In a recent trip to Auckland I celebrated Christmas early with my father, 94 years old and found out for the first time that STS’s (his grandfather’s) name was Sidney Thomas Smith. WVS was Willoughby Vernon which I knew but the S.T.SMITH stamped on the tool handles I never knew, until earlier this week anyway.
I recently popped up to Auckland. STS (my great grandfather), WVS (my grandfather) and then my father DLS who fathered me, then I, DAS, produced my son JDS and then he has knocked out his boys, Jai, Josiah and now a girl, Tui. We therefore have STS > WVS > DLS > DAS > JDS & now a couple more JS’s.
A long stint for dad (he was born in June 1929) has ended in a bit of dementia but he was lucid enough to answer “Of course!” to most of my, “Do you remember …?” questions and to spit back the above name as if he had no worries recalling that STS stood for “Sidney Thomas Smith”. Well done Dad!
It got me thinking that STS was a woodworker and he probably caused no end of grief for his father as the family curse seems to run in alternative generations. Both my father and son still blame their fathers for all manner of their crimes. My grandfather WVS seemed to me and was generally known by those who knew him as a pretty anaemic, say it even a ‘normal’ guy. Willoughby, shortened to Bill by most who knew him, was a clerk at Wright Stevenson and Sons (now Wrightson NMA) but then he took on more management positions as his career developed. Dad never forgave him for his crime of splitting up with his mother at an early age and in the 1930s this would have been a major trauma for the young man, David. Unfortunately this stunted his emotional age at about 10 years, the age that it all happened for him. We saw this as Bill used to come into work generally to drop off his veges for Dad to bring home.
So too has unforgiveness struck with my male offspring, who will probably always find good reason to blame or lash out at yours truly!
While I know nothing more about this older dude that left some tools with S.T.SMITH stamped on the handles, this Sidney Thomas dude could easily have followed his father or perhaps his brother to Australia from the motherland a century or more ago. This part is all guesswork here but I do remember my father (DLS) telling all his children (DAS & Co) with pride that his ‘stupid’ father (WVS) had told him to “Keep it from the kids (us) [that] one of our ancestors was ‘exported’ [from England] to Australia for stealing a pocket handkerchief worth thruppence,” I think he said, “at the time”.
Gee whizz that seems rather quaint now doesn’t it? That’s both DLS reporting to us of WVS’s concerns and the exporting to Australia of the Pommy crims is rather all ‘cute’ now.
Do You Remember?
So a lot of my questions at our one-on-one celebration related to things of the past. “Do you remember that white wall panel that you built for Rockfield Rd to hang all your tools on?” I still have it. “Do you remember the hand-held Ring Vices that you designed way back in 1960 and then sold then at Warbies?” and then the memories from the radio orchestra and His Majesties the now gone beautiful theatre which captured the hearts of many an opera lover of the day. I know it was from c.1960 that Dad did the original designs because I still have his original patterns for the ring vices with the “Please return to E.R.Warburton & Co on the fourth floor of the CML building”. Dad upgraded from the 3rd floor of CML to the fourth floor and then to Chandris House and then into his final destination in Emily Place before he sold up. Selling the business that you bought where you did your apprenticeship would have been special, especially as he missed the war and the second NZ depression. Special indeed!
Despite what Dad used to say all the time, that work was always 5% fun but 95% was pure drudgery, business is always fun methinks – or it should be. If it’s not enjoyable don’t do it, and if it is important, pay somebody else to do it. I did it the other way thinking that if “First, Best and Different” brought you success then I wanted all three. What they didn’t tell you was that it is rare that those who can make it will keep it. Good entrepreneurs are rarely good managers. As Rebecca has noted, again quite wisely, “Dad, one minute you’re up but the next minute you’re down!”
My daughter spent a few years on the tools. I think like STS, she’s a trained chippie but now a Project Manager. She told it to me straight while I was up there in Auckland on my last visit, “I’m loving my work and I’m in my prime” – along with her husband too I might add. “It’s OK dad, I’ll pay for this one. I’ve got more than you!” Cor blimey! Thanks Bex! And according to grandad’s record I’ve still got another 30 years to go before I’ve ‘lost it’ up top!
A mate of mine never had and therefore doesn’t have a father. Sad. Make sure that you look after yours.
Forgiveness is a hard one. My father taught me the importance of sharing it around liberally, not because he told me that it would eat me up if I didn’t (it does) but because he showed me the supreme emotional and personal cost of NOT forgiving. What happens is that your bitterness turns to anger and rage and then your brain turns off. You can’t feel anymore in one part of your life, and that sucks. Then you get too old to change and then you’ve gone to meet your maker. Darn!
You gotta do your best no matter what, and this is where my daughter tells it really well. Dad, you’re the one where the blockage is. You just gotta eat humble pie and call him (JDS), she said a few years ago. I did that then and there, got the cold shoulder and she has now changed her tune. A smart girl that one. Apparently she’s the only one who stands up for me!
I will also give the mother of my kids this one though . . . she never used the kids to get back at me for all my crimes. That’s cool eh? Lucky kids eh?
So, celebrate your family this Christmas why don’t you and learn to forgive your father too. Keep your negativity to yourself and smile because one day you might not be able to. “CYA next time I can get up to Auckland, Dad!”
We smiled and made eye contact . . . Now I know that STS = Sidney Thomas Smith and that’s a success story. It was even worth a trip to Auckland for that one, despite my sister probably knowing even what his kids’ names were too! HJH UPDATE: “Yes haha I know all the family history..grandpa had done so much research..STS and his wife Eliza Evelyn are buried at Waikumete…near her parents the Kemp’s ..I do love history..”
Hmmm! How depressing is that?!