27 April 2013

Why insurance is good

By 1987, Johnny was delivering the New Zealand Herald - Eddie started, later, I think.  The papers were delivered in bulk to Ian Scott's advertising shop.  The paper deliverers showed up there at 5 or 6 in the morning (Johnny or Eddie will, no doubt, tell me what time it was) on their bicycles, and the papers were handed out by Rose.

Rose Poimafisi was a tough lady.  If she clenched her fists and exhibited them to you, you read, on her eight knuckles, from left to right, the letters:

T R U E   L O V E

Rose lived a couple of doors down from us - and fostered some young boys - early 'teens.

Our house has three bedrooms.  In order for each child to have a room of his or her own, Sue and I slept on a futon on the living room floor.  In 1987, Helen, Eddie, and Adele slept in the house, each in a bedroom.  Johnny slept in the 'sleep-out' room in what had been the garden shed - which is now, in fact, my office and my own bedroom.

One night in July - chilly and wet - about, I think, 9:30 in the evening, I was outside in the driveway saying 'good-bye' to Ross Jackson who had been visiting us.  I was sitting on the kerb next the driveway.  Ross had just put his car into reverse, to back out of the driveway - had, in fact, started to move - when I called him back.  Something had occurred to me that I wanted to say to him.

I never got to say it, never, in fact, remembered what it was.

A sound that, at first, I thought was a gunshot, occurred.  A sudden squeal of tyres followed.  My first thought was that some sort of gang-related activity was happening.  Within seconds, this belief received support because I heard, from next door in Mr Edwards yard, men shouting and beating others.

Johnny came running out of his room, and Susan from the house.  I grabbed a convenient four-by-two that was lying around, told Johnny to go upstairs to the house, and crouched behind the wall of the carport, preparatory to deal with any violent criminals who should dash into our yard, intent on mayhem.

When, after half a minute or so, no such thing happened, I, with, I think, at least Johnny and Susan, went cautiously out to the street and peered into Mr Edwards' yard.

One car was there, reversed into a tree.

A second car - a police car, in fact - had apparently crashed head-on into the front of the first car.

There were policemen beating on young men (2? 3?).

And Rose "TRUE LOVE" Poimafisi was beating on one of the policemen.

What had happened was this:
  • A man had (foolishly) stopped in front of Matt's Dairy, leaving his car running.
  • Young boys (one of whom was one of Rose's fosters - a boy, it was said later, who had already been in prison for raping his foster sister), not slow to take advantage of the situation, leapt into the car and tore off for Waiuku.  To while away the time there, they pulled off a burglary or two.
  • Unfortunately for them, the police were alerted to their activities.  A high-speed chase ensued (the policeman told me that they came in on Victoria Street West - a 50 Km/hour zone - at 140 Km/hour).
  • They neglected to stop at the stop sign at Helvetia Road.  They hit a car coming up Helvetia Road.  Fortunately they hit the rear of the car (or the woman passenger in that car would have been dead rather than simply concussed).  The impact spun that car around, and flung it against the steel-reenforced poured-concrete post at the corner of our yard.  The boot of the car flew open.  The jack flew out, across our lawn (something like 10 metres, I think), inches past my head, into the panel on the side door of Ross's car (shattering the window) - that had been, I think, the 'gunshot' I had heard.
  • Their car also spun around so that it crashed rear-on against a tree in Mr Edwards' front yard.  The police car braked, but still crashed against the front of their car.
The battle sounds were the police thrashing the boys, yelling at them that they may have killed someone in the other car.

And Rose?  She was avenging her foster son.

There was much follow-up to be done after that night, naturally.  I titled this post "Why insurance is good."  It was our house insurance that paid for repairing the wall (one of Johnny's Herald customers - I have forgotten his name - did the work).  I suppose Ross's insurance paid for the damage to his car.  I do not know what happened to the boys.  We and the neighbours on that corner demanded that the Council put in a roundabout at the corner (they did not do it, but they did put in traffic islands).  But one unforeseen result was my return to the 'bus.

