NameAlfred Harold Sneyd , Grandfather
Birth14 Nov 1905, Mangere, Auckland
Death22 Jul 2006, Ascot House, Devonport, Auckland
Birth14 Nov 1904
FatherAlfred Trevelian Sneyd (1864-1938)
MotherMary Emily Anderson (1881-1949)
Birth23 Dec 1909, Hamilton [1]
Death6 Jul 1999, Auckland
FatherJames Shiner Bond (1858-1922)
MotherEllen Octavia Graham (ca1866-1955)
Marriage16 Jun 1934, St Aidan’s, Remuera [2]
Notes for Alfred Harold Sneyd
Called Pop.

He began as a naval engineer. I have his Certificate of Competency as a First Class Engineer in the Merchant Service, dated 1 August, 1932, number 2864. From 1928 to 1939 he served on the Kaikorai, Tofua, Makura, Monowai (four times), Marama, Poolta, Kaimiro, Maunganui, and Niagara. I have a copy of his service record for the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand, Limited. It ends “We have pleasure in stating that during the time Mr. Sneyd was in the employ of our Company he proved himself a capable and reliable Engineer, carrying out his duties at all times to our entire satisfaction. Mr. Sneyd was on the Monowai during the period this vessel was under Naval control and did not return to our service.”

Served on the Monowai during the war. (According to his service record, he served from 23 Oct. 1939 to 14 June 1943. He was discharged on 16 Dec, 1943.). Chief engineer and Lieutenant-Commander. Signed on for hostilities only. Didn’t stay with her as a merchant ship. After the war worked as a refrigeration engineer (chief engineer) at Turners and Growers. Built cool stores in Dunedin, Whangarei, Christchurch, Mangere, other places.
Met Granny through a friend who knew Nellie (lived at 146? 148? Victoria Avenue). Helped with planting trees and building a glasshouse. Pop lived at Mangere then. Lived in Macintyre Road, went to Mangere Bridge School. Halfback for the Mangere Senior League team. High school was Auckland Grammar. Long walk to school. Marine engineering at Auckland Board of Trade?
Helped to convert the Monowai to a warship at beginning of war. Just missed getting sunk in the Niagra just by the Hen and Chickens. Served first on the Niagra during training, etc, before obtaining his chief engineer certificate (Razmak was original name of Monowhai).
Lived at Victoria Ave after getting married, but moved to Takapuna (a seaside holiday cottage then) during the war, when Dad was 7. Built the second story and deck to the house. Keen tennis player, with Granny, at the North Shore tennis club.

He’s still going strong, still living in Takapuna, and we go to visit him often. He loves the company of the kids, particularly the babies. He’s the sweetest old man, never complaining about anything, always with a good word for everybody, and with the biggest smile. His short-term memory is completely shot so one tends to have the same conversation many, many times (within the space of 10 minutes). I’m told he was very interested in math in his youth, which I suppose explains why so many of his children and grandchildren are mathematically inclined.

As you can tell, I’m writing this over a period of a few years, but this will be the last entry probably. Pop died on Saturday, 22 July, 2006, at Ascot House, a rest home in Devonport, Auckland. He was buried the following Thursday at the Schnapper Rock Road cemetary on the North Shore.

The last year or so he had been visibly failing, and Mum and Dad finally decided he had to go into a rest home, at the end of May, 2006. He didn’t want to leave 35 Ewen St., where he had lived for so many years, but there really wasn’t any choice. He’d had a good innings there. He was still living there when he turned 100; we had a big party for him. Letters came from the Queen, the Prime Minister, and a host of other self-important dignitaries. So nobody can really complain. Still, it was a sad, sad thing to put him into a rest home. We suspected he wouldn’t last long after that, and we were right, he didn’t. Just a few days after, he fell and cracked his head. A week or so in hospital then back to the rest home, but he just wasn’t the same. He declined rapidly, caught pneumonia, and died.

