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I can clearly recall Eddie and I being very excited during this week as Dad had promised to take us to the Caledonian Games on the Saturday. The reason for all the excitement was that we were going to see our cousin and champion axeman Cyril Hayes in ation for the first time.
As Dad was the youngest of thirteen most of our cousins were nearer his age than ours and we knew many of them only through the stories he would tell of his young days. It was through Dad's tales of Cyril's exploits in competition that we came to regard him as a legend within the family.
At the time Dad was working for the State Coal Company driving and delivering coal, Eddie was just starting the second year of his Fitting and Turning apprenticeship at MacAlisters Ltd. Enginerring while I was into my third year as a Sheet Metalwork apprentice at R.G. Speirs ltd.
Thursday night was bath night in our house as Eddie and I would catch the Makarewa Bus into town on Friday night to go to the movies. For some reason Dad was late home on this occasion so Eddie and I had our baths but had emptied the tank in doing so.
We had a 400 gallon corrugated iron tank at the house that collected rain water but this could be topped up whe necessary from the bore and pump at the cow byre. the pump was a rather old fashioned thing and we often had to coax it into action mainly by replacing the leather washer usually with one cut out of an old boot.
After Dad had his tea the three of us went up to the cow byre to get the pump going. I'm not sure what the time was but it was quite dark sow ould have been after nine o'clock. No daylight saving in those days. Having tried two or three new washers and several other tricks without success it was decided we would check the foot valve. This meant removing the water pipe from the bore.
As we had no idea how deep it was we left the bend on the top of the pipe to prevent it disappearing down the bore if we lost control of it . Dad and Eddie were standing on the south side of the pipe lifting it out while I was on the north side holding the torch and looking for a joint.
Suddenly the pipe cam clear of the bore and fell knocking Dad and Eddie to the ground. It hooked over the high tension power lines on the roadside and hun in a curve down over the top of them. I can remember hearing them cry out once, then nothing.
My immediate reaction was to try and drag them free but every time I reached for them I was thrown backwards. I then grabbed a short stick of manuka that was handy and tried to knock their hands free of the pipe but kept getting shocks through it.
I remember seeing the torch lying ont eh ground and, reaching for it, found my hand dragged up to the pipe that was still hanging from the power lines by the bend we had left on it. The back of my left hand was now stuck to the pipe and I only managed to free myself by swinging back on it and bashing my arm with my other hand.
By now I had recovered a little from my panic and realiser what I needed was right at hand, a long manuka poles from the cow byre fence. With one of these I managed to push the pipe clear of Dad and Eddie, It was not that I tried to get some help as I didnt know what to do next.
I quite clearly remember standing the gate by the milk stand screaming for help trying to attract the attention of the peole in the schoolhouse over the road. I am not even sure if anyone was living there at the time as the previous Headmaster had just retired.
Only one car went past during this period and ironically it was Dad's sister, Aunty Olive and Uncle Jock Todd, who at the time lived a short distance away on Flora Road. they had called in for a cup of tea with us on their way home.
Aunty Olive was naturally very upset when I mentioned that hey had passed and obviously felt I was criticising them for doing so. I have never felt they were to blame for this as I was very aware just how dark it was that night and the background of trees along with the noise of the vehicle would have made it very difficult to have seen or heard me.
Mr and Mrs McIvor who owned and lived in the Makarewa Store over te road from us then arrived and started hear massage. Mum had heard my cries for help and realising the stiuation was desperate had called on them for assistance.
Suddenly there seemed to be alot of people around with the arrival of Dr David Pottinger, our family doctor, Constable Skipworth (Skippy) from the Waikiwi Police Station, and the ambulance. Uncle Tom Findlay also arrived about that time. He was the husband of Aunty Leila another of Dad's sisters who lived at Lorneville.
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