The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 7 (December 15, 1926)
How We Kept Mother's Birthday — As Related by a Member of the Family
[Reprinted by permission from the “Lyttelton Times”].
Last week it was mother's birthday. There has been so much talk in the papers lately about Mothers' Days, and people doing things to show how much they appreciate their mother, that in a big family like ours the idea takes hold. So we decided to have a special celebration of mother's birthday. We thought it a fine idea. It made us all realise how much mother had done for us for years, and all the efforts and sacrifice that she had made for our sake.
So we decided that we'd make it a great day, a holiday for all the family, and do everything we could to make mother happy. Father decided to take a holiday from his office so as to help in celebrating the day, and my sister Anna and I stayed home from college classes, and Mary and my brother Will stayed home from High School.
It was our plan to make it a day just like Christmas or any big holiday, and so we decided to decorate the house with flowers and with mottoes over the mantlepieces, and all that kind of thing. We got mother to make mottoes and arrange the decorations, because she always does it at Christmas.
Amplifying the Plan.
The two girls thought it would be a nice thing to dress in our very best for such a big occasion, and so they both got new hats. Mother trimmed both the hats, and they looked fine, and father had bought four-in-hand silk ties for himself and us boys as a souvenir of the day to remember mother by. We were going to get mother a new hat too, but it turned out that she seemed to really like her old grey bonnet better than a new one, and both the girls said that it was awfully becoming to her.
Well, after breakfast we had it arranged as a surprise for mother that we would hire a motor car and take her for a beautiful drive away in the country. Mother is hardly ever able to have a treat like that, because we can only afford to keep one maid, and so mother is busy in the house nearly all the time. And of course, the country is so lovely that it would be just grand for her to have a lovely morning driving for miles and miles.
Heightening Mother's Enjoyment.
But on the very morning of the day we changed the plan a little bit, because it occurred to father that a thing it would be better to do even than to take mother for a motor drive would be to take her fishing. Father said that as the car was hired and paid for, we might just as well use it for a drive up into hills where the streams are. As father said, if you just go out driving without any object, you have a sense of aimlessness, but if you are going to fish, there is definite purpose in front of you to heighten the enjoyment.
So we all felt that it would be nicer for mother to have a definite purpose; and anyway it turned out that father had just got a new rod the day before, which made the idea of fishing all the more appropriate, and he said that mother could use it if she wanted to, in fact, he said it was practically for her. Only mother said she would much rather watch him fish and not try to fish herself.
So we got everything arranged for the trip, and we got mother to cut up some sandwiches, and make up a sort of lunch in case we got hungry, though, of course, we were to come back home to a big dinner in the middle of the day, just like Christmas or New Year's Day. Mother packed it all up in a basket for us ready to go in the motor.
Father's Generous Offer.
Well, when the car came to the door, it turned out that there hardly seemed as much room in it as we had supposed, because we hadn't reckoned on father's fishing basket and the rods and the lunch, and it was plain enough that we couldn't all get in.
Father said not to mind him; he said that he could just as well stay home, and that he was sure that he could put in the time spading in the garden; he said that there was a lot of rough dirty work that he could do, like digging a trench for the garbage, that would save hiring a man, and so he said that he'd stay home; he said that we were not to let the fact of his not having had a real holiday for three years stand in our way; he wanted us to go right ahead and be happy, and have a big day, and not to mind him. He said that he could plug away all day, and, in fact, he said he'd been a fool to think there'd be any holiday for him.
But, of course, we all felt that it would never do to let father stay home, especially as we page 69 knew he would make trouble if he did. The two girls, Anna and Mary, would gladly have stayed and helped the maid get dinner, only it seemed such a pity too on a lovely day like this, having their new hats. But they both said that mother had only to say the word, and they'd gladly stay at home and work. Will and I would have dropped out, but unfortunately we wouldn't have been any use in getting the dinner.
Sheltering Mother from the Racket.
So in the end it was decided that mother would stay home and just have a lovely restful day round the house, and get the dinner. It turned out anyway that mother doesn't care for fishing, and also it was just a little bit cold and fresh out of doors, though it was sunny, and father was rather afraid that mother might take cold if she came.
He said he would never forgive himself if he dragged mother round the country and let her take a severe cold at a time when she might be having a beautiful rest. He said it was our duty to try and let mother get all the rest and quiet that she could after all that she had done for all of us, and he said that that was principally why he had fallen in with the idea of a fishing trip, so as to give mother a little quiet. He said that young people seldom realise how much quiet means to people who are getting old. As to himself, he could still stand the racket, but he was glad to shelter mother from it.
So we all drove away with three cheers for mother, and mother stood and watched us from the verandah for as long as she could see us, and father waved his hand back to her every few minutes till he hit his hand on the back edge of the car, and then said that he didn't think that mother could see us any longer.
Lovely Day and Lovely Dinner.
Well—we had the loveliest day up among the hills that you could possibly imagine, and father caught such big specimens that he felt sure that mother couldn't have landed them anyway, if she had been fishing for them, and Will and I fished too, though we didn't get so many as father, and the two girls met quite a lot of people that they knew as we drove along, and there were some young men friends of theirs that they met along the stream and talked to, and so we all had a splendid time.
It was quite late when we got back, nearly seven o'clock in the evening, but mother had guessed that we would be late, so she had kept back dinner so as to have it just nicely ready and hot for us. Only first she had to get towels and soap for father and clean the things for him to put on, because he always gets so messed up with fishing, and that kept mother busy for a little while, that and helping the girls get ready.
But at last everything was ready, and we sat down to the grandest kind of dinner—roast turkey and all sorts of things like on Christmas Day. Mother had to get up and down a good bit during the meal fetching things back and forward, but at the end father noticed it and he said she simply musn't do it, that he wanted her to spare herself, and he got up and fetched the walnuts from the sideboard for himself.
Giving Mother Her Way.
The dinner lasted a long while, and was great fun, and when it was over all of us wanted to help clear the things up and wash the dishes, only mother said that she would really much rather do it, and so we let her, because we wanted just for once to humour her.
It was quite late when it was all over, and when we all kissed mother before going up to bed, she said it had been the most wonderful day in her life and I think there were tears in her eyes. So we all felt awfully repaid for all that we had done.
A Dog Story
In the early days the Railway Department had many hard cases on its pay roll, and many good yarns are told of one Sam Cameron, a guard in the Southland district. Sam was a quick thinker as the following incident proves. When Sam started on his run one morning a lady brought a small poodle to the van and the poodle was duly placed in the dog-box. Somewhere along the road a bull-dog was placed in the dog-box, but when it was being placed therein the poodle escaped. At the next station there was sheep killing works and Sam slipped across and got hold of a sheep's pluck which he threw into the dog-box. When the train arrived at its destination the owner of the bull-dog duly took delivery of his dog, and the lady came along for her poodle. Sam whistled to bring the poodle out, but as it did not appear, he made a close inspection of the box. Pulling out the windpipe, which was all that was left of the pluck, Sam held it up and said, in a horrified voice, “My God! lady, that's all that's left of your dog.”