SummaryA 2009 Memoir and Local History Competition entry.Main Body
One day in the late 1950s I took my children to the cinema – the Regent Theatre in Spring Street, Tauranga. We went to watch a Western on the big screen. After the show ended we clambered into our Vanguard car to drive back to our farm at Papamoa via Welcome Bay Road. It was race day at Tauranga Racing Club, and we just happened to get caught up in the cars leaving the racecourse in the afternoon.
Approaching the Hairini bridge from Turret Road, there was Mr Drabble, the local traffic inspector, keeping his eye on the traffic driving over the bridge. The Hairini bridge was a one-way bridge with a passing bay at the top for traffic coming from the south to pass the north-heading traffic. This passing bay only allowed two cars to pass. It came our turn to go onto the bridge and half way to the passing bay the car stalled. The gears were on the steering column, as it was a 1955 Vanguard model. The children said, “Hurry up, Mum, the cops are coming!” But the car refused to go into gear.
“Look, lady, get a move on. You’re holding up the traffic,” Mr Drabble said.
I knew what the matter was, so I explained my dilemma to the inspector.
“Would you please just give the piece of number 8 wire a couple of turns under the bonnet? You will see where the gears are. I’ll pop the car bonnet so you can do this, please.”
I popped the bonnet and the inspector frowned at me, but did my bidding.
By this time several men had jumped out of their cars and came along to help the inspector. There were loud guffaws of laughter at the obvious piece of number 8 wire holding the gears together. Bang went the bonnet.
The traffic inspector came to my window and said, “You get your husband to fix the gears on this car. All we could do was to twist the wire to second (second gear), so that is the only gear you’ve got to get home.”
I thanked the inspector. We lived 14 miles out of Tauranga, but we made it home and yes, the gears were mended at Tauranga Motors, Grey Street. In those days if cars broke down, there were no cell phones to call up for help – we just had to walk to the nearest garage.
There used to be a petrol station a few yards past Kaitemako Road and a grocer’s store on the corner of Kairua and Welcome Bay Road, Rocky Cutting. Ha! Those days were grand.
One time I ran out of petrol on the Hairini-Welcome Bay Road. I flagged down a petrol tanker and the driver gave me a pint of petrol. He used a small dipper to collect the petrol from a wee tap under his truck. The petrol tankers weren’t like the big rigs of today.