1948: In Endless Fear
August 31, 2018
Must have been in about 1946 that rural West Auckland boys Barry Crump (11) and brother Colin (10) escaped to Avondale by hitching along the metal roads instead of going to school (Taupaki primary, I assume.) From here, a tramcar all the way to Queen Street, central Auckland, the same morning.
The kids lived in a supremely violent household and this was Barry’s latest escape plan to save himself and his little brother by seeking out help from The State. Presenting with obvious facial bruising and open bleeding wounds, the pair knew from experience there was no help at home, at school, or even from the Police. Rather than give up on being understood and accepted and saved, little Barry went to these extraordinary lengths to seek out the Child Welfare office.
It was not to be. Conspicuous on a school day, the Crump boys were apprehended by a plain clothes policeman and marched to Auckland Central Police Station, Princess Street, like prisoners. The dried blood and trauma meant nothing to the police. The boys were lectured, scolded for truancy, and delivered back to their waiting abusive parents.
The lesson society conspired to teach Barry Crump was now set; You are alone, there is no respite, no Superman is coming to save you, no uncle, no priest, no teacher, no policeman, no government agent. His life was primed to embrace the supreme self-reliance and sorrow-tinged themes his famous literature reproduced. Unable to recognise his mother’s part, only his father’s, a string of women and wives came and went from Barry’s blindspot along with the resulting neglected children.
Brother Colin (and sons, I assume) carried the same blindspot but recorded his life story in a 2002 book. Back in June 2013 he gave a talk about the book at his local library which I narrowly missed attending but did raid the paperback from their display. Locals have told me he would welcome a visit and a yarn but I have never quite gotten around to it until finally resolving to this month. But I’ve left it too late by a smidge, Crump died on 10 December 2017 aged 81.
Every Crump seems to write a book but Colin’s one is excellent. His Thirsty Rooster novel…terrible! Happily he will have lived to see brother Barry’s cathartic book made into Hunt for the Wilderpeople. I wonder how he reviewed it?
Ref. In Endless Fear, Crump (2002)
Image ref. Central Police Station and Barracks, Princes Street, Auckland; Alexander Turnbull Library