Well, for your Grandad it began in the Great Depression. He was born in the 1920s, and when the Depression rolled around he was about the age you start getting messages about leaving school. Thing was though, he was also too young to leave home. So, he ended up living under the sway of your great-Grandad for a bit longer.
Sway? Well, your great-Grandad was a bit on the authoritarian side.
I’m not sure why. Most would say because he was only a little man. Had that chip on his shoulder some little men get, you know.
Actually, here’s a story. We were at the table visiting them one day. They had these long bench seats they’d gotten during the Depression when they’d taken in a lot of boarders to made ends meet, tough times and all. So your great-Grandad arcs up about something and he’s getting pretty loud. He’s standing and yelling and slapping the table and carrying on, and your great-Grandma, a saint of a woman, just ups from her seat, walks around the table, seizes a HUGE pair of dress-making scissors, grabs his braces in one hand and cuts them through with the other. Should have seen the look on the old boy’s face as his trousers fell to the ground. That story got told for years.
Anyhow, your Grandad and your great-Grandad didn’t get on so well. Who knows why, right? But we think part of the reason might have been the harsh treatment the little man doled out. When your Grandad was just what we’d think of as a child these days they took in all these boarders, and needed space in the house. So they moved your Grandad out to sleep on the porch of the house. I think they might have put up canvas or something, but there the little guy is, 8 or 10 or something, and he’s sleeping in a tent, during the Depression!
This is Te Aroha, a small town, and a there’s a lot of transients around. The boy must have been scared out of his wits!
He says he took to the streets not long after. Started going to pool halls, pubs. Light places, you know. And as soon as he could then he left his old man and New Zealand by forging his parent’s authority and going to the Second World War at the age of 17.
Pretty crazy stuff. All that time out in the night means he ends up being a pretty reliable boxer, and can play pool like no-one you’ve ever seen, right? Can even make a few bob off the games. Fit too. Plays football, and might have been a champion cyclist and represented New Zealand had things been different.
Different how? Well, Hiroshima boy. Hiroshima, he cleaned it up. Changed his life.