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Abstract of Ruth Lillian McDONALD, 1998

 Item — Box: 44
Identifier: H04500002


Interviewee: Ruth McDonald

Interviewer: Ailsa Dawson

Abstracter: Ailsa Dawson


Side 1

0.00 Introduction of RUTH and identification of tape. DEW family members.

01.00 SCHOOLING:- RUAWAI PRIMARY SCHOOL is described by RUTH, the subjects and interests she learned. Use of slates for writing. 1yr secondary education at HAMILTON

02.00 Father’s occupation as CHEESE FACTORY MANAGER meant the family moved several different locations.

02.45 More discussion of RUTH’S school memories at RUAWAI; two teachers many MĀORI children in class; playing sport, tennis.

05.25 EMPLOYMENT:- KAKAPUKU DISTRICT (Near TE AWAMUTU) where her father managed a larger factory. She helped her mother to provide the meals for the workers who were accommodated at the factory. She chose to have work as a NANNY to a small girl, for a short time. Remembers the makeshift room she lived in. Her fear of spiders who shared the room with her caused her to return home, almost a nervous wreck. Only candles to light the room.

08.55 Married WILLIAM MCDONALD in 1930 and motored to SOUTHLAND to live. Mostly gravel roads at the time a long journey. First home at WRIGHTS BUSH CHEESE FACTORY, for about a year; then moved to NORTHOPE DAIRY FACTORY, near LOCHIEL to manage it.

11.45 War broke out and this factory and other small factories in SOUTHLAND were closed. Milk then collected by tanker and transported to UNDERWOOD NESTLES FACTORY to be processed into SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK.

12.20 RUTH describes cheese making routines at NORTHOPE DAIRY FACTORY, how milk arrived by horse and cart in metal cans. Mostly manual labour poured milk into vats after first being weighed then pasteurised. RENNET was added and the junket curd was chopped up until whey was extracted.

18.20 RUTH tells of the steam heat used to sterilise and pasteurise the milk before processing. How her husband had to stoke up the furnace early for hot water etc.

20.19 RUTH estimates how many farmers were supplying milk to NORTHOPE FACTORY. Mainly the mature cheese was exported.

21.40 After the factory closure RUTH said her husband became a HERD TESTER. He visited farms each month to test the milk quality of each cow in herd to assess their individual results. Cows with poor results would be culled.

23.02 1939. - War time memories. RUTH talks of the challenges of homemaking with rationing of foods like butter, sugar and meat. Lack of sugar in tea was a hardship. With a family of three children it was a challenge to keep us clothed as clothing was rationed. She used all her skills to unpick and remake discarded adult clothes into children’s garments; knitting like wise.

26.13 Cooking and baking was possible with care; Use of dripping for baking sometimes.

27.05 Labour saving devices were very rare, few owned. RUTH remembers her husband offering to buy her a washing machine. Her reply, “No, people would think I was lazy.” She continued to boil the copper and scrub over the tub for many more years. She can remember vacuum cleaners first appearing.

28.50 HEALTH: - RUTH remembers the terrible time her three children very small all suffering WHOOPING COUGH in close succession. The weeks of broken nights!

End of side 1

Start of side 2

00.30 WAR YEARS: - RUTH remembers her husband in camp for some of these years. He was unfit for overseas service. Following the war he returned to more HERD TESTING. The family lived in WYNDHAM. In 1950 husband BILL suffered a stroke. They moved to INVERCARGILL and his health became much worse. RUTH nursed him until he was placed in LORNE HOSPITAL where he later died.

01.55 DESCENDANTS OF RUTH: - Youngest son KEITH died 20 years ago of a heart attack (aged 40) leaving wife and two children. AILSA married BRIAN have 3 children and adopted daughter, they have 13 grandchildren, (RUTH’S GREAT GRANDCHILDREN). IAN and GLORIA had 3 children. RUTH enjoyed knitting and sewing for her GRANDCHILDREN 8 in all.

04.05 In widowhood she has done much sewing, knitting and lots of handwork to fill the time. She has a love of singing and been in INSTITUTE CHOIR for many years and CHURCH CHOIR too, still involved with music.

08.20 Concludes

End of side 2


  • 1998

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