What we did – activities and pastimes

I should point out that most of the aspects of “What we did” are from my own personal experience or knowledge. I make no excuses for items not covered. Alan Gilchrist.

Amateur Radio
Amateur Radio, sometimes known as Ham Radio, was around before Government licensing of the hobby was introduced in 1923. Kaikorai had at least as many amateurs proportionally as any other suburb, and maybe more. The initial license required not only the ability to send and receive Morse code at 15 words per minute, but a pass in radio theory and the regulations of the day. While the technology has gone ahead in leaps and bounds, there are still great numbers of amateur operators throughout the world who enjoy this pastime. Modern amateurs communicate around the world not only by direct radio link but also via amateur satellite and many of the modern modes of operation.
Baths up Frasers Gully
These were opened by the Roslyn Borough Council in 1912. They were fed from the waters of Frasers Creek (or Stream) via a small dam just above the baths. The dam is still there although the baths ceased operation in September 1950 due to the state of neglect that had eventuated. They were subsequently filled in with household refuse.
Boxing Classes
In the late 1920s my father and his friend operated a boxing school from the Kaikorai Presbyterian Church Hall and the basement of the Maori Hill Coronation Hall.
Broken Biscuits
In the mid 1940s, before breakfast, we used to walk down to Maclaggan Street via City Road to visit Mackintosh Caley Phoenix. We would take with us either a clean pillow slip or flour bag for the purpose of collecting broken biscuits for a modest sum. It always paid to be there early to get a share of the sought after chocolate biscuits as some people tended to take more than a fair share of these instead of taking whatever the scoop picked up. Needless to say, a reasonable sampling of the goods was made as we trekked up the hill on our homeward journey.
Bugle Band
The band at the Kaikorai Primary School was popular with the boys and there were more wanting to be part of it than there were instruments. I was fortunate in that my parents supplied me with a bugle that had been handed down through the family. The band played for drill and assembly and as far as I can recall also did a street march around the block once a week.
Frasers Gully
I recall walking up Frasers Gully with my parents and family, sometimes also with Aunts as well. We would walk up towards the last of the more or less flat walking track and cross a bridge over the creek. This as I understand was a cleared area at the bottom of property belonging to ‘Sontags’ in Brockville Road. There were a good number of apple trees on the hillside above the picnic area. We were of course told NOT to venture up the hill where these trees bore fruit! “No Mum”. Nuff said – as they say. Then slightly further up the track was the sand ‘cliff face’ where everyone and their uncle carved their name or initials – it was the accepted course of action.

Sand Carving

Sand Carving

Girls Brigade
The 25th Dunedin Company of the Girls Life Brigade started at Kaikorai Presbyterian Church under the leadership of Captain Margaret Gilchrist on 22nd December 1948. Her Lieutenants were Lorainne McDonald and Myrtle Black.
Going to the Pictures
In the 1940s going to the ‘movies’ was a real treat. However, Amalgamated Theatres Ltd instigated the ‘Chums Club’ at some of their theatres around the country and we had one at the State Theatre in George Street. There was a membership fee, not remembered at this stage, but you did get a badge and your name went on screen if you had a birthday that week. The club was run on Saturday mornings from 10am and we could gain ourselves extra money for an icecream or lollies by walking to and from the venue rather than using the trams or cable cars.
Hanging off cable cars
After the cable cars were introduced back in 1900, they proved very popular as a mode of transport. They travelled at 7.96 miles per hour, that’s 12.8 kilometers per hour. They were novel and especially popular with schoolboys who would hang off the straps along each side – a somewhat perilous task when hanging from the side of the car passing in the other direction. Of course all this came to an end with the closing of the line on Friday 31st July 1947.
Playing at Nairn Street Reserve
Great use was made of this amenity for those of us with bicycles. A good meeting place as well and in younger years there were still a good number of apparatus to use. Currently there are just the swings and ‘monkey’ bars remaining.
Railway Tunnels & Bicycles
In the late 40s and early 50s it was ‘cool’ to ride your bicycle down Kaikorai Valley Road, then through the old Caversham tunnel to the other end. It was very dark and wet inside and our cycle lamps were pretty well next to useless as I recall. However, it was something we did in the weekends when it was fine. We also cycled to Brighton and occasionally managed to afford a ride in one of the row boats or canoes for hire.
Work after school
Work after school was a good way to get ‘pocket money’. One of the various jobs I worked at was as delivery boy for the Roslyn Self-Help grocery store which was next the the Roslyn Fire Station on Highgate. To this day I can still remember the smell of ground coffee and the bacon rolls hanging up in the shop. But I digress – to get on with the delivery of groceries to customers: the most memorable event while carrying out this work was attempting to ride the delivery bike down Erin Street while it had a load in the front basket consisting of a bag of flour and a bag of sugar. With a small wheel at the front and a large one on the rear the centre of gravity moved considerably when facing down hill. The front became heavier which raised the rear wheel off the ground and made the whole frame revolve around the front wheel. The net result was two bags on the road as well as myself but unscathed as I recall. This was a lesson learned.

(Original Article by Alan Gilchrist)


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