The owner had built a very nice bungalow only two years previously and this was set approx 200m back from the road. It was approached by a long drive that meandered down over some sloping ground, past some large trees to a little bridge over a stream and then up an incline to the house which was located on the flat area above. Although the farm had recently been run as a sheep farm there was a cow shed and this was located not far from the bungalow. The farm was 108 acres which was a bit on the small side but large enough to take a herd of approx 100 cows.
James and Dora were very pleased to leave the Hawera farm and there were no fleas in their new house at Tuna and the tap water tasted fine. Nana was still with them and was able to share the excitement of the move which took place around February 1960. This was to be their first farm and the first home that they could truly call their own. It was a major step forward in their great adventure and their dream of a happy family life in New Zealand. For me it was going to be the place from where I would have my earliest memories.
There was a lot to be done to convert the farm from sheep to dairy. The old milk shed had to be cleaned out and recommissioned, but a much larger job was reorganising the layout of the paddocks. This required a substantial amount of new fencing which was going to cost a lot of money. For the short term, it was decided to use electric fencing which could be erected quickly, at reasonably low cost, and then later on, sections of the fence could be upgraded to a more sturdy post and wire fencing, as money became available.
This was a good plan, but James also decided that he would like to plant some rows of trees along the fence line. Dora pointed out that this would not be practical, as the cows would eat the young trees. James seemed to be focused on the fact that trees would take a long time to grow, so it would be best to plant them straight away but he just did not seem able to understand, that the cows would be likely to eat them. Although the cost was quite considerable, James bought the trees and planted them. A short while later, the cows ate the trees.
Again, Dora started thinking that maybe James was not very good at looking into a situation and making the right decision. Or put another way, James could not see the wood for the trees.
The 100 cows were moved onto the property and having eaten the trees, they settled down to eating the grass and producing their precious milk. Milking took place twice a day and the milk was then sent to the dairy factory at Midhirst where it was made into butter, much of which, back in the 1960s, was then exported to the United Kingdom.
There wasn’t much social life on a remote dairy farm, but James and Dora started to meet some of the neighbours and make a few friendships. Church on Sunday was another opportunity to meet people and around this time Dora also joined the Stratford Archery Club. She had sensed that James was not too keen on her joining a club, as it was another thing that would cost money, even if the cost was relatively minor. But, having originally come from Nottingham, Dora felt an affinity with Robin Hood and so the joy of pulling back on a bow string and firing off a few arrows very much appealed to her.
I have lots of little snippets of memory of my early life, growing up on our farm at Tuna, but the earliest memory that I can put a date to, would have been the birth of my brother Michael on the 17th of November 1960. I remember that my father took me and my sister Hilary into Stratford to see Mum and baby. We turned up at the front door of the maternity hospital but initially did not get any further, as they had a strict rule - no visitors. I remember that the nurse at the door was very nice and she suggested that we walk around to the back of the building and we would be able to see Mum through the window. My dad lifted me up and sat me on the windowsill and I remember peering into what seemed to be a rather dark room and sure enough, I could see my mother waving from her bed. I am quite proud that I have such an early memory because at this time I would have only been aged 1 year and 8 months.
In Taranaki there has always been a good community spirit and local farmers always help each other, so James and Dora quickly got to know their neighbours who were very welcoming. There was Jack and Enid Cookson, whose farm was on the opposite side of the road and there was Martin Langdon, whose farm bordered our own on the southern side. I remember going to Martin Langdon’s house once and saw a wonderful new thing called a television set (TV). It was a black and white picture and I remember there was music and some girls dancing. Martin Langdon particularly liked the dancing girls.
The local family that we got to know the best was the Klenner family who lived just a bit further along the road, in a very old wooden house behind which I remember a shed and a large green laurel tree. The front door had a window made up of some old panes of stained glass. I also remember that the kitchen had a black iron coal range that Ann used for cooking and keeping the place warm. The house was later pulled down and there is now just a green field with nothing left to even indicate where it once was.
Don and Ann Klenner had a lot of children and I was to find out much later that the eldest two, David and Linda were from Don’s first marriage but their mother had died when they were very young. Ann had been about to become an unmarried mother but she met Don and married him before her son Michael was born. Don and Ann then went on to have Silvia, Brenda, Colin, Phillipa and Robin. And then later they adopted a young Maori boy called Nathan. The numerous children did not stop there, as years later, long after Don and Ann had passed away, Colin told me that a lady called Karen made contact with them and informed them that she was their half-sister, having been an earlier illegitimate child mothered by Ann and put out to adoption. Life is complicated.
