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A Lady We Met Yesterday

March 5, 2011

Little towns are full of characters, Anita and I did not have to go far to find our first example on our walk around Rolleston yesterday afternoon. Across the road from our rooms at the hotel sits a little store. Many may pass this by as a boring little country store, hand painted signs and nothing chic to draw you inside. A cow bell sits on the top step and with a sign claiming to sell ‘a bit of this and that’, this may be less than intriguing to most and perhaps overlooked by those that pass through town.Before entering we read the towns’ information sign outside the store. Here in Rolleston many of the buildings and blocks have historical signs telling the history of the buildings and its owner’s since settlement. This particular sign informed us Rolleston was originally named Brown Town and that a young man, Thomas Eyles, arrived here from England in 1856 and built a general store – this store is now across the road from the pub, our abode for our stay.

Some years later this store was purchased by Harry Moir (1929). He then on sold it to Elsie Hodgson who in turn sold to John and Norma Lowth – Norma as it turns out is the great, great granddaughter of Thomas Eyles. The sign says Norma is the great granddaughter however she is adamant a generation is missing from the dark black text of the outside sign.

Norma Lowth, aged 70 years in her store at Rollestone
Image by Danielle Lancaster

Upon acknowledging our arrival Norma apologised profusely for the spiders and dust however for Anita and I it adds a character and charm, one not found in any corner store within the bright lights of the city. Our cameras were clicking, we were checking histograms, contrast and composition whilst Norma followed us amazed at our intrigue in her little family store. On departing we purchased an ice-cream each , a small deed to show our appreciation for the time spent chatting to us and allowing us to capture an image or two.

Goods for sale.

Image by Anita Bromley

It made us realise when we spoke with our participants at today’s workshop, when some giggled at how intrigued we were at the corner store and it’s owners, how easily it is for all of us to overlook what is around us. The message is simple: Don’t take your back yard for granted and sometimes it simply takes, what to us may be a token purchase, a gratifying gesture that makes someone’s day.

Anita’s Note: This simple effort of making a purchase was something I learnt from Danielle prior to visiting Vanuatu a few years back. Many forget to say thank you for the opportunity to see a snapshot into someone’s lives and leave without acknowledgement. When we come across characters in small towns, or small villages for that matter, it is a way we can show our appreciation. Most often, the simplest and most effective way is to buy a little something from their store or business. Norma was so appreciative for the purchase she refused any offer of a tip and went to lengths to ensure we were handed a proper receipt for our troubles.

Nuts and Bolts
Image by Danielle Lancaster

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