Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 51, September 2007

(by Justine Lord)

This is what I like about history: One thing leads to another. You learn things you never knew before and memories in others are stirred and lead to more memories.

In the last issue of this Journal (No. 50, 2006) I wrote an article entitled Talisman House, the house we now live in. I wish to share this fascinating and really great letter I received in the mail from a very interesting man that I have never met. I wish to say right here and now I am truly grateful and indebted to Mr England for not only the confirmation he gave me on our special house but also on the little titbits of my grandfather that none of the family knew about.

I think this is the way to find out the past by our elders telling these tales and I encourage all to put pen to paper and submit everything and anything—you just never know what interest it will spark. Now for the letter:

Dear Miss Lord,

A few days ago I received here in London the September issue (No. 50) of the Ohinemuri Regional History Journal and have just read your article entitled "Talisman House" appearing in it.

I should explain too that my family moved from Auckland to Paeroa in June, 1928, some four weeks before my 11th birthday, my father having been transferred there by the Public Works Department of the Government. We lived in Paeroa for just eight years before he was transferred again, this time to Gisborne.

However, these were my "growing-up" years and the most vividly remembered of my life and when asked the name of my "home town" I always answer "Paeroa" as I sincerely feel that it is.

I came by the Journal when it was sent to me by Jack and Lola Silcock. Jack and I were at school together and had a special relationship and friendship probably because I played first five-eighths outside him in the halfback position in the rugby teams for the school. We worked together too, after leaving school, on a farm at Waitoki some eight miles out of Paeroa on the Te Aroha Road. It was Depression time and Jack's father bought the farm, which was largely swamp land, to keep his two sons, Jack and Jim occupied and I was asked along too.

In 1935 Jack headed of to Teachers' Training College in Auckland and we lost touch until 1996 when by chance I learned of his whereabouts in Cambridge and we have kept in touch since.

I am writing because you mentioned that the second occupant of Talisman House was "a Mr Rick or probably Rickard" and I can tell you that almost certainly you are correct in the "Rickard".

In Paeroa we lived on the edge of Primrose Hill fairly high up the spur running from the hill and overlooking the school below—Paeroa District High School as it was then named. Below us and next to the school and facing the school horse paddock lived Mr and Mrs Rickard and their daughters Essie and Esther. Boarding with them was Edgar Preston, the principal of the secondary department, who easily was the best teacher I ever had encountered anywhere, and the best coach of basic rugby skills despite never having played the game himself.

Mr Rickard was an elderly man who had been a mine manager and suffered from chest trouble which was ascribed to his having been affected by quartz dust from the mines. They were a lovely family and Mr Rickard was still alive when I left Paeroa in 1936.

This is all the information I have on Mr Rickard but I feel sure he is your man. He was certainly a man of managerial quality and one whose working life had been spent in the gold mining industry in the Ohinemuri goldfields. I hope this may be of interest to you.

It seems silly not to fill this sheet with a few comments on my days in Paeroa. There was a well-groomed blonde man in Paeroa when I was still a boy whose name was Jack Ganley. I knew him only by sight and to say "hello" to if we passed as all Paeroa used to do. Perhaps he was John Ganley, who was your grandfather. He worked in Brenan's who had a garage and haulage company and I think he had a brother called Leo, although I am not sure of the latter. One thing I do remember about Jack was that when I was getting into my teens and thinking about how I looked I used envy Jack as he always looked well dressed and neat and tidy no matter what he was wearing.

I don't remember him being married then but think he lived in a boarding house run by a Mrs Maloney whose son Des was at school with me. In my time Fathers Hotel was run by E. P. Fathers, whose second son, Ernie, was at school with me. As you can guess he was always called "Dad".

To round off, a few words about myself. I only stayed in Gisborne for a few months then off to Wellington as a Government cadet. The job concerned medical statistics for the Government Statistician and it stimulated my interest in medicine so I decided to become a doctor. I went to Dunedin and worked my way through to graduation and then to the Auckland Hospital for four years as a Junior Doctor.

It was then to England for three years and a surgical qualification then back to Auckland as a full timer Junior Surgeon for three years.

In England I had seen the sort of job I wanted but none were available in New Zealand so it was back to England where I have been ever since.

I am no spring-chicken as you can imagine and am rising 90 years. I have lost some of my central vision due to age-related causes so have an excuse to any mistakes or poor writing so please forgive me.

I hope this small bit of information may be of help and for my part I have truly enjoyed writing about my younger days and the fascinating area which I will always call "home".

My best wishes to yourself and family and continuing enjoyment of Talisman House.

Yours sincerely

Harry England

(H. R. England).