Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 42, September 1998


It's said New York is stunning
Rome and Paris are so cool
But we say "Give us Paeroa
To spend our years at school".
The sing song of times tables
The smell of gum leaves burning
The squeak of chalk on blackboard
How it brings back all the learning.
The strictness of Miss Tarrant
Our rotund Headmaster, Day
The teaching of Will Malcolm
In the fine old fashioned way.
Remember all that school milk?
And free apples we must mention
We'd pinch them by the handful
When kept in for detention.
Although the years have gathered
Since we'd study, laugh and play
Looking back upon those times
It seems like yesterday.
When blackberries were luscious
Field mushrooms were a treat
And we'd roam the haunted orchard
And swim Komata Creek
We'd bike out to the soda Springs
Untouched by any vandal
With the waters fizzing, gushing
As we pumped the brassy handle
The centre of the Universe?
The Paeroa baths that thing
And we'd climb the bush clad hillsides
And on rata vines we'd swing.
And Waikino's gold mine battery
Made our poor river brown
And though it was an eyesore,
It didn't get us down.
No . . . life was rich and spicy
With Mrs Simpson and the King
A bob or sixpence for the flicks
To hear Deanna sing.
And that Regent theatre
(Were we away with Alice?)
'Cause the way that we remember
It was HUGE - a lovely Palace!
And how we loved those movies -
Though some may think its slack
We watched the boys all watching us
To see if we watched back.
We cried for Shirley Temple
Fred and Ginger cheered our day
While 'Gone With the Wind' and Gable
Nearly made us swoon away.
And now it's 'Terminator'
And 'The Stud' all R18
Modern movies so explicit
I just don't know what they mean!
The family saved up for a wireless
Tommy Handley was a hit,
Remember "Can I do you now sir?"
Yes. . . You're getting on a bit . . .
And our penny earned each weekend
Bought a great big bag of lollies
Or additions to our marbles
Of glassies, catseyes, mollies.
And we'd no expensive ten speeds
And our holidays were nil
But wasn't it exciting
Rolling down our Primrose Hill!
And our gardens grew striped apples
That tasted summer sweet
And we'd make some sticky toffee
For a special wet day treat.
And the Sunday roast was massive
Those baked spuds gold and crisp
And though we ate like porkers
We stayed slender as a wisp.
But now it's muesli - chook food!
They say it's just the ticket
While their yoghurt and their bean sprouts
Well they know where they can stick it!
I crave thick toast with butter
And porridge sloshed with cream
And fat egg and bacon breakfasts
That are now a far off dream.
And those lovely suet puddings
With a golden syrup wreath
That scorched your tongue and gullet-
Burned enamel off your teeth.
And in those good old days - remember
An ancient occupation
Now completely out of fashion
It was known as - conversation . .
And with someone on a piano
We would really go to town
With a lively hokey tokey
Or a Knees Up Mother Brown
The foxtrot and Gay Gordons
Valeta, Waltz - we learned the lot
Unlike today's gyrations.
More like jogging on the spot.
And we'd sing of aspidistras
Weedy Tenors warbled 'Trees'
And Sinatra, Robeson, Crosby
Simply brought us to our knees.
And on Sunday evenings after Church
As part of all our learning
We'd sit on top of Primrose Hill
To watch the peat fires burning.
And through the dark depression
We had examples like our mothers
Through struggling, knowing hardship,
They spent time in helping others.
And though we faced that ugly war
That left so many grieving
We did it for this lovely land
And the things that we believe in.
And marijuana wasn't needed
To get us on a high
And you could always tell from LOOKING
When a girl was not a guy.
And if we wanted something
Then we all learned how to wait
And we didn't make a pastime
Of ripping off the State.
And the world would not be ending
Until GOD was good and ready
Not when some fool pressed a button
'Cause his temperament's unsteady.
And mugging wasn't heard of
And perks were known as theft
And your house would not be burgled
If some open doors were left.
And people LIKED each other
And they weren't all tough and greedy
Through all New Zealand held its breath
When Blomfield fought McCready.
And G.S.T was not invented
And politicians could stand tall
And you didn't wait forever
To have a tradesman call
Now we've microwaves and T.V.
And cell 'phones - they're trend setters
And computers running companies
Which DON'T reply to letters.
And it's compact discs and Walkmans
The list - it never ends
Yes, it's electronic everything
What's in short supply is friends.
And the young today - the trendy
All seeking new sensations
Think those good old days were dull-
But we know their compensations.
Though we've known outrageous fortune
We've experienced its darts
But through it all, through thick and thin
Paeroa's there - deep in our hearts.
So as wine box is to Winston
As a church is to its steeple
As a try line is to Jonah
So is Paeroa to its people
Well Paeroa-ites, I hope you've liked
This short stroll through the past
You'll agree - I'm very sure
A shame it couldn't last.
But when the young are our age
Back down the year's they'll gaze
And look back with affection
On what THEY'LL call good old days.

The above poem appeared in the May 1998 newsletter of the Paeroa Old Pupils Association, and was forwarded by the Secretary, Wally Henton, for inclusion in the Journal.

Also included in that newsletter was the following written by Dick Hubbard a former Paeroa resident.

"In 1961 at the age of 14, I was the Marriot's delivery boy in Paeroa. I had a special "Arkwright" delivery bike with a small front wheel and a big wicker basket in front. Five days a week after school I pedalled the streets of Paeroa delivering groceries. The bike was fun to ride - sort of. However, it was heavy going pedalling up hills. With a heavy load on and going downhill, especially in the rain and with a bald back tyre, it was terribly hard to control. Once I came off and deposited six dozen very broken and very scrambled eggs all over the roadway that were destined for the local maternity hospital. Then there was the time that I had to ride the bike for two hours almost immediately after receiving "six of the best" on my rear end for a minor misdemeanour at school, not my fault of course. Now those were the days."