Monday, December 30, 2013

Papatoetoe---I took a drive and a short walk through 'nostalgia---where have all the gardens gone?

My family left the farm in Taranaki in the early 1960,s and for the most part my education at pre-tertiary level took place in that suburb. Back then our street could claim that every home had  a garden of sorts, many of them quite magnificent. I well remember my father turning our version the 'quarter acre paradise' into a pleasurable and very productive garden. There were fruit tees and many vegetables; much needed by a family of six children. The flowers were there for Mum too and we often had to help weed them. That was before the days when Dad managed to learn that if you didn't like roses, you mowed the buggers down!
I remember the sports-fields and the swimming pool too. Today I took Perdy for a walk on the Papatoetoe Recreation Grounds. No, I didn't take her on the sports-fields----we skirted the edge so that we didn't disobey the rules!
I was struck by the redevelopment of the swimming pools  but I could not see a soul swimming there. Maybe I was just too early or is it that kids don't fill their days there any more? We used to bake (not very sensible in hindsight) in the sun between swims and listen or not listen to the twit who used to yell at us over the loud speakers if we even dared to move at more than a snails pace around the pool area. Who says that we bring up kids with cotton wool surrounds now?---it had its beginnings with him!
After our walk, where we admired a few survivors of the traditional garden and back sections facing the park, we resumed our journey through the streets in my little Hyundai, I was again disappointed at the lack of care most of the sections had. It looks like most of the homes are rented or that the people no longer care about appearances and beautifying the suburb. (Mrs 'Bouquet/Bucket would have been most put out!) Mind you, Papatoetoe doesn't have that on its own now. We don't spend the hours in the garden any more. Is that because we are too busy, lazy or just don't care? Take your pick. I am surprised, given how busy many of the garden centres are when you visit in the weekend. I suspect that the effort is going into smaller patio-style gardens now but I wish there could be a revival re gardens per-say.
Another change in Papatoetoe now is the cosmopolitan nature of the suburb. The shops had been going through a it of a down-turn over the last few decades but the advent of a large Indian population has brought back some colour and vitality to the shops, especially in Hunter's Corner. I was assailed by colourful clothing shops. I like the myriad of colours in Indian styles. Bring it on, I say!
Oh well, nothing stays the same. Maybe Papatoetoe will continue to evolve, much like the rest of Auckland. I am not moaning---I embrace the differences. I still love the big older well-built houses of that suburb from my youth.
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