Generations of Genes Phyllis Jeans 8 ISBN 0 473 03868 4

Generations of Genes Copyright © Phyllis Jeans 2000
All rights reserved ISBN 0 473 03868 4
PEMM Publishing Cambridge, New Zealand

[p8] [The Jeans Line]

of warnings were issued about the hazardous nature of this port, including, ‘Ricketty Rum is a deadly concoction and all ranks are prohibited from drinking same’. Large quantities of fresh fruit, oranges, bananas, melons, pineapples and papayas were bought at this port. Sleeping on deck was allowed from 24 August, between the hours of 11 p.m. and 4.30 a.m. when the beds had to be cleared away ‘to allow decks to be washed’. There was a warning to individuals to take care of their beds ‘as there are no spare ones on board’.

The canteen was well stocked with sweets, biscuits, soap and toothpaste and a large quantity of cigarettes and tobacco. No sample menu for this voyage was found but there was one among the papers of the previous voyage of the Tainui. Porridge was the staple for breakfast followed by a meat dish such as grilled sausages (Monday) or Irish stew (Friday). Dinner began with soup, followed by roast mutton, potatoes, swedes and plum pudding on one day and cold compressed beef, potatoes and pickles, with peaches and rice for dessert, on another. A meat dish was served for tea; biscuits and cheese for supper. Probably these or similiar meals were enjoyed by Jim on his homeward journey. The Tainui berthed at Queen’s Wharf, Wellington at 3 p.m. Sunday 21 September, 1919. After one last night on board Jim travelled to Cambridge by train and returned to Whitehall.

On 21 October a large crowd gathered at Gorton, Karapiro, where the big barn was draped with flags and decorated with evergreens, to honour the local returned servicemen. ‘Dancing commenced soon after 8 p.m. and with song and story intervening was kept up with spirit until the early hours of the morning’ (Waikato Independent 25 October 1919). Jim added to the entertainment with a recitation, his forte on these occasions. The evening, said to be one of the most successful ever held in the district, closed with the singing of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and the usual ‘compliment to the chair’. Older and wiser, Jim was again a civilian. We do not know his thoughts as he picked up the threads of his life. Many of his memories of his war service have been lost. He returned again to a settled way of life but perhaps forever changed by his experiences.

Dorothy Olive May Potts (Dorrie) born 24 September 1896 in New Plymouth, was the first child of Bessie Roberts and Fred Potts. When she was seven weeks old she was baptised in St. Mary’s Anglican church. By the time she began her schooldays at Eltham on 18 October 1901, she had a sister Ida and a brother Charlie. Living in Eltham was Fred’s father Charles (the only grandparent Dorrie was to know) and also the young aunts and uncles who were Fred’s half-sisters and half-brothers.

Because of her mother’s poor health the family moved to Cambridge, where, on 4 March, 1903, Dorrie entered Cambridge Primary School. Later, during her mother’s final illness Dorrie attended Central School in New Plymouth.

When Dorrie was not quite ten years old, her mother died. Dorrie’s young years had been shadowed by her mother’s continued ill-health and a period of separation from her father. She returned to Cambridge Primary School for a few months. Then two years were spent at the Cambridge Convent School where she remembered the nuns were very kind to her. She was sorry to leave there for another short period at Cambridge Primary before leaving school at age thirteen.

Her father married Jeanie Ormiston in 1907 and in a few years Dorrie had four half-sisters. Enid Beryl, the youngest, died of meningitis in 1916, just a few months before Jeanie died. Jeanie too had suffered a debilitating illness and Dorrie’s girlhood years carried many responsibilities. She was a caring substitute mother to her small sisters and Jean in particular was to remember Dorrie’s fond indulgence. Dorrie was an enthusiastic collector of postcards and received them from friends and family who knew of her interest. These cards, carrying pretty or dramatic views, animal studies or stars of the silent screen, were popular for birthday or Christmas greetings, or just to say ‘I’ll write soon‘. Little messages of so many years ago remain. ‘How are you getting on with the date scones?‘ ‘Please water my ferns‘ and ‘I hope you are feeling better ‘. ‘Hope you girls are having a good time playing tennis etc.’ and another, ‘I hope you get the books safely‘. Friends moved away and sent a postcard showing their new town and suggested a visit. They were ideal for keeping in touch before the telephone became general.
A postcard sent to Dorrie by her father in 1906.

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