Tag Archives: teenage years

Post 43. The Johnson boys

Tony and his best friend Sandy

Tony and his best friend Sandy

Tony’s adventurous life started when he was given a red tricycle.  His best friend was Sandy the Cocker Spaniel.  Jan and Ben were at school and Sandy couldn’t keep up with all his energy.  Mid morning, Betty got a call from the principal.  Tony had cycled 1 km across main roads and through the town to go to school.  He was three.

Ben was the “scientist.”  He unscrewed anything that had screws; when he couldn’t find something to undo, he would put the screw driver in power sockets, or put tea towels on the stove to watch them burn.  He was four when he pulled the handbrake at the top of their steep driveway and smashed the car into the house.  He didn’t talk much, but when he did, it was meaningful.  Betty took him in his pram to the butcher, Mr Mooday.  Doug had complained about the meat they had for dinner the night before.  Ben greeted him and then said in a loud voice, “Mr Mooday, do you know what my dad said?  He said he was going to wrap those chops around your bloody neck.”

Tony, the little entrepreneur, made his dollars from delivering newspapers and getting deposits from collecting glass soda bottles on the beach.  He also made a quick but humiliating 20c from Jan.  She played dress ups and he was her little sister.  He just kept his mind on the money.  The clothes came off quickly when he saw Doug and Betty trying to hide their smiles.

He was tightly wound up.  His words wouldn’t come out fast enough so he spoke a kind of gibberish for a while.  Walking was another boring past time.  He ran everywhere and was always barefooted.

School was a drag apart from the “trips” he went on with his teachers and  Maths was only interesting when he had some substance assistance.

It seemed that the only common thing we shared in our childhood was our love for pranks.  Tony’s were just slightly more aggressive.  He threatened to get his teachers after school with, “We know where you live.”  Once he and his friends found a life size toy gun; they drove down the main road in their car and found a Mormon man on his bicycle.  Tony pointed the gun out of the moving car window and said really slowly, “I’m going to shoot you.”  The gun made a loud bang and the guy fell off his bike, thinking he had been shot.

Tony and Jan

Tony and Jan




When Ben dared Tony to push him off the roof of the house, he did.  While Betty was dealing with Ben’s broken arm,  Doug went after Tony.  He chased him around the house and garden and eventually gave up.

The more we talked, the more we realised that if we had met at any other time in our lives, we would NOT have been interested in each other.  Tony was wild and woolly.  He had experienced most of what life had to offer by the time he was 14.  He left school to work with Doug in his tea business.  Then it was life in fast cars with model girlfriends. He started to earn more money in a week than the average NZ family earned in a month.

His family had no religion to speak of.  Tony’s was hedonism. He lived for anything that brought him pleasure.  No holding back.

Post 24. Rigby


Our lives had changed in so many ways. Sue decided that enough was enough and walked out of school just before her matric year.  She got a job at Barclays Bank in town.  She was FREE.  Dave also left school and got a job at the Daily News as an apprentice printer.

Wilf and Val were doing the best they could with their teenage kids.  I’m sure they wished we would just go back and play in the drains.  There were boyfriends and girlfriends and a lot of comings and goings.  Dad didn’t like any of our boyfriends and he made that pretty obvious.

Sue started to come to church with me and things changed big time for her.    We decided we wanted to be baptised.  What a performance there was.  All the christening photos were brought out and we were informed that we had already been baptised.  Thank you very much.  They finally came round and reluctantly agreed that we had no idea what we were doing, all dressed up in our christening gowns.  We could barely see let alone believe.

Well, they came for our baptism. Wilf cried through the whole thing and it wasn’t long after that they were both born again.  Peter joined them and Dave was always somewhere nearby, not wanting to be left out.  We were a happy family once again.

Sue’s old flame, Rigby, was doing his compulsory 2 year army training.  They hadn’t seen each other since they were 16.  A common friend told Rigby that Sue had gone “all religious.”  He wrote to her to find out.  Lindy and I heard he was going to meet Sue, outside her bank, for lunch on Saturday.  He had a weekend pass.  We saw him there way ahead of time and we ran up to tell Sue that he was downstairs.  She told us to stop spying.  Well we didn’t stop.  We watched them from across the road. They walked into the Golden Egg Restaurant at 320 West Street.  It was so romantic.  He went back to finish his training and we didn’t see him for a while.

One day when we were having fun in the pool, Rigby walked up our drive-way in his army uniform.  He looked so handsome.  Dad was still cautious but mum welcomed him with open arms and a toasted avocado sandwich.  There was lots of talk.  I liked him.  He talked a lot about his baby sister Tiffany who he loved to bits and his big sister Vanessa who he didn’t see much.   Their mum died of cancer when Tiffany was three.  He told us about his stepmother and his step sisters.  It sounded like a Grimm’s fairytale to me.

He wanted to know all about our family.  There was lots of talk about our new found faith.  He wanted to know everything.  We happily gave him everything.   I mean everything.  I thought we wouldn’t see him again.  One rainy night on his way back to camp, he cried to God about his wasted life and got a new one.

Whoever would have thought that a chocolate crunchy could have caused all that?

(See- Dad was a D.J)