Taken from Rodney’s Life story
Rodney was born in Masterton, his father, Ronald, farmed on one half of the 450 acre “Matapihi” block on Blackrock Road. The family them moved to Rangitumau in 1939 to a 320 acre block owned by Rodney’s Grandfather, Walter.
Rodney started school in 1940 attending only half a day for a start, he would get a ride home in the afternoons in the “Times Age” delivery car.
In 1942 during the big earthquake their house was condemned so for a little while Rodney’s family lived with Eric and Tood Wilton, then they stayed with Dorothy Connell in the school house at which time Rodneys’ Father Ronald went into the airforce. They also stayed with Jessie Groves on Railway Road in which time they found out that Kev(?) had been shot down in France. The family moved into their new house in 1943 which was situated on a different part of the farm.
In 1945, at the age of 10, Rodney went off to Scots College starting in Std 3 and stayed until the end of 1949. Rodney would travel down at the beginning of each term, and travel back home at the end. During his last year he started learning the bagpipes under Mr(?) McPhee, however he never played in the Scots band.
In 1950, Rodney attended Wairarapa College, where Rodney first played the bagpipes for the Wairarapa College Band. Rodney continued his piping by joining the Wairarapa Caledonian Pipe Band, during which time Rodney was being tutored by Jock McKenzie. Rodney remained a member of the Wairarapa Caledonian Pipe Band up until the end of 1957.
In November of 1950, Rodney joined Wright Stephenson & Co. for about 18 months as Office boy. During his time with Wright Stephensons there was a wool boom caused by the Korean war making the price of wool go through the roof. The price went from around 2/6d a pound to 10 to 12 shillings a pound. Rodney recalled receiving a bonus of 25 pounds which was the equivalent of about 5 weeks wages.
After leaving Wright Stephensons, Rodney did casual farm work, including working for John Cave at Gladstone, fleecoing, and fencing etc. In 1953 Rodney worked for Jim Lachore for 6 months, returning a couple of times after that.
In 1954 from June to September Rodney completed his Compulsory Military Training in the Air Force at Whenuapai, Auckland.
In 1955 Rodney travelled to Sydney and stayed with a step brother of his grandmother (Madeline Cameron nee Baldwin), Syd(Raymond Sydney Baldwin) and June Elsie Baldwin (nee Schwilk). During this time Rodney traveled to Brisbane and Towoomba. Rodney was away for about 3 months and returned to work on “Matapihi” for Donald Thompson, originally farmed on by Rodney’s father Ronald.
At this time his father was thinking of selling his farm and shifting elsewhere, so Rodney intended to get a job in Northland, however the tractor driving job he applied for was actually in Moerangi between Tokaanu and Taumaranui. While returning from Auckland, Rondey called into visit Jack Hancock in Tokoroa who offered him a tractor driving job at Kinleith.