Chapter 9
William James Titchener

Eli and Emma’s eldest, “Jim” [T.5], was, it seems, the only one of their three children born in England to survive the journey to Australia. Of his childhood I know nothing. He married Elizabeth Finch on May 7, 1874 at Tokomairiro, now called Milton. Elizabeth was three years James’ senior. Mona Hood, one of James’ grandchildren thought it was “on the rebound”. He had first been engaged to a sister of Elizabeth, but she broke it off.

The Finch family were part of the first contingent of settlers who came to Dunedin in 1848 on the “Philip Laing” and “John Wickliffe”. The “John Wickliffe” was the supply ship, and carried a relatively small number of settlers. These were English, and among them were the Finches. Although the “John Wickliffe” arrived in Otago Harbour first - on March 23, 1848 - disembarkation was delayed until the arrival of the “Philip Laing”, so that the Scottish settlers in it could all land first. It was, after all, a Scottish settlement. The English, including the Finches, who came from Derbyshire, were only allowed to land later.

In our family it was often said that Elizabeth Finch was the first white child born in Otago. This is incorrect. She was born in Etwall, Derbyshire on June 2, 1847, and was 10 months old when the Finches landed in Dunedin. Perhaps, however, she was the youngest child among that first contingent of settlers.

Jim, it was always said was easygoing - “too easygoing” was sometimes the phrase. I was too young to remember him. He died about 1922 when I was only about two years old. “He was a dear,” said Neville Titchener; “a dear kind man,” said Orma, Neville’s sister. “But we didn’t like Grandma at all,” said Neville. “She was fierce. When we paid a visit, we would soon be asking when we could go home. Grandma, overhearing this would say, ‘But you’ve only just come. Your mother came to talk to me.’ ” Orma recalled that “Grandpa used to come and stay a few days at a time”. This would have been at the Helena Street house, where she would then have been living as a child. She remembered this as “after the death of his wife”. But Elizabeth survived Jim by about five years. It seems more likely that he came to get away from his wife’s “fierceness”. She certainly provided the drive. She also provided him with seven children.

As a young man Jim moved about a bit. “The Otago Jubilee Edition” (1898) indicates that he resided in Lawrence and then moved successively to Tapanui, Greenfield Station near Tuapeka Mouth, and Caversham. He was evidently employed on a farm as a young man. His daughter, Emma, in her mature years, told Min Titchener, wife of Elijah Percy, Emma’s youngest brother, that she was “born in a tent”, and pointed out the field near Lawrence where this took place. It was as a shepherd on a farm that Jim met and married Elizabeth Finch. Somewhere, perhaps also on a farm, he learned the trade of blacksmith.

From the Stones directories we can reconstruct something of Jim’s life after he and his family settled in Dunedin. 1884, the first year of issue of “Stones Directory of Dunedin and Suburbs”, sees Jim listed as a blacksmith with business address in Main South Road, Caversham. His home address is High Street, Caversham Extension (now Morrison Street, Caversham). He continued in business on the Main South Road until about 1891. He then seems to have been joined by or taken over by a Richard Kennard, for it is Kennard and not James Titchener who appears as blacksmith, Main South Road in the 1894 directory. James’ name does not appear at this address again. The surrender of his business to Richard Kennard may be an instance of James’ “easygoing” nature.

Kennard is the name of the family into which Emma [T.5], James’ daughter, married. Her husband was Thomas Lyndon Kennard. Perhaps he was a son of Richard Kennard. Thomas Kennard was a blacksmith in Milton. The shell of his smithy was still standing in 1943 when I was living in Milton, and his name was still on the wall above the big double doors.

Except for a short interlude in 1896 Elizabeth and James lived in High Street, Caversham until James’ death. The street name was changed to Morrison Street in 1905 or 1906. By 1910 street numbers had been introduced, and theirs became No.10. James’ name continued to be listed there in the directories until 1922.

The directory for 1896, besides listing William James at High Street, Caversham, also lists a James at Greenfield. Since there are no other James Titcheners in Otago at this time, or for that matter in New Zealand, this must be “our” William James. It seems that he returned to Greenfield for a short time. There is no mention of him in Greenfield the following year. One can surmise that, as his blacksmithing business on the Main South Road, Caversham, began to fail, Richard Kennard took it over, and Jim, during these difficulties, took employment for a while at Greenfield. It must have been after his return from Greenfield that he went to work at the Hillside Railways Workshops, where he continued in the trade of blacksmith until he retired. This was probably about 1910.


Figure 9.1: William James (“Jim”) Titchener, his wife Elizabeth (nee Finch), and their children. From the left: Albert, Lilian, Elizabeth, William, Percy, Emma, Jim, Frank, Jack.

Elizabeth survived James for about five years. She went to live with her daughter, Emma Kennard, in Milton. But Emma, who by this time was bringing up Arthur Deaker, the younger son of her dead sister, Lily, fell over his trike and broke her arm. Elizabeth Finch then went to a neighbour of Emma, a Mrs Moore, but soon moved to Invercargill, to live with her second son, Jack, and his family. There she fell, breaking a hip. By this time she was close to 80. Mona Hood, one of Jack’s children, told us she was expected to die, and nothing was done about operating on the hip. From then on she was a cripple. She died on April 11, 1927, two months short of her 80th birthday.

9.1 Children of William James and Elizabeth

James and Elizabeth Titchener had seven children [T.5], all of whom grew to adulthood, and all of whom married. I know almost nothing of the childhood years of any of them.

9.1.1 Albert Ernest Titchener

The eldest child, Albert Ernest [T.5, T.9], always known as Albert, was born on July 19, 1875. He married in 1902. His bride, Lilian May Johnston (“Lil”), was the daughter of an Irishman who had come to the Otago goldfields. Albert and Lil at first lived in Melbourne Street, South Dunedin, but in 1904 moved to Helena Street to join Eli’s widow, Emma, who had continued to live there after her husband had died. For a few years my Grandpa and Grandma Titchener had lived there with her, but she seems to have been alone from 1897 until Albert and Lil came in 1904.

Albert, according to the Stones directory for l903, was a “range fitter”; thereafter is described as a “fitter”. I do not know where he worked. In 1916 his occupation changes to “commercial traveller” and in the following year to “clerk”. His daughter, Orma, tells that he “was unable to go to the War [World War I] because of a chest weakness. His conscience led him to help with returned soldiers invalided back to New Zealand and being treated at Montecillo Home. Coming back from Montecillo to Helena Street in the rain he caught a chill and then developed influenza and died”. This was the “Spanish ’flu” that was brought into the country by returning New Zealand soldiers at the end of the war and rapidly reached epidemic levels.

Albert and Lil had four children [T.9], Leslie (“Les”) born in 1904, Koa born in 1907, Orma in 1910, and Neville in 1912. Koa died in infancy. When Albert died in 1919, Lil was left to support and bring up the three children. Les, aged 15, had to leave from his second year at Otago Boys’ High School to take a job and earn some money. Through the help of a Mr Taylor, the Dunedin manager of Kempthorne Prosser Ltd, he got a position there as office boy. In time he rose to senior positions, finally becoming manager of the firm’s Wanganui branch.

The name Titchener is not a particularly common one, and soon after I was taken on as assistant engineer in the consulting practice of E. R. Garden and Associates, Eoin, the senior partner, connected me with Les. When I joined them E. R. Garden and Associates were retained as consultants to Kempthornes, and Eoin had formerly worked for Kempthorne Prosser as an engineer. He related to me a story of Les he had had of Mr Taylor, who was by now the general manager of the company. One of Les’ jobs as junior office boy was to open the mail and place it on the desk for his boss, Mr Taylor, to read on his arrival each morning. Les started work earlier than his boss, but one day Mr Taylor arrived earlier than usual, to find Les in his chair reading his mail. Rebuked, Les apologized and, perhaps a little cheekily, explained that he felt that, if he was to get on in the firm, he should try to understand more about it. In due course he obviously did.

Les’ promotion to Wanganui was annoumced in 1951. Margaret and I were planning to get married late that year. Although the war had been over for three years housing was difficult to find. I knew Les and his wife, Gloria, slightly through the family connection. Margaret and I decided to approach them to see what they planned to do about their house, which was in Andersons Bay, hoping they might let it to us. We got a very friendly reaction when we went to see them. They were, I think, not ready to burn their Dunedin boats by selling. They were, if I may be allowed the pun, most accommodating. In the event Margaret’s father, not long widowed, and restless, decided to move to Waikouaiti, but at the same time to retain his George Street home, so that he could periodically return to Dunedin. So we went to live in his George Street house - rent-free as I recall it - a considerable boon - and with the services of his maid. We had to cancel the arrangement we had made with Les and Gloria.


Figure 9.2: Four generations. From the left: Great Grandma Titchener, grandson Albert, great grandson Les, and son Jim.

Lil was a staunch member of the Anglican church. The parish church of St Peters stood in Cargill Road almost opposite Helena Street and Hiram Lodge The children were no doubt regular attenders at Sunday School and Bible Class. As St Clair grew, the parish set up a second church to serve that area, calling it St Peter the Less. In the late 1920s or early 1930s they appointed a curate whose responsibility was this outlying church and its flock. The curate was a Geoffrey Samuda. It seemed to me, a schoolboy at the time, that the Reverend Samuda was not universally popular among the St Clair parishioners. At any rate my close schoolboy friend, Guy Kensington, whose family were unhappy with Geoffrey Samuda, began to come to the much more distant Holy Cross church, where I still went to Bible Class. I have always suspected that Geoffrey Samuda’s foreign-sounding name was a good part of the problem. There was some head-shaking in our family when Orma Titchener became engaged to him. Clearly, however, she did not share the doubts of either my parents or the parishioners. They married in 1934 [T.9].

Orma told us about the Samuda name and family story when Margaret and I visited her in Levin in 1992. The Samudas had been Jews in Portugal. One of them was doctor to the Queen of Portugal at the time of the Spanish Inquisition. Getting wind of the Inquisition’s plan to persecute Jews, he let the family know and they fled, first to France, later to England. This was about 1620, Orma said. Some time later the family founded a ship-building firm in London, and became very successful. At one time they employed over a thousand people. In the 19th century they built the first “ironclad”. Over time the Samudas gradually converted to christianity. Geoffrey’s father was killed in an accident at the shipyards when Geoffrey was a small boy. His father and another member of the family were testing “a new steam gadget”, and one of them, Geoffrey’s father, went down below while the other remained above during the test. The “gadget” blew up killing Geoffrey’s father. Geoffrey spent his early years in France in the care of an elderly relative, but was often shipped between France and England. Orma did not get round to explaining how it was that Geoffrey came to New Zealand. The ship-building industry gradually declined.

Orma went to England in 1964 with “Geoff”. He had had a heart attack, but made a good recovery, aided by the doctor’s telling him that he thought he was now fit enough to make the trip he and Orma had planned but had had to postpone because of his illness. They had no sooner arrived in England, however, when Geoff had another heart attack, and from this he died.

Orma stayed on in England for 14 years, mainly in Norfolk, particularly Dereham. When she was close to 70 she returned to New Zealand, at her daughter’s persuasion. She lived for a time at Selwyn Oaks, an Anglican retirement village in Papakura. She had expected to go into Selwyn Village in Auckland, but arrived there to find they had made no provision for her, and to be confronted by an angry canon in charge, who told her she should have let them know she was coming. “But I have,” she responded; and the canon, on looking up her file, discovered her letter at the front of it. Her “relegation” to Selwyn Oaks resulted from this bungle.

After some months there she decided to leave, unable to stand the senility of her table companions. She bought a unit in Manurewa; then a little later, at the suggestion of a friend who lived in Levin, sold it and bought a unit there.

In 1989 Orma made another visit to England. Setting out to visit Madeline Cobb, she was boarding a bus when, she being rather slow - she was now 79 - a man behind her decided to help her aboard. In doing so he unintentionally broke two of her ribs. She was subject to osteoporosis. She was slow to seek medical attention and, by the time she did, she was suffering from pneumonia. This later turned to double pneumonia. She was put into hospital in Southampton and then at Milford-on-Sea. She made a very slow recovery, and finally had to abandon her plans to visit friends in Britain and returned to New Zealand.

When Margaret and I visited her she looked frail and shrunken, unable to walk except with the help of a walking frame or by catching hold of various items of furniture round her attractive sitting room in her unit at Levin. Yet she seemed in great spirit, with a lively eye, a good memory, and a nice sense of humour. “I’ve had a great life,” she said. “I want to get one of those electric gadgets to go shopping in.” She had not been outdoors for months, and one could not visualise her ever driving one of those “gadgets”.

A few days later Margaret and I visited Neville [T.9], Orma’s younger brother, and his wife, Agnes, in the Seatoun house to which they had retired. The strong church background of his family had led Neville into the Anglican ministry. He rose to the rank of canon. His wife, Agnes, was the elder of the two Sharpe children who lived in Sandringham Street, St Clair, just round the corner from our place in Beach Street. Agnes was a few years older than me. Her brother, Leonard, was my age, though a year junior to me at school. I chiefly remember him as breaking an arm - or was it a leg? - at the St Clair playground that stood on Victoria Road behind the Surf Life Saving Club, and as the person for whom my close friend of the time, Guy Kensington, abandoned me. I suffered misery and jealousy for a full year; but years later came to realise that Guy and I had already been growing apart, and that the friendship was doomed. We were quite different people. The friendship was held together only by our living across the fence from each other and my willingness to follow Guy’s enthusiasms for cricket and football, for which, unlike him, I had no special talent. Agnes, perhaps two years older, seemed remote. Although I knew Neville by sight in those days, I had no real contact with either him or Agnes. When we met again after so many years - nearly 60 - Agnes was in excellent spirits and health, Neville in good spirits but greatly handicapped by his near blindness, the result of cataracts unsuccessfully operated on.

9.1.2 Emma Elizabeth Titchener

The second child and eldest daughter of James and Elizabeth Titchener was Emma Elizabeth [T.5], born on March 7, 1877, “in a tent”, as I have already recounted. This may have been at Greenfield station.

Emma married Thomas Lyndon Kennard in 1903. He was a blacksmith in Milton. They had no children. Lyndon kept a fine outfit of horse and trap, which he used to exhibit at agricultural shows in and around the district. Mona Hood recalls that on one occasion he even showed up in Invercargill where her parents and family then lived.

When Emma’s younger sister, Lilian [T.5], died in the 1919 influenza epidemic, her husband, Richard Deaker, was left with two small boys, one of them, Arthur, born only the year before. Emma took Arthur in and brought him up virtually as her own. He was never formally adopted, however, and retained Deaker as his surname. When Arthur grew up he went to work in the Hillside Railway Workshops, where he was apprenticed as a moulder. I met him only once. He was paying a visit to Grandma and Grandpa Titchener’s one Sunday afternoon, when we arrived on one of our by now weekly visits. I remember him as being about 18 or 20, swarthy-looking as if ingrained all over with black moulding sand, and almost as untalkative as I was. Not long after we arrived, and possibly overawed by this crowd of strangers, he took a mumbling farewell.

I first met Emma in 1943. During that year of the War, I was working, under manpower direction, for the drilling section of the Mines Department. I was a junior member of a small team equipped with two diamond drills and a tractor, and charged with seeking phosphate rock in the low rolling hills just south of Clarendon. These deposits had already been worked, not very profitably, many years earlier by the Ewing Phosphate Company, whose brick storage shed was still standing alongside the railway line at Clarendon siding. The usual modern sources of phosphate, Nauru and Pacific Islands, had fallen to the Japanese army, and shipments from more distance sources such as Morocco were chancy, vulnerable to attack and sinking by submarine. The two drillers, McKane and Erskine, were both married and had brought their wives and families as well as their drills from the West Coast, and had settled into rented houses in Milton. The remaining three of us, two “drill-runner’s assistants”, of whom I was one, and the rigger, all single, were boarding at Gray’s Hotel. Milton in those days was “dry”. So, for that matter, was the whole of South Otago and much of Southland. There wasn’t a “pub” nearer than Henley to the north or Beaumont to the west, with nothing to the south even unto Invercargill. Gray’s was thus a “private hotel”. It was, in effect, little more than a boarding house, frequented by a handful of “permanents” like us, with an occasional commercial traveller who for some reason had failed to organise his night in the greater congeniality of a licensed hotel. It was a very old building, dating back, probably, to the coaching days. The frontage had been given an unfortunate rough-cast face-lift over its original weatherboarding, but inside little was changed. There was still a “sample room” complete with large table, where travellers could display their wares, and a number of horse-hair-stuffed chairs with carved legs and elaborate padded arms. Except for a small lounge, in which a commensurately small fire burned in winter, it was a pretty cheerless place. After dinner the boarders would gather in the lounge and swap unlikely tales about their past adventures. My bedroom opened off the lounge, which meant that I heard these tales whether in the lounge or my bedroom, unless I chose to walk Milton’s empty main street. Mr Gray, the proprietor of this establishment, was hardly more cheerful than his hotel. I thought him miserly as well as unctuous.

