Anna has written a memory of her childhood as it was and still is, an ever-present image for her. It represents the love and dedication her parents had for her and her siblings and the learned values they wished to demonstrate.
Growing up as second eldest in a busy family of six, summer mornings at our home assumed some kind of flow around the swimming routine. Both my parents were keen swimmers and they made sure we were going to be too. By the age of ten we were signed up at the local swimming club and were training 3x a week.
Dad would lead the ten-minute walk from our rambling house on the corner of Beauchamp Street, along Lewer St to the Karori baths. Out the gate at 6.45am, four children aged between eight and fifteen would follow, togs on, towels draped around our neck, ready to swim our lengths. Often, we would set up a race along Lewer St with a handicap for the younger two so they could keep up. Our cat Sooty would often accompany us and sit outside the pools waiting to make the return walk with us, still in our togs, no need for races now because with just one shower for the kids we were well motivated to get back.
Mother would more often than not stay at home to make the school lunches and prepare the breakfast. On November mornings once a week for a treat we would have whitebait fritters. We used to marvel how far she could make one pottle of whitebait go by beating the egg whites separately and conjuring enough fluffy fritters to feed six hungry humans.
We grew up with music of all types and a Father at the piano hammering out the same two old jazzy tunes all our lives. The upside was he managed an importing company, and we were often the first to get the latest albums from overseas. Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood, the Doors, the Beatles, and Deep Purple to name a few. On these same summer mornings, the loud, music would pour out the open windows and locals walking past would look up, puzzled by the new pop songs floating out.
Looking back on our childhood in this place all four of us share fond memories of our parents and their influence on our lives. The right balance of discipline and fun, warmth, love, and a lot of laughter. How lucky we were.
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Deborah thanks Rangimarie Kelly and Pikau Digtal for website design and artist Karen Jarvis for her image ‘Writers at the Devonport Library,’ (2023)