouth.
1.47.21 Was cinema important? Yes. Saturday night in Feilding. National anthem, newsreels, interval and then film.
1.48.58 Brian – before television, cinemas used to show rugby tests in the lunch hour a week or two after the game.
1.50.22 Any takeaway shops? Fish and chips. Department stores in Palmerston North had tea rooms, lace table cloths.
1.52.01 Cashier in Cobbs store in Feilding – spring-loaded mechanism taking money to cashier and change sent back.
1.53.07 Brian was a delivery boy at Cobbs when someone put spider in container sent to cashier. Description of other after-school jobs he’d had.
1.55.26 Margaret’s first job at Hodder and Tolley’s paid 35 shillings a week (about $240 in 2015 prices). Needed shoes, but 32 shillings and 6 pence. Mother would not let her get them until had more money.
1.57.26 Changed attitudes to saving and debt then and now.
1.59.05 New Zealand went from pounds to dollars and numerically prices doubled. Description of change and preparation for changes. Had to show both prices for some time. Easier after decimalization, also for other measures.
2.01.49 significance of mental arithmetic. Grandchildren and calculators.
2.06.22 Margaret wanted to buy 10 items, shop assistant could not work out cost of 10.
2.08.10 Discipline in schools? In standard 5 and 6, problem with boys, so put in one class and strapping was used. In her teaching, not such a problem because teaching practical skills.
2.11.04 Winding down, Brian describing conversations at Thursday morning smokos at the museum.