Leslie Hamilton Kemp
Contributed by: Robert Laing
Leslie Hamilton Kemp was born on the 22nd October 1897 at Nelson (“LH Kemp” NZ Birth certificate No.1897/11876) and died on the 1/9/1978.
Leslie was known as “Kempie”
His parents were Benjamin Kemp ( Laddie) and Rose Kemp (nee King) who were married in 1890 ((NA Marriage Certificate No 1890/1080).
Kempie married Daisy Isabel Woolhouse, or Daisy as she was known, on the ??? 1919. (NZ Marriage Certificate No. 1919/4666)
They had five children:
- Lorna and Leslie (twins)
Kempie was born in Bainham, and lived on the West Coast, they were in Tamaranui in 1925 when Lorna and Les were born.
They also lived at some stage in Ngatimoti – Kokatahi farm, Taumaranui, Lake Kanerie, Kanerie township and Council retirement flat in Hokitika.
- Lived in Ross 1917 and worked for the Westland Sawmilling Co. as a sawmill hand.
- Private, NZ Army, Canterbury Infantry Regiment, C Company, Service Number 70981.
- Enlisted 12/11/1917. Left NZ, embarked on the 2/3/1918 and was discharged on the 28/5/1919.
- Awarded the “British War medal’ and an “Illuminated Certificate of Service”.
Kempie, as he was affectionately known, was a tallish person, probably 5ft 10 in high, not over weight, who had a devilish sense of humour. However, at times, Kempie appeared to be the only one who appreciated the fun.
I recall Kempie being a very enthusiastic fisherman, white-baiter and hunter yet at other times he complained of having a bad back which meant he would spend a lot of time lying flat on his back. I used to think that he was a lazy old sod who was very good at using his back as an excuse for not doing things. However I know understand what back pains can be, so I have to give him the benefit of doubt.
Kempie enjoyed playing cards, was an interesting person to talk to about his earlier life and generally good fun. Kempie enjoyed playing tricks or jokes on others. This used to get him into all sorts of bother which he seemed to relish. I recall Daisy giving him some good verbal “floggings” if she thought that he had overstepped the mark, or she considered that he was out of order.
By way of example. Kempie and Daisy stayed with us at Larsen Street, Cape Foulwind just after the Inangahua earthquake which was on the 24 May, 1968. Each quake aftershock was usually preceded by a loud rumbling noise. Kempie would go into a room adjacent to the lounge and beat on the walls with his fists. People in the lounge room would think an earthquake was about to happen. Once people had settled down Daisy would verbally take Kempie to task. A good “verbal lashing” would have been an understatement.
During their stay, one weekend lunch time, we were all having soup and bread for lunch and seated around our dining table when part of the table top dropped slightly but with a loud bang and some plates of soup were slightly spilled. Everyone jumped up and a number started to race outside of the house. When everything had settled down Daisy thought Kempie had caused the ruckus. Boy did Daisy give it to Kempie shouting at him and telling what she thought about his jokes and adding, “Les Kemp, I will leave you yet”. Yes everyone was fairly stressed.
Daisy like everyone else had very frayed nerves, caused by the earthquake aftershocks. The real humour of the incident was that for probably the first time in his life Kempie was innocent and didn’t cause the issue. Our dining table was one that had two drop sides and one of these had, when the side had been raised for lunch and unbeknown to anyone rested on a small block of wood on the underside of the drop side. The drop side feel off the block and caused the bang and incident.
No amount of my explanation to Daisy could convince her that Kempie was not the guilty party. Daisy’s view was that Kempie still deserved a good telling off anyway.
Kempie’s first day at school. Kempie told me about his first day at school at the Bainham School. Bainham is in the north west of the top of the South Island of NZ and inland from Collingwood. When Kempie lived in Bainham it was a timber milling and farming town. Kempie would have started school when he turned 5 years old.
Some of the other school children told Kempie about what to expect when he got to school for the first time. They also told him what he had to do.
Kempie was told that the children would be lined up before going into the classroom by the teacher, they were to take classroom seats and the teacher would tell Kempie where to sit. The teacher would then “call the roll” to so see who was absent. Kempie was told that when his name was called out by the teacher he was to stand up, look at he teacher and poke his tongue out. What a surprise for Kempie. A few good whacks on his first day at school.
