Merville’s Memories

“Our Robertson grandmother (Janet nee Sutherland, born Clyth c 1853) died 9 August 1923 and in November we shifted to Winton to live on the farm at Gap Road. Our father was given a half share in the farm so it must have had something to do with Grandma.

“I remember going on the dray and draught horse and stopping by the Makarewa river near Sprlnghills to have lunch. Jim, John and I were left at our grandfather’s house and Aunty Janet lived with him. Our mother was expecting a baby and stayed in Invercargill until Arthur was born on 24 January. We stayed in Winton and went to school and I really enjoyed it. Granddad (Allan born Halkirk c 1852) used to sit in a rocking chair and sing Scottish songs to us. He had a very good voice. While family stories of Allan suggested he was very harsh and dictatorial, Mum’s lasting impression was that he loved having them there to stay. Everyone had only good things to say about Grandma Robertson. When the red currants were ripe Aunty Janet put them on a saucer and sprinkled oatmeal on them and cream and they tasted wonderful. Aunty Janet was a real beauty, she was lovely and very good to us while she looked after us.

“Aunty Janet would mash potatoes, pat them into a block on a plate and then slice them into pieces about three quarters of an inch thick and fry them. They never fell apart and tasted so very good. Mum mentioned her disappointment she has never been able to cook anything like them.

“In the meantime our father was transferring stock and such like to the farm and we moved in January 1924. It was three miles from Winton and we had to walk to school. In the summer sometimes we went on the milk cart. We milked cows and sent our milk four miles to Winton factory by horse and cart but usually it was too early for us. We had to leave home when the eight o’clock train was leaving Lochiel otherwise we would be late for school. We could always see the smoke and hear the whistle. Sometimes we cut across the paddocks or went along the railway line from Gap Road but we had to cross two bridges and I was always scared as the planks had gaps and if a train should come along there was no where to go. Luckily we had no trouble but in later years a child was hit by a train and killed on the same bit of railway line. Of course there were children in most of the houses on the way so often we had company not so much in the mornings but in the afternoons there would be a crowd walking home.

Gap Road farm (some years later)

Gap Road farm (some years later)

“Dad wouldn’t allow us to go to Sunday School. he said we walked enough to go to school and didn’t need to go on Sunday too. I wanted to go because my friends talked about it. None of the others (siblings) were interested. Although our mother often cycled to the Methodist church as a family we had nothing to do with church.


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