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