I had not, I think, really realised just how upsetting the event was until the next morning.  I got on my motorbike to go to work.  As usually, I road along Cape Hill Road, instead of the main road.  Just where Cape Hill Road turns a sharp left into Tuhimata Road, I laid the 'bike down.  Fortunately I was going slowly, and I managed to put it down into grass.  I was uninjured, and continued on to the University.

The next day I took the 'bus.  I do not think this was a particularly considered decision.  I had simply lost my nerve.

13 April 2013

The 'bus

When Edna and I separated, we had only the one car - a Volkswagen - and it was clearly proper that she and Kathleen should have it.  I purchased a motor scooter - a little Yamaha 50 - got my motorcycle licence, and later replaced it with a Honda 90.  That motorcycle Sue and I brought to Auckland in 1973, and it, with its Honda 125 successor, was our transport until 1975.  When we returned to New Zealand, to live in Pukekohe, in 1984, I bought a second-hand Suzuki 450.  From late in 1984 or early 1985, I sometimes rode that bike to work.

I soon discovered the disadvantages of a 50-Km motorcycle commute:
  • it is cold much of the year
  • it is windy all of the time
  • it is scary some of the time
  • it is boring all of the time
It had, however, one advantage over driving a car:
  • it is cheap
Even at present, I would not drive a car to work.  With all costs, including parking, it would probably cost at least $200/week.

In 1985, I found a better way: the 'bus.

To be sure, there are now commute trains (I don't know if there were in 1985).  In a pinch I could take the train.  Because of the location of the station (at both ends) it would be difficult.

Sometime in 1985 I began taking the 'bus.  It goes on the motorway for about half the distance.  It takes a little over an hour.  It is cheap.  I can read on the 'bus - or sleep.  It is very satisfactory.

So when I was offered a job not on a convenient 'bus route - and, nearly simultaneously, offered the University job - and the 'bus goes right past the University - that was the deciding factor.

I began riding the 'bus to the University - and experienced the main disadvantage that 'bus-riding has over driving:
  • it is inflexible
For a while in 1986 in my new job, I started riding my motorcycle to work again.  I did this until sometime in about July 1987, when an incident happened, which had no direct relationship to my riding the motorcycle to work, but which ended my motorcycle riding.

02 April 2013

Being a Kid

It has been good to be writing about the past.  It has forced me to think of the progression of things that happened instead of just events that seem to jump out various times. 

Each time I write this, I think about how it should be edited, done better, in a more interesting way - you name it.  It won't happen.  So, you read it or you don't - no worries.

Eddie's family (minus Robyn who is 14 and was attending an Easter Camp) were here for dinner on Sunday.  His boys are Julian (11) and Johnny (12) - as the kids have grown up I have often thought about what I was doing at their ages - I know that time seemed to often drag but that is because I was always looking for the next "fun" thing to do.

The years I was in elementary school (grades 3 - 7) at Sunset Valley School were good.  The school was new, the neighbourhoods were new and it was a time when our mothers stayed home.  It meant that they were often very involved in the school or after school activities.

How could I have been bored?  I was in Girl Scouts, rode horses at Nicol's Riding Academy, rode my bike with the neighbour kids or with my closest friend Cynthia, visited my grandmothers at their homes over the weekends, watched my mother sew all the time or decorate the house with the latest thing she could find, went to Girl Scout Camp during the summers, was involved in the  Episcopal Church that my parents helped to start in Beaverton, watched the Micky Mouse Club every weekday at 5:00 for an hour.  The best part of that was at 5:30 when Spin and Marty were on  for fifteen minutes.  Our family was also involved with the Episcopal Church Family Camp during the summers on the Oregon Coast -  We also attended many of the Rose Festival events that happened each summer in Portland during June.  The highlight of that was the big parade on Saturday morning in downtown that last week of the Festival.  We got to see the Rose Festival Queen ride on a special float - we also got to stand on a ladder to see through the crowd and get ice cream bars to eat.

I also began to babysit for the neighbours.  I loved doing that.  I think that I was paid thirty-five cents an hour.  This rate of pay didn't change for many years.  When I was in high school, I got fifty cents an hour if I stayed past mid-night.

I am curious to know what my sister remembers from this time.  Want to start adding to the Blog, Candace?  John can make you an author.