The Bainham school ground grass was kept under control by a small flock of sheep kept in the neighbouring paddock. One day, early in Kempie’s school career, some of the school wags let the sheep into the school grounds and told Kempie his job was to stand in the gateway to prevent the sheep getting back into the paddock. All went well for Kempie until a teacher saw the sheep in the school grounds. A number of students were quickly organised to chase the sheep back into the paddock but unfortunately nobody told Kempie what was about to happen. The sheep flattened Kempie as they raced back into the paddock. Another good day at school for Kempie. Perhaps that is where he learned to play jokes on others?
My memories of Kempie.
I recall seeing Kempie and Daisy on numerous occasions from my earliest memories of 4 or 5 years old to when I was at Secondary School 15-16 years old. I cannot recall their funerals as I didn’t attend them.
My earliest memories of Daisy and Kempie came from when we lived in Ross. I recall them staying with us on a number of times.
Kempie had a small Austin or Ford utility vehicle which had a canvas covered canopy on the back of it. Kempie and Daisy camped in the back of the vehicle from time to time.
The first occasion being when we lived in Gibson Street.
Kempie and the goats.
Kempie had a hunting dog which he used to find red deer. He must have gone hunting because I recall Kempie bringing, three medium sized, live goats home which he put into a fenced area that was next to our house. Why Kempie bought the goats’ home, heaven only knows. Who would want three goats? My father must have thought the same when he returned from work later that day.
Dad and Kempie decided that later on that night they would drive the goats out of Ross and hopefully never see them again. They decided to get rid of the goats about 10.00pm that night, well after dark when no one would see them. About 10.30 each night the ‘picture bus” brought people who had come by railcar from Hokitika, to see a movie, back into Ross, from the Ross railway station.
Murphy appeared to have intervened in Dad and Kempie’s attempt to get rid of the goats, because as the two scoundrels were driving the unwilling goats out of town, they saw the picture bus coming from the railway station. Kempie and Dad, “took off” and left the goats to it.
Ross at that time may have just got electricity, 1953, or there about. Many Ross houses had the laundry, or wash house as it was known, as a separate room from the house. Wash houses contained the copper, a device to heat larger quantities of water for weekly washing, baths etc. The wash house was the cause of many early house fires so they it was usually separated from the house in case the wash house caught fire. The idea was that the wash house if it caught fire would burn down but not the house.
Gerry and Flossie Dowling, an older Irish couple, whom we were very friendly with, lived in an old Villa style house with a separate wash house some 3-4 blocks away in Aylmer Street. Gerry worked at the Lime Works, where Dad also worked. Gerry had got up, in the dark to get ready to go to work the morning after the three goats had been chased away. Gerry lit a candle, to go out to the washhouse for his morning wash before breakfast. Gerry pushed the wash house door open and all hell let loose. The three goats were inside the wash house. They would have been equally frightened and left by barging Gerry aside in their exit. Gerry a devote Roman Catholic, thought that devil, himself, had come to take him away. Gerry recounted his ordeal to anyone who listen after he got to work at the lime works. I recall Dad telling me he never said a thing about the goats as he didn’t want to be blamed for putting the goats into Gerry’s wash house.
Kempie and the herrings. I recall another time when Kempie and Daisy stayed with us in Ross. We lived in the two story house that dad built, in Gow Street. Kempie and Daisy were keen fishing people as was Mum. Due west from Ross, on the coast was a good place to go fishing off the beach, just to the south of the Ross railway station and not far from Stuart and Chapman’s sawmill. Kempie, Daisy and Mum went fishing there and caught, on one day, over a 150 large herrings or yellow eyed mullet. I remember plates and plates of raw filleted fish in our fridge. No doubt we ate fish for many meals and we must have given fish to many others. We used to go fishing at the beach quite frequently.
I recall visiting Daisy and Kempie where they lived in a small house not far from Lake Kaniere, inland from Hokitika and where they lived in the Kaniere Township.
Kempie worked for the Hokitika Borough Council in the early 1950’s as a water race employee. The job was based out at Lake Kaniere and had a small cottage that went with the job. The building still stands (2016) and will have been modified. It is a fishing club’s building or similar. The water race brought water from Lake Kaniere to Hokitika. The race may have originally been built during the gold rush days but was used at that time, 1950’s as the Hokitika municipal water supply. Kempie’s job was to keep the water race maintained and to regulate the amount of water that flowed, via the race, into Hokitika.
Kempie’s Kanerie water race trout.
