Down at our office in Kaikoura a couple of weeks ago I spotted a copy of a book called Grady's People.
I have been told many times about retired journalist Don Grady and his books of short stories on the people living in the top of the south, but had never seen a copy.
So I picked up the book, leafed through it and brought it back with me.
The half dozen stories I have read show this region is full of characters who wouldn't usually make it into print. But Grady, who died in January last year, had a knack of tracking them down and squeezing a yarn out of them.
The first piece I read was about Diana Blackmore, who bought the old cable station on the coast near Blind River, 10 minutes from Seddon. While the piece was about the woman and her animals, and her isolated life, it was also an interesting history of how the old interisland phone system worked, with someone sitting in that concrete bunker in the middle of nowhere manually switching through toll calls from one island to the other.
Another piece was about Bill Chisholm the tough farm manager who ran the 200,000-hectare station in the back of the Awatere Valley for 36 years. Or, as Grady recounts, more than 30,000 days.
Then there's Duggie, the hermit who lived under a Railways tarp in the bush at Wakamarina for seven years, and Vic Jacobson, the Havelock doctor who travelled around the Sounds by car and boat for many years caring for the isolated residents.
These are not full histories, but brief insights to some of the people who have lived in these parts and have added to the colour of the place. And there's two more volumes of Grady's stories down in Kaikoura.
- The Marlborough Express