Home' Greymouth Star : April 8th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Wednesday, April 8, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1898 - British General Horatio Kitchener’s
forces score victory at Atbara River in Sudan.
1919 - Russian communist army enters the
1946 - League of Nations begins its final
session in Geneva after being
replaced by the United Nations.
1973 - Death of Pablo Picasso,
Spanish painter, sculptor and
pioneer of Cubism.
1986 - Jennifer Guinness of the
well-known brewing family is
kidnapped in Ireland for a Â£2
1992 - Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat is
found alive in the Libyan desert, 12 hours
after his plane crashes, killing another three
aboard; US tennis star Arthur Ashe, the first
black player to win Wimbledon, reveals he has
2005 - Britain’s last major carmaker, MG
Rover, collapses after it fails to secure a
government loan or a life-saving alliance with
a Chinese partner. The 100-year-old carmaker
once produced the iconic Mini and the Land
2013 - Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first
female prime minister, dies at the age of 87.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Mary Pickford, Canadian-born actress
(1893-1979); Ian Smith, Rhodesia-Zimbabwe
politician (1919-2007); Edward
Mulhare, Irish actor (1923-1997);
Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-
General (1938-); Izzy Stradlin, US
musician, formerly of Guns ‘n’ Roses
(1962-); Julian Lennon, English pop
singer (1963-);Robin Wright, US
actress (1966-); Patricia Arquette,
US actress (1968-).
“ Wherever they burn books they will also,
in the end, burn human beings.” — Heinrich
Heine — German author (1797-1856).
“I have told you these things, so that in Me
you may have peace. In this world you will have
trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the
world.” — ( John 16:332).
The Buller Hospital
is not to be closed
and used merely as
a casualty clearing
station, as far as the chairman of the Buller
Hospital Board, Mr B L Gay is concerned. Mr
Gay said that the hospital ser ved a population
of 10,000 in an industrial area and that it was
an essential institution.
The board is at present advertising extensively
in New Zealand and overseas for a replacement
for the Surgeon-Superintendent, Mr F S
Gregory, who has resigned. Mr Gregory has
given the hospital board an assurance that he
will remain at the hospital until a replacement
is found. He handles most of the surgery at the
One of Westport ’s GPs, Dr C C Foote
consults as a physician.
Today is the golden anniversary of the
wedding of Mr and Mrs William Henderson,
of Dunollie, who have lived on the Coast for
practically all of their married life. Married in
Nelson, the couple moved to the West Coast
and lived at various centres ranging from
Hokitika to Ngakawau until approxmately 36
years ago when they settled at Dunollie.
The couple are still active, with Mrs
Henderson spending most of her time visiting
their 20 grandchildren and four great-
grandchildren. Mr Henderson is not as fit as
he used to be, having suffered several illnesses.
Strangely it is because of an illness that he
is here today. For he was on a ship due to
sail overseas during World War One when it
was discovered that he was just convalescing
from a bout of pneumonia. He was promptly
disembarked. The ship was later sunk and all
uFood for thought
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The site where Robert E Lee surrendered
his Confederate army to Ulysses S Grant
150 years ago this week, effectively ending
the United States’ bloodiest war, is proof
that history’s biggest turning points can
occur in the smallest places.
Ceremonies, re-enactments by thousands
in Union and Confederate uniforms, and
bell ringing will commemorate the Army
of Northern Virginia’s surrender at the
village of Appomattox Court House on
April 9, 1865, ending four years of fighting
that cost 620,000 lives.
The handful of buildings had been a
backwater with a few score inhabitants
when Lee’s exhausted and badly
outnumbered army was cut off by Grant ’s
forces, said Ernie Price, chief of education
ser vices at the small Appomattox Court
House National Historical Park, about
5km east of the town of Appomattox.
“It’s arguably the most pivotal place in
all of American history. I feel that the
modern United States was born here,”
said Price, seated on the front porch of
the Clover Hill Tavern, where Lee’s men
marched past to stack their arms.
The surrender of Lee’s 28,000 men at
Appomattox Court House meant that
the United States would remain intact
and abandon the system of slavery that
had propped up the southern economy.
Increased wartime production of
munitions and uniforms also helped the
nation lay the groundwork for its growth
into an industrial giant over the next
century, he added.
The Civil War’s end game started
when Grant broke through Lee’s lines
at Petersburg, Virginia, about 145km to
the east, ending a 10-month Union siege.
The loss of Petersburg ensured the fall
of Richmond, Virginia, the Confederate
capital, and put rebel President Jefferson
Davis to flight.
The Army of Northern Virginia retreated
west, with Lee hoping to unite with
General Joseph Johnston’s army in North
But Grant — whose motto was “Strike
him (the enemy) as hard as you can, and
keep moving on” — outraced Lee and
cornered him in the rolling hills and
tobacco fields near Appomattox Court
Lee and Grant exchanged letters
touching on surrender from April 7 to
9, with Lee saying he shared the Union
commander’s “desire to avoid useless
effusion of blood.”
The men met at the house of sugar
speculator Wilmer MacLean on April 9.
Lee, 6ft tall with a full head of grey hair,
wore a new uniform and a sword with a
jewelled hilt, boots with red silk stitching
and spurs with rowels.
By contrast, the stoop-shouldered Grant
was spattered by mud and dressed in a
private’s uniform with trousers stuffed in
his unspurred boots. The only sign of rank
for the future two-term president was his
three-star shoulder strap.