David Kemp told me about one of Kempie’s water race adventures. Kempie had seen a very large trout in the water race and decided to spear the trout. The day Kempie decided to get the trout was a memorable one for Kempie and as things turn out for Daisy as well. Kempie speared the trout but unfortunately for Kempie the water race was considerably deeper, where the trout was, than Kempie expected. Kempie got the trout but fell into the water race.
Kempie decided the best way to go home was to leave the trout on the spear, put the spear over his shoulders and walk home in the “nick’. Kempie’s clothes were also bundled onto the spear. Kempie in the nude must have been a site and that is exactly what Daisy thought when he saw a nude man coming up the road. Daisy immediately locked all of the doors and windows. Kempie had a devils own job to get Daisy to let him inside. He said to her later, “I have been married to you all of these years. I would have thought you knew what I looked like”
Daisy kept the cottage immaculate. There were tanned deer skins on some of the floors as mats. I was very taken as a young bloke with the deer skins. The “Lake” as they all called it was where I first recall Daisy’s superlative cooking skills. Daisy used to make fresh bread in Edmonds Baking Powder tines. The tins had both ends cut out of them giving small cylindrical loaves of bread. Daisy made her own pastry. Daisy’s apple or meat pasties, made in a large oven dish, were just to die for. Hot or cold, what a delight.
Hans Bay, Lake Kanerie. On trips to the Lake, we would often go to Hans Bay, Lake Kaniere, for a picnic or to have a swing. There used to be two swings, side by side, that were made from what looked like telegraph poles. You could go really high on those swings. Thelma and I would be on a swing each and Dad would push us. The sky got very close as I recall. When you are four or five years old, dimensions are seen very differently.
One occasion we went to Hans Bay to go swimming. Daisy was left to look after Thelma and I while Mum, Dad and a friend, young, Gordon Elly went swimming. I think Kempie and his dog went off looking for a deer. Thelma and I were walking in the shallows. Daisy was on the lake edge and didn’t want us to get too deep. Off we went, getting deeper and deeper. I was walking around with my face just out of the water. Thelma unfortunately must have tripped over and went under the water. Poor old Daisy must just about have had kittens, so to speak. I can still see Gordon Elly run passed me to drag Thelma out of the water. Dad was next. He picked me up and deposited me back on the lake shore. When everyone had got over the shock of Thelma nearly drowning I understand Thelma and I were given a lecture about listening to what Daisy had to say and about keeping out of deep water. No doubt they all still loved us!!
Kanerie Township. Kempie must have retired and they moved into the Kaniere Township. Laddie, Kempie’s father went to live with Daisy and Kempie.
I remember many visits to Kempie and Daisy’s at Kanerie. I will document a few of them. I used to get left with Daisy while Mum went shopping in Hokitika. I would have been four or five.
The Chook house. On one occasion Kempie asked if I wanted to play hide and seek. Kempie liked the game as it gave him the opportunity to hide and frighten the daylights out a young chap like me. This day I hid in the hen or chook house. A sturdily built place in the vegetable garden area of the property and behind a high thick hedge which separated the house from the vegetable gardens. Kempie was about to find me so I rushed out of the chook house as Kempie sneaked in. I pushed home the door bolt as I flew back to the house. About an hour later Daisy who had made afternoon tea, asked had I seen Kempie. Daisy and I did a quick search looking for him and then I recalled that he was still in the chook house. Kempie was a most unhappy camper. Daisy had no sympathy for him. Good on you Gran.
On a happier note I recall going to the back of the Kanerie property where Kempie had about a 3-4m rowing boat. He used to take me across to an island in the Hokitika River just upstream of the concrete Kanerie road bridge to go whitebaiting. A very big adventure for a young bloke.
Kempie and Daisy used to come and stay with us out at Larsen St., Cape Foulwind. Kempie, in his early days used to trap opossums for their fur skins which he sold. We had a few opossums in the “Cape” as it was called.
I was about 11-13 as I recall. One night we were coming home from the “pictures” (movies) when we saw an opossum run up a telephone poll. Opossums were pest animals as they eat peoples flower and vegetable gardens and native bush. We used to trap and shoot them. Dad stopped the car because we used to bombard the opossums with stones in the hope that the opossums would jump off the poll into a deep swamp that ran alongside the road and telephone poles. Kempie was in the car and asked us to stop throwing stones. He got two large stones and banged them simultaneously on each side of the poll. Much to our surprise the opossum immediately leapt off the poll into the swamp. That became our method of frightening opossums off telephone poles.