One day our rigger, Fred Reinheimer, a short, perky little man, balding, bespectacled, and irrepressibly cheerful, announced that he was leaving Gray’s Hotel and going into private board. He had found, he said, a very nice place only a couple of blocks behind the main road. The landlady was a Mrs Kennard. In distant memory a bell rang. I remembered the meeting four or five years ago with Arthur Deaker in Dunedin, and the story then recounted that he had been brought up by Emma Kennard. “She’d be a woman of 60 or so,” said Fred. Somewhat diffidently I went round, at Fred’s invitation, to meet his new landlady, to have dinner there in fact. Even more diffidently I asked her, after dinner, whether she might have another spare room and be willing to accept another boarder. She welcomed me, almost literally with open arms. I moved in at the end of the week.

Emma was a wonderful person, not merely a wonderful landlady. Warm-hearted, unfailingly cheerful and unfailingly kind; and a very good cook to boot. The sitting room to which we repaired each evening after dinner was always warm, the fire always brightly burning. Fred and I were very comfortable.

Emma at this time was well into her sixties, but still very active, though slightly stooped. She lived alone (except for her two boarders), but, having lived in Milton most of her adult life, had many friends.

It was a custom of her brother - “Blind Frank” [T.5] - to pay Emma an annual visit of a week or two from Auckland, where he had gone to live as his blindness advanced and he needed to attend St Dunstan’s School for the Blind. By 1943 his wife had died, or so I believe. My months with Emma as a boarder overlapped Frank’s visit in that year, and we had many talks in front of Emma’s fire. Frank had a prodigious memory and a lively curiosity. He was full of questions. It is unfortunate that my curiosity about the Titchener family was not really alive at that time. I could have learned so much from him. However, as I was to discover in time, Frank’s pride in the name Titchener sometimes stood in the way of strict accuracy. Not everything he said could be accepted until it had been checked. Nevertheless I enjoyed his company, his lively interest in the affairs of New Zealand and the world, and the occasional insights he gave me into one or other of his many correspondents. He had learned to touch-type, though not altogether accurately. He depended on others to make corrections. When he received letters they had to be read to him. I never ceased to be astonished at how retentive his memory was for the contents of a letter that had been read to him only once.

It was through Frank, more than 10 years later, that we made contact with the two Titchener sisters in Providence, Rhode Island. The father of these sisters, Albert Titchener, used to correspond with a Mrs Cook in Whangarei, a long-time pen-friend. Mrs Cook noticed in an Auckland “Weekly News” an advertisement for Titchener’s jams and also bought some of the products. Because the name is unusual she sent a “Weekly News” to Albert Titchener. He wrote to the address given in the advertisement. The jam-maker was Percy Titchener [T.5], Blind Frank’s youngest brother. Percy was too busy or perhaps merely too uninterested to respond, and one of his sons, Trevor, replied. Later, Frank, on being told of the letter, took up the correspondence. When Albert died the two daughters continued it.

Somehow, and I do not know how, Frank learned that I had gone, in 1955, to the U.S.A., accompanied by Margaret and our children, to study at M.I.T. in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Frank discovered our address there, and wrote this to Ellen Titchener and Dorothy Peacock, Albert’s daughters. “Dear Kinsfolk,” wrote Ellen to us in due course, and out of this it was arranged that they come up to visit us. Some months later we were able to return the visit. Ellen and Dorothy explained that their father, born in Reigate, Surrey, had come to America as a young man. They showed us notes and a family tree he had constructed. His family were all born in Reigate or nearby. I was never able to connect his family with “our” Titcheners.

After Ellen died - this was after we had returned to New Zealand - Dorothy Peacock came out to New Zealand and stayed with us. She was guest at a party mounted by Min, Percy’s widow, where she was introduced to a large number of the “Auckland” Titcheners, none of them related, of course, to her. This coming together of two lots of Titcheners from such different parts of the world gave obvious pleasure both to Dorothy and to the New Zealand “clan”. It had an unfortunate secondary result, however, in confusing Madeline Cobb who, as her “Family Notes” show, seemed unable to resist incorporating Dorothy Peacock into the family tree of the New Zealand Titcheners.

9.1.3 John James Titchener

John James Titchener (“Jack”) [T.5], the third child and second son of James and Elizabeth, was born in Dunedin on February 12, 1879. When he left school he was apprenticed as a tailor. However, after completing his apprenticeship, he left Dunedin, taking work in dairy and cheese factories in the south. There were many such factories in those days, often small farmer-cooperatives. While working at Drummond, near Winton in Southland, he met his wife-to-be, Isabella May Mackintosh (“Bella”) [T.10]. She was the daughter of a local farmer. Mona Hood, one of Jack and Bella’s daughters, of whom more below, had, in the sitting room of her house at Kelvin Heights on the outskirts of Queenstown, a hand- coloured photograph of Bella’s father seated outside the conservatory of his farmhouse. He looks to be about 70. He is wearing a kind of Turkish fez, a smoking cap no doubt. This photo, Mona said, stood for years on her parents’ piano before she claimed it.

Not long after marrying, Jack and Bella moved to Invercargill. The damp of the dairy factory and the climate had begun to affect Jack’s chest. In Invercargill he returned to tailoring.

Jack and Bella had six children [T.10]. All except Mona were born in Invercargill. The second child, John, died when only three weeks old. The third, Sylvia, the eldest daughter, died of tuberculosis at the age of 29, unmarried.

The eldest child, William James Mackintosh (“Bill”) [T.10a] joined the Civil Service (the Post Office?), moved or was transferred north to Hawkes Bay and there married Edith Marjorie Moore. They had a family of five boys. “The family name is not likely to die out,” remarked an older relative.

Mona, the fourth child and second daughter [T.10], is the only one I know. I first met her in 1986 when Margaret and I went on a camping trip to the South Island shortly after I retired. When in Queenstown we sought Mona out, meeting both her and her husband, Robert (“Bob”) Hood. Bob had been engineer on the Lake Wakatipu steamer, S. S. Earnslaw, before he retired. Mona had been a nurse, had worked as a nursing sister in public hospitals and then as a public-health nurse and Plunket nurse in Southland and West Otago. She was active in the Crippled Children’s Society and the Country Women’s Institute, founding the Queenstown and Teviot branches. The C. W. I. honoured her by presenting her with their Gold Honours Award. Later, in the 1980s, she was awarded an MBE. Mona has been a major source of information which has enabled me to construct the family trees of what may be called the “southern Titcheners”.

Bob Hood’s family have a long association with the Queenstown area. His grandfather was Alack Olson, who was one of the group of prospectors who discovered gold at Bullendale above Skippers. Alack Olson had come from Norway. His daughter, Bob’s mother, was born at Bullendale and went to school there. Bob was born and brought up at Macetown on the Arrow river, now a ghost town. In 1992 Mona received a visit from a family named Elsrud, Norwegian relatives of Alack Olson. They had come all the way to New Zealand to retrace the steps of their gold-prospecting relation. As Mona said, she felt sad that Bob was not alive to meet these people. He had died, quite suddenly, the year before. Mona has erected a memorial plaque to Bob’s prospector grandfather in the Queenstown graveyard.

Mona’s sister, Caroline Elizabeth (“Elsie”) [T.10], like Mona, was a nurse. She was involved with the Crippled Children’s Society. Her work, like Mona’s, was recognised by a royal award [MBE? QSM?]. Although I never knew her, she was well known to Margaret’s father, Renfrew White. He used to pay visits every month or so to Invercargill to deal with patients requiring special orthopaedic attention, and used to meet her during these visits. He always spoke very warmly of her competence. Like Mona she married relatively late in life. Unlike Mona, who had a daughter, now married, Elsie had no children.

Of Lyla [T.10b], the youngest daughter of Jack and Bella, I know little. She married, at 23, an Englishman, James Green. They live in Invercargill, and have a family of two boys and four girls, all married.

Jack and Bella visited us once at Beach Street. This must have been in the early 1930s. What brought them to Dunedin I do not know. I presumed the visit was part of a round of visits to relatives long unseen. They were ushered into our dining room. This, used for dining on special occasions such as Christmas or New Year’s Day, was really in effect the family sitting room, as distinct from “the front room”, which, like the dining room, received its “proper” use only on special occasions, that is to say when we were “entertaining”, which was rather seldom. It was never used for unannounced guests, which Jack and Bella evidently were. I recall Jack as a small man with unusually bright eyes. Of Bella I have no distinct impression. Orma recalls Jack as having a nervous trick of rubbing his hands down the sides of his jacket, which left the afflicted areas threadbare. Jack and Bella stayed only a short time.

9.1.4 Hugh Francis Titchener

Hugh Francis (“Frank”, “Blind Frank”) [T.5] was the fourth child of James Titchener and Elizabeth Finch. He was born on November 14, 1882. As a boy he was blinded in one eye by being struck in it by a fish hook while fishing. Towards the end of World War I and for several years afterwards he had a clerical position with the Defence Department, and his later loss of sight in the other eye was blamed on long hours of overwork in that post. Whether that is medically correct seems somewhat doubtful, even if the outcome was not.

Frank married Margaret Rebecca (“Ruby”) Robertson in 1913. She was born in Ashburton. I do not know how they met. They lived in a house, No.143, in Victoria Road, St Clair, a wooden villa that stood on a triangular section behind a high olearia hedge, nestling against the sandhills. It was the last house on that side of the road on the way to St Kilda. A bit further along, on the other side of the road, stood the high brick wall of the Forbury Park trotting course.

Frank and Ruby had no children. I really became aware of them as people (as distinct from names) only after we moved from Calder Street, St Kilda to Beach Street, St Clair. This was in 1930. I was then 10 years old. Frank’s growing blindness must by this time have greatly limited what he could do. He and Ruby were often to be seen out walking. They were great walkers. Sometimes they would visit us. But Dad did not seem to like Frank greatly, or Ruby. I think he thought them self- important, which may have been true. Certainly Frank’s pride in the Titchener name was never long in revealing itself. I never knew what basis he had for it. Nor did I find it objectionable, because it was so transparently without foundation. “Yeoman farmers” was one amusing give- away that I have already mentioned. Min Titchener, in writing to Madeline Cobb, commented that “He did not have much time for anybody who was not a Titchener, and he used to tease me by repeating, ‘Aren’t you glad you are a Titchener!’

Frank seems to have begun his early working life as a fitter, for that is how he is described in the 1912 edition of Stones Directory. Possibly he, like other Titcheners before and after, was employed at the Hillside Railway Workshops. By 1914 he is described as a “machinist”. He had married the previous year, and was living at 8 Morrison Street, Caversham, which was next door to his parents. This entry is unchanged for the next three years, but by 1918 he is living in Victoria Road and is described as “secretary”. This entry is repeated for 1919. Then for the next three years he appears as “employment and vocational officer and secretary” Whether 1918 or 1920 represents the start of his work for the Defence Department is uncertain. In 1923 his name appears as part of the firm of “Tennant, Orbell and Titchener”, and this entry continues unchanged until 1930. When I mentioned this to Mona Hood she said, “Oh, yes. They made plumbing fittings.”; but the 1927 Directory refers to them as a firm of estate agents operating from 24 Water Street. Water Street is a short street off Princes Street South, and close to the heart of the city. Presumably Frank’s failing sight led to his leaving this firm, for after 1930 no occupation is listed after his name, although his residence continues to be Victoria Road.

As his sight continued to deteriorate he and Ruby moved to Auckland so that he could go to St Dunstans Institute for the Blind. Possibly he was on some sort of war pension. Ruby must have died not many years after. At any rate she was not with him when I next saw Frank in 1943 in Milton.

After Margaret and I moved to Ardmore we paid Frank a visit. He was living in a state house in Ngaio Street, Orakei, overlooking the Orakei Lagoon. It was a view he could not enjoy. He was by now totally blind. What I remember is a single strand of 8-gauge fencing wire at hand-height strung as a guide on one side of the concrete path that led up from the street to the front door. What Margaret recalls is Frank feeling in the kitchen sink and counting the teaspoons in it as he prepared an afternoon cup of tea for us. He made us very welcome. Despite his blindness he was cheerful and alert, and full of the lively curiosity for which I always remember him. As I have already recounted, it was he who later put the Titchener sisters of Providence, Rhode Island, in touch with us when I was studying at M.I.T. in the mid-1950s. Our visit to Ngaio Street was the last time I ever saw him.

9.1.5 William Edward Titchener

The fifth child of James and Elizabeth Titchener was William Edward (“Bill”) [T.5], born in 1884. I know nothing of his early years. In 1907 he married Mabel Janet Malcolm (“May”) [T.11]. Stones Directory for the following year shows them living in Fox Street, South Dunedin. He is a “carter”. In 1909 and 1910 they are found at Filleul Street. For the next few years Bill does not appear in the Directories, but in 1915 he reappears as a “traveller”, living at 39 Peter Street, Caversham. He continues in this occupation until his death in 1926, although he and the family moved in 1925 to Macbeth Street, a small street off College Street in Caversham.

Bill travelled, I believe, for the DIC. What area he covered I do not know. Mona remembers him coming to Invercargill. It was the year of the Prince of Wales’ visit to New Zealand. Bill drove a 3-seater car, and he took Mona and her brothers and sisters to see the Prince during his Invercargill visit. Mona remembers sitting in the “dickey seat” of Bill’s car. Bill’s area doubtless also extended north of Dunedin, and a Mr Kerr, who had for many years been a draper in Waikouaiti, and who owned the small camping ground where we stayed in February of l992, recalled the name Titchener as having some association with Waikouaiti.

On one of our family visits to Grandpa and Grandma Titchener’s we arrived to find a visitor already with them. “This is your Uncle Bill.” He was sitting in the rocking chair that stood beneath the snuggery window to the right of the fire. I could not have been much more than five at the time. I recall a rather bulky figure in a three-piece, dark-gray suit and a tie, a bluff manner, a big voice, and a friendly smile. Here, I thought, was the sailor we had heard tell of, who brought back all those coins from distant countries, and the Fijian war-club. He rose to leave before our visit was over. The old rocking chair, with its curious turned legs and colourful woven fabric, seemed to creak with a kind of relieved sigh.

For more than 65 years I carried this romantic impression of the distant traveller fleetingly visiting his elder brother. The truth only came to me in 1992, when I found the death notice of E. W. Titchener in an “Otago Witness” of 1900. It was an error I should have set right far earlier in my mind. The man in the rocking chair was a man not nearly old enough to be Grandpa’s brother, who would, at the time of this visit, have been well over 60. The visitor was, in fact, Bill Titchener, Grandpa’s nephew and a son of Jim and Elizabeth Titchener.

Within a year of this visit to Queens Drive Bill Titchener was dead. He drowned in Otago Harbour. His clothes were found on the end of one of the Dunedin wharves. He had committed suicide. His brother, “Blind Frank”, managed to “hush things up”, and an open verdict was returned at the inquest. Why did he commit suicide? “There was something about missing funds.” Orma recalled her mother’s distress at seeing Bill’s wife, on the day of his death, engaged in a laughing conversation with a friend outside the gates of the Lodge in Cargill Road just round the corner from Helena Street. Perhaps there was more wrong than missing money.

Bill and May had seven children [T.11], one of whom, however, Geoffrey Gordon, died in infancy. Though I knew all by name, having heard them mentioned in the family from time to time, I had met none of them until Margaret and I visited their youngest daughter, Winifred (“Win”), in Gore in 1992.

“Clever” was the word usually attached to the eldest, William Francis [T.11], often called “Bill” or, in the close family circle, “Wink”. May obviously thought Wink was not her only clever child. She once remarked to Bella, Jack’s wife, “Your children have all the looks, but mine have all the brains.” Clever Wink undoubtedly was. The first Titchener to get into the university, he graduated B.Com. and quickly became a successful accountant and stockbroker. However, like his father, he “did something wrong with money”. This must have been in the late 1930s. He disappeared when the storm broke. It began to be feared that, like his father, he had committed suicide. He was discovered hiding in a family bach at remote Bull Creek, a small seaside resort out of Milton. When the Second World War came along he joined the army and went off to North Africa. He greatly distinguished himself, winning the M.C. and bar. “Perhaps he wanted to get killed,” was one comment. At the end of the Italian campaign many New Zealand troops were stationed in or near Trieste, in German-speaking northern Italy, close to the one-time Austrian border. There Wink met and married a young Italian, Brunetta Angela Suber. This was his second marriage, the first, to Connie Stevenson, having ended in divorce and without children.

After the war Wink stayed in the army. By this time he had reached the rank of major. He was for a while stationed at Papakura military camp. Some time after Margaret and I came to Ardmore from Dunedin, Brunetta visited us with the three small boys she, by now, had. This was probably in 1958. The youngest of them were twins. Brunetta was a lovely person. She had a fine singing voice and had sung professionally. The boys were mischiefs. During the visit they managed to escape from what we thought was a securely enclosed yard.

Wink left the army to resume an accounting career, first with New Zealand Forest Products, then with pulp and paper companies in Pakistan and, later, Australia. Not long before we visited Win and Bob Shepherd, they had attended an N.Z.E.F. battalion reunion. Wink and Brunetta were also present. Win reported Wink as “now quite frail, and often away with the fairies”.

Another son of Bill and May was Percy Lyndon [T.11], known as “Pip” within the family circle. When his father died he had to leave high school. He was only 14 at the time. For a while he worked as an office boy in a Dunedin firm, but when the family moved to the Taieri, he found a job on a Taieri farm. He enjoyed this work and was good at it, having a particular feeling for horses. He was always a strong church-goer, and he appears to have decided quite suddenly to train for the ministry of the Presbyterian Church. This was the result of a clear “call”, which is described in “Titch of the Div. Cav.”, a memoir published by the Presbyterian Church after his death in North Africa. “ day, while he was out ploughing and walking behind his horses, he was suddenly aware of the Voice of God speaking to him and calling him to preach the Gospel.” He never spoke much about that experience because he knew that many people did not believe a call could be so real and definite. Yet it changed his whole life.

In pursuit of this call he entered Oago University in 1936, having gained matriculation in 1935. There is a good, albeit brief, account of this period of his life in the Memoir. He would have completed his B. A. in 1938, but made a mistake about the time of one of his examinations. However, he finished the degree the next year, and in the same year began the three-year course at Knox College Theological Hall towards his divinity qualifications. After only one year of this, however, he decided to enlist in the army.

While at the university he became a keen member of the Student Christian Movement. It was through the SCM that he met and became engaged to Joan Benton, who was one of my St Clair School contemporaries. She was dux in our last year there. Percy had enormous energy, enthusiasm and commitment. The Memoir records, of his SCM activities, “There was always the most fun, the best fellowship and the most serious talk where he was.” He had a reputation for being boisterous and noisy and was an inveterate prankster, but “his heartiness was a cloak that covered a very serious spirit”.

Like his brother, “Wink”, he went with the 2nd N. Z. Expeditionary Force to North Africa. He seems to have been as much liked by his fellow troops as he had been by his university contemporaries. Of boundless courage he was called “the fighting parson”. He was killed on October 24, 1942 during the battle of El Alamein. At first he was posted as missing, but, a savage irony, his body was found by his brother, Wink, half buried in the sand.

On one of the evenings when “Blind Frank” and I were sitting round Emma Kennard’s fire, Frank suddenly said to me, “Are you the first Titchener to get to the university?” “I don’t know,” I said, and at the time I didn’t. It was a strange question, for Frank, as I later realised, would surely have known that his nephews, Wink and Percy, had both preceded me at Otago University. Had he forgotten, his prodigious memory briefly failing him? Or was he in some way testing me out, exploring the limits of my knowledge of the family?

The other son of Bill and May was Malcolm Edward [T.11], two years older than Percy, three years younger than Wink. He was known as “Jay” in the family. Except that he married and had two sons, I know nothing of him.

Bill and May’s three daughters were Ngaio, June and Winifred (“Win”) [T.11]. Ngaio was born in 1909. She married Eric Neilson. They lived in Owaka. They had eight children [T.11a]. June, born in 1917, married three times, divorced twice. She had children of the first two marriages.

Win [T.11b], the youngest of Bill and May’s children, was not quite four when her father died. At his death she was “packed off to live with Grandmother Malcolm in Waikouaiti”. This could not have been for long, as she never went to school there. From Waikouaiti she went to Outram to be reunited with her family. Win describes her grandmother as a difficult, even tyrannical, old lady who fell out with most of her children.

The move to Outram presumably coincided with May’s remarriage. This was to a Duncan McLaren, a widower, whose first wife had come from a Jenkins family of Crown Terrace in Central Otago. Duncan had been born at Maungatua. He had one daughter of the first marriage. Win describes him as “a lovely person”, but her mother as “difficult”. That, however, may refer to Win’s memory of her as an old lady. She lived to be 98. She spent the last five years of her life in a home, but before that had lived for many years with Win and her husband, Robert (“Bob”). To Win also fell the task of looking after June’s children for a time in the course of her erratic matrimonial arrangements. At one time there were 13 in Win and Bob’s household.

Of the 13, six would have been Win and Bob’s children. Sadly their eldest daughter was killed in a car collision, struck by a drunken driver.

Bob enrolled at Otago Boys’ High School in 1933 and spent three years there. He recalls “Blobs” Anderson as one of his form masters. He also remembers me there, though I not him. He began his working life with Rattrays, the grocery wholesalers. In time he acquired his own grocery shop, in Morton Mains. He moved from there to Seaward Downs. Subsequently he had two shops, in Edendale and Gore.

At Win’s urging Bob, who confessed to having little interest in genealogy, spoke of one of his forebears, an Elizabeth Fraser, who suffered terrifying experiences in Australia after the shipwreck of the “Stirling Castle” on the Great Barrier Reef in 1836. These experiences are recounted in “Mrs Fraser on the Fatal Shore”, by Michael Alexander. Elizabeth Fraser survived these experiences and remarried to become Elizabeth Greene. It is as Mrs Greene that she is connected to the Shepherd family. The events on the “fatal shore” are so like those in Patrick White’s “Fringe of Leaves” that one wonders if White based that part of his book on Mrs Fraser’s ordeals.

9.1.6 Lilian Jane Titchener

The second daughter and sixth child of James and Elizabeth Titchener was Lilian Jane (“Lily”) [T.5]. I know almost nothing of her. She married Richard William Deaker (“Dick”) in 1912 [T.12]. They had two boys, Percy James born in 1916, and Arthur born in 1918. Lily died in 1919, a victim of the same influenza epidemic that killed her eldest brother, Albert. Arthur, scarcely a year old, was taken by Emma Kennard, Lily’s elder sister, and brought up by her and her husband, Lyndon. Percy remained with his father. Both Percy and Arthur married, Arthur twice, and both had children.

9.1.7 Elijah Percy Titchener

James and Elizabeth’s youngest child was Elijah Percy, born in 1889 [T.5]. Percy served in the Great War, and when on leave in Britain used to visit Minnie Judd (nee Baker) as I have already recounted. It was also while in Britain that Percy met and fell in love with an English girl, Amelia Frances Davies (“Min”), whom he would marry after the war [T.13]. Min was a Londoner. After the war she came out to New Zealand, as did many other English brides-to-be, to marry her sweetheart. The marriage took place in St Paul’s Cathedral, in Dunedin, in 1921. Min, in her long letter to Madeline Cobb, recalls meeting Percy’s mother and father. It was “during the three statutory days I had to be in Dunedin when I arrived from England and before I could be married”. She thought them “dears”. “James was a soft-natured man but [Elizabeth] was the force. [She] was very nearly blind and I do not think she could see me very well. But all the family wanted to know why Percy had to marry a foreigner.” Elizabeth was 74 and Jim 71. It was probably in the following year that he died.

Percy worked for Irvine Stevenson, a Dunedin-based firm of canners. He became their Auckland manager, but lost that position during the “Great Depression”. He then started his own canning business, getting other companies to do the actual canning, and operating essentially as a buying-in and marketing organisation. He chiefly went in for fruit pulp, and exported to Australia, including Tasmania, as well as selling within New Zealand. As I have already recounted, it was an advertisement for Titchener’s jams that put the New Zealand Titcheners in touch with those of Providence, Rhode Island.

Percy’s business prospered and, during World War II, he set up his own factory in Devonport, with the idea that his sons [T.13], “Jim” (Wray Davies) and Trevor, who were serving in the navy, would be able to take over the business after the war. Unfortunately Percy’s health began to fail and, as Min writes, “By the time Jim and Trevor returned, Percy was a very sick man, with a cardioasthmatic condition. ....... On the very day a private limited company was formed, he died.” That was in April 1947. Min also writes that “At the same time as he bought the factory property, he also bought a cliff property in Devonport, and the very day he died the materials for a pretentious house were delivered - but never used. So that all his plans never came to anything.”

In the Christmas period of 1942 my close friend, Ted Middleton, and I arranged to spend our respective leaves in Auckland. He was in the army at Haywards in the Hutt Valley, I was working in the newly opened Benneydale coal mine in the middle of the North Island. He as a soldier and I as a “miner” were entitled to long-distance rail passes, a privilege not granted to “less essential” citizens. Electing Opua as our destination because it seemed to be as far north as one could go by rail and we had never been there, we got no further than Auckland, where we had arranged to meet. (We missed our train to Opua on Christmas Day.) We found board in a sad-looking boarding house, Victoria House, in Newmarket, and set out to explore Auckland by tram, ferry and foot, taking periodic rests by going to the cinema. “Mrs Miniver” was on, and we saw it three times. Not far from “Mrs Miniver” was Cooke’s tearooms and milk bar - good for an after-cinema cup of coffee, or, in the heat of the day, an ice- cream soda. One day, in the same building, I noticed on the directory of upstairs offices the name Eli P. Titchener. I realised that this was the Percy Titchener spoken of from time to time in our family, but was too timid to go upstairs and make myself known.

Margaret and I met Min when she arranged a gathering one afternoon at her Devonport home for Mum to meet the Auckland Titcheners, and a second time for Dorothy Peacock to do the same. Min proved to be a friendly, charming and vivacious hostess.

Min and Percy had four children [T.13]. The eldest two, Jim (his given names were Wray Davies) and Trevor, took over their father’s business after the war, but they lacked experience and, as Min wrote, “the business eventually faded”. Of Trevor’s subsequent activities I know little. Jim, of whom Min wrote, “Life has not treated him so well as Trevor”, later emerged into prominence, becoming a well-respected mayor of the unusual, characterful and environmentally active borough of Devonport, now unfortunately absorbed in recent local-body amalgamations. How delighted Min would have been had she lived long enough to witness this. Regrettably Jim died recently.

Valerie [T.13], Min and Percy’s only daughter, after a period school teaching, turned to the church, went to the Bible Training Institute in Auckland, and there met, and later married a fellow student, Dennis Crompton. Dennis completed his theological training and became a minister of the church.

John [T.13], the youngest of the four children, is a dentist. While a dental student at Otago University he used to visit Mum from time to time. After completing his degree he returned to Auckland. He has a practice in Devonport.

All four of Min and Percy’s children have children of their own. When Min was writing to Madeline Cobb in 1967 she referred to her 14 grandchildren keeping her busy. Were she still alive, there would now, by my count, be 17, plus great-grandchildren. Min died in 1968 only six months after the date on her letter to Madeline.

9.2 Elizabeth Titchener [T.4]

See Chapter 1.

9.3 Alfred Charles Titchener [T.4]

See Chapter 1.

9.4 Albert Alfred Titchener [T.4]

Of Albert Alfred (“Fred”), the fourth child of Eli and Emma, I know little. He was born on May 1, 1856 at Kangaroo, Victoria. He came as a child of about six to New Zealand. He married Elizabeth Payne in 1881 [T.6]. He appears in the 1885 Stones Directory for Dunedin as a telegraphist, living in High Street, Caversham. Presumably he was working for the Post Office. Fred and Elizabeth had two children, Lionel born in 1883, and Walter born in 1885. In 1886 and 1887 the family are living in Sidney Street, Caversham. Thereafter Fred’s name no longer appears in the Dunedin directories. One may presume that he was transferred, perhaps to the north, for both Lionel and Walter, in their adult lives, lived in Auckland. Walter, during the 1940s, paid us a visit at Beach Street. I remember him saying that he was involved in setting up the “4-Square” grocery wholesale system for supplying small independent grocers. He himself was in the grocery business. That is, I think, the only time I met him. Some 10 or more years later, at the gathering arranged by Min for Mum to meet Auckland Titcheners, I met Lionel. He was in his 70s, a tall upright man of rather striking appearance. He was retired and living at Torbay, evidently in a cliff-top house, for I remember his son, Ian, who called in briefly at this gathering, making some remark to his father about a 360-degree view “and all yours” - something of a family joke it seemed. “All mine,” responded Lionel.

9.5 George John Titchener

John [T.4] was Grandpa Titchener’s favourite brother. He was born at Fryer’s Creek, Victoria on February 26, 1858. He was four when the Titcheners came to Otago. He must have been a bright lad, for I have the class arithmetic prize he won ar Lawrence Distroct School in 1869. It is “The poetical Works of James Beattie and the Poems and Plays of James Goldsmith” - not perhaps the most enticing reading for a boy of 11. After leaving school he was apprenticed to a saddler, Robert Hills, in Lawrence. The deed of apprenticeship was given to me many years ago by Grandpa. It is dated April 29, 1872, when John was not long turned 14. Hills was a partner with one George Dowse, and the harness-making business ran under the name of Dowse and Company. In return for teaching John the trade of saddler and harness-maker, and providing him with “good and sufficient board, lodging, clothing, medical attendance, nurses, washing, and all other necessaries”, the “said apprentice shall perform all such work and labour as shall be required of him by the said Robert Hills although the same may not be connected with his work and instruction as a saddler and harness maker”. Among the conditions placed on the apprentice, it was specified “that he shall not play at cards or dice or any unlawful games”. For the first six months of the apprenticeship the pay was nil; then 10 shillings a week for the next 12 months, rising by five shillings a week each year thereafter; finally increasing to 35 shillings a week during the last six months of the apprenticeship. The apprentice could be fined by his employer for not performing his duties satisfactorily.

Whether John completed this indenture I do not know. Eli and Emma, presumably with their family - though minus Jim who was by this time married - went to Caversham in 1875. John’s apprenticeship was not due to be completed until 1877. Some time, though just how soon, after Eli took up his appointment at the Industrial School, John joined the teaching staff there, becoming as the record tells us (see Section 8), head teacher. He died on February 14, 1882, as a result of catching typhoid during an outbreak of this infection at the School, and while helping nurse those ill with it. He was only 24.

9.6 Hugh Titchener

Hugh (Grandpa Titchener) [T.4], born in 1860 on the Victorian goldfields, came to New Zealand as a child of two. His boyhood was spent in Lawrence. As a lad of about 15 he would have come to Dunedin with his parents when Eli took up his appointment at the Industrial School. As a boy in Lawrence Hugh had suffered an accident and this, poorly treated, left him with a club foot for the rest of his life. Mum told me he had cut his foot on some rusty iron while climbing a fence, and the foot became infected. He was physically never very mobile, had to wear a specially made boot, and always walked with a stick and a marked limp.

At some stage Hugh began teaching at the Industrial School, becoming, after John died, and succeeding a Miss Christie, the head teacher there, as well as being bandmaster. How long he remained at the Industrial School is uncertain. It was at least until 1890, and possibly until Eli retired in 1892.

In 1886 Hugh married Elizabeth Ellen Gore [G.1], the youngest daughter of James Gore, a prominent contractor of Dunedin. They went to live in High Street, Caversham. The Stones Directory shows that their house was next door to the James Titcheners’. In the following year “Hilty”, as my Grandma Titchener was always known to her contemporaries, gave premature birth to twin boys, Ernest and Hugh [T.7a, T.7b, T.7c]. Ernest died after only two hours, Hugh after two months. In April of the following year, 1888, my father, Cecil Gordon Titchener, was born. He remained their only child.


Figure 9.3: Hugh Titchener (Grandpa Titchener).

When Eli died Grandpa and Grandma Titchener, with their six-year-old son, moved to Helena Street to live with Eli’s widow, Emma. They were there about four years. I do not know why they moved away. They made two moves; to Osmond Street in South Dunedin, and then to Cargill Road not far from Cargill’s Corner, or Ogg’s Corner as it was then called. Both houses have now gone. The Cargill Road house stood next to the Wesleyan church that still is still there. The house-site is now occupied by a children’s play centre. In 1905 Grandpa and Grandma made a final move to 72 Queens Drive.


Figure 9.4: Elizabeth Ellen Titchener (Grandma), nee Gore, generally called “Hilty”.

Meantime in 1895 Grandpa Titchener appears in the Stones Directory as “clerk”. Presumably he had entered into employ in the Dunedin Town Clerk’s office about the time his father retired from the Industrial School. He worked there until he retired. I do not know when that was. The directories continue to record against his street address the occupation “clerk” until 1933, but it seems unlikely he would still have been working then as he would have been 73 in that year. Interestingly, when Mum and Dad married in 1918, Grandpa gave his occupation on their marriage certificate as “accountant”. This may indeed have been a fair description of the work he was doing by then, although he was never formally qualified. As boys Gray and I only knew that he “worked in the Town Hall”. On one of our Sunday visits to Queens Drive we were startled to find Grandpa with a white bandage round his head. A decorative plaster cornice had fallen from the ceiling in the Town Hall and struck him, fortunately without doing serious injury.

As children Gray and I were walked by Mum to Grandpa and Grandma Titchener’s every second Sunday afternoon. Later there would be Yolande with us. On the alternate Sunday afternoons we would go to Grandpa and Grandma Hellyer’s, first in Ferguson Street, Musselburgh (now Ravelston Street), until Grandpa Hellyer died, and then to Royal Crescent, where Grandma Hellyer moved after her husband’s death.; though not for long, since she died within two years.

I loved going to Grandpa and Grandma Titchener’s. There was always something to do. On cold days we would all be in the “snuggery” as Grandpa always called their back living room. He would be sitting quietly by the gate-leg table that stood in one corner of the room, pulling on one of his several briar pipes. The women, Grandma and Mum, plus any occasional visitors - perhaps a Gore cousin of Dad’s, perhaps Auntie Annie Gore and her “companion” Harriet, or perhaps some old friend of Grandma’s - gossiped, tut-tutting over the latest illness or death. We boys built card houses on the carpet, or played board games like Snakes and Ladders or Rival Rovers, which was a variant on Ludo. But we had to be on the alert, for organised games were not traditionally allowed in the older Gore family, and Auntie Annie, Grandma’s eldest sister and a spinster, was a stickler for the old rules. Now and then Grandpa would go quietly to the coal scuttle that stood to the right of the fire, and lump by small lump, place nuts of Kaitangata coal on the open fire that was never allowed to go out, and that kept the snuggery always so snug. Sometimes, when he thought the fire had got rather low, he would go out to the scullery and fetch a pair of leather bellows to give it a bit of a boost. At the back of the fire there was always a piece of sheet-metal shaped to throw the heat out better or to improve the draw. Grandpa seemed to be for ever altering the shape of this device, never altogether satisfied that it was quite as good as it might be.

On warm summer days afternoon tea, instead of being inside, would be served outdoors, everyone sitting in the sunny sheltered angle formed by the scullery and the snuggery. Afternoon tea was always something to look forward to - pikelets, angel cakes or a cream sponge from Woottons, and little brown spheres that Grandma made and Grandpa always called “puftalonies”, a name of his own invention, I am sure. They seemed to be a kind of scone mixture, but were cooked in fat, and had a crunchy outside. They were cut in half and thickly buttered. If there were some left over we would be given them to take home for tea.

On a fine Sunday we would play in the back garden, which had quite an extensive lawn - “tig” around the rose beds, or, when we were older, French cricket or, more often, a kind of croquet invented by Grandpa, with wire hoops, bats made from old matchboard, and superannuated tennis balls he had got from some unrevealed source. I have sometimes wondered whether he invented this croquet game to protect his garden, in which he took great pride, from the depredations of big hits in French cricket.

Grandpa Titchener was the one who used to take us for treats - to the Summer Show at Tahuna Park, to the Winter Show in the A&P building in Crawford Street, or, rather more frequent but more modest expeditions to the St Kilda Beach with a diversion on the way back to the Bungalow Tearooms at the St Kilda tram terminus to buy a penny ice cream each. Sometimes, too, he would take us to the pictures when he thought there was something special to be seen - Tom Sawyer (Mark Twain was one of his favourite authors), Chang (an animal picture), and the first talking picture (was it Al Jolson in The Singing Fool?).

Beyond the snuggery door that led to the back hall lay almost untrodden territory. The bathroom, with its gas caliphont over the bath, was on the left, at the end of the hall. (We were much more familiar with the “lav”, which was outside at the back of the separate washhouse.) Across the hall from the snuggery was the drawing room, a large and, it seemed to me, a beautiful room - sunny, spacious, and elegant, I thought. It had been made by removing a partition wall to make one room out of two. We were in it on only a few special occasions, when Grandma entertained formally a selection of invited visitors. On such occasions there was a silver cakestand with doilies, and once or twice I was allowed to take it round to serve the visitors with cakes. The conversations seemed to be standard “Grandma conversations”, about poor so-and-so who was ill or had died or had lost someone by some tragic circumstance. Grandpa would simply sit quietly, deprived at such events, of his otherwise ever-present pipe.

Dad was almost never present on our Sunday afternoon visits, formal or otherwise. He would visit his parents on Sunday mornings. He would drive over, taking us boys with him, returning the two books that Grandpa or Grandma had borrowed from the “Grave and Gay Library” near the foot of Stafford Street, and passed on to him the previous week. He would sit about for a short time making desultory conversation, and then, having collected two more library books, take us off home to Sunday dinner, either direct, or, if there was time, by some roundabout circuit over the Peninsula, to Portobello, Hoopers Inlet, or Wickliffe Bay, or, nearer at hand, to Tomahawk Lagoon or Smaills Beach. We never stopped to get out of the car, for Dad, too, was lame, having lost a leg in a motorcycle accident when I was an infant.

When I was a little older, presumably old enough to take things in intelligently, Grandpa would sometimes produce a treasure or two from his small but precious hoard. A Fiji war club left with him by his sailor brother, Will, a collection of foreign coins also from Will, but among which was Great-grandpa James Gore’s [G.1] railway pass that he had had when he was a member of the House of Representatives. “MHR” was embossed on one side of this magical talisman. Once he took me into the hall and thence into the spare bedroom, where he opened up a trunk and took out a green-covered book from among a number of identical green- covered books. It was “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” by Jules Verne, and it and the others presumably represented a complete set of Jules Verne’s science fiction, as it would now be called. He passed it to me; and when I returned it after reading it, he passed me another, “Round the World in Eighty Days”; and then another, “Journey to the Moon”. But I couldn’t have seemed enthusiastic enough, and in truth I didn’t find them as engrossing as R. M. Ballantyne, for example, for I saw no more of Jules Verne.

One Sunday he got out the papers that Garrett, the “bushranger”, as he is usually called, left with old Eli, and which had thus come down to Grandpa. It is now so long ago and I was so young then that I have little recollection of what was among them. I think of them as a collection of scraps, a few poems and some unfinished notes. Their content left little impression, but their significance an indelible mark. I recall a discussion some years later, with Dad there on this occasion, on what to do with these papers; and a decision to send them to the Hocken Library, which is where they are now lodged.

In his late years, and especially after his retirement, Grandpa must have spent many hours mentally roaming the past, less and less able to walk far in the present. Lawrence, and his boyhood days there, could never have been far from his mind. His old childhood friend, Matt Potts, who had farmed all his life near Lawrence, retired and, with his wife, came to live in Grove Street just round the corner from Queens Drive. These two old men, Matt and Grandpa, smoked many a pipe together in boyhood reminiscence. In or just after the Depression years we had Bill Aldred, husband of Madge, Dad’s cousin, come and stay with us for some days. He was a commercial traveller based in Auckland, and business conditions of the time had evidently caused him to cast his net much further afield than usual. He was driving, I recall, an Essex Challenger sedan (a car, incidentally, that Dad, a motor engineer, held in great contempt, though I never discovered why), and following a visit to Grandma and Grandpa, arranged to take Grandpa out for a drive. They went up to Waipori and round the back of Maungatua to the high rolling hills and sweeping moorland landscapes that Grandpa so loved. Afterwards all he would really say was, “All I could see was a small strip.” And he would gesture with his hands to show how the top and bottom of the window frame of the car had restricted his view. “It’s not like riding in a trap.” But I think he really did enjoy it.

When I got to the university, to which I would bike daily, I used to go to Grandma and Grandpa’s for my midday meals when there was only an hour for lunch between classes. We began to get to know each other a little better. On Wednesday afternoons there were usually no classes, and I would sometimes ride over and spend an hour or two sitting with Grandpa, and he would talk about Lawrence and the past. It was during one of these visits that he gave me the old letter from his grandfather, Charles, to his father, Eli - the letter that awakened my interest in where the Titcheners came from. On another occasion he produced the marriage certificate of Hugh Gore [G.1], Grandma Titchener’s grandfather, that led us astray in 1978 in our search for Gores in Liverpool - but that is another story. And on another, two notebooks that had belonged to his brother, Will, who liked to copy out poems and scraps of poems that had appealed to him.

In the last year of his life Grandpa became quite ill and, finally, bedridden. He and Grandma came to live with Mum and Dad at Beach Street. It must have been in 1946, just after the war. I was by then enrolled at Canterbury University College for a mechanical engineering degree. I would come home during the various holiday breaks - Easter, the May and August term vacations - and occasionally over a week-end, though I couldn’t often afford that, the train fare being a pound each way. I would go in to see Grandpa lying silent in his bed. He hardly knew me. Sometimes he would hallucinate - cry out, seeing creatures on the wall. I seemed to be one of the few who could quieten him. It was a sad time for us all, but especially for Grandma. She outlived him by a good many years. She never went back to her old home in Queens Drive, but stayed on with Mum and Dad. Grandpa died on New Years Day, 1947. He was not quite 87.

9.6.1 Henry Garrett, the Maungatua “Bushranger”

In the gold-rush days of Otago there were, not surprisingly, various robberies, including robberies under arms. The most notorious of these was the robbery under arms by a gang of “bushrangers” - highwaymen really - there were never bushrangers in New Zealand like those in Australia - who one day in a gully on the flank of Maungatua, a 3000ft-high mountain along the south-western edge of the Taieri Plain, held up and robbed a succession of diggers on their way from the Lawrence diggings to Dunedin by the usual trail, which led over the hills from Lawrence to the settlement of Waipori behind Maungatua and then down to Woodside, and across the Taieri Plain. The gang was led by Henry Garrett. He and his three mates collected about L400 in total and made off, leaving their various victims tied to trees. Three of the gang, including Garrett, then took ship to Sydney on one of the frequent sailings of the time. Garrett was identified there, and shipped back to Otago to stand trial. The fourth member of the gang, Burns alias Anderson, was caught on the West Taieri. Garrett was convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison. The robbery took place in October, 1861. Garrett was sentenced in May, 1862. He was released in February, 1868 after serving not quite six of the eight years of his sentence, and was sent to Australia. Not long after, he came back to Dunedin, penniless. He worked for a while in various jobs, two at his original trade of cooper, learnt in England before he was “transported”, but by November was back in trouble for robbery, including theft of poisonous drugs. This time he was sentenced to 20 years penal servitude. He was moved, in poor health, from Dunedin to the Lyttelton gaol in 1881. He was released in 1882. At some point during his imprisonment in the Dunedin gaol, probably in the second period, there developed an association between him and old Eli who, Robert Gilkison writes in “Early Days in Cenrtal Otago”, “had befriended Garrett in his days of distress”. Garrett, who had accumulated a long list of criminal activities ever since his first convictions in England in the 1840s, the second of which led to his transportation to Norfolk Island and then Australia, seems to have been “completely crush[ed]”, as Gilkison phrases it, by his 20-year sentence, and “settled down as a quiet well-behaved prisoner. He studied much, read much, and wrote much.” Some of his original papers he left in the hands of old Eli. Perhaps the ones I saw as a child at Grandpa Titchener’s were mere remnants of these. Gilkison reports that the papers in Eli’s hands were described in an “article by Miss Anne C. Anderson, entitled ‘Within Prison Walls’, which appeared in the ‘Otago Daily Times’ ”. Annie Anderson was an old friend of Grandma and Grandpa Titchener’s. I quote now from Gilkison:

“Amongst his writings is a beautifully written article on Ruth which furnishes the key to some of his religious feelings. It begins in this way:- ‘Who but has read the beautifully simple and touching narrative of Ruth? And he who has done so without having his emotions warmed I should be slow to exchange friendship with.’ ”.

Gilkison also writes: “A long friendly letter to Mr Titchener gives an amusing account of his experiences one Sunday night after he had been set at liberty in Lyttelton. He had ventured, by special request, into a chapel, but was distressed to find, as he at all events imagined, that the sermon on the Prodigal Son was directed at him. He later attended an after-meeting, where he found himself being prayed for. As soon as he left, he says, ‘From there I wandered to the Freethought Hall and recovered my mental or emotional equilibrium by a good laugh’. But the same letter concludes, ‘God bless you all. Kind and respectful regards to Dr Burns, and the same to all well-wishers.’

Garrett was a complex and, one judges, fundamentally sensitive person, brutalised by his long series of ordeals as convict and gaol-bird. He taught himself to read and write in gaol. He wrote in a curious semi-phonetic script (not reproduced above). Late in life he came to read two books that appealed deeply to him. They were Marcus Clarke’s “For the Term of His Natural Life” and Charles Reade’s “It’s Never Too Late to Mend”, for they described with sympathy the harsh lot of the convicted prisoner. “He wrote a long criticism and appreciation of Clarke’s work. His own usual nom de plume was ‘Clodhopper’, spelled ‘Klodopr’, and he called his essay ‘Klodopr on Klark’. He also wrote a long and beautiful letter to Mr C. Reade thanking him for his book”. It does not seem that the article was ever published, or the letter ever sent. Most of his writing was on scraps of paper - “bits of brown paper, old notice forms, or pieces of cardboard, all neatly fastened together with wire or pieces of thread”.

The most accurate and complete account of the events of Garrett’s life (his real name was Henry Rouse) is undoubtedly the little book, “The Real Henry Garrett 1818-1885”, by Lance Tonkin, privately published it seems. A very inaccurate account is given by David Gee in “The Devil’s Own Brigade”. The usual picture painted of Garrett is of a hard-edged and incorrigible criminal, and ignores the other side of his character. Even Tonkin makes virtually no reference to Garrett’s writings, the only insight into the hidden soul of this strange man; thus, for example, the fragment quoted by Gilkison:

“Dreaming, dreaming, evr dreaming
Of ideas ne’er undrest;
Mind, unlike dul matr, seeming
Feels no want of, takes no rest.
In my niet dreams there koms ofn
Gleams of joy nout els kan giv,
Wich seems sent me ere to sofn
This rd life I’m forced to live.”

Garrett died in the Mt Cook gaol, Wellington, one night in early September, 1885, while serving yet another sentence for robbery, committed, this time, in Christchurch.

9.6.2 Cecil Gordon Titchener

Born on April 12, 1888, Gordon Titchener [T.7a, T.7b, T.7c], my father-to-be, was in effect an only child. Years later Mum once said to me, in extenuation of some incident now forgotten, “He was spoiled”. He probably was. Talented, at times very amusing, he could be charming with visitors, but in the privacy of the home he had an ungoverned temper. In my childhood and youth I saw him as nearly always angry. Later, after he had died, I began to wonder if this was fair; or if it was merely a reflection of the arguments that he and I seemed to get into so often, and which roused him to fury. But at different times both my brother Gray [T.7b], and sister Yolande [T.7c], used the same word - “angry” - of him. So I think one has to conclude it was true. Yet with the passing of the years I have come to realise that I owed him much that I gave him no credit for in the sharp judgment of youth.

If he was spoiled it is easily understood in the light of the loss that Grandma and Grandpa Titchener suffered of their twin boys, one dying within hours and the other within a few weeks of birth. Dad was their precious only one.

Dad went to Macandrew Road primary school, emerging from Standard 6 in 1901. He was second in the class, winning “Mr Riddle’s Prize” for “General Proficiency”. It was an illustrated and nicely bound copy of “Captain Cook’s Voyages Round The World”, the text “taken direct from the folio volumes of his [Cook’s] journals, and but slightly abridged”. Dad’s class teacher evidently thought well of him for he too presented Dad with a book. It was “Tom Cringle’s Log” by Michael Scott - a nautical adventure story akin to the tales of Marryat and Ballantyne. It resided in the bookcase in our front room along with Mum’s and Dad’s other books. I had occasionally dipped into a few of these but had concluded they were dull - there were no pictures, not even a “frontispiece”. It was when I had been reading “The Swiss Family Robinson” and “Coral Island” that Dad drew my attention to “Tom Cringle’s Log”. I loved it and that led me to a more diligent inspection of the contents of the bookcase. So I came to Robert Louis Stevenson: “The Black Arrow”, “The Ebb Tide”, “The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” and “The New Arabian Nights”. This last led me perhaps surprisingly to “Arabian Nights’ Entertainments”, also in the shelves, which fascinated me with its exotic Eastern world of Caliphs and Grand Viziers and Calendars. It was the start of my reading “grown-up” books.

Dad seems to have gone straight from primary school to work. He was apprenticed as a fitter and turner at Hillside Railway Workshops - very much in the pattern of the male Titcheners of his and the previous generation. Like many young men then, he became interested in that new- fangled machine, the motor car. He left Hillside some time after completing his apprenticeship to become a “motor engineer”. Just when this was I do not know - possibly when he was in his early twenties. Probably he went to Cossens snd Black. Certainly it was they he was working for when he got married, which was in 1918. Cossens and Black was a well- established Dunedin engineering firm. At the turn of the century Dunedin was the largest town in New Zealand, its wealth having come from Otago gold. It was the heavy-engineering centre of the country. It was also a major merchandising centre where many of the country’s importing firms had their head offices. Cossens and Black had grown with the gold- dredging boom in Central Otago, but their engineering business shrank as the dredging boom faded. In today’s jargon they “diversified”, moving into the growing motor-car business. They occupied a rather extensive and quite solid set of brick buildings on the corner of Crawford Street and Manor Place, a few blocks south of the Stock Exchange Building, which was then generally thought of as the heart of Dunedin city. As I remember it in the mid-1920s, they had a machine-shop and, I think, a small iron-foundry, which were on the Crawford Street frontage. On the Manor Place frontage stood their garage. They were agents for Dodge cars and trucks. The engineering business was run by Jim Black, the garage by Jack Cossens. I believe they would have been the sons of the original founders of the firm. Jim Black struck me as a rather quiet untalkative man. Jack Cossens was quite different, jovial, outgoing, large voiced, full of laughter, a tall giant, he seemed almost to fill any room he entered. He had the bulbous, veined nose of the heavy drinker. He and Dad were quite pally, and after we had moved to Beach Street he would sometimes come and visit us of an evening, to Mum’s fairly obvious displeasure.


Figure 9.5: Grandma and Grandpa Titchener, “Old Grandma”, and Cecil Gordon Titchener as a boy.

But I have gone too far ahead. I have said Dad was talented. In his youth he developed several enthusiasms. They included motor-cycling, photography, and music, both playing the piano and singing. He sketched a little. He read, and developed a love of fine books. Among those of his that I have is a sequence of five acquired annually from 1911 to 1915. They are beautifully printed and bound and are illustrated with colour reproductions of paintings. One of the early ones is a translation of the libretto of “The Rheingold and the Valkyrie” with illustrations by Arthur Rackham. The latest of them is “King Albert’s Book” brought out in aid of “The Daily Telegraph Belgian Fund”. Not many of his other books that have come to me are dated. These five and most of the others are neatly inscribed, “C. G. Titchener, Calder St, St Kilda”. The five have all been inscribed at the same time, with the same pen and ink. When Mum and Dad married they came to live at 65 Calder Street, so that Dad presumably wrote into these books when he was moving out of his parents’ home and was collecting his personal things together to take with him.

One unusual book Dad owned was “The World As It Is” by a C. G. Chapman, M.A., B.Sc., “a popular account of the coumtries and peoples of the earth”. It is of octavo format, illustrated, and a solid three inches thick. It was published in 1884. Another was “The Comprehensive Atlas and Geography of the World” by W. G. Blackie, F.R.G.S. Published in 1885, it contains a marvellous collection of maps of the time. The text preceding the maps is a shorter version of “The World As It Is”. Dad must have bought these second-hand, but there is no date to indicate when. It must have been before he married. They were in the bookcase as far back as I can remember. They would probably be quite valuable today had they not been attacked in a few places by scissors. Yolande confesses she was the guilty one - presumably in search of material for some now forgotten school project.

Dad’s photography belonged to the days of the hand-built, mahogany, plate-camera with bulb shutter-release, glass-plate negatives, slow orthochromatic emulsions, tripod, and a black cloth beneath which the photographer composed the picture and changed plates at the back of the camera. He spoke only once to me of his photography, and then only to say what a burden all this gear was. He gave up serious photography about the time he married. The plate-camera gave way to a Kodak “autographic folding Brownie” that took eight postcard-size pictures on a “116” roll of the then almost universal “Verichrome” film. Dad’s use of this camera dwindled, and I saw him use it only on a few special occasions such as after the “big snow” in l938. Dad gave me this camera when I went off to the West Coast on my first summer of practical work for the mining degree. That was the start of my attachment to photography.

A relic of Dad’s photography was a small red window in one wall of the washhouse at Queens Drive. This was a double-glazed square about 6 in. by 6 in. that must have lit Dad’s “darkroom” work-bench, gone by the time of my boyhood and replaced by a coal bin. In the days of orthochromatic photographic emulsions, which are insensitive to red light, one did not have to work in total darkness. It is interesting to realise, though, that Dad had to do his darkroom work in daylight hours, there being no artificial light in the washhouse. Hence the red window.

The only other relic of Dad’s photography is a collection of prints glued into a now tattered album of which the cover title, “Sun Pictures”, recalls the description those early Scottish photographers, Hill and Adamson, gave to their now greatly celebrated prints. As Mum told it to me Grandpa collected together whatever of Dad’s prints he could find, possibly after Dad had abandoned serious photography, and stuck them into this album. Many of them date from about the time Mum and Dad were courting, or possibly even engaged. These include scenes around Papatowai in the Catlins District where the two families, the Hellyers and the Titcheners, took a holiday together. They stayed at a boarding-house being run by the Buddles, Bill and his wife, Mum’s Aunt “Lissa”, one of Grandma Hellyer’s sisters. There are, too, pictures of streets and buildings around Dunedin, especially Musselburgh, scenes of Ocean Beach, pictures of Mum as a young woman, and a few of the Titchener fox terrier, Pompey. There is also a sequence of a camping trip that Dad and some of his mates took to the Whitestone River (near the Mavora Lakes) and Lake Manapouri. This, when one stops to think about it, was quite a remarkable trip, for it must have taken place about l915. Roads were then primitive indeed, and even in the 1940s a formed road to the Mavora Lakes did not exist. This miscellaneous collection did not completely fill the album, and empty pages were later filled with other pictures including some of the family. There are also two pages of Dunedin’s “big flood” of the 1920s, taken on the folding “Brownie”.


Figure 9.6: Gordon Titchener aged 21.

One of the “miscellaneous” pictures is of a gathering of motor-cyclists, with their motor-cycle and side-car combinations, obviously on a “rally”. They are outside a small stone building, which may be the Lee Stream Hotel on the Outram-Middlemarch road. The climb out of the Taieri Plain up through Traquair and over the hills to Lee Stream was, in those days, a severe one, and seems to have been a favoured trials route. Dad rode an “Indian” motor-cycle with side-car. Some years after his death I met one of his contemporaries - I no longer recall who it was - who, when he discovered who my father was, remarked of his trials exploits, “He was as game as they come”.


Figure 9.7: Gordon Titchener aged ?

Dad was still riding his motor-cycle side-car combination when I was a baby. Mum once told me she used to ride in the side-car with me in her arms. There was an “all-weather” soft hood that could be fitted when it was raining. But the motor-cycle finally led to disaster - a collision with a horse-drawn “express” wagon on the road that runs round the head of Otago Harbour from Andersons Bay Road to the Andersons Bay Bridge. One of Dad’s mates, Jack Gray, was in the side-car. He seems to have been unscathed, but Dad was badly hurt, with an artery severed in his leg. Jack Gray had the wit to realise this, and the presence of mind to apply a makeshift tourniquet, which undoubtedly saved Dad’s life. My young brother was christened Gray after the man who had saved Dad from bleeding to death on a Dunedin roadside.

To this story of near death was soon added a second act. Dad was, of course, taken to hospital. There the second act unfolded, and the second saviour, by the strangest coincidence, would, nearly 30 years later, become my father-in-law. This was the orthopaedic surgeon, James Renfrew White, Margaret’s father. Dad became one of his cases. Renfrew White was lecturer in orthopaedics at the Otago Medical School. He was a man of exceptional and wide-ranging talents. Among them was a brilliant teaching ability. Like many brilliant teachers he was a bit of showman. He was taking a group of medical students on a clinical round of his ward and, coming to Dad’s bed, flung off the blankets with a flourish in expectation of explaining the case. But instantly flung them back, dismissed his class, and ordered Dad taken into the operating theatre, where he amputated the leg just below the knee. In lifting the blankets he had immediately noticed that the lower part of the leg had become gangrenous - fatal in the days before antibiotics.

My earliest childhood memory, that is to say a memory that is genuinely mine and not prompted by later adult talk, is of being in the sitting room of Mum’s parents’ house in Ferguson Street, in Musselburgh. Mum is sitting on a sofa, a baby in her arms - Gray. I am standing at her knee. The blinds are drawn. Mum is in tears. Until now I have never been able to set this scene in context. But in writing of these events I have come to realise that this scene in the darkened sitting room must have been shortly after the operation by which Dad “lost his leg” as the family phrase always had it. That amputation must have come as a shocking emotional blow, since completely unforeseen, not even announced beforehand. Margaret recalls that Mum once told her that, not long before the accident, she and Dad had decided to take up ballroom dancing. The accident and its aftermath ended any idea of ballroom dancing and perhaps much else in their marriage.

Why did the accident happen? Had Dad and Jack Gray been drinking? Was it just an error of judgment, the result of Dad’s having lost the sight of one eye some years earlier in an accident at the Hillside Railways Workshops, when a sliver of hot steel from a turning operation pierced his iris? We can never know.

The accident at Andersons Bay was the end of the motor-cycle and motor-cycling. From then on Dad needed a “wooden leg” and, if he had to walk any real distance, he used a walking-stick. The motor-cycle was replaced with a 1920 Dodge “roadster”. It had a single bench seat that could seat three at a squeeze, a soft folding hood, luggage space in the back where a “dickey” seat might have been but wasn’t, and “side screens” that were rarely in place. Dad used to park it on Moreau Street outside the back gate. It stood about 7 ft high and was painted khaki, which I must have thought dingy. When I asked why, the answer I got was that “It doesn’t show the dust”. Few roads were sealed in those days.

Before long there was another accident. It was at the top of Lookout Point. We were all in the car, Dad driving, Mum on the passenger side with Gray in her arms, I in between. We were going up Lookout Point from the Caversham side and Dad turned across towards the Mount Grand road. He cut the corner and collided head on with a downcoming car. Gray bounced out of Mum’s arms on to the road, where he was later found, completely unhurt, under the car. The windscreen shattered and Mum was cut about the face. It was long before the days of safety glass. Dad and I were slightly bruised. Mum’s facial scars took many years to disappear.

Unlike the motor-cycle the Dodge was not at once discarded. Dad continued to drive it daily to work, though minus its door on the passenger side. Dad never had another road accident, and this one can be partly attributed to his comparative inexperience driving with his recently acquired “wooden leg”.


Figure 9.8: Freda (nee Hellyer) and Gordon Titchener leaving the Holy Cross church after their marriage.

During his teens Dad decided he would like to learn the piano. A piano was bought and he began lessons. But he must have been less than assiduous, and gave up. The piano was sold. Some years later he again got the urge. Possibly against his instincts and certainly against his pocket, Grandpa bought another piano, this time saying, however, “This is your last chance. There won’t be a third piano.” And this time Dad persisted. He became a very good pianist. He had a good ear, quickly became a fluent reader of scores, and developed a talent for what was then known as “vamping” - improvising so that he could cover for short passages he had either forgotten or could not play accurately. There is a story told of him going to one of his music lessons with his teacher, a Mr Vallis, and, while playing for him, vamping some passage he had not properly mastered. Vallis, impatient of this trick, whipped the music off the piano, flung it into Dad’s lap, and said, “Come back when you can play it the way Schubert wrote it.”

Not surprisingly Dad was in demand at “smoke concerts”. There was no amplified sound in those days, and not much gramophone music, which, in any case, would have been inaudible in the alcoholic hubbub of these all-male gatherings. Singing round the piano was an intrinsic part of these smoke concerts. One can imagine Dad at the keyboard, a cigarette in his mouth and a glass of beer near at hand, the room hazy with smoke and ringing with the songs of Victorian, Edwardian and early Georgian days, the sentimental and the ribald, the comic and the merely banal.

” I know a little girl
And she lives in town.
Her daddy is a butcher
And his name is Brown.”

is a survivor, I have always assumed, which Dad would sometimes sing as he was driving us boys over to his parents’.

Smoke concerts were not the only outlets for Dad’s playing. In any case they probably stopped as he became increasingly serious about Mum. She disapproved of them, as she did of Dad’s drinking companions. Dad enjoyed playing as an accompanist and also often played simply for himself. When we lived in Calder Street he used to like to get young Lily Stevens over - the Stevens family lived directly across the road from our back gate in Moreau Street. She had a fine rich singing voice and a very true ear. But she became increasingly absorbed in her ballet teaching, for which she also had great talent, and less and less willing to sing. Sometimes her brother, Les, would be persuaded, but, said Dad, “He sometimes goes off pitch.” He too was finally lost to the cause when he was found to have “a spot on his lung” and was sent off to “the San” at Waipiata and to work at Ranfurly - he was a postal employee.

Dad played as accompanist to a Bill(?) Gemmel in the Dunedin Competitions. Dad used to speak of him as the finest singer he ever knew. For as long as I can remember, Mum was a keen Competition-goer, and this may go back even to her childhood, certainly to her teens. At any rate she and her mother were at “the Comps” when Dad came on stage to accompany Bill Gemmel in a solo vocal item. Dad must have looked rather cocky, for Mum remarked to her mother, “He’s got tickets on himself.” She couldn’t have had any idea that she would one day marry this ticketed young man.

At Beach Street there was for a time John Kennedy who would occasionally come of an evening. He was a tall, personable young man and a fine tenor. He would sing Gilbert and Sullivan (“Take a Pair of Sparkling Eyes”), Lehar (“You Are My Heart’s Delight”), and arias from Puccini (“Your Tiny Hand Is Frozen”). In time he stopped coming. He was replaced by Bessy Denford. Bessy was large, cheery and, to my eyes, middle-aged. She was an excellent contralto. I don’t know what persuasion Dad had to use to get these two to come to our place. Perhaps they didn’t need persuading, but just liked the chance to sing to a well- played accompaniment. In the end, however, they dropped away, their own lives to live, although Mum would occasionally meet Bessie Denford in a Dunedin street.

So finally Dad played alone and for his own pleasure. Of course he always had. This is the playing I most remember. It would usually be on a Sunday morning, an hour or more at a stretch. He especially loved Chopin and Schumann, but there would also be piano transcriptions of Gilbert and Sullivan and of Puccini, especially “La Boheme”, with a scattering of popular songs from operetta. I did not, could not, know then how much this would come to mean: Dad alone in the Beach Street sitting room playing to himself, Mum in the kitchen preparing the Sunday roast dinner, we boys playing in our bedroom or the dining room or in the back hall, the music sounding through the house. It was the first unconsciously entered door into a later world of listening to and learning to love classical and especially chamber music.

One day the sound of music from the sitting room came to an end. Dad had decided that what we needed - meaning that what he wanted - was a “crib” at Taieri Mouth. He sold the piano for cash to buy the timber for the crib.


Figure 9.9: Four generations: Great Grandma Titchener, son Hugh, grandson Gordon, and great grandson Alan, l923.

As well as playing the piano Dad sang. Some years ago Mum gave Mark a book of 60 Schubert songs that had been presented to Dad by his singing teacher, a J Delmoris(?) MacDonald. It is inscribed with the date April 16, 1909. Dad would have turned 21 four days earlier. It has been bound in leather, presumably Dad’s doing, for the cover carries his initials “C.G.T.”, as well as the title, “Schubert’s Songs”, in gilt lettering. (The full title is “The Songs of Schubert”, Vol. 1, Ed. by J. A. Kappey, and published by Boosey and Co.) Dad was for a time a member of the Dunedin Amateur Operatic Society, and there is a photograph of him among the chorus of “The Pirates of Penzance”. His costume includes a black patch over his left eye. One can assume that this was real and not just a piece of stage “business”, and that the photograph was taken not very long after Dad had “lost his eye”.

Mum and Dad married in Holy Cross Church, St Kilda, on August 6, 1918. It was a cold, blustery day. Vera Gore [G.3], Dad’s cousin and Mum’s school contemporary, was bridesmaid. The best man was Dad’s close friend, Jim Alexander. There seem to have been no “official” photographs, only a “snapshot” taken as Mum and Dad are leaving the church. It seems to be the first picture taken on Dad’s folding “Brownie”.

The Titchener and Hellyer families knew each other long before this, for I have an old invitation to Mum to attend a dance on the occasion of Dad’s 21st birthday. She was then 13 and only about a year out of school. There is also her dance programme, one of those little folded cards with tiny pencil attached by coloured string, and into which young men, dutiful or hopeful, would sign up for one or more dances. A serious one would be looking to claim the supper dance and the last dance of the evening. Mum’s card is not filled - she must have sat quite a few dances out - and quite a number carry the initials of her father. Dad’s name does not appear.

There is too the joint family holiday at Papatowai, enshrined in the album of “Sun Pictures”. I don’t know when this took place, but surmise it was when Mum and Dad were engaged. According to Yolande they were staying at a boarding house being run by the Buddles, as I have already mentioned.

Courting in those days meant walking - as indeed it still often did when Margaret were “going together”. How long Mum and Dad courted I do not know. Some light is thrown by one of the books now in my shelves. It is “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam” in a nice leather-bound edition given by Dad to Mum. It carries a pencilled inscription, “To Freda 26/10/14 2.25 P.M. Nicholl’s Creek” followed by the mysterious “and no whistle yet”. Mum was then 18. It was four more years before they married.

Mum and Dad spent their honeymoon in Christchurch, though their first night had been in Timaru, where Jim Alexander had driven them by car after the wedding. They went on by train the next day. Mum discovered she had come away forgetting to return jewellery lent her for the wedding (something borrowed?) by Dad’s cousin, Beryl Fothergill [G.1]. Mum told Margaret that, on the first morning in Christchurch, Dad left the hotel early to go and buy Mum a set of jewellery to “replace” her unreturned finery. In doing so he met Mum’s Aunt Adelaide Hellyer [H.1], telling her he was out “to buy some tobacco”. Aunt Adelaide thought this odd; but it hardly seems odder than Aunt Adelaide’s going round to visit the honeymooning couple on their first morning in Christchurch.

Like other married couples Mum and Dad embarked on marriage with high hopes and high expectations. They had been given, lucky people, the Calder Street house as a wedding gift from Mum’s father. They bought a light-oak bedroom suite, and a light-oak dining suite of a draw-leaf table and six chairs. Even the chiming and striking mantel-clock they got as a wedding present was light-oak. Light-coloured furniture was “coming in”. Dad’s piano was also light-oak. It was an “upright”, inscribed inside the lid with the gold letters “Chas. Begg”. It stood against one wall of the sitting room. The sitting room had an Axminster carpet square, the master bedroom a Wilton. The front hall also had carpet, not mere “lino”.

The house was a conventional but attractive bungalow, standing on the corner of Calder and Moreau Streets. A verandah ran round the two sides facing the streets. The kitchen had a coal range with a “wet-back”. Off the kitchen opened a scullery and, off it, a separate pantry. The washhouse and “lav” were a separate building down the back yard.

Nearly everything happened in the kitchen. We ate meals there, we boys played there, Mum and Dad sat there in the evening; except, of course, when there were visitors, who would be entertained in the sitting room.

Dad became garage foreman at Cossens and Black, probably before Mum and Dad married. He may have grown not to like this job; certainly he did not like the responsibility that went with it. Mum did not like what she thought of as the stigma of a blue-collar job. Perhaps too she did not like the close relation that was inevitable between Dad and hard-drinking Jack Cossens. At some stage there came a decision to make a change. Dad had no qualifications other than as a journeyman engineer. The decision was to “buy” a tobacconist’s shop. Grandpa Ttichener bought the business - the stock and goodwill, for I assume the shop was rented - and thus set Dad up in it. It was a tiny shop in Princes Street not far below Carroll Street. There was a fruit shop on one side of it on the corner of Carroll Street and, below it, Otago Motors, agents for Austin cars.


Figure 9.10: Alan and Gray Titchener as small boys.

It was an unwise decision. It must have been taken about 1928. Mum’s father, Harry Hellyer [H.1], was by this time dead. If he had been alive perhaps a wiser decision might have been reached. It was stupid for two reasons. In those days tobacconists were customarily also hairdressers. Dad did not cut hair, and had to employ someone who did. Also in those days tobacconists and hairdressers almost all “ran a book” - were bookmakers. This was illegal but rife. All race-horse betting was supposed to be “on course” at the “tote” - the totalisator. Dad knew nothing about horses, cared nothing for them, and wouldn’t run a book - which was the most lucrative side of any tobacconist and hairdressing business. The decision was taken, however, and Dad moved into the shop.


Figure 9.11: Alan, Gray and Yolande Titchener in the Queens Drive back garden.

I can picture it clearly even now, for Dad would sometimes drive there on a Sunday morning, taking us boys with him. Presumably he would be tidying up stock and deciding on stock orders. We boys would play among the empty boxes that had been thrown into the clay-floored back “room” that opened off the hairdressing “saloon”, which in turn lay behind the shop itself and had a single “chair”. Just below the shop on the kerbside by Otago Motors stood a lone “bowser” from which one could buy “Plume” petrol. One day a second pump appeared. This was for “Voco”, Mobil’s lower grade petrol, 1/10 a gallon I seem to recall. This was before the coming of the dedicated petrol station.

These were the days of cigarette cards, and Gray and I accumulated various sets of them - ocean liners, military insignia, flags of the world, motor cars and so on. These were cards the customers had thrown back across the counter after opening the packets of cigarettes they had bought - Capstan, Players, de Reszke, Craven A. But Ardath instead of cards ran coupons. Save a specified number of these and you could select goods from their catalogue. Dad saved them, and in due course Mum got a square-faced chromium-rimmed clock for their bedroom.

Life must have looked quite rosy at this time. The little Dodge roadster, too small for a growing family, was replaced by a Buick tourer, a year older, a good many feet longer, and about equally high. The space between and back seats was enormous. So too was the 6-cylinder engine under the bonnet.

At this time, too, came the move from Calder Street to St Clair. What precipitated this decision was the discovery of borer in the washhouse. I can still remember the worried discussions. From 60 years on they now seem faintly ludicrous, for the house and washhouse at Calder Street are still standing. The borer, however, were probably no more than an activating agent. Mum had a hankering after a “better neighbourhood”, and wanted a brick house. A house was found - 75 Beach Street - and Calder Street was sold. This was in 1930. Calder Street fetched, as I recall it, 950. The asking price for Beach Street was 1950, but I believe Mum and Dad finally got it for 1850. With the death of Mum’s mother [M.1] two years earlier Mum had an income of about a 100 a year from her father’s estate and thus a mortgage of 900 on the “new” house would not have seemed a great burden. Presumably the tobacco shop was still looking profitable.

The move took place in a school term-holiday. The capacious rear of the Buick served well for transporting many items of furniture and household equipment. Uncle George Mitchell [M.1], husband of Mum’s Auntie “Josie”, was a frequent helper.

The new house was a distinct advance. It had an extra bedroom, a garage on the street frontage, an electric stove instead of a coal range, and electrically heated hot water. The “lav” was in the bathroom. There was a gas-heated copper in the washhouse. Although the washhouse was under the same roof as the rest of the house, one had to go outdoors to get to it.

When we moved I was in Standard 4, Gray in Standard 1. Mum must have taken us to school on our first day of the new term and spoken to the teachers about our changed address, for a cheerful little boy, Keith Williamson, nicknamed “Fats” though he was not at all fat and could run like the wind, and who lived in Beach Street a block nearer the beach, was assigned to take me under his wing.

About this time Dad, surprisingly, took on an assistant in the shop. This was a young woman, Daphne Nyohn, the daughter of a family who farmed at Sandy Mount, high up and remote on Otago Peninsula. She boarded with Grandma and Grandpa Titchener. I do not know why she was taken on. With hindsight one can see that it was just another and needless way of drawing money out of the business. It also released Dad from the shop to cross the road into the bar of the “Prince Albert” hotel - another sink for cash. Daphne was a pale, slight, almost waif-like girl who, when Dad came on his Sunday morning visits to Queens Drive bringing us boys, would be sitting quietly at one corner of the table in the “snuggery”. It was obvious, even to a small boy of my age, that Dad was fond of her. Too fond as it turned out. They had an affair. Daphne became pregnant1. I knew nothing of this until years later. All I did know was that Daphne disappeared and was not seen again. She had been packed off, back to Sandy Mount I suppose. Grandpa Titchener, very much a conventional male of his day, with the day’s attitudes, held her to blame, and ordered her out of his house. What happened between Mum and Dad I do not know. I never heard the matter talked of. What I know has come from Yolande, who had it from Mum years after the event. Somewhere there has been, all these years, a half-brother or half-sister, presumably with the surname Nyohn, of whom I know nothing.

Within two years of the move to St Clair the shop was gone - sold I presume. I know nothing of the circumstances, but suspect takings were dwindling. That would not be surprising. It would not have helped that Dad had no liking for paper-work. I can see him some years later scowling and swearing over his income-tax return. During the time of the shop I can recall Mum struggling with a sheaf of invoices on the kitchen table and trying to reconcile them with the stubs of Dad’s cheque books, and being testily critical that many of the stubs were blank. The invoices were normally spiked on to a long wire holder driven into a chamfered octagonal wooden base and elegantly hooked at the top. It was the only piece of my school woodwork that ever found use. It hung inside one of the kitchen pot cupboards.

Dad went back to being a motor mechanic - or “motor engineer” as Mum and Dad insisted I should call him whenever I was asked his occupation. He joined Royds garage. Royds was a Christchurch firm which had recently decided to set up a branch in Dunedin. They were agents for Triumph, Rugby and Durant, and Auburn cars. They occupied a large L-shaped warehouse-like building that had frontages on Andersons Bay Road and Crawford Street. Two professionally taken photographs have come down to me, one of the Andersons Bay Road frontage, the other of the interior. In the first of these the staff are lined up outside, and, at the kerbside, stand a Triumph Super Seven roadster and a Durant sedan. The Triumph was the car that Alec McDonald - “Mac”, Royd’s live-wire salesman, who, Dad always said, could sell anything to anyone - had, with a co-driver, driven from Auckland to Invercargill “non-stop” as a publicity stunt to promote these little cars. I always thought them high, narrow and ugly. Seen today in the photograph of the interior of the garage they seem less so. They were doubtless intended as competitors to the ubiquitous Baby Austin and the Morris Minor. They never really “caught on”. Perhaps they were too expensive. The Rugby was a 4-cylinder rival to the Fords and “Chevs” of the day, the Durant a more luxurious six-cylinder stable-mate. Dad had a strong admiration for Auburn cars - “Lycoming engines,” he used to say with respect in his voice. They came out in three models, the 6-80, 8-90 and 8-120, the first digit representing the number of cylinders. They were distinguished by their curious “Brewster” windscreen, a complicated 4-piece affair the virtue of which was never clear to me. They were good cars, but not cheap, and never sold in great numbers.

I particularly remember down in the back of the garage an enormous old Napier. Once a passenger car it had been converted into a breakdown wagon. It seemed to be a mass of brass - brass headlamps, brass radiator, even a row of brass priming cocks, one over each cylinder.

During this period Dad went for a time to Alexandra to act as mechanic to George Fry, who ran a garage at the bottom of Alexandra’s main street. He was overloaded with work. Dad boarded with Mr and Mrs Fry, and Gray and I went up to stay with them during a school term vacation. This was probably August 1934.

One day George took us out for a drive, Dad, Gray and me. We were all packed into a 3-seater Morris Cowley, and George drove us, like a maniac it seemed to me, across the washboard quartz road that led across the river flats to Clyde, his foot to the floor, the little car hammering across the corrugations at close to 50 miles an hour - its top speed I should guess - George shouting above the noise that this was the only speed to travel at on these roads. I thought the car would hammer itself to pieces. On another day he drove up the gorge nearly all the way to Cromwell, this time in a Chevrolet sedan, Dad in the front passenger seat, we boys in the back. The only remarks that have stuck in my memory are of George Fry and Dad discussing the howl that persistently came from the back axle.

We boys would sometimes walk from the Fry’s house to the garage. This took us across a park. One night it snowed, and we revelled next day in the few inches of snow covering the park.

Mum and Yolande came up to stay for a few days at the end of this break, boarding with the Fry’s neighbours, named Drake. At the end of this stay Dad drove all four of us back to Dunedin. We travelled in a handsome, yellow Buick roadster. Unlike our old Dodge it had a real dickey seat, and I managed to persuade Mum and Dad to let us boys travel in this seat. Permission was on condition that we kept warm by staying under a travelling rug. That did not stop us from poking our noses out from time to time and looking about. It was the most exciting drive I have ever had. One could listen to the continuous singing spurt of the gravel and watch it flung out and back by the wheels immediately under us. As we sped along the river flats through Roxburgh, Ettrick, Millers Flat, and later over the rolling hills of Lawrence, we seemed to be almost flying.

I don’t know how long Dad was at Alexandra, nor how long Royds lasted in Dunedin. The “Great Depression” had hit, Royds closed, and Dad was out of work. It must have been a family disaster, though well enough kept from us boys that I was unaware of it until some time later.

For a time Dad got a job as driver of one of the service cars run by a Mr Callaghan between Dunedin and Port Chalmers. This couldn’t have lasted long, and I probably wouldn’t remember it but that Dad took me on one of the trips. The car left from the Queens Gardens and the journey ended at the foot of Port Chalmers main street. On the day I went the passengers were mainly housewives who had been doing a day’s shopping in Dunedin. The car was crowded with large women with large baskets and large parcels. I was squeezed hard against Dad in the front seat. I seem to remember the fare as half-a-crown, with lesser amounts for intermediate distances. There was some alighting and boarding on the way. At Port Chalmers, the last passengers having got out, Dad turned the car in readiness for the return journey, and then announced that he had to “go and see a man about a dog”. “Wait here,” he said, and disappeared into the nearby pub. I cooled my heels alongside the wharves and among the seagulls until it was time for Dad to set out back to Dunedin.

When the job with Callaghan ended - I believe the service came to an end - the only work Dad had was repairing the occasional car in our garage at Beach Street. These could not have been many, and the only one I remember is the handsome 6-cylinder Vauxhall saloon that belonged to the man we knew as “Major” Rhodes, father of one of my St Clair School contemporaries, Betty Rhodes.

But the luck gradually turned. Somehow Dad had met a man named Doug Greenwood - probably in a bar. Greenwood, as we always knew him, was a tall, thin, cadaverous-looking but cheerful man whose face seemed dominated by his dark-framed spectacles. Out of work like Dad, he was not short of ideas. One of them profited in a small way from the Depression-driven move away from smoking “tailor-made” cigarettes to rolling one’s own. Previously sold in 2-ounce tins the tobacco for roll- your-own cigarettes began to be put out in cardboard packets. Greenwood got the idea of collecting empty tobacco tins, cleaning them up, pasting on to their lids small pictures doubtless cut from magazines, coating them with clear varnish, and selling them to the smokers of roll-your-owns, who would transfer their two ounces of tobacco into them from their squashy cardboard packets. Greenwood would also pick up from second-hand dealers small paintings and reproductions of paintings, and mount and frame them for sale. Two of these, early original water colours of New Zealand coastal scenes, unsigned, hang in our sewing room downstairs.

But Greenwood’s big idea was the “Sixpenny Delivery”. He drew into partnership an unemployed accountant, Ralph Moore, and they set up a small organisation using a light van with which they would collect and deliver parcels “anywhere in Dunedin” for a charge of sixpence. The business prospered and soon they had a small fleet of these vehicles. They were 4-cylinder Chevrolet passenger cars converted to vans. Dad, through knowing Greenwood, landed the job of maintaining these vans, and he would repair them outside our Beach Street garage.

The business had begun by operating from King Street near - perhaps even using - the office and depot of Tilburys, a well-known firm of cartage and forwarding agents. As it became increasingly successful Tilburys bought it out. The repair work was transferred to Tilburys’ garage in King Street, and Dad found himself working there, maintaining not only the sixpenny- delivery vans but also Tilburys’ fleet of heavy trucks. With his artificial leg he found this work on large trucks physically quite difficult. In time he managed to get a job with Todd Motors where Bill Mercer, who had been at Royds, was now foreman. Todds were agents for Hillman, Humber, Plymouth and Chrysler, and at that time were located in Halsey Street on the reclaimed land between Anzac Avenue and the harbour-front. Even that must have been difficult for Dad, for he had to make a long walk after getting off the tram, there being no public transport from the Stock Exchange that went anywhere near Halsey Street. The Buick had long since been sold, as being unaffordable while Dad was out of work.

Dad had a great admiration for Bill Mercer because of his unerring diagnostic skills with ailing cars. When Bill went to work at Partel’s garage in Crawford Street, Dad went there too. It had the added advantage that it was only a short walk from the tram route. That move must have been in the mid-1930s. Dad continued with Partel’s until the accident that ended his working career and, finally, his life.

Late one afternoon Dad telephoned home - an unprecedented event - and, calling me to the phone, asked if I would come and meet him at Forbury Corner. Mystified, I caught the next tram. At Forbury Cornoer I found Dad standing on the footpath outside the Waterloo Hotel, holding on to a brand-new bicycle. He had bought it a Jim Gilder’s bike shop at Cargill’s Corner - one poumd down and half-a-crown a week - and had walked it the mile up Cargill Road to Forbury Corner, by which time he had got about as far as he could manage. It was a complete surprise, and must have been done on impulse. Would I now ride it the rest of the way home? I was so excited that I jumped on it without thinking to tuck the legs of my long trousers into my socks. Within 30 yards one flapping leg was caught up in the chain and chain-wheel, and I was forced to dismount. When I looked back to see if Dad had noticed this embarrassing incident, he had disappeared into the pub.

The bicycle was to be shared by Gray and me. This was in 1935. I was in the Lower Sixth at Otago Boys’ High School. Next year I would continue there in the Sixth form, but Gray would start in the Third form of the newly opening King’s High School. He would have the use of it to go to school during the week. I would have first use of it during the week-ends. I was soon taking off on long rides. The first was along Cumberland Street, into a North End I did not know, and thence up Duke Street to the Leith Valley. This was quite unknown territory. I got as far as Sullivan’s Dam before turning round. I was an inexperienced and rather timid rider. Coming back down Leith Valley I used the brake - the only brake, a back-pedalling brake - frequently and heavily. Near the bottom of this descent the brake began to give out grinding and squawking noises. I was dismayed; but, calling in to Mr Gilder’s shop, was cheerfully reassured that all I had done was burn out all the oil that lubricated the brake. “This is the cure,” he said and squirted oil into the hub. In time I extended my explorations down the Otago Peninsula, over into the Taieri Plain, down to Brighton, and across the hills between Brighton and the Taieri Plain, as well as round the many unknown suburbs of Dunedin. These rides were the precursors of later rides all round the South Island, at first alone and subsequently with my close University friend, Ted Middleton. Every Friday evening for some months I would ride to Cargill’s Corner to pay Dad’s weekly half-crown. Jim Gilder would note the payment into a litle notebook specially dedicated to the purpose.