After he and Lee reminisced in
MacLean’s parlour about their army
ser vice during the 1846-1848 war
with Mexico, Grant rapidly wrote out
surrender terms. They included releasing
Confederate soldiers who promised not to
take up arms again and allowing officers to
keep their horses, baggage and side arms.
When Union soldiers began to fire
salutes marking the surrender, Grant
ordered them to stop.
“The war is over, the rebels are our
countrymen again,” he said.
Following Lee’s surrender, other
Confederate commanders gave up, with
the last battle taking place in May in
Texas. The final act was in November
1865 when the Confederate ocean raider
Shenandoah lowered her colours in
The Appomattox Court House National
Historical Park is expecting up to 7000
visitors for five days of commemorations,
Other commemorations around the
country include an event marking Lee’s
surrender at Fort Myer, Virginia; the
dedication of a Civil War memorial at
College Station, Texas; an exhibition at
Anchorage, Alaska; and a ceremony at the
site of the surrender of Johnston’s army at
Durham, North Carolina, on April 26.
The National Park Ser vice is inviting
US churches, towns and other institutions
to ring bells on April 9 to mark Lee’s
surrender. The first will sound at
Appomattox at 3pm, the hour that Lee
and Grant ’s meeting ended.
Other bells will follow at 3.15pm and
sound for four minutes, one minute for
each year of the war. — Reuters
Big history in small place
A painting depicting General Robert E Lee, right, meeting with General Ulysses S Grant, before the surrender.
fter centuries on the fringe
of consumer finance, the
neighbourhood pawn shop
is pushing its way towards
the mainstream, thanks
to the power of reality
television and the long arm of government
The History Channel’s hit show Pawn
Stars, featuring a Las Vegas shop run
by three generations of the quirky but
endearing Harrison family, has helped
transform the image of the pawn shop,
portraying it as a fun place to do business
and discover one-of-a -kind buys.
At the same time, more consumers, even
those with other loan options, are finding
that the simplicity of the pawn shop has
“I have been coming to pawn shops for
years but I guess the tv shows makes it
easier, you know, more acceptable,” said
Eddie, an unemployed Texan who asked to
be called by his first name, after he pawned
a diamond ring for $250 at EZ Pawn in
“The big change in the industry has
been the mainstreaming of the image,”
said Emmett Murphy, spokesman for the
National Pawnbrokers Association. “ It
opened the doors for America to come
into their pawn shops to see what it is
The makeover, combined with a pending
government crackdown on exorbitant
payday loans that are geared to people
on the low end of the income spectrum,
have made these heady days for one of the
world’s oldest forms of consumer finance.
Pawn shops, with their three golden balls
symbol, much like barbershop poles, have
been readily identifiable in the United
States since the 17th century.
They extend loans on an item of value,
say, a ring or a guitar, brought in as
collateral. If the loan and interest are paid
off on time, the item is returned to the
borrower. If not, the pawn shop can sell the
item and pocket the proceeds.
“Customers tend to use us when they
need us, redeem their merchandise and we
won’t see them for a number of months ...
and then we see them again,” said Larry
Nuckols, 60, chairman and co-owner of
Money Mart Pawn and Jewellery, with 26
stores in Texas and four more in two other
Pawnbrokers expect an increase in
loans this year, according to a National
Pawnbrokers Association industry sur vey,
although most are doubtful of seeing much
growth on the retail side of the business,
where unclaimed goods are sold.
Descriptions and serial numbers of items
taken in are typically sent to police along
with information on who pawned them.
Taking in stolen items usually means
a loss of the loan money for the store,
an incentive to guard against accepting
There are about 10,000 pawn shops in
the United States, nearly 90% of them
independently owned. Rick Harrison’s
World Famous Gold and Silver Pawn
Shop in Las Vegas remains open around
the clock to cater to patrons of the desert
The average amount of a pawn loan
is about $150 with 85% of all loans
being repaid, according to the industry
While most customers reclaim their
goods, borrowers know their credit rating
will not suffer if they default.
“It is a non-judgmental loan and a
non-recourse loan, meaning the customer
is under no obligation to repay,” Nuckols
The four main publicly traded companies
that operate national pawn chains have a
combined market capitalisation of about
$4 billion and represent about 11% of the
Over the last 10 years, shares in the
biggest companies that operate pawn shops
have outperformed the S and P Industrials
Meanwhile, the pawn shop’s main
competitor is headed for closer scrutiny.
A United States consumer financial
watchdog last week outlined plans to crack
down on payday lending practices that
leave borrowers with debt they cannot
Payday loans — small sums borrowers
agree to repay in a short time, typically
with their next pay cheques — are
attractive partly because of convenience.
But consumer advocates say payday loans,
which can carry annualised interest rates
of more than 500%, can trap low-income
borrowers in a cycle of mounting debt.
On-line lenders, which sometimes skirt
state laws, are a particular concern, they say.
By comparison, the interest on pawn
loans can vary from 2% a month in states
such as Missouri and North Carolina to
25% a month in Alabama, Mississippi
and Montana, according to a Vanderbilt
University Law School research paper.
Pawn credit is regulated at the state
and local level and has avoided national
control, in part because it has no impact
on a borrower’s future access to credit,
says the paper The Pawn Industry and Its
“Pawnbroking is not in the conversation
at all when we think about regulating
financial ser vices,” said economist Paige
Marta Skiba, a professor of law at
Vanderbilt and one of the paper’s authors.
Pawn shop makeover
The cast of Pawn Stars in their Las Vegas shop.
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