Merville’s Teenage Years

Teenage Years In 1920’s Southland

As we have the benefit of hindsight, we see the 1920’s were indeed changing times, as this snippet I found suggests.

“The 1920’s was a crucial era in the making of ‘modern’ New Zealand. The word itself was widely used at the time, as in this Ladies? Mirror story from 1926:

The modern girl has, during the past dozen years, either acquired or increased her regard for:- Drinking and smoking; Paint and powder; Slang; Pastimes demanding physical vigour; Work, apart from the household variety; Individual independence and freedom of action; Speed; Late hours.”

But somehow I doubt my mother or any of her family were even aware of all the ‘advances’ being made. I think their lives continued along a similar pathway that their parents’ had previously travelled. At least there is nothing in Mum’s writings to suggest she was partaking of any of the above ‘changes’ except perhaps for that of a sporting variety.

I found further reference to Mum and playing basketball. “We played basketball (netball) at both primary and secondary school and used to play against other schools. I always played defence because I was tall. I remember basketball was quite a new sport.” Mum continued to play competitive basketball until she left home. “Although we played with nine players, not seven like today.”

Merville at front right

Merville at front right

“There was tennis at school too, but I didn’t have a racket so I couldn’t play that. At home in the summer time the boys (her brothers) would put a bit of netting across the paddock and mark out a tennis court on the grass. They made wooden rackets and would either hit the ball at me or too hard for me to hit it back.”

“Girl Guides began in Winton when I was 12. scan0110No-one else (siblings) was interested in Guides or Scouts but I loved belonging to the Guides. They were good leaders and role models. I went to the meetings straight after school one day a week. My parents were happy for me to be involved with the Guides and never discouraged me from attending.  I really enjoyed Guides and worked to get badges. I will never forget the housekeeping badge. Three guides had to go to a house and had to do up this room, dusting, cleaning etc, every corner had been done but the inspecting leader found the mantelpiece wasn’t dusted.” Mum never mentioned whether she actually ever achieved her housekeeping badge. “I stayed at Guides as long as I could. I went to camps and made many friends but never went into any leadership role until much later.”

Merville at right during Guide camp

Merville at right during Guide camp

At this stage there were still five kids living on the farm. Eric, Mum, Jim, John and Arthur. Eric must have been horribly spoiled by his mother. My theory about this is that having lost her eldest son, Eric became so precious to her. “Eric never got out of bed until at least ten o’clock in the morning. Dad wouldn’t allow him near the cows because he would kick and punch them. The very sight of him near the shed would spook the cows so much they couldn’t be milked. But Dad could never say anything to Eric about his behaviour or our mother would get upset.”

It was about the time when Mum left school that her father bought their first vehicle, an old truck described in an earlier post. Ina had married and was by then living on the farm next door. “Dad took the milk to the factory in the truck. I have forgotten the make of the truck but it had the gears outside the front door. I did learn to drive it about the yard but never on the road.”




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *