Memories of Broad Bay

Memories of Broad Bay

Born in June 1942, I lived in the house next to the new hall in Broad Bay along with my elder sister Anita and mum, Jean. Dad (Gus) was away in the army. In my first memory of my father, I was three years old bawling my eyes out on the platform of the railway station, surrounded by all these big people in khaki. Following that little episode, we moved to what was then 7 King George Street (now 11). There were new additions to the family: Gordon, Jackey and Chris. We all attended Broad Bay School, walking to and from home and school in all weathers. As kids we considered the Bay ‘our patch’, from Grassy Point to Ross Point and interlopers were looked on with suspicion.

George (Gus) Fergus Paterson returns home from WW2 to be reunited with his wife, Jean and his children, Anita and Kenneth. Taken at Roebuck Rise.

Visits to the big city were far and few between, but there was plenty to do in the Bay and surrounds. The boating club was a great attraction, the Easter Regatta being a highlight. As a kid, being allowed up in the starters box was a great privilege. Later as teens most of us inherited or owned Dolphin class yachts designed by Andy Wilson (my uncle). There were about a dozen built and we raced mainly on Sundays.

The community in the 1940s to ‘60s was very close knit and there was not much chance to get up to mischief besides the odd orchard raid, parcel on the road type thing. The roads were all gravel apart from the main road which was sealed every three to four years. The Guy Fawkes night bonfire held at the old quarry was much anticipated. Until I was five or six we were able to watch from the Fletcher house, owned by my grandparents Paterson, and I well remember the reflection of the fireworks on the water. Grandfather Paterson was county engineer in the 1930s. He was also the first traffic officer issuing licenses and speeding fines, plus fines for not using horn or signaling device to let horse traffic know that you were on the road.

School holidays were always looked forward to: fishing off the wharf, catching mullet, dog fish, the odd flounder, and great excitement when whitebait would swarm under the boat sheds. When the weather allowed, a picnic at the school beach or up on Grassy Point were full of adventure and fun. As a treat I was taken to the pictures with Grandma – Nana (Spanish) Wilson. We would go down to the harbour basin to see the ships. There was a real hustle and bustle there, with up to ten vessels, both overseas and local coasters, being worked. Having viewed the ships going up to Dunedin from our home in King George Street, it was great to see them up close. A favourite game was to use a large mirror to signal the vessels as they passed by. We often got a reply, but not knowing what we were saying was potentially a problem. In saying that, one captain did write to the local paper thanking whoever signalled for the welcome to Dunedin.

As a family we were absolutely privileged to grow up in a close-knit community with relatives from both sides – grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins and many very good friends. It was a very emotional time when our family left. My mother Jean especially missed the Bay, but I was happy to be able to bring both Mum and Dad home a few years ago, to rest in peace at Cemetery Point, in the place that Mum always called… the beautiful Broad Bay.

By Ken Paterson

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