Leisure Activities Long Ago
One thing that hasn’t changed over the years is the love of riding “bikes” by both boys and girls. I inherited one from my father, an American adult bicycle, one with balloon tyres. This set me apart from some of the other boys but I didn’t mind being different. These days it seems that you all have to have the same heavily marketed brand, be it shoes or bikes.
My childhood days in Raetihi during the late forties and early fifties were spent with other boys on their bikes around the town, that is when we weren’t roaming around the hills. or when we weren’t playing at Tarzan or Robin Hod down in the bush reserve next to the Motor camp. The only adult rules that seemed to apply was, to keep out of trouble and to be home by six. None of us had watches so we got good at watching the sun. If it was raining, we were usually home reading comics.
Occasionally, when we got together, we would open all the gates in the stock saleyards in Seddon Street, throw in buckets of water and create a race track. A bit messy but it was usually the guy who could do the best drifting moves around the corners that was the one who won the races.
Buckets of water were also used when sledging down the hills around Hukaroa Road. These were poured down a track and everyone rode their simply constructed sledges until the track provided a muddy and fast ride. Great fun but not appreciated by the mothers who in my early days still had to boil up a copper for washing on a Monday morning.
The popular summer activity for some of us as to “acquire” a sheet of corrugated iron, flatten it out and the bend it into the shape of a canoe. The fore and aft ends were made waterproof with wooden pieces and tar removed from the highway. Paddles were two pieces of wood, one for each hand. We floated these in the Makotuku Stream at the back of the motor camp, which seemed to have more water in it than it does today. No races but plenty of collisions and tip-outs.
Even though we didn’t have television or “devices” we never seemed to get “bored’ as I hear young people say today. All we had was the Saturday afternoon matinee at the Royal theatre and a lot of imagination. On reflection I think we were very lucky to grow up in ‘good old’ Raetihi in a time of relatively prosperity and in a town that had all we needed.