The day he died Monique and I and the kids all went to visit him. He couldn’t talk all that well because of the pneumonia, but he was quite alert and interested in things. We told him how the kids had won their soccer games, how we were getting new doors put into our house, and how the weather was lovely outside. As usual, he was full of smiles. After a while he said that he was tired and wanted to sleep, so did we mind going? Sleep well, I said, and left. He took me literally, and died just a few minutes after.

It was the passing of an era. He was the centre of Dad’s extended family, even when he couldn’t remember all our names. We met at Ewen St., had lunch on the balcony, and looked out over the sea. He did love to see us gathered. He’d ask about the conversation when he couldn’t hear. And now we won’t be able to tell him anything ever again.

At his funeral I learned a lot about him. Alfred told us all how Pop had invented the world’s first cow-drawn skateboard. It was hilarious. It’s probably improper to laugh at funerals, but we did anyway. Lizzie seemed to know the hymns so I just followed her. The coffin was surprisingly heavy. Don’t fall into the grave I said. Don’t joke about it said the usher person, very seriously. Ooops, I thought. OK, no joking. But Pop would have been the first to laugh if one of us fell in, I know he would. It was a happy funeral, as these things go. Plenty of tears too, I suppose, but the old fellow had done us all proud.

Cousin Rose wrote, and read, a poem:


My one hundred-year old Pop
has apparently, finally, died:
I had never imagined he would
ever cease his relentless living.
At least not in my lifetime. Pop
always was, and always would be.

We all thought he would go on
going on, perhaps even beyond
the day of the apocalypse itself.
Or at least, if he would succumb,
his vanquisher would have been
something mightier than pneumonia.

My Pop, Our Pop, had defeated
countless and dreadful antagonists:
a ladder on a perilous lean, bombs
on ships, sharks I would picture
lurking in the waters around Rangitoto,
the Japanese, colonial New Zealand.

He probably thought it a great joke
slipping away as he did, unexpectedly.
Unaware were we who thought
the dreaded lurgy a pitiable foe, for
this was the man who had received
a letter from the Queen of England.

And he was an inimitable patriarch.
He adored seeing us gathered home:
on the terrace, or around the majestic
mahogany dining table. He happily
acknowledged the blame for the ensuing
cacophany - there are a lot of us, Sneyds.

And that was the way he liked it:
a glass of gin and a twinkling in his blue,
seafaring eyes, he would survey his
brilliant and burgeoning, clamorous clan -
I suppose, remembering Granny, with
whom he traversed a remarkable century.

Rose Sneyd. July, 2006.

After Pop’s death, I got his Masonic certificate ... things. I hadn’t know he was a Mason. Anyway, the certificates are priceless. You just couldn’t make this stuff up. Even the Society for Creative Anachronism would have a hard time thinking up this sort of self-important pompous crap. I kid you not, here’s an extract:

“ O all Illustrious Grand Inspectors General; Most Valiant and Sublime Princes of the Royal Secret; Grand Inquisitors Commander; Grand Elected Knights; Excellent and Perfect Princes Rose Croix; Grand, Ineffable, Sublime Free and Accepted Masons of every Degree of Masonry throughout the Universe [not just the world, oh no. The UNIVERSE!!]... “
And on it goes. Honestly, people who take this seriously really need to grow up. I mean, I play computer games. I kill baddies with my blasty fire spells and magic swords. I watch Star Trek movies. OK, all very juvenile. But do I take these things seriously? I don’t think so. Uh Uh. I guess that’s why I’m not a Mason.

Oh, and if you’re a Mason reading this, and you’re offended, do please let me know. I like to think I’m properly appreciated.
Notes for Catherine Charity Graham (Spouse 1)
Called Old Granny here. Mostly anyway. Buried at Schnapper Rock Road cemetery on the North Shore. I remember her well.

Perhaps one shouldn’t speak ill of the dead, but my memories aren’t all that pleasant, to be honest. She hated my mother, and took it out on us kids. One of my earliest memories was being given tiny, tiny dinners when we stayed with them in Auckland, such small dinners I was left hungry. Just to get at Mum. Successfully, too, I think.

Ah well. A subject best left alone, I think.
Last Modified 23 Dec 2015Created 11 Sep 2016 using Reunion for Macintosh