“...I’d run behind, carrying a big block of wood to put behind the back wheel”
the Irish lass he’d met in London while he was recovering from being wounded at the Battle of the Somme….
But then he also brought back a bad leg – the result of being shot not once, but twice.
Son Podge told NewZealandTruck&Driver back in 2003 that his Dad “carried his bad leg for years. He wouldn’t take a pension – said there were a lot worse off than him.”
With their four horse and cart rigs, and operating as Follows & Pinfold, Walter and Ted “serviced the rail and did all sorts of little work around the place.”
It didn’t get off to a good start: Within a few weeks Walter had a big accident with a horse and cart, re-injuring his bad leg and putting him into hospital for six months. He walked with a limp for the rest of his life.
In the early 1920s the business bought its first truck – as Podge described it, “a Leyland with solid tyres, four-cylinder motor, carbon lights.”
Podge, who was born in 1922, remembered the Leyland well – because it added some excitement to his little-boy life, accompanying his Dad on trips across the Maungaraki Ranges to the eastern Wairarapa: “Oh we used to go way out towards the coast – 20 to 30 miles – carting things over dirt tracks. Right over the hills.
“We’d leave at probably four or five in the morning and get back at seven at night. You know – that was just one load. The truck could do maybe eight miles an hour.”
“Going out over some of the hills, when she started to get hot
I’d run behind, carrying a big block of wood to put behind the back wheel.” Father and son would wait till the engine cooled down, then “he’d take off again.”
Even years later, stock pickups from over on the coast were major exercises: Because “you couldn’t afford to go out there empty,” the trucks would leave Carterton with a load of fertiliser or whatever, carrying the sheep crates in broken-down form.
Recalled Podge: “It took six hours to get out there to the coast anyway, so you’d go out there in the afternoon, have a meal at the cookhouse and stay there the night. Then you built the crates – bolt them together. Two-deckers. Oh it wouldn’t take long.”
Around 24 hours after leaving town, maybe a bit longer, they’d be back, delivering the sheep to the Waingawa freezing works.
In 1928, Ted Follows sold his share of the business to Wally, and it became W. Pinfold, General Carrier.
The business grew…but slowly: Podge recalled that when he was a little boy there were three small trucks: “Dad did a lot of local work – hay and stuff like that. And, of course, the rail – everything went by rail because of the 30-mile limit. So it was all local. We couldn’t even go to Eketahuna.
“Mum ran the phones for the business – I remember our phone number was 22 Carterton. If my father was down the river shovelling metal by hand and there were a couple of jobs come in, she’d pushbike down there to let him know.”
Surprisingly, for someone already steeped in the transport business, Podge didn’t go to work for the family operation when he left school: He went straight into “the Power Board” rather than into a truck – simply because, he recounted, “my Mum said no. In those days, when a job came up, you took it. Everyone was after work – everyone. And I was fortunate.”
He did become a registered electrician – but only after four years in the Navy during World War 2: He’d joined-up at 19 and spent a year in England, experiencing the Blitz first-hand – leaving him convinced that “if it wasn’t for the Americans coming in, we’d never have won it.” It left him with a lifelong “soft spot” for USA.
He was then posted to a Ceylon on the brink of rebellion – was there until “the war finished with the A-bomb. That blew it apart –
much to the displeasure of some of us.”
At the end of 1945 he returned to Carterton – initially working for the power board, while finishing his electrician qualifications at night school and devoting any spare time to helping his Dad. Within a year he joined his father fulltime – starting at the same time as his brother-in-law, Doug Drury (who would go on to help manage the place for over two decades).
As Podge explained in 2003: “Everything was a challenge in those days. We made our own trays and everything. We were running mostly OLB Bedfords…and then we had a 1947 Chev. Then we had TS3 Commers – all with petrol engines.”
In those days Pinfolds only ever had four or five trucks “at the most: We had seven dairy factories around here and it really kept us busy. I mean we shovelled coal and we shovelled gravel out of the Waiohine river. The gasworks and all the dairy companies had coal so it was a big job back then.”
His Dad, despite the lingering after-effects of his war wounds, was a hard man when it came to work: “Dad stayed in the business about 15 years after I started – even though his legs were getting pretty sore.