Childhood as it was ...

1. "I grew up in the Wairarapa and I remember when I was about 13, I found a large piece of polystyrene on a building site, so I used it with a couple of old car tubes to build a raft. My dad dropped me and a couple of mates up at the top of the Waiohine Gorge with the arrangement that once we got to Woodside Railway Station we'd call. We had never seen that stretch of river so had no idea how long it was or what it was like, turned out there were some pretty decent rapids on the way. After a couple of near disasters we duly made it to the railway and walked down the tracks to the station. Even more amazingly, he let us do it again the next summer."

2. "It was 1984, I hitchhiked from Auckland to Hastings, alone. Four or five different car rides and an hour-and-a-half walk on SH1 somewhere near Tirau. But I made it. Off to a very good start, I was dropped at the Bombay Hills by my mother, who dropped me off, drove down the road, did a U-turn and slowed as she passed me and shouted, 'stick your thumb out!' I was 14. One of the most awesome experiences of my childhood."

3. "When I was very young, probably pre-teens, we had an old Pontiac which had a running board along the sides underneath the doors," writes Margaret Glen of Glendene. "My dad would let us stand on the running board and hold on to the open window. One morning he was off to work and I was going to the dairy for milk for mum. He said, 'jump on and I'll give you a lift'. I stood on the running board by the driver's door and held on, but as we went round the corner, the driver's door flew open and I was thrown on to the road. 'Are you okay?', asked Dad. I said I was (although I remember a lot of grazing and blood). He said: 'Don't forget the milk', and off he went to work."

4. "We used to put on our cheap plastic rollerskates and anxiously wait for the milk truck to turn up our street around 5.30-ish, rain or shine," writes a reader. "The driver would stop and let us grab on to the back and tow us down the road. I'm pretty sure he hit 50km/h sometimes!"

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