My NZ Story Harbour Bridge by Philippa Werry.
More than just a story of the making of the bridge, it is a social history of the years 1958/1959 that will make Aucklanders’ in particular look back and weep with desire for the old days.
It was the days of the space race when the Russians held the upper hand with the first Sputnik and then the first dog, Laika, in space. It was a time of star gazing to see the satellites crossing the cosmos and the wonder that man could be so clever. We don’t think like that now.
Johnny Devlin topped the hit parade with Lawdey Miss Clawdy an Elvis song and girls tore the shirt off his back in public appearances. Where are you now Johnny? I haven’t got your record but I have Elvis’s.
A section could be purchased for 600 pounds and a new house built for 2000 pounds and the ordinary NZ working man could buy a house. Fat chance these days.
In between time The Auckland Harbour Bridge was constructed with British steel and built by overseas workers from the British Isles and elsewhere along with our own workers. Danger money was paid as were bonuses for meeting targets and no mention of minimum wages. Try getting that these days.
Simon and his best mate are in a pretty young teachers class in form 1 or year 7 as we call it now on the North Shore where everyone went to work on the ferries. She encourages them to keep a diary and Simon does so for the whole year from february 1958 till 30th August 1959.
He documents the progress of the bridge construction and the life of his family particularly his sensitive sister Linda who hates the cruelty to animals in the space race. i never thought of that at the time.
In the back are photographs of the bridge in various phases and the diary shows highlights of the construction. A timeline is given and this makes a very appealing novel for primary and intermediate students. Even better for older students like me who can look back at the good old days.
Well researched and told by Philippa Werry.