Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 10, October 1968

By M.S. MARTIN, (Hon. Curator)

This is the title of a book written by John Buchan, but also a name which could be given to a colonial corner of our museum, the contents of which hold so many memories for the friends and visitors as they lean on the half door.

In a corner a huge fireplace contains a colonial oven, a camp oven, fire irons and bellows, an old copper kettle, an iron kettle and girdle, stone hot water bottles and candle lanterns and many types of irons - all from a period before the advent of electric power. To-day, we in the museum, so frequently hear the remark, "No loaf baked now is as crisp and crusty as the loaves which Mother made in the camp oven placed in the hot embers of an open fire".

"How many of us remember the excitement of ironing a long party frock with the flat irons or a charcoal iron which had to be filled with hot embers which were then blown with bellows before starting on yards of flounces and lace?" These also ironed long baby clothes so beautifully tucked and embroidered, or day and night shirts now over one hundred and twenty years old but made of linen which is almost as good as new. These garments may all, on request, be still fingered by loving hands which can appreciate their quality; but not, as our patrons will understand, when large numbers come to the museum during holiday periods.

In a small corner room stands a model of a lady from the 19th century, dressed in black skirt, white lace blouse and red silk shawl presiding over memories of yesteryear - a bentwood nursing chair which came from the boarding house in Waitekauri - a small hand machine and the earliest type of treadle sewing machine - a beautifully made boot made to grace a lady's dainty foot and also soon to be on display, a rocking chair from an old miner's home.

Here also is a plant stand, not to display an aspidistra but a hand basin and water jug. These must have once been the pride of a house wife at a time when the town water supply was an undreamt of luxury. Among other items from early homes is a collection of china depicting scenes of Waihi mines, a moustache cup so necessary to our bewhiskered grandparents and cheese dishes, one of which would hold about five pounds of cheese; of course a family of eight or ten in those days would be an average family.

Other exhibits such as hanging kerosene lamps, striking clocks, rag mat, silver and pewter ware, tea-pots and old time bottles help to fill our corner of memories but an old dresser or "what-not" would help to display these exhibits to a better advantage.