A Dental Nurse in Whangamomona: Part 2

(Raumati identity, Sally Ashley, recently uncovered her late mother’s recollections of her first job. She was posted to Whangamomona as a freshly trained dental nurse in the late 1930’s. For Part 1 scroll down to August 11.

The story continues with Janet having set up her dental chair and foot engine ready for her first customers. )

Janet Davidson

A familiar face!

By Janet Davidson

An interruption with a visit from the Head Mistress whom much to my joy used to teach me in Standard 4, many years ago.

It was lovely to meet up with her and she seemed to have forgotten how backward I was with Arithmetic!!!!

I boarded with folk who were so kind and helpful.

Bathing by candle light and an earthquake

The first night at my new board the landlady said she had “aluminumed”, the bath but it should be alright.

I was so enjoying the bath by candle light that I failed to notice that my arm was covered with aluminium paint and as I sat up it dawned on me that I would have aluminium in more places than my arms!!

The post office

I nearly sank with mirth as I visualised going down the Whangamomona Road in the blackout with an illuminated behind!

One of the lovely things about my stay was learning to play Mahjong.

One night after retiring there was an earthquake.

This didn’t worry me unduly, except that my bed was on castors and I nearly shot out through the wall and onto the Whangamomona Road!

Lovely kids

My little patients were gems and responded quickly to a little happiness, security and understanding.

Rainy days when children from surrounding schools arrived early morning and stayed all day were tricky as I had to work away with up to eight children in the clinic.

However, they were helpful kiddies and very loveable.

On duty on the jigger!

My duties did not stop in the clinic. On occasions I helped the District Nurse, a wonderful person.

One of many viaducts

She asked me to accompany her to Tangarakau.

Because the road was blocked we went with the railway man by jigger. I nearly died with excitement as we pushed and pulled our way over the viaducts and through the tunnels.

“What do we do if a train comes? I asked apprehensively.

“There are no trains due but if a train comes leave the jigger race towards the train and dive flat on your face beside the line.”

Just imagine doing that on a viaduct 200 ft above a river!

 A mission for a sick girl

Sunny the District Nurse had to go another 3 miles by horseback to collect her patient.

Hilly country on the way to Stratford

Fortunately a neighbour, owner of a truck was available to get the very sick little girl and the rest of us back to Whangamomona.

From there we drove 40 miles to Stratford to the nearest hospital.

I did not have a licence, but Sunny had to watch the child who was having convulsions.

Fortunately the Cream truck was not expected, because meeting it meant backing to a suitable passing place. Happily the girl recovered under the care of the Stratford Nurses and Doctor.

An inspector’s visit and interesting weekends!

Back to the clinic and a visit from a Senior Inspector who arrived one extremely cold morning.

The road in from Stratford

She was very helpful and asked if there was anything I needed and all I could think of was an issue of long pink underpants to go under my uniform but then I thought of the shame of hanging them on the washing line for all to see!

The weekends were unusual. I played 7-aside basketball I because of a lack of players for the 9-aside teams. Then 30 years later 7-aside netball became the NZ game.

I was called on to judge baby shows and played flag five hundred and won a deer’s head!!!

All too soon my work came to an end regretfully, but my memories will stay alive for ever.



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