Ann and Don were what would have been described at the time as Catholic working-class people and Don was employed as a farm worker on one of the other neighbouring farms. Don did not say much but Ann was very warm and friendly and she was the sort of person who always had a smile on her face. Silvia and Brenda were very close to my sister in age and Colin was my age, so we often played together. At the same time Ann and my mother became very good friends. Sometimes the Klenner children would come over to our house and sometimes we would go over to their house. I have lots of memories of fun times together but I do also have a terrible memory of an incident when Don beat Michael very badly. The whole episode scared the living daylights out of me, and I remember thinking that it was completely unfair on Michael and I was very surprised that his mother Ann did not intervene. I have never forgotten it, but I suppose back in those days fathers beating their children was probably quite common.
James and Dora met Warwick and Shirley Martin at church and Warwick, in addition to farming, also sold insurance policies. James bought an insurance policy taken out on Michael, but Dora could not really understand why. On the good side, Dora and Shirley became regular friends and we sometimes played with their children, Leif, Thomas and Linda. My mother and Shirley are still in touch.
Some other people that my parents knew were Colin Trowbridge and his wife Claire. Colin had been at the Kingston Mauward Agricultural College with my parents in Dorchester. He had recently moved to New Zealand and he now had a job herd testing, so he visited lots of the farms in the Taranaki area. We did not see a lot of Colin and Claire. I got the impression that Colin was really good friends with my father James. Everybody liked James as he was such a nice person.
I only have a vague memory of John and Maureen Bowyer. He was also a herd tester and they were both English. My mother looked after their horse called Kelly who was a very large animal at 17 hands. Apparently my father James was not happy about giving them free grazing but my mother liked horses. John and Maureen bought a farm high up on Pembrooke Road but a short while after that tragedy struck when John was diagnosed with cancer and he sadly died very quickly afterwards.
There was also a local farmer called Rex Morgan but I am not sure how well they got to know him.
One day Dora said to James that it would be good to get a domestic pig to fatten up for butchering. This started a sequence of events and before she knew it, James was dreaming up a scheme to move into pig farming.
James’ parents Cuthbert and Violet came out for a second trip to see us in January 1962. Again they flew out first class and presumably they were very pleased to see James settled on his own farm together with daughter in law and three grandchildren.
Cuthbert and James set to, building a pig sty with concrete walls and a tin roof. Looking back I get the impression that neither of them were very good at construction projects or for that matter even simple repairs. They had just never done anything like this before. Nevertheless, I suppose it was great that they gave it a go and I hope they got a lot of satisfaction from it. It wasn’t many years later that their pig sty completely disintegrated but in 1962 the new pig sty was completed and we got pigs.
Violet kept a diary of her visit and she mentions going to New Plymouth with Dora and buying her a top quality Kenwood mixer and mincer. One day she also noted: “Dora had a good evening at her archery, and came back with a lovely cake, home made, the previous week she had three lovely chickens, the small kind, so she must be good, she practises here when she has a minute or two to spare”.
Violet also noted: “Hilary goes off to her kindegarten today till 3.30pm and enjoyed it very much and found Jeremy would like to go too, and cries bitterly because he can't, but gets over it. He has been in the wars lately, just trying to sample some caustic soda!! Awful effect, and then falling in the bath, knocking his head. And finally falling last evening and bumping his nose badly and having a fine nose bleed. But today seems full of beans”.
Before they flew back to England, James and Dora bought them a large painting of Mt Taranaki (Mt Egmont) a picture which I now have the pleasure to own and it brings back some good memories whenever I look at it.
My grandmother Violet had mentioned me being in the wars and my mother said this was a fairly common occurrence for me. The caustic soda instance I do remember. My sister Hilary told me that it was ice-cream. My mother was often rushing us off to see Dr Gordon and this was another one of those occasions.
Another incident was with the electric fence. I had put my hands on it and was getting the full shock treatment, but I was unable to let go: zap! – zap! – zap! – zap! My mother had to knock me over to get me off the fence. I have no memory of this so perhaps the high voltage also momentarily frazzled my brain.
