8 Nov 65 : Outrageous lies at the glass factory! : Auckland, New Zealand

This continues the letter dated Sunday 7th November 1965, which began:

Auckland, New Zealand

Dear Family,

Monday 8th November.

We drove back to Auckland on Saturday afternoon after having gone for a swim in one of the natural hot spring baths at Helensville (where the Swift’s live) with their daughter and John. It was very enjoyable and relaxing.

That evening we met Jim Gardner and went to the movies. Although we are all very poor we decided to splash out. Sunday it rained all day and when a couple of old ladies asked us how we manage in weather like this, we realised that we have never had weather like this since we have been living in the VW. Yesterday and last night certainly weren’t very pleasant. During the day we went up to one of the beaches just north of Auckland and sat on the front in the van playing cards and making cups of coffee.

Tony with their VW campervan in New Zealand

New Zealand is a very strange place. There seemed to be no papers on Sunday. Also the pubs are shut all day Sunday (as well as 6 pm every day). The radio becomes very serious on Sundays, and all week there is hardly any night life.

Shopping is very difficult. On Saturday afternoon we went into a shop to buy some provisions and when we asked for potatoes he said he wasn’t allowed to sell them on Saturdays!! Also, there seem to be very few shops open after 5pm – very different from the States – which makes life very difficult.

Auckland vintage postcard, date unknown

Today (Monday) we started job hunting. We started off by a applying at the three local ‘Freezing Works’. This is where they slaughter, skin and freeze lambs. They take on thousands of extras just about now, but the season proper is expected to start next week, and we were told to come back then. There is no shortage of jobs at all. In the paper on Saturday there were 12 pages of ads!!

We spent the rest of the day visiting firms, and this afternoon we went to the New Zealand Glass Works. Here, during the conversation with the Personnel Manager, he mentioned that they needed two fork lift truck drivers. Upon hearing this we both started telling the most fantastic lies. We said we had worked at a trucking terminal in the States for three months (false) and had been forklift truck drivers (false) and were very good (ridiculous)!!

He seemed to believe us and gave us a note to go and see the Transport Manager. Before we left we pointed out that the trucks we drove in the States were quite different from theirs and we may take a while to ‘adjust’.

We then had to go through the works to find the Transport Manager, and on the way collared one of the men operating one of the fork lift trucks and asked him to show us which lever did what. A few minutes later we felt very confident that we knew all about them and went and found the Transport Manager. Somehow during this conversation my confidence left me and I began to feel a bit sick – as I thought he was going to ask us to give him a demonstration of our ‘skill’.

However, thankfully he didn’t (he also seemed to accept our lies) and said we could start next day (tomorrow) for two weeks trial. If we work overtime we can make about £30 a week each, so we were very happy and went out and had a good lunch to celebrate!! Again our high spirits soon left us when we began to realise that tomorrow we have to go and earn our living by operating a forklift truck – when neither of us have even SAT in one!!

Hyster three-wheeler fork lift truck, as used in the Auckland Glass Works

We then decided that we had to do something – and we decided that we would go out and hire a forklift truck. After about four failures,  we located a small company who had a forklift truck they weren’t using – so we hired it for an hour and each had a half an hour’s tuition from the owner.

This cost us 30 shillings but we felt it was worth it as when we started we were hopeless, but when we finished we were only half hopeless! We practiced stacking empty pallets and found it very tricky – but tomorrow we shall be stacking full ones – and full of cartons of glass of all things!! So I’m not looking forward to the morning very much – as you can imagine.

About New Zealand – well it seems a very odd place. The fellows on the ship said it was 100 years behind the rest of the world. At first I thought they were pulling our legs, but maybe they were right. In many ways it’s very old fashioned and backward. They have only had TV for the last 4 years and apparently the Government gave way very reluctantly even then.    

Contemporary cartoon from 1st June 1960, https://nzhistory.govt.nz/first-official-tv-broadcast

Cars are very expensive here and the waiting lists for new ones are very long. Today we had our Volkswagen priced, and over here it’s worth about £1250 whereas we only paid £500 for it in the States – so you can see why they want to prevent us from selling it. 

Auckland is a very nice little place, very compact and only has half a million people. It has nice docks close to the town and the main street has palm trees down the middle. The people are very smart, and friendly, and every other one seems to be from England. There is an amazing lack of night life – in fact a lack of anything to do at all.

To be continued….

Note: Some more information about the Auckland bottle works can be found here: http://theglassmuseum.com/NZglassbottles.htm

< Previous letter | Next letter >

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s