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By: Odette Taylor

Ghosts of the Past

Pages: 32 Ratings:
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Odette grew up on Hardinge Road directly across from the ocean. Everyday upon waking, she would rush outside to view the sea. Was it calm, with the sun dappling on the water, or was it stormy, with the waves crashing onto the shore? The sea was part of her life.

She learnt to understand the anguish of the fishermen’s wives when their husbands took their trawlers out in stormy weather hoping all would be well. She found that the sailors coming back late from the pub to walk to their ships at the wharf could be a concern. Even she, as a child, had her own concerns. Time to go to school. She loved school, but the challenge was how to get there safely.

People of the port, especially those on Hardinge Road, were all known to her. She could stop and chat to any of them, but she knew which ones to avoid. There was abuse that the children knew about, but probably not the adults. Some areas were best avoided.

Then there was the colourful, even bizarre, side to living down the port. Who would believe it wasn’t safe to sit on your loo? What person would wear theatre paint into an insurance office? Surely people would go to high ground when there was risk of a tidal wave? Odette’s young life came to experience many things, good and bad, but it was how those experiences were dealt with that mattered. 

Odette Taylor was born in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1949, flying to Napier with her family at the age of three weeks. She began her working life in Napier as a shorthand typist for an insurance company where she met her husband, Doug Taylor. She married Doug at the age of twenty-two. In Masterton, Doug died at the age of thirty-four from cancer. Odette brought up her three daughters aged eight, five and three on their farmlet for nine years before moving into town. She trained as a primary school teacher and worked as a teacher in New Zealand, Nanjing, Beijing and, finally, Hong Kong until the age of sixty-six.

While in Nanjing, Odette wrote Ghosts of the Past.


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