NameFreda Alice Neal , Grandmother
Birth23 Mar 1907, Spring Creek, Blenheim.
Death19 Mar 1993, Dunedin
BurialAnderson’s Bay Cemetery
FatherJohn Frederick Neal (1868-1940)
MotherKate Edith Norgrove (1882-1974)
Spouses
1Robert Adair McPherson , Grandfather
Birth8 Jun 1896, Dunedin
Death22 Jul 1970, Dunedin
BurialAnderson’s Bay Cemetery
FatherBenjamin McPherson (ca1851-1929)
MotherChristina Clark (ca1870-1909)
Marriage25 Oct 1930, Church of the Epiphany, Seddon [46]
Notes for Freda Alice Neal
Ma. I remember her a lot better, as she didn’t die until I was a lot older. I was overseas, living in LA, when she died, so I missed most of her last years. Lived up Ravensbourne Rd, in that house with a picture window looking over St. Clair and St. Kilda. Her health bothered her a lot and boy did she complain. Not always free with her money. Dad would tease her unmercifully (but not maliciously) about her legs being like those of a plucked chicken. She kind of brought it on herself. She’s buried in Anderson’s Bay cemetery and I’ve never visited her grave. That’s rather sad, I suppose.

She was a Home Economics teacher, at Marlborough College, starting in 1928. She insisted that we always wash our hands before doing any cooking. As I remember, we never listened to her.

She was very good at sewing (after all she had a Dip.Home Science, one of the youngest in the class) and always dressed her children beautifully.

She studied at Otago University, and stayed at Studholm Hall, and was the youngest in her class. After graduating, she taught up in the North Island for a while (Napier or Hastings?) and then came back to teach at Marlborough College, where she met Robert Adair McPherson. In Blenheim, she boarded with Mrs. Elvey, and Gummy made fun of her only giving half a banana for lunch. She had a reputation for being miserable and not feeding them properly.

Kate and Grandfather (i.e., John Neal) didn’t approve of Mum’s father (Freda’s husband) at all. They called him Simpkins. Don’t know why. In retaliation, Robert’s father called Freda, Freezer. What a giggle they all must have had. Freda only met Robert’s father once, because he died shortly after they met (note how Benjamin died when Freda was only 22 or so).

Freda was married in a pale ice-blue dress. NOT in white, as Valerie was born less than nine months after the wedding. Ho Ho Ho. Mum thinks this is very funny.
Notes for Robert Adair (Spouse 1)
When young he was called Bert, and later on was always called Mac. Never called Robert. At Marlborough College (where he taught metalwork and Mum went to school) he was old Mac, and Mum was young Mac.

Gummy. I don’t remember him all that well, except that he used to come down to visit us in Cliffs Rd with a budgie. I have his copy of Helmholtz’s book The Sensations of Tone etc. He was a keen musician and a strong supporter of my mother’s education. Mum will write a lot more about him, or else. Actually, my most vivid memory of him is his death, when Mum cried. I was young enough to wonder why, and old enough to remember it vividly.

He was a pattern maker at the railway yards on Hillside Road, and a metalwork teacher at Marlborough College (starting in 1928, the same year as Freda Neal. This is where they met.). He also worked at Cousins and Black in Dunedin before he became a teacher. After leaving Dunedin in the depression when jobs were scarce, he went to Dannevirk, and later down to Marlborough. He took violin lesson while in Dannevirk, but had to travel quite a distance on his motorbike (maybe to Hastings) to get them. He strung his violin around the wrong way, and learned to play back to front, as he’d lost the fingers on his fingering hand. Part of three fingers of his left hand were gone. He lost his fingers in his father’s workshop, in a circular saw, when he was 13. When he got back to school he got the strap, and the teacher burst all the stitches.

He was very good with his hands, and made hair brushes out of wood and lots and lots of pieces of split whalebone (for the brush hairs). I had one for years before it finally fell apart. He started a company in Blenheim, called H. Charleston & Co, which was certainly in existence in 1947 (as I have a letter, signed by Robert, on his company letterhead). Harry Charleston did the donkey work, in the factory all day, while Bert did the organising and thinking. Plastics were short during the war, and hence the need for the company. Started off with wooden combs, but then they went on to splitting the whalebone; Bert made the machines to do this. The whale bone was obtained from Gilly Perano (a well-known whaling family, down by Tory Channel, or somewhere that Mum can’t exactly remember). The tradename of the brushes was Macarl (a combination of Mac and Charleston.) Then they also went on to import popcorn machines from the US; they bagged up the popcorn and sold it. Mum thinks it was called Macarl popcorn.

They made a reasonable amount of money, which paid for their trip to the US, when Mum was about 16 or so. They were away for six months, so they must have done pretty well.

According to Mum, Harry Charleston’s wife was a bit of a liability. Harry wasn’t all that reliable, and he’d have to dash home every so often. Mum says this entirely fair, and I shouldn’t write it down.

The 3/4 size violin that Mum learned on, that I learned on, that my children learned on, and that my siblings all learned on, was his originally, I believe. I’m told (by Mum) it was originally used by Queenie who refused to practise, whereupon she and the violin got thrown down a bank. I believe it.

He didn’t trust banks, and kept a lot of money in a biscuit tin which he buried in the garden. Mum hopes he remembered to dig it up.

He was considered, by his in-laws, as quite hopeless. He was only a city boy. So he took great delight in growing enormous cabbages, and taking them to Kate and John Frederick Neal.
Last Modified 4 Aug 2009Created 11 Sep 2016 using Reunion for Macintosh