In the house one day I was running around without any pants and my mother told me to put my pants on. Apparently, I straight out refused and momentarily stepped backwards onto the electric heater. Unfortunately this was a very old heater and it did not have a guard to stop accidents. The two hot bars, at 240V, instantly scorched parallel lines across my bottom and there was the horrid smell of burning flesh. Again, it must have been quite a shock for me as I don’t remember this one either.
I do remember the radio. This was a wooden box that sat on a low cabinet. You could turn the big round knob on the front and hop between radio stations, but it was very difficult to get the station spot on. The other smaller knob made the sound louder or quieter (for me definitely louder) but the real joy was when I gazed in the back and there was what looked like a miniature forest of glowing orange lights. It was like looking into some sort of magical world, all in miniature. These were the old radio valves that predated transistors. In fact we don’t even have transistors these days, as all electronic circuits are now produced on microchips. In 1962 we had beautiful glass valves that glowed and were hot when you touched them. What was even more interesting was that if you put your hands around them and yanked them upwards, they unplugged. Absolutely fantastic. The only drawback was for my parents, because when they wanted to listen to the radio, they would often have to search around the house to see where I had put the valves.
Farms can be dangerous places for children because there is lots of farm equipment and one of the main items on our farm was the tractor. All of us children used to love sitting up on the seat and yanking at the various handles, knobs and controls but my parents were one step ahead of me here as they had installed a special child safety lock to ensure that none of us could start up the engine. Despite this, I managed to start it and it was wonderful hearing the engine whirr into life. Luckily for me, my father was only a short distance away and he managed to remove me from the tractor before I might have inadvertently engaged the gears and run over any of my siblings. In fact my feet would not have been able to reach the clutch pedal so I am sure there was no real danger anyway.
Playing on the farm with the Klenners we often got up to mischief. My mother tells a story of one occasion when I fell down the drainage hatch but luckily Michael Klenner was there and he immediately grabbed me before I disappeared down the actual drain pipe. This was the drainage system that removed all the cow effluent from the milking shed. If I had gone down the drain pipe it really would have been bye bye JJ. What a way to end such an early life. As it was, I survived but presumably I must have been a bit on the smelly side.
I did on one occasion take a paint brush to the car and painted it yellow, even managing to paint out the headlights but the most naughty thing that I ever did was when Colin Klenner and I were playing in the garage one day. There was a large trolley full of loose paper and on the bench there was a packet of matches. Colin and I can’t remember which one of us actually set light to all the paper but the flames roaring up into the air produced an amazing spectacle. Luckily my father saw all the smoke and rushed in. The trolley happened to be on wheels so, with a very quick action on his part, he grabbed the handles and pulled it out into the open, thus preventing the flames spreading and burning down the garage. He then put out the incendiary by dowsing the flames with the garden hose. Both Colin and I got a real hiding and my mother has always said that this was the only occasion when she saw my father actually hit anyone.
I wasn’t always in trouble. In the hot summer we had the water sprinkler going on the lawn and we all ran around having a great time jumping through the water jets. On another occasion Silvia, Brenda and my sister Hilary played on our rotary clothesline, swinging as it went around. I wasn’t tall enough to reach but my sister lifted me up so I also got to have a little swing. My mother took an excellent colour picture with her camera. Years later my brother Michael put the image on facebook with the caption “how we all used to play online before the internet”. It went viral getting thousands of views.
From time to time, we all have accidents and one I do have a vague memory of, was when the teapot got dropped in the cowshed. The main reason I know so much about this one, is because I now have the actual teapot and it still shows the scars. As I mentioned earlier, my grandfather had sent out to New Zealand a chest of old family items that he thought my parents might find useful. One of these items was a solid silver teapot which dated back to the marriage of my great great grandparents in 1853. On the farm this was the only teapot that my parents had, so they used it every day to make tea (tea bags had not been invented back then). In the evenings my mother would make a pot of tea for my father and take it out to him while he was milking the cows in the cow shed. On this particular evening the silver teapot was accidentally dropped onto the hard concrete floor and it immediately split along one of the seams. My father did try to repair it a few days later with some solder but not very successfully and the teapot has remained unserviceable from that date. It is still a lovely little memento, not just of my great great grandparent’s wedding but also a memento of our time living in Taranaki back in the early 1960s.
