memories  ....1960’s    page 1
Bullens Circus

This has to be one of the most enduring memories of my  life - watching as the men opened the large crates at the railway station to be face to face with the first real elephant I had ever seen. As a group of us were very close to the crate as it was opened, it was not long before kids scattered in all directions as the monster stepped out. There was not only one elephant but about a dozen. What a sight it was as they were all led down Buller Road to the camping ground where the circus was to be held.

Due to a transport strike or suchlike the Bullen’s Circus was unable to move out of Reefton for about a week. The weather was hot and dry at the time and crowds watched each day as man and elephants bathed and washed in the river nearby.

One day an elephant escaped and wandered around town and a resident drew the morning curtains to see an elephant in the backyard having a feast of cabbages and lettuces from the garden.

Burkes Creek Mine

Several trips to the mine were taken in the early 60’s as my father worked there, also later to the Dauntless Mine. I enjoyed walking to the bus stop at the Criterion Theatre and waiting for Watts Motors to pick the men up. There were several stops around town. Earlier in the piece there was a lot more bush on the ‘shorthand track’ as we called it then. Once at the mine there were a few familiar faces like Tim Tomoko and Jack the Dane who seemed to have jobs on the surface.

Jack Ledson, Johnny Brown, Gordon Ladner, Charlie Shutt, Jimmy Fielding, Gordon Mackie were names I remember. Going down the dip on the trolley was always an experience as was moving through the sacks covering the hole a little further down which opened up a world of darkness and lamps.
Westland Centennial Celebrations

Who remembers the large sign at the entrance to town from Christchurch (100 Centennial)? The whole coast celebrated, each town in its own way. Swimming carnivals, parades down Broadway - floats depicting the many organisations through the century along with decorated bikes and cars; Zephyrs, Vauxhall, Austens, Morris, Fords and many more. Go-cart races were held at the top of Broadway as was a ‘mock court’. Judge Tom Fortune along with Ponti the policeman and Bill Buckley and Jack Weir as villains.

As a small boy I remember going into the cake shop at the Tea Rooms and asked how much one lamington would cost as I had sixpence to spend. Mrs Kennedy behind the counter gave it to me.

Truman's Fire 1961  
I remember just standing in the bath and washing the grass stains off my feet in the early evening when the fire siren sounded. I looked out the kitchen window and saw a huge pall of black smoke in the direction of the state school . Forgetting my feet I was off as fast as my legs would carry me to discover Truman's Clothing Store was ablaze. Crowds soon gathered and all fire hoses seemed to be in action. Pumps were even getting water from the state school swimming pool.

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BY tony fortune

Burkes Creek miners on the trolley which will take them 700 feet underground to begin their shift.