Alf and Nell (parents)

Alf with sheep (1919@@@)Grandad Dale’s father, Alfred Ernest Lacey (named after his father, Ernest Alfred), was born on 1 April 1908, in Whangarei.  He was the first person on either side of my family to “matriculate” (the modern equivalent is University Entrance) and went on to qualify as a pharmacist.

Alf was also a very good sportsman, playing rugby (both league and union) at top club level, and was also a very good athlete.

There was no professional sport in those days, but Dad, like other top sprinters, would compete for small money prizes at cultural festivals like the annual Highland Games at Waipu.


Nell Lacey, about age twelveMy mother, Nell Hooper, was born in 1912, in Whangarei, and she was also a very good athlete.  But her main interest was dance (ballet, ballroom, and “modern”).  As a young woman she ran her own commercial dance studio in Whangarei.

Mum’s full maiden name was Nell Sarah Daisy May Hooper (she was named after her aunties).  When she was a young woman, she gave up voting in elections because she got terribly embarrassed when they called out her full name!!!

The photos show Mum and Dad, each at about age twelve.


Alf and Nell started married life in Whangarei, but moved to Auckland soon after.  My older brother Max and I were born there, but the family moved to Maungaturoto in 1943 (when I was eighteen months old), which is where we were when my sister Lynne was born.


Alf, Nell (~1933@)Mum and Dad were terrific parents, and they were very “modern” in their thinking.  Dad, in particular, was a tech freak who just had to have all the latest gear (precision woodworking tools, top-of-the-line single lens reflex cameras, etc, etc).

There were occasional ructions in the family, of course.  I remember the time I was so cheeky that Dad totally lost his temper.  I took off, pretty confident I could outrun this “old” man.  But I’d forgotten that this particular “old” man had been a semi-professional runner, and he had no trouble catching me in about five paces.  Boy, did I get a hiding!!!

But they were generally very patient with us.  When I got sent home from my Maungaturoto school for being a stubborn little bugger, they quietly gave me time to cool down and work out how I was going to fix the problem.  When Mum realised that my sister Lynne didn’t like cooked food, she made her special meals of fruit and raw vegetables instead.

I liked Dad a lot, but I absolutely loved my mother.  She was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.


Alf, Nell, Martinborough 1982-ish (taken by Jeannie, with her elbows in)They were extremely mobile and adaptable for the times.  I remember, when their silver anniversary came around, they worked out that they’d had 25 house moves during their 25 years of marriage.  And, over the years, Dad worked in or owned pharmacies in Whangarei, Auckland City, Maungaturoto, Ruawai, Martinborough, and Glenfield and Silverdale in Auckland.

They had the occasional marital problems, as happens with many couples, but they worked their way through them and went on to a happy old age.  They were a great team.

The photo (taken by their granddaughter Jeannie in 1982), shows them in the driveway of their final home, in Martinborough.  They were 74 and 70 at the time.


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