AS IT WAS: GROW­ING UP IN GREY LYNN AND PON­SONBY BE­TWEEN THE WARS

North & South - - Photo Essay -

RUS­SELL STONE (DAVID LING PUB­LISH­ING, $ 34.99)

Now bear­ing down upon his cen­te­nary, the dis­tin­guished his­to­rian Rus­sell Stone has brought forth an ac­count of his own early his­tory, spent in two Auck­land sub­urbs that have per­haps un­der­gone more change than most since he first drew breath there.

This is more than a sen­ti­men­tal stroll up Wil­liamson Ave and down Pon­sonby Rd. Stone es­tab­lishes from the start that he will take as his theme the ten­sion be­tween two types of writ­ing about the past: “As a mem­oirist, I try to re­call as ac­cu­rately as I can, as his­to­rian I have to show where my youth­ful im­pres­sions are par­tial, some­times wrong.” Given he can re­call the name of Jacky Hakan­son, the news­pa­per de­liv­ery boy of his child­hood, it wouldn’t seem we have much to worry about.

It’s fit­ting that some­one who would play a lead­er­ship role in ed­u­ca­tion – as teacher at sec­ondary and ter­tiary level – should have had a dis­tinc­tive start to his own school­ing. One year be­fore he was el­i­gi­ble to at­tend, his el­der sister marched him into Rich­mond Rd School and con­vinced the au­thor­i­ties that her brother needed to be en­rolled. He spent a con­fused day try­ing to keep up. His mother spent a fran­tic one try­ing to find him.

Not many now alive will re­call much of what was fa­mil­iar to the young Stone: the ice man de­liv­er­ing his wares, the gro­cer’s de­liv­ery boy, street sell­ers’ cries and col­lect­ing horse dung for the gar­den left on city roads by those ubiq­ui­tous beasts of bur­den. At about this point, Stone stops to check the records and con­firm that the pop­u­la­tion of horses was as high as he re­mem­bers it be­ing.

Stone quotes the great

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