When we arrived in NZ in 1949 we stayed with Auntie Heath and the nurse who had looked after Lucy Spencer at home. She had died not long before, and Auntie Heath had decided to continue with her company. The family had been looking out for a house for us, and had found one in Epsom. But it needed changes and renovation, and we stayed with Auntie Heath for about 6 months.
During this time Margot was sourcing furniture. She used to go down to the auction rooms in Auckland city, and enjoyed the process of checking what was on offer and then bidding. One of these trips produced a solid kauri table – a bit battered but a great find nonetheless. Tiny remembers it costing 10/6d.
This became the centre of our lives. We ate there, the ironing was done on the end with a blanket and piece of sheeting, pastry was rolled at the same end and the other end tended to collect the post and leaflets. We each had our places, Mother and Father at the end nearest the stove and Tiny and I opposite at the other end. Initially it sported a plastic table cloth, which had to be replaced when there were too many cigarette burns.
Until I was halfway through high school I did my homework at my place as well, very convenient for asking for maternal help. As did Tiny also, when homework caught up with her.
When Richard was added to our family he acquired his own place at the end. Initially the high chair was between the stove and ironing end, and later the accumulated paper was moved and he was between the fridge and the table. This made for interesting traffic jams. He used to ride his small tricycle round and round the table, and when much older would walk round and round while talking to Mother. She used to complain about getting a stiff neck trying to follow him. It seems be a family trait, Tiny and I tend to pace while on the phone.
Later the table was thoroughly sanded and coated with clear varnish. Not all the burns could be completely removed. As time passed, Arthur had died but Margot still lived at that table, smoking, and doing the crosswords. Sometimes she redid mathematical problems from her old textbooks. The table acquired some more honourable scars. After she died her grandson Euan Strong received it as a loved remembrance of his grandmother, and it is still in use in the kitchen of his house.