I could ramble on here about a lot more of my memories but it might be best to just summarise some of the moments that still come to my mind:
Playing in the haybarn and jumping onto the loose hay.
Eating silage – very tasty.
Seeing my dad doing some welding using gas cylinders. Not sure what he was building.
Lots of tools in the garage but what were they used for?
My father shooting a rabbit which we then had for dinner – also very tasty.
I broke a glass jar and cut my hand badly – another trip with my mother to see Dr Gordon.
A trip by car up the mountain where we were surrounded by native bush with huge trees.
Up on the Stratford Plateau, at 3608ft (1100m) altitude, we first experienced snow.
Seeing a special machine that dug beet out of the soil (feed for the pigs).
Seeing one of the pigs being butchered outside.
Very interesting to see the amazingly colourful variety of the dead pig’s internal organs.
We all caught mumps and measles.
The honey extracting machine. Shiny stainless steel. Sadly it never worked.
One day my sister Hilary went missing on the farm. Everyone was looking for her. She was found in the barn eating silage together with our collie dog Heidi.
Another one to finish off with was the visit of Bishop Bains and this I do vaguely remember. Back in 1934 he had been a curate stationed in Hong Kong, where he had met my grandfather Cuthbert. They must have become very good friends, as my grandfather later went into the church and spent his final working years, as a church minister, in the quiet village of Brixton Deverill, in Wiltshire. The good Bishop came to Stratford and stayed the night at our home in Tuna. In the early morning I discovered his false teeth sitting in a glass jar in the bathroom and immediately found them fascinating. This was all fine but when the Bishop got up a short while later, it was all hands on deck to try and establish where his teeth had gone to. I understand they were eventually found so no great problem.
Being brought up on our family farm consisted of lots of good times, interspersed here and there with a bit of danger and excitement, but sadly all was not well. My father was finding everything to be somewhat overwhelming. Whenever he tried to build something, or fix something, he no doubt realised that the results of his efforts were often far short of his expectations. Looking after the cows was a constant toil, in particular the milking, which throughout most of the year, required full attention twice a day, seven days a week. On the money side of things he was mostly very frugal, being very concerned that there were monthly mortgage payments to be met but then he would sometimes go off on a wild tangent, spending appreciable amounts of money on things that were just not necessary (like the trees that the cows enjoyed eating). Then on top of this, he had his wife and three children to look after. Looking back, it was fairly plain that he just was not very good at it and maybe this was what slowly ground him down.
Dora had continued to see aspects of James behaviour that were erratic but nothing to be overly concerned about. She was young and had very little experience of life, certainly no experience of spotting a mental illness, let alone identifying a strategy to deal with it. She was lucky to have a very good relationship with her family doctor Ross Gordon and on some of the numerous visits (mainly taking us children in and out) she discussed her concerns with Ross. Although he was not James’ doctor, he had met James and he did not feel that there was anything major wrong with him.
On one of her visits, Dora asked Dr Gordon if he knew of any young unmarried expectant mothers, who might be looking for somewhere to stay for the duration of their confinement. Dora’s life was fairly busy, as in addition to cooking meals for the family and looking after three young infants, she was also helping to milk the cows and she was carrying out a myriad of odd jobs around the farm. She thought that a bit of unpaid home help would be very useful and she liked the thought of potentially helping out a young lady in a delicate time of need. This was back in the sad old days when pregnant unmarried girls disappeared for six months, gave birth, adopted their baby out and then returned to their social circle and pretended that nothing had happened.
A few weeks later, Dr Gordon contacted Dora to tell her that, through one of his contacts in Wellington, he had found a young lady who was in immediate need of a six month confinement and that accommodation on a remote dairy farm would be much appreciated. Within days we were joined by Jill Shapcott. Jill and Dora got on extremely well and, as events unfolded over the following six months, her help was to be invaluable to both of them.
By now James was becoming quite depressed and was not sleeping very well. He was having nightmares and was constantly waking up in the night in a hot sweat. During the day he was becoming more erratic and less able to carry out the simple but necessary tasks on the farm like milking the cows. Dora persuaded James to allow her to take him in to see his doctor (Dr Rutherford) and on this occasion Dora was able to speak to Dr Rutherford and tell him that James was not sleeping well. Dr Rutherford prescribed some pills, which did seem to have some effect in that they made James more settled but at the same time they also made him very lethargic. He took the pills for a few days but then decided not to take them any more.