We arrived home another night with Kempie in the car and we saw in the car lights an opossum sitting on top of an archway that we had built for Mum to grow roses over. The archway was about 3-4 m long, about 2-3 m wide and about 2.5m high. The archway had been covered in wire netting to assist the roses grow over the arch. The opossum had its tail through the wire netting. Kempie asked someone to go inside and get the steel fire poker for him so he could kill the opossum. Kempie quickly got out of the car and rushed across to the archway and grabbed the opossum’s dangling tail. That must have frightened the opossum. The animal them peed (urinated) immediately- all over Kempie who, surprisingly let the opossum go and much to the mirth of those who were watching. The opossum had got one over Kempie!
Kempie and Daisy were very keen card players. Kempie licked to play 500, Canasta, Cribbage or crib as it was called and 45s. I can play 45s which was game played on NZ’s, West Coast. Very few people play the game which is an exciting card game. I recall playing crib with both Kempie and Daisy, both good and very competitive card players.
The new mini
I recall Kempie and Daisy arrive at our place at the Cape in a new Morris Mini car. Minis were one of the latest small cars at that time. Very trendy to see you grandparents in one.
Kempie and Daisy didn’t have a lot of money so I asked Dad where Kempie had got the car from. Had they been loaned it. No it was Kempie and Daisy’s car.
I learnt that Kempie was a keen follower of race horses and regularly bet on them. Kempie had won a “double” which more than paid for the car.
Not worth a thing. Kempie had a clear and precise way of telling people that he didn’t have any value for an item or a service. He either, “wouldn’t give you a tin of goat shit for it”, or the item or service wasn’t, according to Kempie, “worth a tin of goat shit”. When Kempie made such comments you gathered he didn’t value goat’s droppings at all and if Daisy, his wife heard the comment, she would almost explode and tell him what she thought of his language and give him a good old, verbal ear bashing.
Stanley Graham Days- October 1941.
These comments are from what Mum, Lorna Ruby Kemp, one of Kempie’s daughters told me.
Stanley Graham was a farmer that lived in Kowhitirangi which was a dairy farming district. Stan had a dairy farm and lived not very far from the Kowhitirangi School. The children at the school started to give Stan cheek and very soon Stan became ostracized by the Kowhitirangi community. He threatened one of his neighbours with a rifle.
Police arrived in a car to confiscate Stan’s firearms. Unfortunately Stanley shot them. A number of others were also shot over the next few days. Stanley who was a very good shot with a rifle “took off” into the hills. Armed police were called and the Home Guard (local Army reservist) was also turned out. Kempie was a member of the Home Guard during WW2.
The Kokatahi and Kowhitirangi farming areas were in an uproar and very concerned that Stanley might try to seek retribution for the way that he had been treated.
Lorna informed me of a number of stories about the Stanley Graham era.
The Home Guard had men stationed in the Longford Hotel which was a white two story building located on the road junction between Kokatahi, Hokitika and Kowhitirangi. Kempie was one of those at the hotel. One evening a fence at the back of the Hotel was heard to move and a challenge was issued by a member of the home guard. The fence continued to move and the challenge remained unanswered. The jittery home guard members proceeded to fire their .303 rifles in the direction of the noise which ultimately stopped. Imagine their surprise in the morning when they found a perfectly dead cow up against the fence.
Kempie was away from the Kemp, small dairy farm, with the home guard which left Les, Mum’s twin brother, as the protector of the family. The family moved their mattresses up into the ceiling of the house and slept there for a duration of the emergency. Each morning the man-hole in the ceiling would be opened and one of the girls would go down into the house while Les sat in the man-hole with the rifle. Once the house had been checked and the family came down and again one of the girls went across to the cow shed while Les covered the cow shed with the rifle. This gives some indication of the concern that people had in the district for their personal safety.
Wounding Stanley Graham
Stan Graham was shot by a policeman while trying to get food from a house. Stanley also had advanced gangrene which resulted from an earlier rifle shot wound Stanley had got from one of the police or Home Guard. Stan died in the Hokitika hospital some hours after being shot by the policeman. The question then became “Who shot and wounded Stan Graham?” Kempie certainly fired a shot at Stan as Stanley was climbing over a fence. Kempie discussed the incident with me and assured me that he missed and hit the fencepost. I have my doubts as Kempie, was an excellent shot with the rifle.