When Gray and his close friend, Fred McLean, finished their fifth form year at King’s High they both left to go to work, Gray as a clerical cadet with the Public Works Department as it was then called, Fred with New Zealand Paper Mills. They soon felt rich enough to buy a car. One afternoon they appeared round the back of the house in high excitement to get Mum and me to go down and “see what we’ve got”. Outside was a large, rather tatty-looking, bright blue, old Oakland tourer. They had bought it for 17-10-0 from the Wren twins, who lived a block behind us in Norfolk Street. When Fred and Gray started it up it was at once enveloped in a cloud of blue smoke. When Dad got home at tea-time he was furious. “Why didn’t you come to me for some advice?” But the fuss subsided, and Dad pitched in and helped get this 1923 monster into reasonable condition. The engine was opened up, new piston rings fitted, valves ground, the radiator removed and back-flushed. Fred and Gray re-painted the bodywork an attractive maroon and the hood with a black hood- dressing. It proved to be a reliable machine, though never with much power and always prone to boil on hills of any length. Fred and Gray got a lot of fun out of it. They drove it as far afield as Tokanui in Southland where Fred had an uncle they stayed with.

Fred and Gray’s Oakland must have put ideas into Dad’s head. When a strange little 3-seater turned up at Partel’s, Dad bought it, for 8-0-0. This too was a 1923 car and was called a Marseal. Some time in its past it had suffered a major disaster to its transmission. The story that came with the car was that a drunken passenger had pushed the gear lever into reverse while the car was travelling forward. Whatever the cause, the gearbox was split and the rear axle wrecked. By the time Dad saw it the final drive had been replaced with one from a Model T Ford. This high gearing gave the little car, which was very light, a surprisingly agile performance. Dad fixed the split gearbox by clamping it together with two through-bolts. The straight-toothed crown-wheel and pinion were always noisy, and the howl of the Marseal’s coming could always be heard from far away.

When Gray went into the Army and Fred into the Air Force, Dad bought the Oakland from them and sold the Marseal to me. The Marseal, with its high gearing, was exceptional economical, and this was a great boon in the wartime years of petrol rationing, especially if one managed to acquire an extra petrol coupon.

One night driving the Oakland ran over Joey (Sammy?) the seal. Dad was on his way over to see his parents, as he did some evenings. His standard route was along Victoria Road behind the sandhills. On this particular evening he felt a series of three bumps under the car. Getting out to investigate he found Joey lying in the middle of the road. He seemed to be unharmed. He had been brushed by the front axle, the sump and the back axle as the car passed over him. That past summer Joey had become an almost permanent resident of St Clair, was usually to be found on or close to the beach, but sometims wandered further afield. He was quite a favourite with the local children. The day after Dad ran over him he was back at the beach, evidently quite unharmed. Shortly afterwards Dad replaced the original pair of headlamps on the Oakland with an enormous pair off an old Chrysler.

I became fascinated with cars, especially after Dad brought home one day in 1935 a copy of the English motoring magazine, “The Autocar”, that contained a road test of a very sporty-looking Frazer Nash 2-seater. Soon I was spending my weekly pocket money on “The Autocar”, and became steeped in English motor-car lore. This got me into repeated and interminable arguments with Dad, for whom the American car was demonstrably superior. He was right, of course, but this did not stop the arguments. All the Titcheners are angry and argumentative Mona Hood once said, and with the obstinacy of youth I seemed unable to keep out of these disputes. It wasn’t just Dad and me. Gray and I used to come home from school at midday. Mum wouldn’t let us take lunch to school, and served us a hot midday dinner. I can hear her yet saying in exasperation, as we sat at the table, “Oh. Stop arguing, you two.”

Dad would be given his hot dinner at “tea-time”. We would, the rest of us, be sitting round the kitchen table at 5.30 for tea. Dad would come in later - after pub-closing at 6.00. His limp would be heard coming round the house. We would be eyeing the back door to see what sort of a mood he would be in as he entered - black or benign. It was never predictable. Would there be a row? Or would he just take a book up to the table and read as he ate? If a row erupted, how would it end? Often with Dad banging his hand heavily down on the table, sweeping his chair back to the wall, and stamping out of the room into the hall and up to the front bedroom, slamming the kitchen door behind him as he went. The mixture of painful tension and uneasy relief will live with me as long as I live. The arguments were not always with him, but often arose out of some minor disagreement between us boys.

Up in the bedroom Dad would take to his bed with his book, his “peter” and his beer-glass. Dad was never far from his beer. It was a daily routine, after work, to call in at his favourite pub for a few drinks. In the mornings, when he set off for work, he would most days be carrying a small suitcase, bulging to accommodate his “peter”, a Winchester flask that he would get filled at the pub on his way home from work. The case never held his lunch. That would be pushed into the side pocket of the suit-coat he always wore. And so he would go stumping off, case in one hand, walking-stick in the other, down to the St Clair terminus to catch his tram. This was after we had moved to Beach Street. Though it was not the nearest tram stop, Dad preferred the terminus because he could be sure of getting a seat right by the entrance step of the tram, and this also made it easier for him to alight at the city-end of his journey. On the many evenings when he disappeared up the hall to read and drink, Mum would be sitting by the dining-room fire knitting, while Gray and I would be doing homework in the kitchen. I am recalling Beach Street by the time we boys were at secondary school. Yolande, a small child, would have been put to bed. Yolande tells how in bed she would often lie awake wondering if yet another row would erupt in the kitchen, and would be able to relax only after she had heard Dad’s limping gait pass up the hall into the front bedroom. She was then able to go to sleep.

One of the stranger times of the week was Sunday afternoon during my years in the sixth form at high school. Dad’s old routine of driving over on Sunday morning to Queens Drive to exchange Grave and Gay library books had long since been broken. It must have ended when the Buick was sold in the Depression. In the Sixth Form I had quite a lot of homework in the week-end, and after midday dinner I would settle at one end of the kitchen table to do it. Mum would have gone out with Yolande, walking over to Grandma and Grandpa Titchener’s. Perhaps Gray would have gone with them. Dad and I were alone in the house. He would be seated at the other end of the kitchen table. Separating us was the red tablecloth that always covered the table between meals. Dad would be reading - a detective story or a “western”. At intervals he would get up and go up to the bedroom to take another drink. We rarely spoke. And so the afternoon would pass. Mum would finally return with Yolande and a new clutch of library books from Grandma and Grandpa Titchener’s, and Gray would come in from wherever he had been.

On the better Sunday evenings, especially in the winter as I remember, Dad would sit in the dining-room after Sunday tea, reading in front of the fire. I might still be struggling with one of the maths problems from “Davidson”, which were due in on Monday. It would get cold in the kitchen, and I would finally come into the warmth of the dining-room, possibly still nagging away at a last maths problem. These were the more comfortable times.

On one occasion, however, Mum came out to the kitchen and asked me to go and see Dad in the dining-room. He was alone there, and asked me to sit down. Mum remained absent. After an embarrassed silence Dad began to speak in obscure terms that I found I only half-understood. It was a talk about sex. All that I now recall is his talking about some device with a sharp point that he fixed on himself, evidently to prevent his having an erection. “You know, if people overdo it, they go mad”, and such like, ending with, “Do you understand what I am talking about?” “Yes,” I said, not at all truthfully. Afterwards I realised that Mum was detecting on my bedclothes nocturnal emissions from “wet dreams”. That was the only sex talk I ever got. It was horrible rather than helpful. I still had no idea how babies were conceived or born. My first real knowledge about sex came from short, surreptitious snatches of readings in Hyndman’s bookshop between university lectures.

Now I must tell of the last argument that Dad and I ever had, or, rather, of its awful consequences, for in fact I do not remember what the argument was about. It ended, I suppose, with the customary table-banging and door-slamming march up to the front of the house. This time, though, the routine must have been different. Dad let himself out the front door, though no one realised it. My first inkling that something was wrong was being drawn into the kitchen the next morning by a flushed and tense Mum, who began by simply saying, “Don’t you ever have another argument like that with your father”; and then going on to outline the events of the night. Dad had tried to commit suicide by going into the garage, starting up the Oakland, and leading a hose from the exhaust pipe into his mouth while seated in the car. He failed because the car ran out of petrol. When Dad didn’t come to bed Mum must have sensed something was wrong, discovered him unconscious, and called the family doctor, Roy Allan.

I was appalled. I never again let myself get into an argument with Dad. Mum never spoke to me of the episode again. Nor did Dad and I ever speak to each other of it. Perhaps he did not even know that I knew of it. Whether Gray ever knew I cannot say. Yolande never did.

Doug Greenwood had some friends among the small community of fishermen at Taieri Mouth, and used to go down there from time to time with his family for holidays, presumably renting one of the fishermen’s cribs that stood on the south side of the river near the road bridge. Dad went down with the Greenwoods several times. He fell in love with Taieri Mouth. He discovered there were two vacant sections just up the river from the bridge that were not taken up. They were crown land administered by the Lands and Survey Department, and were available for a nominal yearly ground rent. They were quite small, and no one person could take up more than one section. Dad persuaded me that it would make sense if we each applied for a section, and this I agreed to do. This was in 1944 while I was on a temporary Junior Lectureship at the Otago School of Mines waiting to go into the Air Force. The applications were successful, and on July 12, 1944, we each were granted leases at one pound a year. The combined area of the two sections was 31 perches - about 3/16 of an acre.

Mum was disapproving. She felt no attachment to Taieri Mouth, did not care for the association with Greenwood or the rather rapscallion collection of Taieri Mouth fishermen, and doubtless too could see the whole scheme of building a crib as draining meagre finances while the mortgage on Beach Street was still not paid off, nor even the long-standing debts owed from Depression time to McCormick and Rennie, the family grocer and butcher whose forbearance had been critical during that difficult period. She doubtless felt her doubts thoroughly vindicated when one of the Taieri Mouth fishermen, whose name may have been Larsen, a tall loose-limbed character, vague in speech and cheerful in manner, burnt his way through the sitting-room sofa. He had missed the afternoon bus back to Taieri Mouth and in some way had contacted Dad, who asked him to tea and to stay the night. After an evening of chatting and drinking with Dad, Larsen, a little fuddled, was ushered into the sitting-room and bedded down on the sofa. He must have decided to have a last smoke, and fallen asleep in the middle of his cigarette. In the morning he found himself lying on the blackened springs of the sofa and surrounded by the ashes of its upholstery. How he himself was not burned no one could ever understand. A more embarrassed and apologetic person I do not think I have ever seen. The insurance paid for a completely rejuvenated sitting-room suite.

None of this deterred Dad. He bagan to draw sketches of the crib, working out a system of pre-cut wall-panels that could be nailed together in the backyard at Beach Street, carted to Taieri Mouth, and rapidly erected and bolted together, once on site.

At Labour Week-end Dad and I went down to Taieri Mouth and camped there, to clear the section of is thick covering of lupin, broom and scrubby manuka. We put up a barbed-wire fence and gate along the front boundary (the side boundaries were already fenced), and Dad planted a Norfolk pine at each front corner. The weather was hot. We worked hard. The sections were low-lying and the tidal reach of the river, just across the road, was popular with mosquitoes and sandflies. So was Dad, which greatly annoyed him, especially as they ignored me.

It was at this time that the piano was sold. Music in our home died except for “Dinner Music” each evening on the radio at six o’clock and the “Request Session” on Sunday mornings.

I do not remenber much about the building of the crib. Dad must have got some help from the local fishermen, perhaps also from Greenwood. Piles were set, floor joists laid. The wall-panels were set out and nailed on the concrete square at the back of the house. I was probably by this time in the Air Force, but was occasionally able to help with these when home on leave. The panels were carted down to Taieri Mouth and erected, the fibrolite sheathing nailed and battened in place, a roof laid, the interior slowly lined. A water tank was erected, a wet-back coal range set in place in the kitchen-living-room. Dad pressed on energetically. Mum continued to disapprove silently. How long all this took I do not know, nor how often Dad, Mum, and Yolande were able to make use of it.

It was an ugly cubic box of a place, but comfortable, though lit at nights only by a Coleman lamp. Dad undoubtedly enjoyed it, and Mum too in time, though at first grudgingly. In the finish, however, it may be said to have killed Dad.

He used sometimes to go down alone to Taieri Mouth by bus, and on one of these periodic trips he missed the step of the bus while boarding it at the Taieri Mouth bridge. He broke the Achilles tendon of his one sound leg. This painful injury set him back for months. He did recover, though with some reduced mobility. He had got back to work when he had a second accident. In those days garage work underneath cars was done from a “pit” in the floor. Access in and out of each pit was by steps at one end. Dad was at the other end. When he had finished working he flung a hammer along the pit floor towards the steps. There had been a leak of petrol, and the hammer struck a spark. Dad was cut off from the steps by the petrol fire. His mobility reduced by the injury to his Achilles tendon, he was burned before he could be got out from under the car.

This accident seems to have brought on a series of minor strokes - he had high blood pressure - that became increasingly frequent. He remained bedridden at the front of the house, and often only semi-coherent. That is how I last visualise him. It’s a vision the more vivid because of my ineffectual attempt to sell the Oakland. Dad had said, “I’ll never drive that thing again”, and I advertised it for sale. When it came to the point of signing transfer papers to be given to the intending buyer, Dad would have nothing to do with them - his last repulse of paper-work, one might say. After several unsuccessful attempts I had to apologise to the buyer and hand him back his money.

This was 1948. The war was over. Gray was back. I had by now completed my mechanical engineering degree at Canterbury College, and was working with Eoin Garden and Associates having, through Dad’s illness, given up all idea of trying to pursue a career as an “motor-car designer” - my term - in England. I was down at Clinton with Graham Yates, Garden’s young engineering cadet, on a topographic survey of a proposed quarry site when I got an urgent call to return home. Dad had died that day. It was August 14.

9.7 Edward William Titchener

Edward William Titchener [T.4] was born in Australia on February 28, 1862. The Victorian Index of Births gives his place of birth as Kangaroo, but his ship’s engineer’s certificate states Castlemaine. This statement, however, would have been provided by him. When the “Gamecock” sailed for New Zealand carrying, amongst others, the Titchener family, Will was a babe in arms.

In the inner family he seems to have been known as “Will” or “Willie”, but he often wrote his name as Ed W. Titchener. He wrote it in this form repeatedly on the cover of his school notebook.

Will, as I shall call him, went to Otago Boys’ High School in 1877, but only for a year. The next few years are a mystery. At some date unknown he went to sea. This may have been about 1887. In due time he became a ship’s engineer, working for the Union Steamship Company. Among papers sent to me by Mona Hood, his great-niece, are copies of his certificates of competency as a “First Class Engineer” in the merchant service. These two documents were issued on July 2 and July 13, 1891. In 1899, when he wrote to his cousin, Minnie Judd, in England he was chief engineer of the S. S. Wariatia, which was at that time running between Launceston and Strahan in Tasmania. Will sailed widely round the South Pacific and in Australian and New Zealand waters, but it does not seem that he ever got to England, and he never met Minnie.

In his letter to Minnie he was introducing himself for the first time. He wrote, “I stand six feet high, am native born and bred, weigh 14 st. and am 35 years of age. Quite a goodly span, eh!” He was in fact 37 years old. What he meant by “native born and bred” is not clear. Later in the same letter he refers to a Pacific island which “was the scene of a big cannibal feast less than two months ago, and a British Man of War is now there giving the natives Gyp. When I am an old man I am going back among the natives and the palm trees, coral reefs and tropical fruits to drowse away my last days. Those little specks of islands are just fragments of paradise which have broken off and fell into the Pacific and stayed there”. He never made it to old age or that paradise. He died suddenly at or near Strahan on the 19th of May, 1900, seven months after writing that letter. He never married.

Will liked to copy into notebooks passages from poems or books he had read, and Grandpa passed two of his notebooks to me many years ago. The earlier of these began life as a school arithmetic book. One of the many signatures on the cover is Ed. W. Titchener, Caversham. Hardly used during Will’s schooldays, it became the repository of these quotations. There are few dates in it. The earliest is March 31, 1881, when he would have been 15 years old. The later of the two notebooks also has few dates. The earliest is on the last page: April 17th, 1886. The poem alongside which it appears may have been written by Will Whether this is so or not, I shall suggest later that this entry may have a special significance.

This notebook begins, on its front page, with two quotations. The first is from Montaigne:

”I have here made only a nosegay of culled flowers, and have brought nothing of my own but the string that binds them.”

The second is from George Wither:

“Now, they that like it, may;
The rest may choose.”

Included in this notebook are some of the quotations to be found in the earlier one. Against most of the quotations is the name of the author; but not all. Some of the unattributed items are recognisably quotations, but I have often wondered, and still wonder, whether others might be Will’s own writings.