James had always written letters regularly back to his parents in England and to his three sisters and a few other old friends. He was now writing a lot more letters and one day, while posting them, Dora noticed that some were addressed to the Duke of Edinburgh, Harold Macmillan (the British Prime Minister) and Nikita Khrushchev (Secretary of the Soviet Union). James was also writing to newspaper editors and all sorts of people who he had never met. Again, Dora accepted this at face value. She felt it was a bit unusual, but she assumed that it was not a major problem.
Of course, Dora did not know that James suffered from schizophenia but the one person who did know, was James’ doctor (Dr Rutherford). Sadly, due to patient confidentiality, Dr Rutherford made no mention of it to Dora.
James had been talking off and on about the possibility of buying a Landrover. Being a four-wheel drive vehicle, this would be very useful on a farm but Landrovers were relatively expensive. One afternoon he said to Dora that he was going to pop out to see Jack Cookson and ask him for his thoughts on it.
Jack Cookson was a very practical person. He was probably about 20 years older and he was well established on his farm which was located just over the road. This was early 1963, probably around the 7th January.
As early evening approached, Dora was a bit concerned that James had not returned, so she phoned Jack and enquired if he knew where James was. Jack confirmed that James was with him and had been for much of the afternoon, but he went on to say that James seemed very unsettled and was just talking non-stop. Jack had tried to calm him down, but he was still just rabbiting on talking continuously about almost anything. As it was now getting a bit late, Jack brought James back and as soon as they arrived Dora could tell that James was not at all well. He was very tired and just collapsed onto the sofa where he slept for the night.
Jack was very concerned and so he drove over the following morning to discuss the situation with Dora. Jack could see that James was depressed and rather erratic. He suggested to Dora that, as a precaution, it might be best if they removed James’ guns from the house, just in case things deteriorated further. There was no indication that James was about to shoot us all but nevertheless Jack felt it was best not to take any chances. Without James knowing, Dora quietly got the guns out of the hot-water cupboard and passed them through the window to Jack who then put them in his car and drove home.
Dora let James rest, while she and Jill milked the cows and sorted out the meals and all the other things that needed doing. There was not much improvement in James so in the evening Dora phoned Dr Rutherford and told him what had happened and that she was very concerned about James. Dr Rutherford said he would visit the following morning and see what he could do.
The following morning Dr Rutherford did arrive as he had promised but unexpected by Dora he was accompanied by two policeman. Looking back, it is hard to know exactly how the situation evolved from there, what was said and what was not said. My mother remembers that James started off by saying to them “if I had known you bastards were coming I would have been waiting for you”. Dr Rutherford decided there and then, that James definitely needed to be certified. All I remember was feeling very afraid at what was going on with all these men that I had never seen before. Both my mother and my father were distraught and my father kept saying over and over that he was very sorry. James cooperated and got into the police car. I understand from my mother that Dr Rutherford then apologised to her, saying that he had not been aware that James’ mental health had deteriorated so badly. He said that if he had known, he would have acted much sooner. By now my sister Hilary and I had both been taken back into house, presumably by Jill Shapcott. We did not get to see our father being driven off and for understandable reasons we did not get to say goodbye.
I understand that James was driven back to the Stratford Police Station where he could be held securely and safely. To be certified, a second opinion was required from another doctor and it was Dr Upham Steven who was called to the Police Station to see James. Dora had previously met Upham as he was in the archery club but she did not know him very well at that stage. It was to be quite a long day for everyone. It was decided that James would be taken that evening to Tokanui Mental Hospital near Te Awamutu. They asked Dora if she would like to accompany them and she decided she would, but looking back, if she had known how long it was going to take and how hopeless the situation really was, she would have been much better to have just gone home and left events to take their own course.
By now James had been drugged to make him more settled. They set off in the early evening in a taxi with James and Dora sitting in the back and the taxi driver and a policeman sitting in the front. Today it would take approx 3 hours to drive the 235km distance from Stratford to Tokanui near Te Awamutu but in 1963 it must have taken about 5 hours. They arrived around midnight and the male mental nurses took James away. Shortly afterwards there was a bit of scuffle and Dora found out that James had actually bitten one of the men, quite badly. There was nothing more to be done so they now left James and headed back to Taranaki. They drove all through the early hours with the policemen and the taxi driver sharing the driving. By the time Dora got home it was daylight and she must have been absolutely shattered.