I have been informed of other Graham stories about Kempie.
Mum (May) told me (Shelley Hancock) that as part of the Home Guard Kempie was on watch with a couple of others at Stan’s house in case he came back – during the night Kempie sat on a chair on top of the kitchen table watching up the hallway – the rational being if he got shot it would be in the leg.
I think Mum said that Kempie and others heard Stan outside and challenged him and he took off. They might have seen him on the bush line but they didn’t want to shoot him.
I (Paul Cullen) remember Kempie telling me that one night Kempie and others were keeping watch for Stan who fired a shot at Kempie and his mate. The mate said, “That was a lucky miss” Kempie’s reply was that if Stan wanted to kill one of them, he would have been dead, as Stan never missed anything he shot at.
I will regal you with a few other Kempie stories.
Kempie loved hunting. He would often tell me what I should be doing to better get wildlife into our pots and onto the dining table. When Kempie grew up wildlife would have been an important source of meat for many households. Kempie hunted with a number of people including, Arthur and Charlie Woolhouse, brothers in law, Herb Spoor, a son in law and his brother Bill.
Kempie was, in his earlier days, in my opinion, a poacher, extraordinaire.
Kempie was a wildlife ranger when he lived out at Lake Kanerie. I suppose if you want to catch a thief you employ one to do so. Like putting the fox in charge of the hen house.
Duck shooting has always been licenced for a given season with a shotgun. Kempie’s means of getting ducks were many and not on any duck licence. Kempie’s view was that ducks were ‘fair game’ (able to be taken) at any time of the year and by any method. Ducks breed once a year and when the ducklings are in down they are known as flappers, about late December usually. Kempie’s view was that you needed at least one flapper each for a meal and they were best cooked in a camp oven.
I used to go hunting, with 2-3 others, at the Mokinhui Forks each year after school and before Christmas. We usually had a meal of flappers. Kempie was right they are delicious.
Kempie also gave me hints on shooting ducks with a 22 rifle and how they could be spot lighted of a night time.
Trout. Kempie was very good at reaching under overhanging stream banks to tickle trout. Total illegal however all went well for Kempie until one day he was surprised to find that he was tickling a large ell that was under the overhanging bank.
Kempie was a very keen deer stalker. Arthur Woolhouse, a brother in law told me about a hunting trip that he, Kempie and others did in the Whitcombe valley, a major tributary of the Hokitika River.
David Kemp informed me about a hunting trip Kempie and David’s, father (Albert Edward) or Bill as he was known by all. Kempie and Bill may have gone to the Browning probably via the Styx River and the Grassy Flat. The two hunters got onto the Browning Pass and could look across into Canterbury but lying down on their stomachs as the wind was so strong that they couldn’t stand upright. David told me that while on that hunting trip Kempie shot 24 pointer stag. David has a 12 pointer stag head in his garage which has a note on the back that reads, “Shot Styx River Valley 1930”. The stag Kempie shot on the same trip was a 24 pointer, my Dad thought he had got a 24 pointer to, about 1 hour after Kempie but when they got to it Bill’s stag had 12 points on one side and just a withered stump on the other. The stag’s antlers must have got damaged while in velvet.
I recall seeing Kempie’s stages head on a wall in the Lake Kaniere and Kanerie houses.
Kempie used to often hunt with a 22 rifle and dog. He told me that you front leg shot the deer which wounded the deer and allowed the dog to hold or bail the deer allowing the hunter to head shoot the deer. Kempie hunted until well into his 60’s as I recall.
Kempie’s missing big toe. Kempie entered wood chopping competitions in his earlier days. Wood chopping carnivals were popular events on the West Coast before WW2 and many community event days would have included wood chopping events or ‘the chops’ as I recall them being called. Milling of native forests was a large West Coast industry where axemen and crosscut saw competitors would show their skills. Events called ‘the underhand chop’ of logs of a about 18in or 45cm in diameter. The log was spiked onto a stand and was laid length wise. The axeman would stand on the top of log and chop between his feet. Axemen wore light footwear, usually what were known as tennis shoes.
Other events were the ‘standing chop’ where the log was stood on end and the axeman cut through the upright log. Like chopping down a tree. The most spectacular of the chopping events was ‘the jiggerboard’ where axemen had to cut small steps into a log, place jigger boards in the steps, so that they could stand on the jiggers to be able to chop through a log some 2-3 metres above the ground.
