From the age of six until I was thirteen, my family and I lived in a railway house situated along with nine other railway houses in a ‘grove’, which is what is now call a ‘cul de sac’. Every family who lived in this grove had a dad who worked in the railways.
My family lived in number 5, my friend Victoria who was a nine months younger than me lived in number 3 and the Reeder family who I’m going to tell you about lived in number 1. The opening of the grove bordered a creek where the kids in the local neighbourhood loved to play.
One weekend, when I was about nine or ten years old, Victoria and I were having a wonderful time playing on the long rope that swung across the creek with some kids from the local Marae. Great fun! As it was near to lunchtime, Victoria and I fare-welled our friends and headed back home. As we passed the Reeder’s house, we noticed two things.
- The Reeders had a passion fruit vine full of ripe passion fruit growing up chicken wire on the side of their outside shed.
- The Reeders weren’t home.
I don’t know who suggested the idea that we should go in and help ourselves to the fruit, but that’s exactly what we did. Looking around to make sure no-one was watching; Victoria and I opened the gate and went onto the Reeder’s property. We walked around behind the shed and started picking and eating the passion fruit. We hid the empty fruit husks among the garden plants making sure no-one could see them. Then we went home for lunch.
The next day at home, the phone rang. It was Mrs Reeder wanting to speak to me. My mum thinking that Mrs Reeder wanted me to do a message, passed the phone to me.
Mrs Reeder said, “Susan, I know that you and Victoria been pinching my passion fruit.” My heart dropped. “I want you two girls to come and see me now. If you don’t, I’ll be speaking to your mother about what happened.” Arrrh! Mum would kill me (not really, but you know what I mean).
“Okay,” I said, “Right away.”
I told mum that Mrs Reeder wanted me and Victoria to go to the shop for her to get some milk as she’d run out, and off I went. I collected Victoria on the way and fearfully we knocked on Mrs Reeder’s door. Fortunately, Mr Reeder and the two teenage Reeders weren’t there.
Mrs Reeder gave us a sermon on the seriousness of stealing something that didn’t belong to us. She told us that the old man who lived behind her house, had seen us and told her all about what we did. She said that to “make up” we could wash and dry her dishes, hang out her washing and sweep her kitchen and dining floors. If not, she would tell our mothers.
“Sorry, Mrs Reeder.” I said.
“We’ll never do it again.” said Victoria.
Naturally, not wanting our parents to know about our dreadful crime, Victoria and I did the dishes, hung out the washing and swept the kitchen and dining floors.
When we finished, Mrs Reeder said, “That’s good, girls. Now if you ever want some passion fruit, don’t steal it. Come in and ask. If I have any spare, you can have some.”
“Yes, Mrs Reeder. Thank you, Mrs Reeder.” We said and we scarpered off to our homes as quickly as possible.
We never did ask Mrs Reeder for her passion fruit and I never stole again. Mrs Reeder taught us a valuable lesson and got some of her housework done at the same time. Clever woman.
PS: I’ve changed the names of the people in this story. Aside from that it was all true.