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    Growing Up In New Zealand
    - Part 2

    Dorothy - 1/10/99

    Two women whose fathers were Christchurch doctors look back on their early years.

    Margaret Royds (nee MacGibbon) - born 1910
    I believe I was a very fortunate child. I was well cared for and my needs were well met. I lived in a disciplined environment and we children respected what was expected of us. We sometimes muttered our annoyance under our breath about our parents' decisions, but we were never openly defiant.

    We were expected to go church with the family at 11 a.m. on Sundays. We walked there. I started with clean shoes because we had to clean our shoes on Saturdays and we weren't allowed to shuffle in the leaves in the autumn on the way to church, but we could shuffle in them on the way home and my mother would do it too.

    Sunday was busy because we went to Sunday School in the afternoon as well as church in the morning. I remember when I was small swinging my short legs and counting to while away the time during the long prayers.

    However dinner on Sunday was a special meal and we always had a hot roast meal cooked in the coal range. The roast meat and vegetables were put in the oven before we left and we returned to an appetising smell.

    We weren't allowed to play tennis or cards on Sundays.

    We were read to regularly, not just on Sundays, and I remember readings from the Bible and "The Swiss Family Robinson".

    The Botanical Gardens
    Margaret aged four...
    Margaret aged four on the steps of the 'Druids Mound' at the Christchurch Botanical Gardens
    Photo source Margaret Royds
    When I was small we lived near the Botanical Gardens and 'nurse girls' as they were called then, (not baby sitters), were employed to look after us in the afternoon after school. They were girls from Christchurch Girls' High School and I now realise that they liked taking us to the Gardens as they met boys from the Christchurch Boys' High School which was also was close to the city in what is now the Arts Centre. The girls would keep the pram with them but let the rest of us run free through the extensive gardens as long as we didn't cross the bridge into the Hospital gardens. We were disappointed about that as beyond the bridge there were an aviary and squirrels. However, we could be trusted to accept the limits. The photo shows Margaret on one of these outings, wearing boots and a coat with a velvet collar and cuffs. Her hair is worn long in the fashion of the day.

    Our meals were wholesome and everything was made at home. We had a gardener who came to look after the vegetable garden and we ate home grown food whenever possible. We were allowed to name one thing only which we disliked and we wouldn't have to eat that. I remember finding it hard to choose between junket and tripe, but I named tripe as I disliked it even more than junket. We didn't like mince, but it was always served on Saturdays.

    Saturdays inspections and chores
    On Saturday mornings we had our "Sergeant Major's Inspection" when our rooms were checked by our father. Drawers and cupboards were inspected and had to be improved if they didn't pass the test. The girls also had to clean silver on Saturdays, and the boys had to do the lawns. If it was wet the boys had a day off.

    Times have changed tremendously with the need now for safety in traffic and protection from strangers. We were allowed a lot more freedom. I can remember at ten years old biking from Papanui to New Brighton beach and back in a group of three or four friends. When we had a holiday in Sumner (another beach suburb) we were allowed to take our lunch and be out for the day. We were allowed to go over the hill to Taylor's Mistake, but we were not allowed to take our 'togs' (bathing suits) there because the beach was not as safe. Otherwise there were no restrictions placed on us.

    Quite early in our lives we were given an allowance and with it we had to service our bicycles, pay for our photography and trips to the pictures, but our clothing was provided, unless we wanted something extra and special. I saved for weeks to buy a pair of silk stockings. This was good training in budgeting and served us well as we got older.

    The films we went to were silent films at first, followed by the 'talkies' - many of them trial scenes. We liked going to the Crystal Palace because it had such a good orchestra.

    My father was an ear, nose and throat specialist, and rode a bicycle to his consulting rooms and to the hospital to perform surgery.

    Our family's first car was bought in about 1921. It was a Nash with a soft top and side curtains. I began driving at fifteen and got my licence at seventeen, which was very unusual. None of my girl friends drove their fathers' cars. I took my mother to tennis and to meetings.

    At other times we travelled by tram. When we lived in Riccarton we would get off the tram one stop before our street at the end of the section and walk the extra distance because it was cheaper. We had learnt our budgeting lesson well.

    My first school was the local school but when I was eight I was sent to a private school called Rangi Ruru. We wore uniform to school at Rangi Ruru and had to change into other clothes as soon as we arrived home. The winter uniform was a blue flannel dress with a large white collar. There was cooler dress for summer. Once we reached our teens many girls wore corsets or corselets under their uniforms to keep their figure in trim. Hats and gloves were compulsory on the street.

    We had a set of best clothes for Sundays and special occasions and always wore a hat to church.