A number of axemen would have easily chopped off toes as I recall seeing the completion axes. All in cases, highly polished and sharp as razor blades. The axeman’s pride and joy.
One can see how Kempie lost his toe. I think it may have happened at a chopping event that was held at Woodstock inland from Hokitika as Dad told me about Kempie at a New Year’s chopping carnival held at Woodstock.
What apparently happened is that while competing in an underhand chop, Kempie chopped off his big toe. He would not have felt a thing and continued on chopping. The crowd had to stop him chopping as blood was shooting everywhere, unbeknown to Leslie Hamilton. He apparently took his severed big toe into the hospital with him. Imagine the surprise the nurse would have had to greet him and his severed toe.
Les’s Rotomanu farm.
I recall that when living in Ross we quickly changed our 1952 or 1953 Christmas/New Year plans and went up to Les and Pat’s Rotomanu dairy farm to help Kempie and Less make the hay. That was an adventure for a young bloke like me. I will copy the section I wrote about myself into here.
I was about five and I recall driving from Ross to Rotomanu via Kumara Township. There was a road bridge at Kumara and the road went via Mitchell’s Hotel on the southern shores of Lake Brunner to Rotomanu. The road was gravel but well surfaced and smooth and very narrow so that the dense bush was very close to either side of the road and in many places it was like travelling in a bush tunnel. I recall driving around sharp corners on the edge of the lake where ridges came down to the lake.
We arrived at the farm and had to cross the main West Coast to Christchurch railway line. This involved opening a wooden, white railway gate on both sides of the track. That was mum’s job. Having gone through the second gate we were on the farmhouse road but in a paddock. The Bull paddock with a large bellowing, Jersey Bull that neither of my parents liked the look of especially when the bull followed the car. I think Les met us with some dogs to drive the bull off with to allow us to get out of the Bull paddock. I was told by all that I was not to go into the Bull paddock.
Kempie, Daisy and Laddie where at the farm when we arrived. I slept in the lounge. They turned to sofa (lounge) around and pushed it up against the wall under the lounge window. This made a good bed for a young bloke. I used to hear the steam trains as they approached the farm which was only about 200 or so metres from the house. I would get up onto the bed and watch the trains. These black, steam belching monsters with a single big head light left a lasting impression on me. I can still recall the night trains, all light up and chuffing along.
The first day on the farm I tried to ride one of Les’s dogs who seemed very friendly and wanted to play. I got a sharp nip from the dog for my troubles and that ended any thoughts of riding the dogs.
Mum has us save silver sixpence and thrupence coins for ages before Christmas and a one shilling coin. This was to go into the Christmas plum duff. Mum must have taken the coins to the farm. I can still see Dad, Kempie, Laddie and Les standing around a copper which was outside drinking beer while the plum duff cooked. The plum duff mixture had been put into a mutton bag, an open weave, cloth bag and was lowered into the boiling water of the copper to cook. A couple of hours as I recall. The duff was delicious with yellow custard and fresh farm cream. We were told to watch out for the coins and whoever got the shilling could make a wish.
Christmas day was a grand affair. Christmas presents in the morning and lunch with a Goose, which Les had shot being served as the main dish. Lots of roast vegetables and the duff to finish off with.
I remember trying to catch trout. I was the helper, person who tagged along. I mentioned you could tickle trout. Well I saw them shot with a rifle and I watched as they set a fishing net overnight to catch trout.
The thing about this trip that sticks into our minds (sister, Thelma) and I was an afternoon eeling expedition just downstream of the farm’s milking shed, opposite the pig paddock on the banks of the river, the Poerua River. Les had pigs in a paddock hear to the cow shed, as was common farming practice in those days. After the cow’s milk had been ‘separated’, the cream or milk solids taken off for the dairy factory, the remaining ‘skimmed’ milk was piped into a trough in the pig paddock. This was an important source of food for the pigs.
Dad and Les were the eeler’s or fishermen. We all sat up on the bank and watched what turned out to be a most impressive show. The eels were lured to the top of the water by Dad using an eel ‘bob’, a few fistfuls of goose insides wrapped in muslin cloth. The eels would latch their teeth into the bob and be bought to the surface where Les would spear them with a hay fork and either throw the eel into the pig paddock or he would hand the hay fork and eel to Kempie who would flick the eel into the pigs. The pigs would squeal and grab the eels. I remember two pigs, each with an end of the same eel in their mouths. Very impressive if you are about five or so.
