My Story

Elsie Hagley’s Personal life

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Leaving Home – The Railway Station

I was standing at the railway station, suitcase in hand, tears in my eyes, feeling very sick, with butterflies in my heart, knowing that what I was doing, that life would never be the same again, as the railcar pulled into the station.

I would never be able to return back to living with my parents, even if I could, my life would be changed forever with what I was doing, I knew they would be terribly upset and angry, with what I was doing.

  • Yes, I was running away from home.

I had brought my ticket was stepping onto the railcar, I don’t know how I managed to lift my legs and climb up the steps onto the carriage, they felt like jelly.

I had a three-hour trip ahead of me. I knew my destination that day, but not where I was going to sleep that night.

Many thoughts were on my mind as I sat on that railcar

There wasn’t many aboard it which made it harder than ever, no laughter, no one talking, only the clicking of the wheels on the lines, as the towns and hills flit past the carriage windows.

These three hours on the train went very fast really, as my mind was scrambling around wondering what my next step would be when I reached the platform of my destination.

When I arrived it was dark, a lot of thoughts were running through my mind, I was scared, where was I going to sleep that night?

I hadn’t had anything to eat all day and was starting to feel weak from lack of food and tiredness.

I watched the railcar pull out of the station, with dread in my heart I wasn’t prepared for this feeling, all though I had been planning it for weeks, sneaking my clothes out of the house bit by bit as I went to work each morning.

Panic Started to Set In

This is where I started to panic, I shook myself “Come on girl you can do it, don’t fall to pieces now”, somehow I started moving slowly along the platform as the last sounds of the railcar leaving faded away in the distance.

The porter walk up to me and asked me if I was waiting for someone, “No” I said, I just need some where to stay tonight and he kindly said there’s a Railway Hotel across the road you should find accommodation there.

I was relieve and walked in the direction he pointed too.

I had been a very protected child in those years in the mid 1950s, had never been anywhere at night except with my parents. I was very scared, some how I found my way to the hotel, paid and got a room for the night.

I had been saving money knowing I would require it if this mission to renew my life was going to succeed.

I never slept that night I hadn’t eaten and was scared, what was I going to do when daylight came?

All I knew I was safe locked in those four walls, for one night anyway.

When daylight arrived, I knew I had to find a job, a place to live, before the police found me, and return me back to my parents home, I knew that much, as I had planned and made sure of my facts before I started.

I did eat a little next morning, even though it felt as though it was just sitting in my throat.

Then I started the search for my future.

A New Me

I decided the first thing I was going to do was change my looks, so off to the hair salon, which I had never used before, as my parents cut my hair like putting a pot on my head.

I had a perm done, it was nice, not ugly hair straight drab hair.

I looked like a princess and even though I thought it myself “I looked beautiful” it gave me confidence.

I started talking to the lady that was doing my hair and asked her if she knew a place where I could get a job and some place to live.

Was I lucky she did gave me the name of a place, as soon as my hair was finished with my new found body, I was off applying for the job.

Yes I got the job, a kitchen maid in a hotel, which had live in accommodation, a room all for myself, which I had never had in my 18 years of living.

I start my job the next morning, and really like it, I was used to making toast, washing dishes, cleaning up the kitchen, it didn’t worry me the main thing I was earning money so i could support myself.

Now Trouble was Coming

Would you believe it, my parents found out the next day where I was because one of the girls that worked in the office at the hotel, come from my hometown, which was abuzz about me running away from home.

The second day after running away from home my parents had the police knocking on my door.

As I was eighteen had a paying job and a roof over my head the police couldn’t return me home.

But my parents wouldn’t leave me alone, I wasn’t sleeping, have trouble with my monthlies (Periods) excesses bleeding (which I found out many years later that I had (Von Willebrand’s disease) Factor eight missing in my blood, it is a bleeding disorder. It affects your blood’s ability to clot. If your blood doesn’t clot, you can have heavy, hard-to-stop bleeding.

There was nothing I could do to stop the bleeding if I was going to keep my job, I had to go to the doctor for help.

Anyway, the doctor gave me some sleeping pills because of not sleeping with my stress.

That was the worst thing that could have happened to me.

As a week had passed since I left home, I decided, I had had enough, yes I overdosed on the sleeping pills, about midnight on my eighth day after running away from home, I was terribly stressed, I don’t even remember going to bed.

The next morning the first thing I remembered after taking those pills, was someone banging on my door as it was locked on the inside no one could get it.

I should have been at work, they had come to wake me up.

I had been saved from that overdosing because I had been very sick, my bed was a mess, I try to get up. I could not even stand I was totally, (what’s the word drunk.}

They had a spare key to the door and used that. I don’t remember much about the next two days as someone must have clean me up and changed my bed, I just slept and someone kept coming in and checking me out as I remembered voices.

After I was better, I asked how come I was not returned home to my parents, the lady that knew me from the office of that hotel, knew the kind of life I lived, she had arranged for someone to look after me until I was fit to work again, she told me I was very lucky to have survived and wanted to help me, which she did.

My parents never found out what I had done.

This Rail Car served New Zealand from 1938 and was a regular sight between Wellington the capital and New Plymouth in the North Island and the bridge in Wanganui was the railway bridge I travel over in 1959, I was frightened even more about what I was doing.

I will continue this story very soon.