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A New Life in A New Land

A New Life in A New Land
Excerpts from "IN MY OWN WORDS" a personal history by Rita Gribble.  Recorded and written by Don Gribble - A New Life in a New Land.

Mum's father died when she was just four years old, and her mother when she was 14. Mum lived with John, her eldest brother in Peebles, Scotland after her mother died, and when she was in her teens she went to work in the woolen mills in Galashiels.

It was hard being a weaver. There were huge looms and only gaslight to work by. She had to watch the shuttles flying to and fro, and pity on you if one broke or you got a knot. You had to watch them all the time. No wonder my mum's eyes were bad later in life!

There was an overseer walking up and down and he would yell at you if you made a mistake. Mum said they forgave him all his bad temper because he had the voice of an angel. He had a beautiful tenor voice and when he was in a good mood, he'd sing to them.

Mum was friendly with a whole bunch of girls and a lot of them decided to leave Scotland and go out by assisted passage to the new world in New Zealand and work at the Napier woolen mills.

Weavers were needed there and it was a good chance for a fresh start, but a terribly big decision because it took weeks and weeks on the boat and they were leaving everybody behind and would probably never see them again.

The Napier woolen mills were around in the Gully and the girls used to bike there in their long skirts and big hats. There's a story that one day a big wind came and lifted one of the girls right up on top of a horse-drawn dray!

Mum used to go out to Awatoto because there were Scottish folk out there who had befriended the girls, and that's where she met dad.

She said they used to go out there by train and you had to wave a red lantern to get it to stop for you.

Mum was very small. I remember when my sister Nan bought her car and she used to take mum out for rides. You could hardly see her at all … just a little bit of grey hair above the dashboard.

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Mum was a very gentle person who never lost her Scottish accent. She was a good plain cook, a good housewife, and a good mum who taught us good values.


She was also a good Christian. She had to be pretty sick before it would stop her walking to church.

Don Gribble is a freelance writer from Australia, now residing in Ohio.

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