For the moment the assumption in Dora’s mind was that James was ill but soon he would recover. In the meantime, the cows needed to be milked twice each day, in addition to various other jobs needing to be done on the farm and there was also the children to look after.
Jill Shapcott was to prove to be an absolute star and was a great help mucking in and doing whatever needed to be done. Ann Klenner was also right on the button and arranged for her brother-in-law to help out with the milking, so for the next few days it literally was all able hands on deck.
Sadly, worse was to come. A few days later, Dora found out that James had recently given a donation of £1,000 to a charity called CORSO (The New Zealand Council of Organisations for Relief Service Overseas). CORSO was a charity that helped needy people in overseas countries. £1,000 in 1963 was a colossal amount. You could have bought a house for that much money. Up until this moment Dora had not even known that James had this much in his bank account. She did not really think about money as it was all in James’ name and he was the person who dealt with it.
Another question I have, when I look back after all this time is: was this £1,000 a one-off donation, or were there other donations that James had also given away to charity? We will never know. One thing for sure, Dora needed that money to buy food and also to pay the monthly payments on the farm’s mortgage. She contacted CORSO and explained the situation and asked if they could return the money. Sadly, CORSO did not return the money.
The day after James was certified, Dora sent a telegram to James’ father Cuthbert in England to let him know that James was very ill. Although most people had a telephone in their house in those days, phoning long distance was not straight forward, especially if you wanted to call overseas. Dora had to book a call with the telephone operator and eventually, at the agreed time, she was able to speak to Cuthbert. He was very helpful and agreed to pay for Dora’s stepfather Les Bailey (grandpop) and her stepsister (aunt Hilary) to fly out immediately to help. They dropped everything, packed their bags and a few days later Dora picked them up from New Plymouth airport.
This must have been a great help and Dora certainly felt a lot better now that she had her family there to help her. It also gave her more time to try and get her thoughts together. Over the next few months she made weekly trips up to see James in the mental hospital in Tokanui. These were long journeys but some of her friends like Shirley and Warwick Martin helped out by driving with her. Ivan Gopperth came up from Hawera and also helped by accompanying her on one of these trips.
While all this was going on, Dora remembers a conversation with Ann Klenner’s brother who had previously had experience of a relative with mental illness. He was possibly the first person to try and help Dora to understand that James’ mental illness might not be curable.
Life on the farm carried on but as summer progressed they reached a point in time where the dry grass needed to be brought in to make hay. This is a task that usually requires quite a few people and what was really nice was that the neighbouring farmers all turned up and got everything sorted. Dora says that she was ever so grateful especially as some of those helping were people who she had never even met before.
Another person who came into our lives was Doris Rogers. She was an elderly lady and must have been in her mid 70s. She lived in a very old house in Stratford. She was a warm and genuine lady who could not provide us with much help but she kept in contact and I am sure her taking an interest in us was very much appreciated by my mother.
My mother’s stepfather Les Bailey stayed for 3 weeks and then flew back to England. A short while afterwards, in late March, he and Dora’s mother Dora senior (Nana) boarded the ship R.M.S. Ruahine, and 6 weeks after that, they both arrived in New Zealand. They helped out on the farm and they also used the opportunity to tour around seeing more of the country. Meantime Hilary Bailey (aunt Hilary) also stayed for most of the year.
As time went on Jill Shapcott’s pregnancy progressed until the time came and she gave birth to a healthy child at Stratford Maternity Hospital. After staying in hospital she went through her own very traumatic experience of signing her little baby over for adoption and they were then parted forever. This is the way it was for young unmarried mother’s in those days. Jill came back and spent a few more weeks on the farm with us and then headed back to her home in Lower Hutt near Wellington. We never saw her again.
As James became more settled, it was decided to have him home to see if this would help him recover. These home stays were tried on about four occasions but each time things went wrong. The problem was often to do with his medication. When he took his pills he became settled but was also quite lethargic, which he did not like, so he would then decide to stop taking the pills but this would result in him deteriorating and his hallucinations and erratic behaviour would begin again.
