Tophouse Tops in Entertainment


There were laughs aplenty when Neil Puklowski spoke to our group on 24th July 2013 in the Tasman Disrict Library.

Neil and his cousin, Graeme Godbaz, have recently published a book entitled “A Place Called Tophouse” about growing up in the Lake Rotoiti area in the 1940’s – a world away from today – and later at Foxhill  when the family moved there in 1954.  It was on this area that Neill based his talk.

Bill Puklowski with son Neil and Graeme Godbaz at the Godbaz farm Tophouse 1939

Bill Puklowski with son Neil and Graeme Godbaz at the Godbaz farm Tophouse 1939

Life at Tophouse was short of modern amenities.  “Outside the back door stood an upended concrete pipe on top of which sat an enamel bowl for washing up after coming in from work, the water having been dipped from a 44 gallon drum which drained water from the roof.  I clearly remember the occasion when I sat on top of this pipe and became stuck and had to call for help.  The long-drop dunny was 50 yards from the house up the hill under a big beech tree.  It was a long walk at any time but in the snow and rain it was akin to Scott’s trek to the South Pole.”

Later, as a young man, Neil went deer culling.  One amusing story concerned cooking toast for breakfast at one of the huts he shared with his mate.  They made some pieces of toast and propped them in front of the fire.  The door was open and next minute a weka appeared, picked up a piece and scuttled out again.  His companion was truly mystified at how toast could disappear so quickly.

Neil the deer culler

Neil the deer culler

The book is well illustrated with black and white photos and the layout by Copy Press is a delight.  If you want to obtain copies of the book, contact Neil Puklowski who now lives in Nelson.  It is also available in the local public libraries.

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