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By Eric H. McCormick

Eric McCormick was once, from approximately 1940 until eventually his dying in 1995, one among New Zealand's such a lot distinctive writers and students. He pioneered the appreciation and examine of the painter Francis Hodgkins, and he wrote numerous biographies. The autobiographical fragments amassed right here were edited to make a coherent quantity, tracing his origins in Taihape, to college and collage in Wellington, to schoolteaching in Nelson, to Cambridge and during his wartime reviews and position as editor of Centennial courses. It contains his intelligent observations of social behaviour, recorded with a dry wit.

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Through a curtained archway beyond this was the ladies’ department with its linoleum-covered floor and huge mirror. There was an office with safe and sloping desk, while a corner, partitioned off by curtains, held the repair bench with its equipment. Scattered about were display stands and most of the walls were lined with pigeon-holes for the storage of cardboard boot boxes. Each room had its own open fireplace, and swing doors at the entrance protected the interior both from summer dust and winter cold.

It all began, I suppose, where my life did — in the living quarters of my father’s shop in Hautapu Street, Taihape. On the afternoon of 17 June 1906, the midwife, Mrs Stewart, is said to have thrown up the bedroom window and called out the news to my father who was chopping wood in the backyard. Unlike other family traditions, this one may be authentic. It was the depths of winter, a kitchen range and two open fires had to be kept going in the house, and, as it was Sunday, my father was not occupied in selling or repairing footwear.

The little band had not only aspirations but also pretensions. They called themselves the Canterbury Pilgrims and the advance party, of whom my father was one, became known as the First Four Settlers. After initial birth pangs, which involved the discarding of ideals, the township was established and grew with the approach of the railway. The main trunk line reached Taihape two years before I was born and was completed in 1908. The population was then about 1200. Expectations were that business would expand and the town grow even to the size of such a metropolis as Palmerston North.

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