by MIKE MARTIN
Hastings parish honoured one of its best-loved identities on the occasion of his 100th birthday, with a morning tea following the 10am Sunday Mass.
Jim Moran was born in Hastings in February 1916, the youngest of three. His father died when he was only one year of age and he was initially schooled at St Joseph’s Convent School, until the sixpence a week fee became a financial hardship for the family.
Permanent jobs were hard to find, but the pound ($2) he got from selling papers on the streets was a help for the family. On the day of the Hawke’s Bay earthquake, Jim and his brother were playing “bobs”, a game with a cue and golf ball sized wooden balls on the kitchen table.
There was no warning, just a sudden jolt, then about a minute of minor wavelike tremors. The brick chimney collapsed onto the path surrounding the house, the only damage sustained. The family of four spent many nights in a tent enduring the aftershocks.
A few years later, Jim’s two older brothers volunteered early in World War II, and when it was realised that the Japanese could become a threat, Jim Moran joined up.
He arrived in Egypt, then proceeded to Monte Cassino just after the conclusion of the big campaign there. The final drive was to Trieste, but just short of the town word came through that the war was over.
Mr Moran was a gun loader and radio operator in the New Zealand Tank Corps. He was a signwriter by profession and use was made of his talent when not at the frontline, painting fern leaves on the Kiwi tanks.
Returning to New Zealand, Mr Moran met and married Margaret, and together they raised three children. Margaret died some years ago, after some years with multiple sclerosis.
Mr Moran says he has called on God’s help many times and never been denied. He was a regular member of the counting team until parish administration moved to central Hastings, has been a member of the Knights of the Southern Cross, and is still involved with the Society of St Vincent de Paul and the Passionist Family Group movement, and is seen as an inspiration to all parishioners.
Mr Moran received a photo of the Queen and a congratulatory card from her on his 100th birthday.