As I was only very young chap whilst my Mum and Dad were there many memories about the place are becomeing a little clouded, so please for give me if I tend to put down things as they pop up.
One of the first that come to mind is how we as a family used to go down to the South west side of the Island and gather up coal from the beach that used to be washed up after a storm from a ship wreck that happened a few years previously. The steam ship called the Waikouaiti came ashore on November 28th 1939, Dad maintained that the coal was far superior than the coal that was used for everday use when it came to bread making time.Played havoc with the fire grate though. When ever I smell fresh baked bread those thoughts come back to me .
As the light unit was constructed with many brass parts one of the keepers duties was to use vast amounts of metal polish. This had the effect of providing a few empty Brasso metal polish tins, what to do with them? Dad managed to recycle them in to play things, one I can remember well was that he soldered two empty tins side by side, removing the bottom,take off the screw on caps, we then had a pair of binoculars to use during our young adventures.
When Dad wasn't tending the light or carrying out maintance in other area's he spent time building things that could fly. One item I remember well was a huge kite, it must have been 2 metre's tall !.As the Island is situated in a windy part of the ocean a steady breeze blow's for most of the year.So the time came for the big launch, up in the air it went and so did Dad.not high but it certainly looked a long way to me ! .I can still see it flying so high up in the sky.the kite line anchored firmly to a well secured fence post. The kite must have flown well as on one flight it stayed up over night.
Whilst on the subject of flying things, I can remember how Dad spent some time building a model Aeroplane.So much work was done building it ,can still see it during its construction,all those balsa wing ribs and spars pinned to a board whilst the glue set,the fitting of the tissue paper,doping and finishing off. The big day arived for the test flight,great excitment all round.As the plane was rubber band powered the appropiate number of turns of the propeller was required to tension the rubber before flight.By this time my Mother and two brother's were really looking forward to the flight but before it was to be launched there was a crunching noise and the model folded in half ! No test flight that day...Apparently I burst in to tears, most upset I was .
My younger brother at the time MARK was an adventerous young boy and used to wander off, exploring the various places on the Island. One day he must have wandered a wee bit too far as Mum and Dad were quite concerned for him as he was no where to be seen .Eventually a very muffled cry was noticed coming from the direction of a drainage ditch,Yes! Mark had fallen in and had got well and truly wedged in like a half shut pocket knife, lucky for him and us that he had fallen in around the right way as if not it would have been a lot more serious.he was recovered and taken home in a real muddy mess.stood up in the laundry sink and given a good scrub down, not a very happy wee young boy if I remember.
Now for GRANT... I will try anything sort of chap,one thing that comes to mind is the time we were down on the beach by the boat landing on the north side of the Island, must have been a nice fine day!. Some times after a bit of a blow various items were washed up on the beach, drift wood,seaweed etc.But on this particular day there where some "Blue Bottles" as we know them or stinging floating jelly fish washed up on the beach, as they are blue in colour with a inflated floating bladder they must have looked interesting to Grant as he thought they might be good to EAT.so he tried.!! He got stung as expected,still hear the howls of pain and Mum running over to see what she could do for the poor boy,sting welts around his mouth.ouch !
Penguins....Yes those cute seabirds that waddle around, used to vist us as well. One year some took a fancy to nest under the house,all I can remember is the noise they used to make and Dad trying to remove them with great care as they sure could fight back !
My Mother must have been on the go every day what with running the house hold and looking after us three boys,we must have caused her a few worries over time with our antics, one was when we really got in two trouble. The stores when landed on the beach used to transported up the slight rise to the housing area by the means of a hand pushed rail trolley.Hard work as many drums of fuel,kerosene, later on diesel,coal for domestic use and no doupt other items required. Well one day after all the hard work was done by the grown ups we decided that it would be fun if we could have a go using the trolley ! On this particular day it was left on the rails with a piece of wood jambed under a wheel, so with a bit of a struggle we removed it and off down the hill went the trolley all by itself through a closed gate !! jumped the rails and stopped. I have a feeling very vague though that Grant went for a ride but I know Grant was always in the firing line to try something out and if he got through OK Mark and I must have thought we could have a go to. Think we did get a bit of a sore behind after that,wonder why???
As the Island was not that far but far enough from the mainland and the Port of Bluff , the milk man didn't really call, so Daisy the house cow came in to good use. Mum and Dad used to take turns milking Daisy,can't of been a very nice job esp in winter as the milking was done by hand.We used to hang around doing our best no doupt getting in the way. Every now and then we used to get a good squirt of fresh warm milk staight from the teat into the face,Mark was the one I think who it didn't realy bother if he got a mouth full or not.When the bucket was full or Daisy was dry it was to the shed and the cream seperator,( think it was a Lister and if so did it have a bell to indicate the correct speed??) what milk that was required for the house was put aside and the rest was poured into the bowel of the seperator. We all had turns winding the handle,around and around it went untill the right speed was reached and the cream began to flow out the spout.Then the job of washing, cleaning all of those mysterous bits and pieces that some how did the magic to the milk where set a side to dry untill the next time.The cream was then used to make butter,another job we used to help with can remember the butter pats and the wooden butter churn. Mum used to sculpture the fresh butter into all sorts of interesting shapes and figures. It was so nice on fresh bread....
On calm and not so calm days Dad use to row the Government issue 12ft clinker dingy out to his favorite fishing spot to fish for the best blue cod in the world. Some days if we were lucky he would take us along for a ride.He usually used oars but on some occasions he used to use a Seagull outboard motor.It used to make a pop popping gurgleing noise as it pushed us and the dingy through the water .On one particular day Dad really terrified us by leaning down and pulling out the cork from the drainage hole in the bilge's of the dingy,in poured the water !! all in good fun.. so Dad thought.My thoughts were what if he had lost it over board what would we do.Panic ??? :)
Mum must have trusted us to a certain extent as we used to wander around the place reasonably freely either that or we were good at escaping from her apron strings...On one adventure my brothers and I and I think along with the others ??? Were down on the beach having a play around the rocks and tidal pools,doing what all young children do I guess.I can remember that I was getting concerned that my two brothers were getting a little too far out in to the water even though it was low tide.I was yelling out for them to come back or I would go and get Mum to get them back to safe ground.As I was walking backwards back up the beach I tripped and fell back landing onto my hand. Still can remember the pain as my wrist fractured.So it was back up to the house for help,can't remember much else except going by boat to KEW hospital in Invercargill to get it set and into plaster. Getting the plaster off is another story !!! Terriffied I was as couldn't figure out how they were going to cut off the plaster with such a noisy and lethal looking instrument and still leave my arm on !!!!
Every now and then the tussock grass was burnt to clear what land was there for grazing sheep and cows,this had the effect of setting fire to the peat underneath the top soil. For many weeks it continued to burn even after it rained it was still dangerous to go into the burnt off area. Peat burns along way underground before burning through again . This had the added danger of falling into hot ashes if you stood above the burnt area even though the ground looked safe to walk on.Even now the smell of burning peat triggers thoughts of Dog Island.
No doupt there are many more memories hidden away that will come to the surface as time goes by. I intend catching up with Mum and Dad and rest of the family soon so will see if I can get them to relate some more to me esp the ones the ones I can't remember...........?
Maybe to be continued ??