By Eric H. McCormick

Eric McCormick was once, from approximately 1940 until eventually his loss of life in 1995, one in every of New Zealand's so much special writers and students. He pioneered the appreciation and research of the painter Francis Hodgkins, and he wrote numerous biographies. The autobiographical fragments accrued right here were edited to make a coherent quantity, tracing his origins in Taihape, to varsity and collage in Wellington, to schoolteaching in Nelson, to Cambridge and during his wartime reviews and position as editor of Centennial guides. It comprises his sensible observations of social behaviour, recorded with a dry wit.

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Here he wields the axe; the Vicar stands against a dead trunk. ERIC MCCORMICK COLLECTION, ATL, F-95065½. II This was my birthplace and here I lived until, at the age of thirteen, I went away to school in Wellington. I don’t think it any great exaggeration to say that I came to know every square inch of the building and the plot of land behind it. Once I even scrambled through a man-hole to crawl under the floor and find stumps of the trees that once grew on the site. My early childhood was sheltered and, I think, fairly happy, perhaps because it coincided with a peak — or rather plateau — in my father’s fortunes.

McCormick, Palmerston North, April 1903. HEATHER LEGGAT. The building in Hautapu Street was a two-storeyed corrugated iron structure containing a couple of shops, each with its living quarters. Counting on the expansion of business once the main trunk line was completed, my father had his own shop made large enough to accommodate one or two assistants and, with a touch of the poetic hyperbole which appealed to him, called it McCormick’s Boot Emporium. Customers passed from the street between two display windows to enter the shop proper and the men’s department.

She looked up at us with her big sad eyes but said nothing and we did not stop. It was a bad time for us all, that interminable period while I passed through the standards and the war dragged on. The mere sight of casualty lists in the papers brought tears to my mother’s eyes and she was inconsolable when news came that my farmer cousin Cliff had been killed in France. She often suffered from nerves and could be irritable and short-tempered. I remember a quarrel between my parents — something about the auctioning of a cake at a Red Cross concert — that seemed to go on for days.

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