The Death of “The Old Salt”

I had not seen my folk since we left Auckland in 1937 and it was now 1942 and we had two grandchildren that the grandparents had not seen. I was glad to go of course, but Tiny was leaving all of her friends and relatives behind and had some misapprehension about her mother-in-law. Not that my mother had the slightest reason to suspect that her one and only Barney was not getting the best of attention from a devoted wife, but being only my mother she had to reason that only she could fill that position better.

I had written to my father about the new job I was to undertake in Auckland and he, being known to every ship builder in Auckland, had made arrangements for me to go to United Ship builders and see Roy Lidgard. Now Lidgard’s, Collins & Bell were formed into this new complex and Charlie and I had been assigned there.   I turned up at 7.30am and saw Mr Collins, he said to start on sheathing but I said I would wait for my mate to turn up. In due course Charlie appeared with his gear and said, buggar this place, we will go to P. Vos next door.

Side note – At this stage Barney and Tiny had moved in next door to Charles and Ida in 17 Aberfoyle Street, Mount Eden.

He had been doing some concreting one Saturday and I said “leave it Pop till tomorrow when I shall be home and I will give you a hand”. I had gone sailing with Howard on that Saturday afternoon and on returning home Tiny told me the Captain had gone ahead with his concreting and had gone off to bed as he had not felt well. I did not go over to see him although I meant to, but Howard and his girlfriend were coming over to our place after tea so by the time I helped Tiny with the tea and the children it was too late.

At 2.30am on the Sunday morning (5 February 1944) my mother was crying out to come over quickly as Dad was dying. He suffered a cerebal thrombosis and died before I got there and he was only 60 years of age. Poor man, he had worked hard most of his life, but had a mild stroke at 54. He had been under a local Doctor who should have known that his patient was a potential heart case and prescribed accordingly. Well he didn’t, and the Captain thought he could go on forever, he never complained and I used to say to him to take it easy and cut out the physical exertions like concreting and digging out bloody boulders in the garden.

I can only say that I was glad that I had been able to be close to him in the last couple of years and regret that he never lived long enough to see his eldest son finally achieve what I suspect he would have very much liked to have done himself. He was a great man who started life at 13 years of age, educated himself and reached the top in his occupation by art of perseverance. Well-liked by his contemporaries and respected by all with whom he had contact, he was one of the last of that era about which there was so much that was history in the making and which days will never be seen again.

He was well regarded by the fishing industry as a whole, and by fishermen and fishmongers. His presence commanded respect and that also prevailed amongst his fellow officers in the Department in which, in time, he became Chief Inspector for Auckland. His versatility was quite large for a man who left school at 13 years of age. Extremely good with his hands and with tools, as a sailor-man he was a dab hand at sewing, could knit, mend and make nets and sails.

He built my brother Jim a 16 foot square bilge yacht that we sailed around the Tamaki Estuary, Rangitoto, and other near islands. It had no cabin, just an open cockpit, but we had a fly that we draped over the main boom as shelter. We slept on the slats that covered the cockpit floor and lived off the land, so to speak, when away in it for the weekend.

Barney and Jimmy on Boat

Barney and Jim in the Panmure Lagoon.

 

It was only natural that our experience came through the knowledge and the wisdom acquired by the Captain, our mentor that he unstintingly imparted to us.

To sum-up such a man is quite a task, more is the pity that all of this has had to take place after nearly fifty years ago, when he died at 60 of a heart attack, that could have been averted, through neglect. He was a fine man, firm, straight, honest, generous, a fine sense of humour, a good baritone, musical, a faithful husband and loving father.

He gave my mother a bit of a hard time in their early years of marriage, but then she needed a firm hand being a bit on the flighty side. Brother Jim was his favourite, while my sister May, his only daughter, had to perform like us boys at rowing and sailing.

For the writer, I have noted this fact elsewhere in my writings, initially I was the bane of his life and the fact that his wife stood up for my misdeeds in my defence prejudiced his feelings to the extent of a small essence of jealousy in affection being deflected on me. Never mind, prior to his untimely demise we did regain that rapport so vital to the respect and love of a father and son for each other, and above all – the memory.

His career was interesting and considering that his education was limited, by dint of his own efforts he became proficient enough to reach a very high if poorly paid position in the Public Service. He was self-made and ambitious but never got the breaks to become his own Master. Perhaps this was the reason for his insisting that the sea as a way of life was not for me. I judge his assessment as to the rewards as being 100% right `you’re a nobody’.

On his own account, volumes could be written about his life and the struggles he had to reach up and make something for himself but fate ordained otherwise. He was hard on me as a boy but I suppose that was probably brought upon my own shoulders as I am sure now that I must have been a trial to him at times with the pranks that I got myself involved with, much of it foolish.

His funeral was well attended by the waterfront fraternity but poor old Buck Gilliver whom he had trained from a youth could not get there. Today he lies buried in Hillsborough Cemetery overlooking the Manukau (7 February 1944).

Captain Charles Grave Site

Charles Bamford Daniel’s grave the day of his burial 1944.

 

The following Obituary was printed in the New Zealand Herald on 9 March 1944, it reads;

DEATH AT SIXTY – CAPTAIN C. B. DANIEL INSPECTOR OF FISHERIES

The death has occurred at his residence, 17 Aberfoyle Street, Mount Eden, of Captain Charles Bamford Daniel, senior inspector of fisheries at Auckland, at the age of 60. An officer of the Marine Department for the past 23 years, Captain Daniel was one of the best-known identities on the waterfront. Born in England, he came to New Zealand at the age of two, living with his parents at Devonport for many years. He went to sea when 13, serving in square-rigged sailing vessels in the inter-colonial and island trade, until he gained his mate’s ticket at the age of 20. One year later he secured his master’s certificate, and became a well-known figure in the coastal trade as master of one of the heavy sailing scows used at that period. When he was 26, Captain Daniel married Miss Ida Isabel Stanaway, of Northern Wairoa, and sometime later joined the Devonport Steam Ferry Company as skipper of a ferry-boat. Three years later he entered the Government Light Service, and was stationed for a further three years at Hokianga. On his return to Auckland he was appointed to the Government Shipping Office, after a short period with the Union Steam Ship Company, being responsible for crews for vessels operating from Auckland, at this period he was jokingly known as “Shanghai Daniel,” by which name old seamen long remembered him. Six years later he joined the Fisheries Department, in which he remained for about 23 years until his death. His name was known throughout the Dominion for his work in connection with the cultivation of oysters and the conservation of fish. Captain Daniel is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.

Charles was also mentioned in the Marine Department Annual Report 1944-45 on page 26, which reads;

The late Captain Charles Daniel died at Auckland on 5th March, 1944. He had served the Department as an Inspector of Fisheries there since 1923, having previously been engaged in the Mercantile Marine Branch at that port. From his remarkable knowledge of the waters, coasts, fishermen, and the whole nautical population of the Auckland Provincial District, and by virtue of his extraordinary physical and mental energy and commanding personality, Captain Daniel was a most valuable member of our staff, and his sudden death left a void difficult to fill.

Capt Charles & Ida Daniel Grate Site

Charles and Ida’s grave site today.

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