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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 14, Issue 8 (November 1939)



“I Recall,” by R. H. Croll (Robertson & Mullens, Melbourne) is an entertaining book of reminiscences by a well-known Australian journalist. Although he has reached his 70th year Mr. Croll is apparently still very much in the picture of life and letters in Australia. His many activities have brought him into touch with most of the interesting figures in the artistic, literary and political life of Australia. He has been a prominent member and office-bearer of library organisations, nature-loving societies, art societies, outdoor bodies, etc. That Mr. Croll stands well with the leaders of various progressive organisations is evident from the many tributes paid to him. These he quotes with engaging candour, yet without any boastfulness. He is equally generous in his estimates of others. His stories of writers and artists and of Bohemian life are vastly entertaining; his anecdotes are mostly new and worth repeating; his records of books and pictures in his library will interest literary and art enthusiasts. In short, “I Recall” is just what an autobiography should be—the story of the life of an interesting man candidly and entertainingly told. page 38 A number of interesting photographic reproductions are included in the book.

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“Sky High to Shanghai,” by Frank Clune (Angus & Robertson, Sydney) is a typical up-to-the-minute travel book from the popular Australian author. The book contains the right appeal for the present moment. While it deals largely with a people and a country of great interest in the present international situation, it is at the same time a welcome relaxation from heavy and sometimes depressing war reading. Frank Clune could not be heavy or depressing, even if he tried. In fact, many will say he is too flippant or cheeky, but it is the buoyant cheery style that “goes over.” Clune leaves Australia by Japanese cargo boat and lands in Yokohama. He then proceeds to explore Japan and its people. He takes the Chinese wall in his stride and after investigating people and places in China goes on to Shanghai, Hong Kong, Indo China and Siam. Very little seems to escape his eagle eye and his prying camera. His observations are keen and interesting, his sense of humour constantly bubbling over, and his historical comments interesting. The book is stimulating and it is informative. Many good photographs illustrate the volume. Frank Clune should study the art of contrast, however; his flippancy and his good cheer are, at times, overpowering. A little serious note now and then would have given better balance to the book.

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“Sketches from Maoriland,” by Hamilton Grieve (Whitcombe & Tombs Ltd.) is an entertaining book of experiences, collated by a school teacher who spent five years teaching among the Maoris in the far north of New Zealand. The author shows a keen sense of the colour and humour of Maori life and character. His appreciation of the droll side of Maori life is conveyed to the reader in the pedantic fashion so characteristic of his profession. Yet the stories told do not lose any of their appeal on this account, Mr. Grieve could hardly have found a better illustrator of his stories than A. S. Paterson whose drawings of Maori types and small-town scenes are true to life and full of humour. Dr. A. J. Harrop writes a brief introduction.

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“Music Without Words,” by Noel Farr Hoggard (Handcraft Press, Wellington) contains eight pieces of verse, which certainly gives Mr. Hoggard an opportunity to prove that he is advancing rapidly in the art of typography.

Shibli'S Notebook.

A volume containing the final literary remains of Katherine Mansfield is due shortly from Constable's, London.

An interesting catalogue of New Zealand books has been issued by F. I. Jones of Wanganui. The list comprises over 500 books, including a number of rare items.

Hearty congratulations to “The New Triad.” It is “growing up” rapidly.

Eileen Duggan's poems published by Allen & Unwin, have reached a second edition—quite a record for verse these days.

A Veteran Railwayman.

Living with his wife in the small township of Herbert, North Otago, is one of our oldest remaining railwaymen, Mr. Frances Stringer, who is now in his 86th year. He was born in Faversham, Kent, England, in 1854, and took service on a sailing ship to New Zealand in 1876.

At the time of his arrival, James Brogden was the contractor for the construction of the railway between Oamaru and Dunedin, with whom Mr. Stringer obtained employment at Waianakarua. Later, as ganger, he was to be one of the party of three to first travel through the Otepopo tunnel by train. This was the ballast service driven by Mr. Alex. Sutherland with Mr. Jas. Brooker as fireman.

Mr. Stringer was the first ganger on this particular length. He later spent 12 ½ years in a similar capacity on the Duntroon-Kurow section, after which he returned as ganger to the Otepopo section where he remained until his retirement on superannuation in 1914, at the age of 60 years. Altogether Mr. Stringer was in the N.Z.R. service for 39 years 8 months. His descendants are ten children, forty grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.