Mary's passions are grandchildren, writing, maritime history and cats. In 2012 Mary completed a Master of Creative Writing (Hons) at the Auckland University of Technology and was winner of the 2012 Christine Cole-Catley Short Story Award. Her thesis was a novel, “Salt of Our Blood.” This story was written at a memoir workshop facilitated by Deborah.
I was born to James and Daisy. James was a ball-room dancer who delighted in me standing on his feet as he took me through the steps. The pleasure was all mine. He would lift each foot in turn with mine on top, left then right, holding me carefully so I never fell. We danced to his favourite music, the waltzes of Johann Strauss. Up and down his feet went as the music swelled and swirled around us. It was our private time.
He also liked Marilyn Munroe and Diana Dors. I think because they had large bosoms and were very glamorous. They were his pin-up girls in the basement, where the corncobs dried and the copper boiled.
I didn't like to look too much at the bloodied towels soaking in the concrete tubs next to the copper. The cold darkness held secrets; Mother's, which spoke silently of her stature as a grown female, and the 'disappearing corncobs,' eventually found to be the work of the cats. And, I thought, rats, who lived amongst the nervous spiders in that dank inferno.
There was a male smell of oil, timber and leather. The leather hung ghostily near the shoe last where Dad tap-tapped neatly, carefully, new soles onto my red 'Buy British, it's Best', English shoes.
The oil waited for the car-repair days when with the handbrake on, I had to keep my foot pushing the clutch. Dad's feet stuck out from under the raised bonnet of our silver Triumph Mayflower, which, much to my mortification, the children at school called a soapbox.
Once, I was given a ride to school as my parents went to the shop. They told me to hold two glass milk-bottles. I did, all the way into class. I always did as I was told.
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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)