“...I’d run be­hind, car­ry­ing a big block of wood to put be­hind the back wheel”

New Zealand Truck & Driver - - Front Page -

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.

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