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24 September 2014

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A Rom down under
Bob Lovell.

Bob Lovell's story continues with tales of an eventful childhood.

Bob Lovell gigging.


I don't know why but I always had a love of sailing boats right from when I can remember, of course there was no way I could have one as things like that were for the rich Gorger folk only. In New Plymouth, Mount Taranaki stands tall right on the coast and often a strong wind blows down from the mountain. One day a friend and I made a trolley out of junk and took a bed sheet from home. Then we set up a mast and yard and got the wind behind us and away we went down a long busy road toward town.

I can still remember cars swerving out of our way as we sailed along at about 30mph, and people in buses and walking on the footpath all having a good look as we rumbled by. All good things come to an end in the shape of a Black Maria, as once again the police paid my parents a visit.

Bob's father.
Bob's father sharpening blades for the milk factory

In the 1960's the whole extended family moved south from Taranaki to a small village where grandfather and dad got seasonal work for a big milk powder factory.

Grandfather looked after the boilers that drove the factory machinery and father sharpened the big blades that scrapped the dried milk from huge steam heated rollers.

The village was sort of run by some of the local farmers, who happened to be of a religion that didn't allow radio, television or alcohol for their brethren. They were also against a youth club for the young folk whose fathers worked at the milk powder factory. Being a young teenager with nothing to keep me occupied, getting into trouble with the local Mushkro was easy!

I would often go across farm land to a river with my jukal (dog), where I'd tickle brown trout or we would catch a shoshai (hare). More often than not I'd be wagging school and the riverbank was my classroom. One day however I did go to school which meant catching the school bus to the city some miles away. That afternoon I arrived home and straight off noticed my jukal was not there to greet me.

A working grai.
A working grai.

When I went indoors my parents sat waiting for me, I knew then that something was wrong. They told me my jukal was mulo (dead), he had broken his chain that morning to follow me as I left for school but then he wandered off down the river it seemed.

A local farmer who'd had a bit of trouble with village dogs attacking his sheep, happened to spot my dog (who was a Husky, big and powerful) so this farmer gave my pooro jukal both barrels from his shotgun.

On many occasions my dog and I had crossed farm land with sheep everywhere. Not once had my jukal, the best pal I had ever had, even looked like troubling them. I was heartbroken, and to this day have never owned another.

By this time I was getting into strife with the local mushkro, as I began kicking around with a couple of the village bad boys. We did a little house breaking and the like until one day we decided to break in to the village store. That night I climbed onto the store roof which was 30ft or so off the ground, then I lowered myself through a skylight and shimmed down a roof support and then unbolted the back door for my pals to come in.

My pals who were older than me and went straight for the money till, I was more for the fags and the like. Unbeknown to us the police had been alerted to our presence and had the place surrounded. Suddenly all hell broke loose as the police banged on the doors yelling 'we know your in there come on out'.

Bob in his navy uniform.
Bob in his nvay uniform.

Next day we all appeared before the beck (judge), but because nothing had been taken the store owner decided not lay charges. The judge said if we ever came up before him again it would be borstal. He than suggested the armed forces might be the best place for the likes of me.

The Navy soon sorted me out and I came to enjoy my time at sea, although I'm glad there weren't any wars that we'd have to fight at that time. Four years after joining the navy I was on leave and was run down by a drunk driver, I spent almost a year in hospital and was invalided out of the navy as my injuries were permanent.

Bob's story continues »


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