Dad had bought an eel to the surface for Les to spear. Dad stepped back to give les some room but unfortunately Dad stepped back into the river with the eels. Boy did he move. Firstly Dad went into the water up to his chest and then scrambled out as quickly as he could because he didn’t like the thought of the large eels, some nearly two meters long and about 15-20 cm in diameter. Dad used to carry a fob watch. This round silver watch was kept in a leather pouch on his belt as he used to say it was better kept than a wrist watch. The watch never went again after its swim.
Needless to say that bought an end to the eeling with much check having been given to Dad I would imagine.
One adventure that Thelma and I vividly remember some 60 plus years later. Some much for our farm visit.
Kempie and the salt.
I stayed with Daisy and Kempie one afternoon when I was about four while Mum went into Hokitika. Daisy was making afternoon tea. Kempie and I were sitting at the table waiting for Daisy. I watched Kempie take a teaspoon and fill it with salt. Later, during afternoon tea, he asked me did I like sugar. I must have said yes as he gave me a teaspoon of sugar to eat. The jolly salt. I would have spluttered and performed, I can’t really recall. What I do remember is the verbal caning Daisy gave him. Like water off a ducks back, the old blighter.
Comments from other Cousins.
Shelley and Judith Spoor stayed with Kempie and Daisy in Revell St., Hokitika for a holiday. They recall visiting Kempie and Daisy in Revell St Hokitika, where they had a little flat (council pensioner flat) in the late 1960’s they think. While Daisy was busy getting morning tea ready Kempie would be sitting at the dining table with his back to Daisy and he would shoot out his false teeth at me – frightening and intriguing to a small child! He was always careful to keep his back to Daisy. Both tell the same story. Funny, now that they have raised the issue, I can also recall the old sod doing the same to me. One way to impress the grandchildren and certainly out of Daisy’s sight, as she would have given him another earful.
Kempie and the Mini Minor. We (Kemp family) used to live in the little sawmilling village of Inchbonnie back in the mid 1960’s and I (Gerry Kemp) can remember Kempie and ‘Nana’ Daisy arriving in the little Mini Minor. It was amazing that Kempie could fit into that little car. He seemed to be as big as house when he was climbing in and out of it.
I can remember staying at their little flat in Revel Street, Hokitika and my impressions were that Daisy was a lovely quiet person and Kempie was very loud and boisterous. Gerry.
Helen Kemp sent these comments.
My sister Annette and I (Helen Kemp) stayed for a short holiday with Nana and Poppa Kemp at the little pensioner flat in Revell Street. They drove to Inchbonnie in their little Mini to collect us. Poppa was a giant of a man to my young eyes and very loud and scary at times. Nana seemed so little by comparison and very kind. She had the most beautiful blue eyes. I didn’t go much on the thin, whole oats porridge- it didn’t compare well with Sargent Dan’s Cremota with the cream off the top of the milk – delivered fresh, in a billy from Jack Fitzsimons one of our Inchbonnie neighbours. Her baking was delicious although one was very conscious that if one was to drop a crumb, there would be the seemingly instant intervention of the little brush and shovel with an associated slight air of disapproval. Their flat was immaculate.
The flat backed onto the beach via a short walk thru the marram grass and lupines. We were allowed to go onto the beach, only under the strict supervision of Poppa, who was well aware to the treacherous seas that pounded the West Coast shore, with the occasional rogue wave, ever ready to claim an unwitting victim. We were never allowed within a bull’s roar of the water. Poppa took us down to Cass Square Park one day and let us “swim” in the paddling pool. It seemed quite deep then.
All the pensioner flats had a little shed/ wash-house. The copper at Poppa Kemps was often used for brewing his beer and I only got to have a quick peek in there when Dad was visiting…obviously for an expert’s assessment of the latest vintage.
At night we would often have a “quick game of cards” with one or both of the oldies before Nana would tuck us into bed.
Their neighbours on the southern side were the famous Skelton brothers, and there was always some indication of their horse racing association on the adjacent section, be it sulkies or horse floats.
We were lucky to know our grandparents. I have a fleeting recollection of seeing Laddie and the little house at Kaniere. I make a point of visiting the Nelson gravesite where Benjamin & Rosina, are lain side by side with Les and Daisy, and with my Dad’s ashes reposing in the corner.