“Everyone knew everyone”
Audrey Baillie (nee. McCarthy) was born in the Port, one of four siblings. Originally, the family lived on Chaucer Steps, but later moved to Battery Road. Her father was from Riverton, and originally a barber. He boarded at the Union Hotel when he came to the Port, and met his wife to be there; her family running the hotel/tavern. After the marriage, he then setup and ran a book, magazine and fancy goods store on Waghorne Street until it burnt down following the 1931 earthquake. He then set up again as a barber, initially working from a temporary tent until he could rebuild his former premises.
Audrey attended the Port School, then the Catholic Sacred Heart High School for Girls on the hill. During the earthquake, Audrey saw a shed tumbling down the hill. At school, she remembers the Nun’s prayers rising in pitch and crescendo as the shakes increased and continued. After leaving school, she worked in a secretarial role, and moved to Wellington where she lived for 7 years.
She recalls the characters and personalities of the Port: “There were some beauts”. It was a tight-knit and busy community. When her husband passed-away, she moved with her two daughters back to the Port.