Welcome Home Little Bird
5 August 1968 “On Saturday Angela and I were wandering around looking for something to do. Then Mrs Stetina took us to the Gardens. We played on the swings a lot and then went to the Observatory and ran. We then just got to the cable car in time before it left. We went into town and Mrs Stetina bought Angela a bag of lovely hot chips but I bought some with my own money and then we dawdled through town and came to the lions. Then we went home on the bus. On Sunday we took our bird to Porirua to get her a mate. But the people we went to see did not have very good birds. When we were coming back it was dark and poor Pookie was tired. When we got home Mummy shouted Welcome home little bird.”
A couple of weeks ago my sister, Jeannie, found in her house a kind of diary I had written in 1968. It was required for school that year when I was in Standard 2 and aged eight/nine years old. Jeannie still lives in Wellington, New Zealand, where ‘us kids’ grew up. I’m over here in Western Australia. Posting the journal to me meant the possibility of it not arriving for weeks (who knows with mail at the moment) so Jeannie photographed and emailed me all the pages. I decided to take some of the best bits and put them on my blog.
6 March 1968 “This morning when I woke up I opened the window and I found that there would be no sport. Weeee. I never did like sport. Anyway I love the sound of sweet little raindrops pat-pat-patting on the window. Why do we have sport anyway? I think it is because they want us to run faster. But I am not very fast at running. I would like to be the first one in every race that we do. It would be fantastic.”
18 March 1968: “In the weekend Max my brother made a huge cage for the zebra finches. The zebra finches are little birds. They are very sweet little birds. Max made them a nest box. They have four perches and two doors. The cage is longer than the table and it is taller than me. Max would not of done it if John Batt did not help him. But they made it so that was good fun looking to see what he was doing”.
27 March 1968 “I have got three pets they are all birds. Two of them are zebra finches. Zebra finches are little birds with little black lines under their sweet little eyes. I have also a budgie. She is very sweet and we let her out of her cage a lot. We know when she wants to come out because when she wants to come out she says Tata. It is a sweet little noise but sometimes mum doesn’t like it so she puts Bird in another room. We all say poor bird. She is yellow. She was Miss Wong’s Bird but she has a new cage. We had a cat but poor pussy died. I was very sad. Pussy really did not die but she was put to sleep. I always think of pussy as I often used to go to bed with her. She was a tabby cat. She was the best pet we had. Bird is also very sweet so are the zebra finches but pussy was much better.”
10 April 1968 [Cyclone Giselle hits New Zealand] “The storm is vicious. The storm is strong. The wind is fast and we hope it will not last. We wish the day would quickly change to be sunny and warm and not wet and torn. It’s wrecking the trees. It’s not just a breeze. People are being blown on the roads. Cars are mostly being towed. Winds swooping in the air. Wrecking smashing not only bashing. It howls and roars in the air never giving us things to spare”
11 April 1968 “The Wahine: The Wahine is being sunk and so far there are 40 people dead. They say there can be a lot more. Lots of people have been taken to hospital”. [The sinking of the Lyttelton-Wellington ferry Wahine on 10 April 1968 was New Zealand’s worst modern maritime disaster in which 53 people lost their lives.]
20 May 1968 “…the following Friday we went to see Rolf Harris. When I say we I mean my sister Jeannie and I. Jeannie could take me with know [sic] trouble because she is 19. It was at the Town Hall. We were quite a lot in time so we got a good seat. We had to change over because where I was sitting it wasn’t very good but then, it was quite all right. When I came home I said how I liked him to every body and Mummy said he was on T.V. I thought she meant the whole show. But then Mummy told me he was only in “Town and Around” [a local magazine-type of current affairs programme]. Then she said I better get off to bed so I did”.
