Bob’s set to move next door after half a century of history. As the last remaining original owner on Tropicana Drive, Bob Caley can tell you a thing or two about living in Lynfield. He and his wife Val raised three daughters there and next year he will have lived on the street for 50 years, just a stone’s throw from Ryman Healthcare’s new $120 million retirement village development on the Tropicana Estate.
Bob and Val moved from Sandringham where the Caley family ran a business making window blinds in what is now the Canoe and Kayak shop, and he laughs when recalling their friends’ reactions. “They all asked why we’d decided to leave Auckland!”
The move came about through the friendship Bob’s parents had with the Subritzkys who owned the Tropicana Estate. “Mum and Dad used to go out to dances with Bill and Pat and they told us he was selling some of the land next door,” says Bob. “So we bought our section from Bill and paid £2,000 for it. As he was a lawyer he deducted the land agent’s fee because he said he’d sold it to us himself!”
Bob and Val’s section was one of three privately owned plots on the street – the rest were all developed at the same time as part of Homes Expo ’68, or the Parade of Homes as it was known. Bob has kept the original brochure – price fifty cents! – which still has his handwritten notes of the prices all the neighbouring houses sold for. They were pitched as cutting-edge in style and design, highlighting such modern features as laundry chutes, eye-level ovens and walk-in pantries, the latter being specifically designed to appeal to ‘preserve-conscious New Zealand women’!
“The Prime Minister at the time, Rob Muldoon, helicoptered in to the land next door which was a pretty unusual sight to behold for those days,” says Bob.
Acting Project Manager for the construction site, Matt Smith, said Bob had kindly brought the brochure along for him to look at. “It was quite fascinating to see how all the houses looked when they were new. It’s a real snapshot in time. “I’ve really enjoyed meeting Bob and hearing his stories from living in the area,” he said.
Bob has watched from his kitchen window as the grassy slopes of Halsey Drive have filled up with houses over the years and is philosophical about the new development next door. “When I saw there was open space included on the Ryman plans I thought that was miles better than what could have gone in there.”
And as it happens, the timing is just right for Bob, who has lived on his own since Val lost her battle with cancer 11 years ago. He has already signed up to move into the first block of apartments! “My daughters were all very happy with my decision and I’m glad to be able to stay in the area.”