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When I Was Ten

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The year was 1971 and the place was Mt Eden in Auckland, New Zealand.


 Now in my decline in the time of men
  I remember way back then when I was ten,
 when we lived in a shadow much greater
  at the foot of the Mount and its dormant crater.
 Where we'd climb and to the top race
  like Hillary and Tenzing up the south face,
 then on our backsides slide to the rocks below
  from whence the lava used to flow.
 Behold the old white house at 89 Owens Road,
  the grass I with an old push blade mowed,
 and where from my upstairs room
  I saw the spring terraced flowers bloom.
 Where outside we played cricket all summer long
  and inside were the masters of ping pong!
 In our living room my family and me
  saw a moonlanding and a war on TV -
 on our black 'n white set watching My Three Sons,
  Gunsmoke and Bonanza with my toy guns...
 or perchance playing canasta soon as I was able
  and even a séance on the coffee table,
 where spirits from the spirit world did roam
  and truly spelled out to our guests "go home!".
 When my birthday cake burnt ten candles
  and I wore short pants and Roman sandals,
 with my bag down Valley Road walking
  past the shops on the way to school talking -
 spending my lunch money licking my lips
  eating aniseed wheels and jelly tips!
 Where my mate lived above his mum's shoe store
  and between us all was fair in love and war!
 Listening to my new transistor all the while
  tuned in to 1480 on top of the dial:
 to the hip happening sounds of Radio Hauraki
  in the gulf on a pirate ship called Tiri.
 Till through the gates of my teacher and jailer:
  Mrs Furner, Miss Gaiqui, and Mr Taylor;
 and catch a glimpse of a vision in a cotton dress -
  the girl of my restless dreams I confess!
 Then before the bell sounded its morning ring
  we'd be flying on the moari swing,
 or games on the courts or running to shield
  playing bullrush on the football field.
 And behold, in class on his guitar my teacher
  playing folk songs and exhorting like a preacher,
 singing "where have all the flowers gone?
  Young girls pick them every one..."
 and "Oma rapeti...rabbit run, run, run"
  or playing Maori stick games just having fun:
 drawing native carvings and birds that can't fly,
  reading about Hinemoa and Tutanekai.
 Weaving flax and with hands of string
  making diamonds and parachutes that cling,
 or in single file marching from the school
  with our towel and togs to the pool -
 an Eden boy at the starters end ready to dive in
  for a prized 50 metre certificate to win.
 Then gather the class in the projection room
  and gaze in the ceiling the stars illume:
 where our Milky Way mural hung so surreal
  as we sat and watched an old movie reel.
 But soon the fun would turn to palpable fear
  when all the class trembled to hear...
 read to the children who were quiet as a mouse
  was the Dental List for the Murder House!
 Alas a fate worse than death - the whining drill
  to bore and clean and to mercury fill;
 where the needle sometimes dulled the pain
  yet the screams of boys and girls remain.
 After school in my uniform arrayed
  I marched to the tune in the Boys Brigade!
 And on weekends roaming the neighbourhood
  in search of adventure as best we could,
 climbing the hill to the construction site
  of The Pines apartments at a great height.
 On Guy Fawkes night from my pocket
  lighting my firecrackers and my skyrocket -
 armed and dangerous ready to throw
  with red packs of Double Happys lit to blow.
 And on night time mission on ninja patrol
  detonating milk bottles - whoa! fire in the hole!
 Or off to the Crystal Palace to catch a flick
  lest my mother test my arithmetic.
 At Eden Park when the mighty Auks played host
  sitting with my mates behind the goalpost,
 with my dad and brother at the track
  in the birdcage and hearing the whips crack -
 at Ellerslie in the Ladies Stand or Alexandra Park
  with my Best Bets - my picks to mark.
 And on the Sabbath beneath cross and spires
  in Sunday School at old Greyfriars.
 Now alas, in my decline in the time of men
  I remember way back then when I was ten!

                    January 2016

For the Way Back Then When I Was Ten contest.

Copyright © | Year Posted 2016

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Date: 3/27/2018 11:33:00 AM
Keith, enjoyed your journey into your past ,and even made me think of my childhood days. my past was all so different. Hugs eve
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Date: 3/25/2018 2:59:00 PM
Keith: Thank you for being willing to take us along on your return to your youth. If you go again, I'd appreciate going along. Thanks for sharing with all of us on the soup. oldbuck
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Date: 2/21/2017 1:17:00 AM
Hillary and Tenzing :) Thank you for taking me on the adventure that is your youth. Mine is so very different, I like being able to from a distance get a glimpse into the lives of other people. They say that the older we get, the more we rely on childhood memories. For my own sake I hope that's not true lol.
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Keith Trestrail
Date: 2/22/2017 6:36:00 AM
Darren mate, just make new memories and rely on those. The present is far more important and controllable than the past. Cheers.
Date: 9/14/2016 7:47:00 PM
This wonderful journey back in time took me to my childhood days. Thanks for sharing this. You are very talented.
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Keith Trestrail
Date: 9/14/2016 9:18:00 PM
Yes Jenni, I left Trinidad when I was nearly 8 and grew up in NZ. I returned home for a few years in the 80s but haven't been back since. I now live in Australia. Thanks for all your comments on my other posts.
Date: 3/9/2016 11:09:00 AM
Have already added this superb poem to my fav list. A7 pm now on the way with a request my friend.
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Date: 2/26/2016 4:23:00 PM
I so enjoyed reading this poem keith. You took me on a journey to your past ,and even made me think of my childhood days..WoWzer!!! : )
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Date: 2/18/2016 11:02:00 AM
Congratulations on your win! Well done.
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Date: 2/17/2016 5:44:00 PM
Beautiful Mount Eden. I just had to go to Wikipedia and read up on it. Hope to make it there one day. Love that Haka your boys do in a rugby match. Congratulations!
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Date: 2/17/2016 9:21:00 AM
Keith, nice win. pd
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Date: 2/17/2016 7:38:00 AM
wow, a happy tale of one who enjoyed his boyhood!.. congrats, keith and huggs
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Date: 2/17/2016 5:42:00 AM
So many wonderful childhood memories you've shared!. Thank you. I love the photos, Keith. Congratulations on this one.
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Date: 2/17/2016 2:34:00 AM
Hi Keith. Congrats for your placement in the contest, with this wonderful piece of work!!!! ;-)
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Date: 2/16/2016 8:27:00 PM
So many good memories from your childhood and you described them so vividly for us... Congrats on a win with this wonderful poem! Thanks for entering, Keith :)
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Date: 1/30/2016 1:50:00 PM
finely crafted narrative with so many memorable scene, keith.. a winner here!..huggs
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