27 May 1968 [Inangahua earthquake] “In the weekend in New Zealand there was a huge earthquake. I felt it in the night on Friday night in bed. I am very much afraid of them but I do not know how the poor people felt who got the most of it. Some people had to be taken out of their homes. A big fire station had a crack in it so the people who worked there had to go to be in a better one. The earthquake was in Greymouth. The earthquake company opened on Saturday. It was a hard job and besides that a woman was killed. A lot of roofs on houses have been shaken in and so on. I was very interested to see the news. There have been great big cracks in the roads. The waves of the earthquake have come right up to Hawkes Bay”. [The 7.1 earthquake struck on 24 May 1968. Damage was extensive along the West Coast of the South Island but Inangahua Junction suffered the most. 70% of the dwellings were rendered uninhabitable and three people died.]
4 June 1968 “In the long weekend I wanted to go to the Freyberg pool but mum was not very well so we could not go. She said we could go on Sunday but then she was still not very well so I was walking around doing nothing. But then I had a good idea. I asked daddy if he would play hangman with me. He said yes. We were playing for a long time and then dad said he would have to get up so I said just one more game so he said all right so we had one. Daddy is all Polish and we were not doing Polish words but then I said I have a good word so he said all right. Just one more. So I looked up in the Polish book and did it. Daddy laughed his head off when he found out that it was Polish. After that I went out of the room.”
10 June 1968 “On Saturday I wanted to go to the Freyberg pool but mum said she had too much work to do. So I played with my friends. Then we went up the hills. We had a neat fort. Then I just stepped down to the brook and I screamed. HELP!!! There were dog fish at the brook but I thought they were sharks.”
24 June 1968 “On Saturday we had the tape recorder. I was taping myself a lot. I was singing and screaming and yelling. Some times only talking. Then we heard dad saying get away Julie. And Mum pretended to be making soup in an advertisement. “
8 July 1968 “On Saturday I went to the park with my little friend Sissy. We were mostly playing on the swings. We had a very good time there. I came home and had lunch and then played with Irene and I came home at half past four. Then played by myself with my cut-out dolls till dinner. On Sunday Mummy took Angela and I to the Freyberg pool. After that we ended up going round the bays. I sat up excitedly when we saw the Wahine. Angela said it looked horrible. But I was glad to see it for the first time. We went to the Island Bay park then went home. We got home when it was dark and Angela and I played hiding go seek.”
18 July 1968 “The Monkey Show: On Wednesday after school Angela, Lency and I went to a Monkey Show. We had to sit on the floor which was not very nice and I said that we would have to sit together. We had to wait for half an hour before that silly thing started. When it did start this man was eating fire. He had two sticks that had huge flames on them. Then one of them went out so he put another one in. Fire was coming out of his mouth so much that it lit the other one. The monkey was very good too but he came on at the end. There was a great big dog and the monkey rode on him. We were not allowed to clap till he had got off or else he would have fallen off.”
22 July 1968 “On Sunday I wanted to go to church instead of Sunday school. So we rang up Angela and went at half past 9. Afterwards we found it was pretty boring. At 2 o’clock we went up to Eastbourne. We saw the Wahine but not very well. When we were coming back we stopped and spent five cents. Then every playground we saw when we were coming back we stopped to play on the swings. When we were getting closer to home we stopped to play on the [stone] lions. It was a lot of fun for the lions as well as us. I rushed over to look inside that building by the lions. [The Cenotaph] Angela ran after me and then had the most nasty crash. I got her back to the car and we went home.”
12 August 1968 “On Saturday Angela and I were at the park growling because I had to go to a party and I did not want to go. Mummy said it was too late now not to go because we had now brought the present. So I went and I had a very good time. When I came home I went to Angela’s and we played the Checkout Game. On Sunday Angela came up to see a film of Ivanhoe. Then Mum, Dad and I went visiting to Angela’s place to have afternoon tea! It ended up that we stayed till 7 o’clock. Then we came home. I had a horrible thought that the next day I had to go back to school.”
The Podstolski family in 1968 or thereabouts:
I will be 61 years old in a few days. Mum, Dad and Max have departed to the “Better World” (as Dad used to refer to wherever-it-is after this physical life). I am indebted to Jeannie for finding the journal enabling me to reconnect with a long-forgotten time. Welcome home little memories!