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Our Christmases Past

Ric Carlyon - Tuesday, December 13, 2016

1897    Christmas Lockup 
Letter to the Editor, Auckland Star, December 1897, “Sir, I want to give you an idea of the surroundings of the unfortunate inebriates and others who have to occupy the High-street cells till they can be brought before a Magistrate or JP after the holiday. The cell’s 8 feet x 10 feet, walls and floor, not a seat in which to sit or to stretch their weary limbs. They must get on the floor when they can no longer keep on their feet - a floor that has to be kept washed to ensure cleanliness, and whose inside never has the sun's rays. As one poor man said, ‘I have suffered from rheumatics since I got locked up with a mate when we went on a spree on Saturday. We lay or sat on the floor two days and nights’. And this is in a Christian land where men kneel oft and pray.—l am, etc., Nineteenth Century Reform”.

1905    JP on Stage
The satire "The JP” arrived in Auckland for a pre-Christmas season at His Majesty’s Theatre after a phenomenally long season in London and an extended tour booked for venues throughout  New Zealand. 
  Miss Florence Lloyd, “straight from London!”, star of the “The JP”
“The JP” is a silly farce, basking with foolish infatuation, smiles of beauty, irrepressible ungallantry, despite any amount of misfortune and ill abuse, shallow and cunning,” said the New Zealand Herald. 

1907    Assault by Parasol
A middle-aged woman, Annie Irwin, who created a scene in Shortland Street on the afternoon of Christmas Day found herself before Justices of the Peace Dr Carolan, and Messres Jenkins and Jamieson. Irwin, it was alleged, stabbed a young man named Charles Hudson in the neck with her parasol and was charged with assault. 
“I’m pleading guilty”, she said. “but the complainant used offensive expressions towards me which was hardly in keeping with Christmas. Nonetheless I had no intention of injuring him”. The JPs pointed out how serious the consequences might have been, and inflicted a sentence of two months' imprisonment.  

1912    Newspaper Report - Auckland Star
“Sixteen persons hung up their stockings on Tuesday evening in the Auckland police cells, and on Wednesday morning fifteen of them received a present of their liberty, all being discharged with a caution, irrespective of record or character.
The list this morning before Mr E. Dunne, JP,  included five men who had carried their Christmas festivities over the leaf, and they were treated with seasonable indulgence, the penalties ranging from a mere conviction to a fine of 5/. 
Robert William Adams, who had allowed a labour argument with Alfred Polkinghorne run to indiscreet heat, was charged with having struck the other man, and was remanded by Mr Dunne on bail to appear on Saturday.

1913    Time for Leniency
During the first Police Court sitting after Christmas three Justices of the Peace, Messres Powley, MacKay and Langford said they wished so show leniency for defendants appearing before them.   
“We desire to overlook any slight indiscretions associated with Christmas festivities, and today there’ll be no fines imposed in connection with such cases. With the exception of four, who have forfeited bail, all those charged with drunkenness are convicted and discharged” they declared. 
in a further show of seasonal leniency by the Bench, a man who had stolen a roll of bacon and hid it in long grass to avoid capture was fined the value of the meat, 23 shillings and sixpence, 
But a horseman was not quite so lucky. Police believed he was too drunk to have in his care a horse and cart in the crowded city streets on Christmas Eve. Edward Knox thought differently and assaulted his escorting constable in Wyndham Street. The Justices fined Knox £5, in default a month’s jail. 

1920    Court Sitting on THE day 
New Zealand Herald 25th December 1920: Christmas Morning Cases. A brief sitting  of the Court was held on Christmas morning before Mr. W. Handley, JP.  George Coyle was charged with drunkenness and with having wilfully damaged a glass window, valued at £4, and was remanded till to-morrow. 
Carlos Tucker, who was charged with having stolen a pocket wallet containing £5 from F. J. Worker, was also remanded till to-morrow. Three first offenders for drunkenness were convicted and ordered to pay costs.

1932    Depression 
Justice of the Peace, J B Munro, one of the controllers of the Hobson Street Boot Pool announced that the service would continue during the Christmas break for the special benefit of unemployed relief workers coming to Auckland for the holiday break. 
“The Boot Pool repairs boots that no other cobbler would touch, but the Pool’s services will continue replacing soles for relief workers while they wait and at no cost provided they show their work ticket”.

1931    Sad Movies
Premier Amusements Ltd screened movies in Otahuhu’s Orpheus cinema on Christmas Day without written permission of the local Borough Council, which prosecuted the company’s owners. Moreover, Council staff said the title of the movie shown was unsuitable on the day. 
Justices of the Peace, Messres Todd and Petrie, drawing down the curtain on the action found the Christmas Day screening had defied Council’s direction and the company was fined £5.    

1935    In the True Christmas Spirit 
The Coroner, Mr C. K. Lawrie JP, conducted an inquest into the death of a 26 year old Roy Lowrie who drowned on Christmas Day in the Waikato River near the Tuakau Bridge. “Roy Lowrie, unhesitating, went to the aid of a stranger struggling in the river at the first sign of the swimmer’s distress… and this is in accord with the highest British traditions,” said Mr Lawrie. “In his magnificent effort to save life he exhausted his own strength. May it be of comfort to Mr Lowrie’s family to know that in losing him as they did, on Christmas Day, the manner of his death exemplified the true Christmas spirit of good will…”. The swimmer that Roy Lowrie went in after also drowned.

1945    Inside Job
Messrs. J. B. Paterson and J. Melling, JPs, heard the case of a man, making a pre-Christmas visit to an inmate in Mt Eden Jail, who was charged with giving an inmate a packet of cigarettes and a box of matches. 

While the defendant, Jack Read, pleaded guilty, the Justices heard that he did not know it was illegal to give the prisoner anything, especially a Christmas treat. In his ignorance he had done it in clear sight of a warder and had been arrested. The JPs fined Read £2. 
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