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Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 43, September 1999

By Maureen McCollum

Mrs Laura Cricks (nee McKee), now in her mid 90s, related her early memories of her life in the Paeroa district.

Mrs Crick's father, William James McKee owned land at the Junction where he built a house. His wife was Amy Ellen (nee Lyes, from Thames). This was where Mrs Cricks was born, the second eldest of nine children. Mrs Cricks' first recollection was of the floods, and sitting on the kitchen table waiting for her dad to fetch them in the boat and row them across the river to her grandmother's home in Buchanan Street.

These floods devastated her father's farm, so he purchased a farm near Coronation Street, and from there the family shifted to Komata North to farm land, which remained in the McKee family until the 1970s. Whilst at Paeroa, Mrs Crick started her school years at Central School. Miss Minnie Shaw was their teacher and Father Hachet from the Catholic Church often drove them home in his horse and buggy. The park in front of the Methodist Church was a place they played, with Mr De Castro's chemist shop nearby. Other shops remembered were Mrs Pascoe's sweet shop, Dave McWatters' ladies and menswear, Gamble's haberdashery, Dave Vincent, saddler and Miss Wilson's haberdashery. Mrs Crick's first position after leaving school was as a receptionist at the Criterion Hotel. This was during the 'dry era' and the hotel was mainly used as a boarding house. Later she worked for Mr R S Carden, solicitor.

Her teenage years were filled with dancing and hockey, which was played on fields across the Criterion Bridge. She recalled dances such as the lancers, one step, valetta and waltzes, and the highlight of attending a military ball, in Hamilton, in a borrowed frock and long white gloves. Another recollection was the ride she and her sister undertook over the Wires Track on horseback. They met Hori and Len Martin endeavouring to round up wild cattle for the Hikutaia sale. The air, she described, was somewhat 'blue' around the drovers.

In 1931 she married and left Paeroa for a pioneering world on land around the Whanganui River, where her husband, Cliff, was a tree feller. It was during these years that her three sons were born.

She moved back to this area in 1997 to reside at the Booms Rest Home, Thames.

(Note: Mrs Cricks died on 20 June 1998, aged 91years)

(This article appeared in the Paeroa Gazette and is republished with permission.)