Dolly Thompson, who worked at Talley’s for almost 50 years, recently retired but there will always be a bond between her and the company. She still drops in from time-to-time to visit her friends and many of ‘the girls’ who call her ‘Mum’.
Dolly says she particularly enjoyed making friends with fellow employees from around the world, including those who had immigrated to New Zealand from the Pacific Islands, South America, Germany, Sweden and, more recently, Asia.
Dolly was born in Whanganui, where she spent most of her childhood. After she left school, Dolly spent time working in both Whanganui and Taumarunui in the early 1960s, before moving to Motueka with a friend in 1966.
When she arrived, Dolly started working for, what was then, a small fishing factory run by Peter Talley.
At the time there were only six staff processing shellfish and unloading boats, and she worked alongside Peter while he filleted fish.
‘I started when we were scalloping, then worked with “half shells” (mussels) and then oysters,’ Dolly recollected.
Although she left Talley’s for a brief period to work at a local farm, Dolly soon returned to Talley’s and remained there ever since. Over the past five decades, she has worked in every area of the company, including the vegetable factory, shellfish factory, the laundry and, in more recent years, in the canteen.
She biked to work every day from her home in Riwaka, up until the late 70s.
‘Talley’s were good to me,’ she says. ‘I could rely on always having a job there.’
In her final role, she elected to work the night shift in the canteen, starting most days at 5.30pm and working through to 3am, a role she really enjoyed because ‘it was lively’.
Dolly says even though she misses Talley’s and ‘the girls’ there, she is enjoying her retirement ‘because there is so much to do at home’.