On one of these home stay visits he deteriorated quite badly and tried to hang himself first in the barn and later in the garage. What was even worse was that he had Hilary watching, as in his mind he felt that she should experience what it was like to suffer. When Dora realised what he was doing it was all just too much. By now the other concern in her mind was the risk that James, in an unsettled state of madness, might even go so far as to kill all of us.
By mid 1963, Dora was starting to get a much better understanding of what the situation really was. Approximately 6 months had passed since James had been certified suffering from schizophrenia and she had now realised that he was possibly never going to recover. The farm needed to be looked after and the cows had to be milked. She had us three children who also needed to be looked after. She recognised that trying to do all this just was not going to be possible. She had to make some difficult choices. James was 33 years old and his life was never going to be easy. We three children were very young and had our whole lives ahead of us. Her children were her priority. We would need to leave the farm and find a new home. James would need to be separated from our lives.
She discussed this with the hospital and told them that she could not take James back. She was now going to focus on bringing up the children. No one at the hospital attempted to get her to change her mind. None of her friends tried to tell her she was wrong. This was a very difficult decision to make but now as I look back, over 50 years later, I am certain that she definitely made the right decision.
Because the farm and the money was all in James’s name, a government department called the Public Trust took over the administration of his financial affairs. The farm was heavily mortgaged, so there was no spare cash and James’ donation of £1,000 to CORSO had made matters a lot worse than they should have been. Dora had to keep her expenditure to a minimum. We had vegetables from the garden and meat from the freezer. We did of course also have a very handy and regular supply of milk. In addition, grandpop (Les Bailey) had been giving my mother a bit of extra cash to help keep things going.
The farm would have to go but it could not be sold while James was certified. The Public Trust decided that it would be best for the farm to be rented out. The rent could be used to pay the interest on the mortgage and hopefully there would also be a bit of cash left over for Dora to use to rent another house. With this being the plan, the Public Trust went ahead and organised for the herd of cows and for all the farm machinery to be sold. An auction was held on the farm in September.
James’s parents were very unhappy with how events had unfolded and Cuthbert decided to fly out to see James and to see if there was anything he could do to help. He flew out on the 15th October and Dora picked him up from New Plymouth airport. He had a good rest and then Dora drove him up to Tokanui to see James at the mental hospital. They spent probably a good hour or so talking to James and then headed back to the farm at Tuna. Another long day and at the end of it, for Cuthbert, a long sleep.
The following morning Dora was in the kitchen with Ann Klenner. Dora was chopping up meat for dinner while Ann was sitting at the kitchen table. Cuthbert had arisen from his sleep and came into the kitchen. Being a navy captain he presumably felt that he should take charge of the situation. He told Dora that he had had a good think about things and he felt that there was nothing really wrong with James but he was just in need of a good rest. He suggested to Dora that rather than separating, Dora should take James off on a cruise around the world and they should both have a good holiday. This would give James a good rest and the opportunity to get better. Cuthbert said he would take the three infants (Hilary, Jeremy and Michael) back to England and Pat would be able to look after them at the Pound House. Dora reacted very quickly and very aggressively waving her hand (with the carving knife in it) at Cuthbert and told him in no uncertain terms that he was not going to take her children away from her. Her exact words were ‘that would only be over my dead body’. Ann Klenner was a bit shocked, as for a moment she thought Dora was going to run Cuthbert through with the carving knife.
Cuthbert perhaps thought his life was threatened. He certainly felt that Dora was not showing any appreciation for his help. He immediately packed his bags and left without saying anything further. That evening he stayed with the neighbour Martin Langden and it would appear that he then set off back to England the following day. His daughter Pat recorded in her diary that she picked him up from the airport, 1st November, and she noted that he was very tired.
Cuthbert was by now 74 years old and he really should have been enjoying the pleasure of a happy retirement in his home where he could sit comfortably and look out into his garden. Even putting his age aside for one moment, he was a man from a world long past that no longer existed. His ability to comprehend what was really going on was rather limited. Flying around the world and trying to help his son get better was sadly very much beyond him. Dora had lived full time with James since 1956 and it had taken her 7 years to realise that he was mentally ill. Sadly Cuthbert could not even accept that his precious son was ill, let alone recognise that James was unlikely to ever live a normal life.
Dora did not know it at the time but some of the neighbours also did not understand that James was mentally ill. In fact they thought that James was just very tired and Dora should have done a better job looking after him. As it turned out Cuthbert thought even worse.