Holidaying with Grandad Hooper

I told you in a previous blog item (Nervous breakdown!!!) how I had to suddenly leave my Maungaturoto school in 1953 because of stress.  Well, mum and dad arranged for me to go to Whangarei Boys High School instead, but the school couldn’t take me until the start of the following term.  So, to keep me occupied until then, it was decided I would go on a holiday with my grandfather (mum’s father).

So, off we went in his little car, Grandad Hooper and me, a nearly seventy year old man and his eleven year old grandson.

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By the way, if you’re one of Grandad Dale’s grandchildren, then means that Grandad Hooper was your great-great-grandfather.  He was a very brave man, but I’ll tell you more about that in a later blog post.

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John (Jack) and Mary Hooper (Nell's parents, ~1950@)The picture on the right shows Grandad and Grandma Hooper a couple of years before the big trip.  Notice how his hair is white, just like mine is now.

I’m not certain how long we went for, but it was at least several weeks, and we drove all the way down to Wellington and back.  Along the way, we stayed with relations, most of whom I’d never met before.  It really was a lovely time for me, and must have helped me recover from the stressful situation I’d been in at Maungaturoto District High School.

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I don’t actually remember too much about the trip, but here are some of my memories.

We visited relations in Petone (a suburb of Wellington), and I remember sitting on the floor of their lounge playing a board game with their daughter, a lovely red-haired young woman.  She was my cousin, I think, and she was very kind to me.

At one stage of the journey we drove from Wellington to Napier and I remember staying a few nights in Ormondville on the way (Ormondville is near Dannevirke).  I’m not sure how they were related to us, but there was a mother and father and their adult son, Alfie.  I remember Alfie, particularly, because he had a gammy leg (maybe he’d had polio, which was still a problem in those days).

In Ormondville, I remember us all sitting around the kitchen table after dinner listening to “Dad and Dave” on the radio.  “Dad and Dave” was an Australian radio serial that was very popular at the time.  Here’s a link to one of the old episodes:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3CgSFwBvPU.

There were lots of moreporks owls in Ormondville and each night I would hear their mournful call as I was falling asleep.  Alfie told me they were called moreporks because they were actually saying “more pork”.  He was joking, of course, but listen to this recording and you’ll see that it does sound a bit like that:  recording of a morepork.

makatote-viaductOn the way north, we drove up through the centre of the North Island and I remember us stopping for grandad to take a photo of me under the mighty Makatote Viaduct.  Unfortunately, I’ve lost the photo, but the picture on the right shows the viaduct.  Grandad Hooper’s photo was taken from the other side of the ravine, from the road you can see in the distance.

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It was a thoroughly enjoyable holiday and just what a broken-down eleven year old needed.  Thank you, Grandad Hooper.

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