    I had fine hair which was worn long until it was cut when I turned sixteen.

    At Rangi Ruru we had drill, mainly marching, with Captain Farthing. That was unusual. We played tennis and netball and also hockey for which I was in the A team. The problem with hockey was that it was played in very few schools and it was hard to arrange matches against other schools except Cathedral Grammar which was a boys' school, and Christchurch and Avonside Girls' High Schools.

    I really enjoyed swimming and lifesaving. From October to April we went to the Teps (Municipal Tepid Baths) used by many schools. Along the side were separate cubicles where we changed in privacy. After swimming we had to walk fast back to school in a croc (crocodile) to get warm.

    For swimming we wore navy blue knee-length baggy costumes with a supporting bra like a camisole.

    My father grew up with six sisters and believed that girls and boys should be treated alike at home, so my sister and I were always allowed to join in family discussions. I believe I was very fortunate in my upbringing. as I had security, but a good measure of freedom.

    Margaret Thompson (nee Whetter) - born 1913
    Margaret seated, aged seven, with her brother Neil and her little
sister Joan
    Margaret seated, aged seven, with her brother Neil and her little sister Joan
    Photo source Margaret Thompson
    As a child I always knew what was expected of me. My parents set standards for us and expected us to grow up with a sense of responsibility.

    My parents
    My parents came to New Zealand from Britain as my father who was a general practitioner had the opportunity of going into partnership with his cousin who was a doctor in Christchurch.

    My mother was a very systematic person and felt that the household should be well managed, especially as the surgery was at the house. She had help in the house from the beginning. My father thought that she must have help as she had come from a family where there was domestic help. She took loving care of the family, especially nursing the children when they were ill.

    World War 1
    My father served in World War I with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders because he had qualified in medicine in Edinburgh. I remember his return from the war - someone I knew only by name and by photograph. I used to put a little vase of mignonette beside his photograph.

    The influenza epidemic
    Soon after his return he was frantically busy as New Zealanders were hit by the influenza epidemic. Kempthorne and Prosser regularly sent supplies of medicines to the surgery. During the epidemic my mother had aspirins to give to people who came to the door and said they were ill.

    The house and consulting rooms
    We lived near Latimer Square which was a medical precinct at that time. If patients were members of a charitable Lodge they paid no more than half a crown for their visit, but private patients paid five shillings. My mother always kept half crowns and other change in her desk in case patients did not have change. My father did not have a nurse or a receptionist.

    My father gave anaesthetics when his cousin performed surgery.

    Domestic help
    We always had two maids, one who lived in and one who came by the day to do the cleaning. The live-in maid was always called Miss Rix, as my mother did not like the use of Christian names. She had her own room and had her bath in a deep bath in the washhouse.

    We would put out our shoes for her to clean until we had fashion shoes of different colours - black, brown and navy blue. We cleaned these ourselves.

    Meals were cooked at home, with the main meal midday. My father would often be called out in the night, so he would be given a cooked breakfast in bed. We had to eat a little of everything, even what we disliked.

    I was not expected to do any work in the kitchen and learnt to cook only in the two weeks before I was married.

    Our outer clothes were bought at Ballantynes and our underwear was made by a dressmaker who came to the house.

    I started school at a state school. When I was ten we went to England for me to meet our relatives, and then I attended Rangi Ruru private school and my last two years were as a boarder at Columba College in Dunedin. I enjoyed this experience, especially the extra emphasis placed on music, as I had learnt and enjoyed playing the piano from quite a young age.

    At Rangi Ruru I learnt ballroom dancing. The house, built for the Hon. Tahu Rhodes, had a sprung floor in the ballroom. The dancing teacher played the violin to provide music, and whacked us around the legs with the bow if we made a mistake.

    Outdoor enjoyment
    My mother was a great walker and took us walking on the Cashmere Hills or in the Botanical Gardens or on the beach at Sumner every Saturday. We used to play croquet on a croquet lawn at the back of the house. In the evenings or holidays we played charades and card games and table tennis.

    My father did not like driving. He employed a man to care for the car and wash and polish it every day. He wore a white coat in his role as chauffeur.

    "At Homes"
    On the third Friday of the month my mother held her "At Home" which meant that friends knew she would be expecting to entertain people to afternoon tea and they could come without a specific invitation.

    When my mother called on anyone she would leave one of her own visiting cards and two of her husband's, as was the custom. She carried these in a special case. A silver tray was placed in the hall to receive the cards. Receiving them was a mark of acceptance in a social group.

    Looking back
    I had a very pleasant and comfortable home as I grew up. There was a warm relationship between my parents which meant we had a happy home.

    Published with permission from NZine