Unlike the earlier one, the second notebook is not full, which also suggests a special significance of the last page, also of the entry two pages ahead of the last, and of two pages standing alone at the very centre of the book. I return to the last page. At the top of the page and hard against the left margin is a 12-line poem:

Earth has no bitterer pain
Than to find one we love Seduction
Worthless and full of stain Deceit
A soiled, soiled dove. Ed. W Titchener
By yond’ bright stars above Stranded
Deep in the blue abyss April 17th 86
’T has been my lot to proveDulce Domum
The sad heart break of this.
Break thou thy cruel bow Light into darkness turned
The earth no longer rove Bright happiness to woe
Employ thy quiver now High heart to ashes burning
And make an end of love. And throned hope laid low

To the right of this poem, much as I have tried to present them, are six successive lines, and then a final quatrain.

Below the poem is the biblical quotation:

Faith, Hope & Charity these three, but the
Greatest of these is Charity


Then, in pencil:

Too fine a dancer for a virtuous woman.

It is hard not to conclude that behind all this lies a broken love affair, disillusion and more than a tinge of bitterness. It is tempting, too, to connect the pencil entry on the third-to-last page of the notebook. It is an “Extract from a letter,” writes Will, “received by me from R. H. Larsen, who was drowned in the wreck of the ’Maitai’ June 2nd 1889.”

“Think twice before you believe every story you hear, especially if it is about a woman. It may not be true or it may be exaggerated. Ask yourself if it is necessary to repeat it. Let us give the helping hand and not the downward shove, and so may the angels reach their hands towards us if we should ever stand in need.”

The latest date in the notebook is 12.9.94, pencilled into the front page, beneath the entry, “M. H. Potts from Bill”. M. H. Potts would have been Matt Potts, Grandpa’s school contemporary at Lawrence, and therefore Will’s too.

Will was sometimes mentioned at Grandpa Titchener’s: “the ship’s engineer”. To me, a small child he was a romantic figure: had he not travelled far out into the world? There were, too, the Fijian war club and the foreign coins. There was also his cabinet making, the product, doubtless, of long hours at sea or in port that needed filling off duty. One product was a beautiful, cleverly designed card-table with a hinged, rotating top, skilfully inlaid and highly polished on one side - the side that showed when cards were not being played - and the other covered in green baize, exposed when the table was opened up for play. After Grandpa died and Grandma came to live with us at Beach Street, St Clair, it stood in the bay window of our sitting room. It went to Gray when Mum died. Another piece of his work, in my possession, is a chess board with inlaid squares of alternate black and pale woods. It is in the form of a hollow, hinged box to hold the chessmen. With age some of the inlays have become loose. Mona Hood has surmised that an inlaid burr-walnut table-top, originally the lid of her grandmother’s sewing box, and now in her possession, may also have been the work of Will Titchener. This grandmother was Elizabeth Finch, wife of Jim Titchener and sister-in-law to Will.

9.8 Francis Heading Titchener

Francis Heading (“Frank”) [T.4] Titchener, the youngest son of Eli and Emma, was born on February 6, 1866, the only one of the family to be born in New Zealand. His birth certificate gives his place of birth as Mount Stuart. This is probably the district listed in the 1925 “New Zealand Index”, subtitled “A Record of Almost Every Place in New Zealand”, as “57 miles south-west from Dunedin. Rail to Waitahuna, thence 5 miles. Bruce County. Post Office. Doctor at Lawrence, 10 miles”; and not the one-time railway siding about 7 miles out of Milton and just west of Glenore. In 1866 there was probably much more than a post office at Mount Stuart.

When the family moved to Dunedin in 1875 for Eli to take up the headship of the Caversham Industrial School, Frank would still have been a schoolboy. In 1877 he enrolled at Otago Boys’ High School, the same year that his elder brother, Will, started there. Unlike Will, however, he remained four years, leaving in 1880. He must then have gone out to work. In 1884 he started an apprenticeship as a carpenter at the Hillside Railway Workshops. He remained with the New Zealand Railways for the rest of his working life.

On May 9, 1888, he married Julia May Stevenson [T.8]. Julia was just five days short of her 21st birthday. Frank was 22. Along with a sister and two of her four brothers, Julia had been taken to the Industrial School in 1878. It is not clear how long any of the Stevenson children stayed at the School, or whether Julia was still there when she and Frank married. What is clear is that , at the time of her marriage, she was already the mother of a baby boy. He had been born on April 15, 1888. This was Walter Titchener. Walter’s birth was not registered until May 25. His certificate names Frank as the father. Family lore tells a different story.

Eli and his family lived at the Industrial School. As the two younger Titchener boys grew up they began to take an interest in the girls in the School. Will, Frank’s elder brother, so the family story has it, got one of them, Julia Stevenson, pregnant. When this became known, Eli, a martinet, ordered Will to marry her. But Will had a different plan. He offered his brother, Frank, all he owned if he, Frank, would marry Julia; which Frank did. Will went to sea.

By the time I came to delve into family history no one seemed to know why Julia Stevenson had been at the Industrial School. There was a tendency to assume she had been “up to no good”. The real story has been unravelled by Mr H. S. (“Syd”) Jenks in his painstakingly thorough research into his family forebears. Syd’s grandfather Stevenson was Julia’s brother. Syd has presented the results of his research in a privately printed book, “William and Julia Stevenson and Their Descendants”, copies of which he has deposited, I believe, in the Owaka Museum and the Hocken Library. I am greatly indebted to Syd Jenks, on whose book the abbreviated account below of Julia’s family is based.

Julia May, Frank’s wife-to-be, was one of six children of William and Julia Stevenson [S.1]. Four of them, on April 19, 1878, were taken into the Caversham Industrial School. The other two, the eldest and the youngest, remained in the Catlins district at what was then known as The Landing, where the Stevenson family had been living. What caused this drastic upheaval? It is a tragic story.

William Stevenson married Julia Rogers in Australia. Both had come from England, he from Sunderland, Yorkshire, she from Stanstead Abbotts, Hertfordshire, each having, independently, emigrated to Australia. Their eldest child, Francis James (“Frank”) was born in Australia in 1860. William and Julia, with Frank, left Australia in the early 1860s and came to Dunedin. Perhaps William was attracted by the reports of the gold discoveries in Otago. Between 1865 and 1867 the Stevenson family moved to the Catlins district, he to take up a position as “engineer” at the first sawmill to be established in that remote South Otago area. The term “engineer” may have meant “engine driver”, Syd Jenks has suggested. Here four more Stevenson children were born. A fifth, the second youngest, was born at Milton. The youngest child, Charles, was born on April 29, 1877. There seems little doubt that Julia suffered depression after Charles’ birth, which would hardly be surprising. The Catlins district, even in 1877, was still being “opened up”. It was remote and isolated, connected with the rest of Otago only by sea or by rough bush tracks. It was also wet and often cold, and the small sawmilling settlements were each surrounded by heavy bush. Late at night on Sunday, December 9, 1877, or perhaps in the very early hours of the next morning, Julia committed suicide by cutting her throat with a razor. Her husband, waking at 3.00 or 4.00 a.m. to find her still not in bed, got up and discovered her in the passage lying in a pool of her own blood. The inquest returned a verdict of suicide “while suffering from temporary insanity”. William Stevenson’s evidence refers to an earlier “attempt”.

The small community rallied round. The baby, Charles, was taken in by the local midwife, Jane Strachan, the others by a married couple, Esther and Alexander Fraser.

But, as Syd Jenks records. “Worse was to follow William, after a week’s illness, died on 19 April of the following year, 1878, of ‘inflammation of the chest’ ”. Frank, who, at 17, was old enough to be independent, continued to work at the mill at which his father had been employed. Charles remained with Jane Strachan, who would later marry a Neil (or Nyall) McIntyre. The other four children, William John, Julia May, Margaret Jane, and Thomas Yarrow, were taken to the Industrial School.


Figure 9.12: Julia (nee Stevenson) and Frank Titchener and their children, Walter (standing) and Madeline.

The tragedy was not yet over. On July 17, 1878, the eldest boy, Frank, died in Dunedin hospital of “peritonitis and tuberculosis”. In a little over seven months this family of eight people had been completely shattered.

Not long after Frank and Julia married [T.8], Frank was transferred to Westport by the Railways. There their only other child, Madeline Dora (“Madge”), was born on June 2, 1890.

Later Frank worked in Wanganui and then in Auckland, in the Otahuhu workshops of the Railways, which were their North Island rolling-stock shops. Late in his career he returned to Dunedin, for we find him in the 1917 Stones Directory living at 25 Kirkcaldy Street in South Dunedin.

Frank retired in 1924. The “Otago Witness” of March 11, 1924, records that:

“A pleasant function took place at the Hillside Railway Workshops during lunch hour on Friday, the occasion being a presentation to Mr F. H. Titchener, workshop foreman carpenter, who has retired on superannuation after the completion of 40 years’ continuous service in the Railways Department.”

Frank was presented with “a valuable pair of binoculars” by his fellow employees “as a slight token of their esteem”.

In 1921 Frank moved to No.1 Helena Street. This is where Albert, Jim and Elizabeth Titchener’s eldest son, had been living with his wife, Lil, and their three children, Les, Orma and Neville. When Albert died in the 1919 influenza epidemic, Lil and the three children continued to live there. But, in 1921, they moved out - were moved out, probably - giving place to Frank and Julia. Why Lil and her family were displaced is not clear. They went to live in nearby Nelson Street, first at No.26, later at No.43. That there was some kind of family disagreement seems fairly sure; Orma, in speaking about the move, said that her mother “was not bitter about being forced to move, but accepting of it”. She also recalled that, when Frank came to Helena Street, he took possession of various “family things” belonging to “grandfather”: as well as a trunk full of “beautiful Irish linen” that had belonged to her grandfather Johnston and had been “stored under the laundry tub”.

It is not clear how accurate Orma’s memory of these events is. She was a child of about 11 at the time. As she remembers it her grandparents were living with her parents when her father died. Not long after his death, “Grandma Titchener forced us to leave,” she said. But the Stones Directories show James Titchener living continuously from 1884, the first year of issue of the directory, until 1922 at High Street, or, as it later became, Morrison Street, Caversham. Thus there remains a discrepancy between Orma’s memory and the Stones Directories.

Orma also thought that her Grandfather, James, owned the Helena Street property at this time, but that is incorrect. It was never his. The title shows that, when Eli died, the property passed to “William Edward Titchener executor and devisee” of Eli’s will. The title is wrong in inverting the order of Edward William’s christian names, but there can be no doubt that it is Edward William Titchener, Will, the ship’s engineer, who is the actual executor; for the next entry in the record shows that John Archdale Fothergill and James Thomas Laing are appointed as “Executors of the Will and Codicils of William Edward Titchener above named who died on or about the 21st day of May 1900”. Will had died on May 19, 1900. These two executors were registered as proprietors of the land on December 12, 1900, and it was held by them until September 28, 1926, when it passed to “Frank Titchener of Auckland, Gentleman”. Frank, in his retired and thus “gentlemanly” state had moved back to Auckland soon after his retirement in 1924. Frank retained the property intact until 1936. In that year he sold the two lots facing Helena Street to two different buyers. Ten years later, on August 28, 1946, the remaining two lots, facing Cargill Road, passed to the Public Trustee, and thence to Hiram Lodge, the previous buyer from Eli of the other lot facing Cargill Road.

I met Frank and Julia only once that I can recall. It must have been long after he retired, for I was in my early teens. They came to visit us in Beach Street. They were ushered into what Mum always called the “dining room”. At that time the dining room was on the south side of the hall. Later Mum would exchange it with the bedroom on the opposite side of the hall so that it was where it should always have been, sharing a wall with the kitchen. Frank was short and slightly built, scarcely as tall as his wife. He had silvery hair and a lively eye, and stood quite erect. Julia, on the other hand, was bowed, hunched. Her hands were badly swollen with arthritis and she moved with difficulty. If she looked dour it was not surprising. Min Titchener, Percy’s wife and Frank’s niece-in-law, in her letter to Madeline Cobb, recalls Julia as “rather wonderful .....Although she was a cripple nothing seemed to daunt her, and she would push herself around the garden against a tea-wagon contraption which held her gardening tools, and her green fingers were rewarded with a wonderful garden”.

Frank died, in Auckland, in 1950. He was 84. Julia went to live with her daughter, Madge. She died on April 13, 1959.

9.8.1 Walter Heading and Madeline Dora Titchener

When I first knew him Walter [T.8] worked as a fitter in the Railways “running sheds”, where railway locomotives were housed when not in use or when they were in need of maintenance or repairs of a minor kind. These “sheds” were an extensive brick structure standing at the south end of the Dunedin marshalling yards between Cumberland and Vogel Streets.

Walter married Ada Haig, probably about 1922, for that is the year in which his name first appears in a Stones Directory. They lived in Aotea Street in Andersons Bay. They had no children.

From time to time Walter and Ada would appear of a Sunday afternoon at Grandpa and Grandma Titchener’s. After Grandpa’s death, and Grandma had come to live permanently at Beach Street, Walter and Ada would visit us occasionally. They did a lot of walking. Walter was rather tall, sparely built, fit-looking, well spoken, and did much of the talking. I liked him very much. Ada was short, even dumpy, and spoke little. I never felt I got to know her. If the weather was fine, they would sit in the sun by our back door, and Mum and Grandma would serve afternoon tea. On one of these visits, Walter produced a number of his tools - this was after he had retired - and gave them to me. They included inside and outside calipers that he had probably made himself as an apprenticeship exercise. Ada survived Walter by some years. She continued to visit Mum. This was after Margaret and I had moved north. She suffered a major “stroke”, and was bedridden in hospital unable to communicate either by speaking or writing. Mum, who used to visit her in hospital, became deeply concerned lest she suffer a similar fate, and, virtually out of the blue, took the precaution of giving me power of attorney, having realised what an impossible task Ada’s solicitor was left with. Thankfully I never had to use it.

I saw Madge [T.8] only twice. The first time was when she visited us in Beach Street, having come on a trip to Dunedin with her son and only child, Francis Alexander (“Frank”). It must have been about 1937. I was about 16 or 17 and still at High School, Frank about 19 or 20. I recall Madge and Mum sitting in the afternoon sun by our back door, chatting. Madge struck me, a more than usually callow teenager, as very sophisticated, vivacious, smartly dressed, more “made up” than I thought normal; and good heavens, she smoked! No women in our family circle smoked. I was a little shocked, yet at the same time fascinated by this vibrant person. At that time I was still in the thrall of Meccano, and had been building a new motor-car chassis - the most elaborate I had ever attemped - in our front sitting room. It was suggested that Frank be taken up to see what I was building. I felt, I remember, embarrassed to be discovered, a sixth-form high-school boy, still playing with Meccano. (I did not finally give it up for another five years.) It turned out that Frank was not very interested, adding to my embarrassment. He was more interested in telling me that he had just “smashed up Dad’s car”. I was greatly bothered by his light-hearted and laughing account of what I thought of as a major catastrophe. He seemed untroubled, this young man-of-the- world, quite without regrets. We had little in common to talk about.

I felt Mum was wary of Madge, less outgoing than usual. Dad, who never seemed particularly affectionate towards his male cousins, had a fairly obvious soft spot for Walter’s sister, Madge. It’s not clear, however, how he got to know her. Born in Westport, she would have moved north as a small child when Frank was transferred, growing up in Wanganui and Auckland. She married, in Auckland, William (“Bill”) Aldred [T.8], a commercial traveller and warehouseman. He had been born in Lawrence; so how they met is a mystery. Mum once mentioned to me that Dad went to Auckland for a time to work. This would have been before they married. “But he didn’t like it,” she said. “He found it too hot.” Where did he stay in Auckland? Was it with Frank and Julia? Was that how he got to know Madge? Who can now know? But I wondered whether, in Mum, I sensed a touch of jealousy in her slight wariness that afternoon with Madge.

I have already mentioned the Christmas period in 1942 that I spent in Auckland with my friend, Ted Middleton. In the course of one of our exploratory tram rides round Auckland we paid a visit to Madge. She lived at No.9 Pukehana Avenue, Epsom. Looking back, I realise that it must have been my fascination with her in that Dunedin visit that overcame the inordinate shyness that inhibited all my social actions in those days. Considering that we arrived unannounced, both probably looking pretty rafferty, Madge made us extraordinarily welcome. It was mid-afternoon. Husband Bill was not there, nor son Frank. We were served afternoon tea, talked, and departed. I never saw any of them again. Bill died the following year, Madge in 1960. It was through Frank that Syd Jenks gained some of his information about the Titchener-Stevenson connection, and also through Frank that Syd met Mona Hood; which in turn led to my visiting Syd and discovering the story of Julia May, her parents and her siblings.


Figure 9.13: Madeline Aldred (nee Titchener) and Madeline Cobb (nee Judd) in Trafalgar Square, 1957.

Madeline Cobb, in her “Family Notes”, says that Frank, that is to say Frank senior, Madge’s father, used to correspond with Minnie Judd, Madeline’s mother. Presumably Frank took this correspondence up from his mother, Emma, Eli’s wife. Then Madge took over from her father, Madeline meanwhile taking over from her mother. Thus the correspondence continued down through three generations of both the Bakers and the Titcheners. Madeline Cobb told us she was named after Madge (Madeline) Titchener. The two Madelines met in London, in 1957, and there is a photo of them together among the pigeons of Trafalgar Square.