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Thursday, 15 May 2014

Leithfield beach: a family day out




It seems to be agreed that this Irish mother and son were filling the sack with sand, although we don't know what for, or how they would have managed to carriy it away, unless perhaps they were able to drag it to a waiting cart nearby. If it had been kelp they were gathering, that would have been much easier to carry home and use on the garden as fertiliser and mulch, but they may not have had a garden.

My Morrison family in New Zealand enjoyed going to the beach for a day out, specifically to Leithfield Beach, on the east coast, a little to the north of Christchurch. These days on modern highways Leithfield is only about a 45 minute drive from where they lived in Aylmer St Sydenham, but back in the 1920s the cars and roads were not so flash and no doubt the trip took considerably longer. There were closer city beaches such as Brighton and Sumner, but Mona and Jack Morrison seem to have favoured Leithfield, possibly because both Mona's maternal grandparents and her paternal grandmother lived up that way, in Kaiapoi, so she may have known the beach as a child. Her father's half sister Mary Shaw lived at Leithfield with her husband David and their large brood. The Shaw children would have been Mona's half cousins on one side, and her second cousins on the other, but I won't go into that here!  


                               

Here 's Jack posing proudly in front of the new car he purchased in 1926, with his son Ken on the running board, ready to drive to the beach for what may well have been the car's first outing.


After winding through the countryside and down the hill to the beach, Ken and his big sister Pat were no doubt keen to kick their shoes off and play in the grey sand with their bucket and spades.


Either before or after the children played on the beach, they enjoyed the attractions of the nearby playground. Here they are with Jack, perching on a seesaw, and it looks like there's a double or maybe triple slippery dip in the background.
 Mona and the children on a family-sized swing, which I am told is still there today


Someone else must have been present to take this family shot on the seesaw again. Both Mona and Jack remain quite formally attired, in a dress and a three piece suit with tie. No casual beachwear for them!


I'm not sure what Pat and Ken are up to here, but whatever it is, they look very interested!  From the sign in the background, it seems Mona and Jack would have been able to enjoy a nice hot cup of tea with the picnic lunch they had no doubt brought from home for their day out, the first of many over the years in their family car that would eventually accommodate all six children. Mona might have made bacon and egg pie, a great picnic staple and a tradition that has carried on down the generations. I know it was one of Jack's favourite dishes, but in his opinion it had to be accompanied by tomato sauce!



Moving on to February 1956, and here are my parents Jean and Ian Cruickshank with yours truly, relaxing after a swim at nearby Waikuku Beach. This was probably the last time my parents would go there, as we left NZ for Australia just a couple of months later, in April that year. My baby brother would have been about 5 months old, but as there's no sign of him, so perhaps he was left at home with grandparents Mona and Jack.




I took the following photograph of nearby Pines Beach in 2006.  It doesn't look too bad here although I think these beaches are all fairly isolated and windswept, and the sand is rather gritty, at least in comparison with most Australian beaches, but my mother still retained fond memories of her beach days in NZ. I don't remember them, but then I was only three, and at least I have the photos.



For more photos of sandy beach goers, just pick up your buckets and spades and go fossicking at

18 comments:

  1. That car looks well able to hold 6 children and parents.

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    1. Yes,Jack was obviously planning ahead when he bought it. My mother was born that year, so Mona could well have been pregnant with her at the time. Of course were no seat belt requirements way back then, so everyone would just have squeezed in.

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  2. The current beach may be stony & windswept, but it's certainly a pretty beach with all the wildflowers. Love the picture of your mom wearing a bathing cap. We had to wear them in public pools for sure, & sometimes at the beach - though they never did actually keep my hair altogether dry. But when I was older, I spent a few extra dollars to buy pretty caps with flowers & other decorations.

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  3. Fabulous beach pics and an interesting story too.

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  4. It is interesting that they offered boiling water. I don't think that would have been available anywhere in the U.S.

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    1. I don't know but it probably wasn't that unusual, as both New Zealanders and Australians traditionally love a cup of tea, especially back in the days before thermoses became a household item, and of course before takeaway coffee became available. By the way, our hotels always provide a kettle in each room, and a refrigerator to keep things cold, which we found was often not the case in our past travels in the US.

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  5. Very lovely to visit with your families through the years...and I don't quite know how to fossick but am willing to learn.

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  6. And a fine set of photos they are. Loved those sunhats on the children. *smiles*

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  7. Lovely family memories of beach fun - and that car is so impressive - it looks huge!

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  8. I love the photo of Pat and Ken with their heads together concentrating on something And with what looks like the case from perhaps a folding Kodak camera strung over the shoulder !

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  9. I don't remember beaches offering boiling water - but I guess I was never looking for it. A great collection of memories

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  10. The best beaches in the UK are in Northumberland but the North Sea is always cold. I always thought a dress and a suit would be needed there.

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  11. delightful photos and I am especially drawn to look again at those hats and head coverings. Of special interest here as our last name is Morrison (husband not aware of any distant relatives in Australia, but who knows.)

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  12. Love that car! And Jack looks pretty proud of it, too! :) These are such fun, happy photos -- you just can't help but smile looking at them! That hat your Mom and Dad are wearing! Priceless!

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  13. In several of your photos the photographer has the kids squinting against the sun. LOL - we've all been guilty of that crime I'm sure.

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    1. Oh dear, that's a bit harsh, and I don't think they are squinting too badly - at least you can see their faces quite clearly. Sometimes you have to make a choice between shadow or sun, and I'm sure whoever took the snaps was no professional.

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  14. What beautiful flowers on the beach!
    And don't you wonder about adults wearing a suit to the beach -- wasn't it a bother to deal with a sandy and wet child??

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    1. Guess that was just how it was in those days. The children would have been a bit sandy but it doesn't look like they went swimming this time around. My grandfather probably didn't own a pair of shorts, and he even pulled weeds at home in a suit!

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