Hard times of yesteryear made way for easier times today

Grandfather Hugh Duckett, left,  Bob Duckett and my father Perce Duckett on the right.
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Grandfather Hugh Duckett, left, Bob Duckett and my father Perce Duckett on the right.

I look at the youth of today and they're staying up into the wee small hours, sleeping in until 12 o'clock, not eating properly or looking after themselves.

Hard drugs are in vogue, which is a massive problem, and alcohol and tobacco a serious issue in my opinion. Smoking methamphetamine seems to be fashionable and what a destructible thing it is - not only to our youth and older, but it's destroying families. Why is alcohol not classed as a drug? Very addictive and seriously bad for the health.

Today's youth hang out together "chilling" they call it, sitting around all day drinking and smoking dope. I call it pure laziness, no ambition to work and do well for themselves, we all see it. Addicted to their telephones and internet, and dare I say it, computer games.

Grandfather Hugh Duckett and son Bob Duckett.
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Grandfather Hugh Duckett and son Bob Duckett.

I'm not talking all kids, but quite a percentage of them. What was it like for the kids of yesterday? My grandfather arrived in New Zealand in 1907 or so and bought a cleared piece of land in Makaka out of Stratford on the way to Opunake. A small settlement was springing up in 1909 when he took on this landscape of charred stumps. You could buy a stumped acreage for more, but he was happy with his purchase.

He married my grandmother Lillian Richardson of Cardiff around the same time or soon after. Dad was born in 1912 and in his teens helped on the farm stumping, which was digging around the stumps and blasting with black powder to free the trunk. It was then pulled out with horses and cut up for firewood. I might add the farm wasn't stumped completely until the 1940s and by that time bulldozers were about and made short work of it.

We hear cries of hard times today, but in those days couples struggled with not only bringing up and feeding their children, but with their men having to often work outside their properties to pay the mortgage - working in quarries or labouring on road formation and building bridges.

People with large familys struggled through the depression and my mother told me she worked in the 1920s for a farming couple out the back of Stratford six-and-a-half days a week for either a stick of chocolate or one shilling (10 cents) - hard to believe but true!

She was given Sunday afternoon off to get home to Te Kiri to see her family and had to get back again Sunday night. Wives at home milked the cows and did general farm work as well as keeping up with the piles of washing. In the high rainfall of those times it can't have been easy for them.

Mum was from a large family and all the children had their jobs to do before school. In primary school days she told me she had to help milk the cows in the morning, have breakfast and then walk to school in bare feet all year round five miles away. In winter the kids stood in the cow pats to warm their toes. Dad who had met and married my mother in the 1930s, took over his parents farm, my grandparents shifted to Kaponga. Dad was no farmer, he loved plants from an early age was destined to be a horticulturist.

Times were very tight after the depression of the 1920s and 30s. World War II erupted and Dad found himself in the airforce and based at Bell Block. I'm sure mum found it hard on her own with young children and with dad away from home for long periods.

After the war my parents sharemilked on various farms, finally shifting to Lepperton where Dad realised his dream and created a market garden. Dad's sister Mattie and husband Bert and family moved onto the farm.

Eventually the Farmers Co-Ops new shop opened in Waitara and we shifted there in 1957 where they had a florist shop until he started his job. He was offered the job of horticulture manager which he loved and stayed at until his death in 1970.

I'm sure we all have tales to tell of our parents struggle and I hope you enjoyed mine.

 - Stuff

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