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The General Store

Poets Make History - Ferrymead Heritage Park

Thanks to the Canterbury Literacy Association for sponsoring 24 young writers from around the region to spend a day at Ferrymead Heritage Park with our tutors Gail Ingram and Heather McQuillan. It was a great day of exploring the past and putting the ideas into words.

Here are a selection of poems from the day in which the young writers responded to the General Store and recorded their observations ( precise and sensory detail) and wonderings about then and now.

The General Store at Ferrymead Heritage Park

The buttons on the cash register clunk.

I stare at jars of vibrant lollies (that would never last).

Absent-mindedly, I scrape my hand across

the Master-crafted piano, a hideous tune.

I wonder at the tins of peacock jam, its blues

and pinks positively shining.

The hand-sewn clothes hang like thieves

above the domes, hat pins and lace

I run my fingers along

the pots, jars and barrels,

the sound resonates through the room.

George Grundy, Year 8, Russley School

The Ferrymead Historic Village General Store

My fingers brush against

A carefully packaged jar of raspberry jam

protected by a blue and white gingham cloth

the brand logo you would find on supermarket products

nowhere to be seen.

My ears are filled with the sounds

of the cash register

that was once filled

with a plethora of vintage coins.

My eyes stumble upon

the tins of preserved food


fruit salad

all kinds of cuisine

sit on wooden shelves

as if they haven’t been touched for years.

My mind wanders

back to the question that has been stuck in my head

Where is the freezer?

I find my answer.

In the corner sits a tiny ice bath

isolated from the rest.

How did people live like this?

Matilda Gill- Clifford, Year 7, Broomfield School

The General Store – Old to Now

Ravens Tea, Goughs & Gold

Symingtons soup

Food galore

Pots and pans

Poison on the floor

This was what was inside

the General Store in the olden days.

I was thinking, and tinkering

wanting to know,

what this shop would be like

100 years ago.

I came out of the store with a smile on my face

thinking, I’d love to live in this very place

in the olden days.

Emily Rentoul, Year 6, Timaru Christian School

The General Store

Flour in brown bags,

plates, pottery and jugs.

A scale, a pot,

a bar of soap.

A bike with a basket,

dolls dressed in fancy clothes.

Jam with patterned lids,

shillings, pounds and pence.

A bowl of fruit, a bag of wheat,

a collection of pots.

Two black sewing machines,

a pile of paperwork arranged in a mess.

A shelf of medicine, a white hand-sewn dress.

No sweet-smelling perfumes,

no bread, ice-cream or meat.

No chocolate, no chips,

no sugar-coated lollies.

No bags of frozen water,

no checkout,

no trollies.

Bex Skinner, Year 8, Rangi Ruru Girls’ School

Wonderings in the Old General Store

My fingers touch the carvings on the coin

New Zealand one penny, 1943

with a tui

Milk chocolate scorched almonds

I wonder how many there are

in a box?

Colemans mustard

5 shillings per tin

A basket of wooden pegs

like little sleeping people

Wooden drawers slide open

with dill, curry powder, thyme,

nutmeg and all the spices

Upright iron grand

Ask What Thou Wilt

Brown October Ale

Remington typewriter

keys in random spots

like natural disasters

Parcels wrapped in brown paper

tied up with string

in a bicycle basket

I wonder what’s in

the parcels?

Mekhi Tauakume, Year 8, Russley School

Shopping then and now

When I went into the General Store, I saw

dusty pianos

shiny china dolls

rusty cans of Edmonds powder

fresh-laid eggs

and fruit.

I smelled fresh air.

What I liked most

was the name of the store.

In the shops today

there are sparkling floors

aisles metres long

fresh food for miles.

I smell air conditioner.

My basket’s so full of

my favourite foods.

We call it a supermarket.

Atiria Tutaki-Phillips, Year 5, Linwood North School

The Storekeeper

I walk through the door

to my right I see

a gravestone

for David Patrick Lockton

beloved husband and father.

You can get anything at this store

a wooden stroller

old lollies not packeted

no freezer or fridge,

just a chest of ice to keep it cool.

You can get anything at this store

Muriatic Acid awkwardly sits in the corner.

An old cash register going

cha ching

when a purchase is made.

Jars of jelly jam

ready to be eaten.

My footsteps climb the ladder

to get to a higher shelf

getting lollies for the children.

You can get anything at my store.

Ella McMillan, St James School

Horse outside the General Store

The horses trot down the gravel road,

come to a halt when they reach the General Store.

They lick their lips

and drink deep from the trough,

tied outside the General Store.

Molly Shield, Year 6 , Cheviot Area School

Olden Day Then and Now

Right now I'm sewing all my clothes,

Dresses skirts everything I know,

Patches of silk and cotton fabrics,

Tomorrow’s the same, a repetition.

In the future clothes will be brought from shops,

No more sewing stitching by the lot,

My clothes will be made just for me,

Fancy and perfect like the Kings and Queens.

Next, I go and do my shopping,

Tinned meat and lollies in a jar,

Weighing food for the right amount,

Boy's bike past being very bizarre.

In the future, there will be,

A supermarket just for food,

With rows of fresh fruit by the dozen,

And frozen treats are hidden far away.

But that's for the future

And not for today

So I'll finish my shopping

Then be on my way.

Caitlin Sim, Year 8, Marshland School

I walk along the street,

begin to think

about the old times.


Where am I now?

The store beckons

I give in.

It has dolls

arranged in rows

and baskets on the floor.


And I’m back

in the 2000s.

I walk to the store

and enter.

It has tall aisles

neatly arranged.

Not like the store in 1903.

It has machine-packed packets.

Not like the store in 1903.

It has high-tech cash boxes.

Not like the store in 1903

Where I belong and where

I should be.

Aimee Masters, Year 6, Clearview Primary

2018 shopping, 1918 shopping

We’re going to go shopping

I jump out of my damp bed

Whip up some pancakes

And make extras for mum and dad

I wash my face, comb my hair

And get into my Sunday Best

I rush upstairs

And jump on my brothers bed

My mum loudly calls out to me

“We’re going to the store”

I groan and unhappily

Drag myself out the door

I get changed slowly

Into my coolest clothes

I do my hair in a ponytail

Brush my teeth, then let’s go!

Mother and Father slowly awake

From their morning doze

They get the white Lipzinder out

Saddle her up, ready to go

Inside the store is amazingly huge

Bicycles and pianos

Placed in the hall

Long tall shelves and small labeled drawers

If you came closer

You could even smell it

Homemade jam

And flour too

Mum hops in the car

And turns the key

Reverses out of the garage

Forgetting the bags for grocery

Inside the store

Is always the same

Hundreds of aisles

And oh, the candy lane

Yuki Stansfield, Year 6, Waitakariri School

The Old Store

Wow! But really just how?

What was it like buying pure milk from a cow?

How did you get there? Did you run?

Did you walk, just to get there to buy a soft bun?

Molly Shield, Year 6 , Cheviot Area School

Some things to notice about the poems:

In many of these poems the young poets started with a list of the objects that drew their attention as they roved the store. By recording precise details and nouns they had some great language to draw on when it came time to compile their poems. They also recorded some of their questions or wonderings which helped to bring the poet into the poem. Fresh similes were welcome. Stale similes stayed in the past! Some poets chose to create a comparison poem - finding the differences between now and then.

© The School for Young Writers and the poets. 2018.

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