All About Terry

My name is Terence Anzac Piper, known as Terry. I was born in Wellington on the 25th of April 1931. I came out to live in Lower Hutt when I was three years old.

My born name was Vickers. My adopted parents were Lillian & Albert (Bert) Piper. I have one brother, Fred, who was three years younger than me. Fred died in 2008, leaving his wife Irene and son Stephen, who live in Whakatane.

We lived in an old house in Melling Road. My Grandfather lived just around the corner in Connolly Street. I used to spend a lot of time there with him watching him grow vegetables and weeding, that sort of thing. My Grandfather used to grow a lot of vegetables for the family because it was towards the end of the depression days, and nobody had any money.

While I was in Melling Road I got caught one day (I must have been around four or four and a half) with a hose through the back window, playing fireman. I remember getting my backside kicked that day, well and truly. Every Sunday we would all gather and have a meal together, and then play the piano and have a sing-along. When us kids got tired, they would put us on the couch with newspaper over us and send us off to sleep. They were good days.

I remember harking back when I was a little boy going to my grandparents place, and every Sunday afternoon there used to be a horse and cart come up the road. They would ring a bell. The cart had a surrey over the top of it and the horse had a hat on with its ears poking up through the hat. They used to sell ice creams, and it was tuppence for an ice cream. Grandpa used to give us the tuppence and we would go out to the cart on the road and buy an ice cream. I was just a wee fella then.

My Auntie Rose and Uncle Alec lived in Ariki Street. In those days, Ariki Street never came right through like it does now. The easiest way to get there was to walk down along the stopbank and just come off the stopbank at their place. Later, the street was put right through. I spent a bit of time at Auntie Rose’s. My Uncle had a shed – you name it, he had it in the shed. He used to get the kids coming round – they were all fascinated with the things that were hanging up in there.

At that time, my Dad did not have much work and was doing bits and pieces – anything to make the dollar meet. He got a job on the wharf, which brought in a few dollars.

Around 1942 I think, he got a job working at General Motors helping to assemble Bren Gun Carriers for the war effort. The management asked him if he would look after Tudor House in Hill Street, Belmont because the manager had been caught in America because of the war and couldn’t get back home.

So off to Belmont we went. It was a big old house, large grounds, with a lot of bush. Us kids used to have a ball playing in the bush. We lived there for quite a while.

There were also three Beams boys, who were refugees from England, who lived there, and General Hurley from the American Embassy. He was a bit of a hard shot. He used to bring us cigars. We would sit up on the roof and smoke them. I was about nine at the time. When we got caught smoking them, I got away with it because I passed it all off to Fred, my brother, and he was caught sitting there smoking, puffing away, when Mum walked in.

In 1942 we had some massive earthquakes that went on for weeks, and they wrecked the house in Belmont. The ceiling came down, the stairs moved away from the wall, the kitchen caught fire – the place was just a mess. So we moved out to our house in Royal Street in Upper Hutt, which is just around the corner from where we live now.

I more or less grew up from there. I went to school at Upper Hutt School, which is still here. I started there on the 26th of April 1936 and wondered what the hell had hit me. School life was just normal, running around kicking a ball, the usual school work – all that sort of thing. I did get involved with rugby and athletics. I did a lot of running for athletics and I actually made the Wellington Rep Team for Rugby and scored the only try. I was fifteen at the time, which would make it 1946. Another player kicked the conversion and we won the game. The game was played on Kilbirnie Park in Wellington.

After school a gang of us used to go around to the old sale yards. They were where the National Bank is now. We used to watch the sale of the cattle and sheep. We used to gather up dock leaves and we would take brown paper with us, and we would grind up the dock leaves and roll them in the brown paper and smoke it. Good stuff!