Home' Greymouth Star : June 24th 2017 Contents Saturdayy Afternoon
Saturday, June 24, 2017 - 7
6 - Saturday, June 24, 2017
Brothers and Sisters
seminary, plunged in to handle 30 or so
strong-willed individuals. No streaming,
simply one class in every sense of the
Brothers such as Arthur, Charles,
Colin, Eugene, Gregory, Herbert, Humphrey, Kenneth, Kevin,
Marcian, Osmund, Sean, and Sisters Ann, Frazier, Theophane and
Monica ... lay teachers Nelly Dunn, Mary Moore, Ellen Donnelan,
Graham Kennedy and Galvin Creagh.
Most had the desired influence and some left their indelible mark,
the marks of others faded when the swelling died down from our
backsides and hands.
The sheer delight of those early days when learning came so easy,
when Sister Frazier would pick up David Coll by the shoulders to
hear his squeaky tones, when big sisters, Trish and Therese, would
call into our primer class from St Mary’s, or when the perfect notes
wafted from the two-storey music rooms.
Or the absolute fear of the dental nurse calling kids to the murder
house in alphabetical order. And the embarrassment of piddling
your pants in St Patrick’s because you were too scared to ask to go to
the toilet. I think there is still a stain belonging to me just under the
XI Station of the Cross.
But the best part of those early days was being a member of
the Marist Midgets rugby league team. Off we would race from
St Patrick’s to the Marist yard for training runs under the expert
guidance of Tommy Dunn, father of Michael, with the heart and
gentle hand to manage us super keen kids expertly.
Often Tommy would have to bring Michael/Mickey/Ricketts into
line and bang! The floodgates opened and he was off up Alexander
Street, home to num at No 72 to tell on dad.
Mickey taught the rest of the class various social arts. He was
sublimely skilled in teacher baiting and diversionary tactics. One
early trick he shared was collecting bottles after school, mostly from
nearby houses when nobody was home and selling them for ‘chews’
at the Alexander Street shop.
Standard one at Marist in 1960 saw the return of Nelly Dunn (we
also had her as a teacher at St Pat’s) and her near perfect elocution
marred only by the clacking of her false teeth as she wrapped her
tongue around the daily Angelus.
Dean Carew Memorial School was the epicentre of the universe
then and a prize for best in Christian doctrine was a windfall for me
in Standard 1. The painting of the guardian angel is on the wall in
my house today.
Prizewinners had to sit outside on the seats attached to the
convent side of Dean Carew under the night sky as the prizegiving
proceeded in St Columba Hall. I was last in line and gradually
shuffled along before the grand entrance through the side stage door,
the bright lights of a packed hall, and the handshake from Mons
Proud, pride, pleased — nothing could describe the feeling —
then doubled home on dad’s bike to Palmerston Street, holding the
prize, a framed holy picture of the guardian angel in the beam of his
dynamo driven light.
Primary school memories are dominated by out-of-class events.
The tuck shop, the marble patch, the boxing gym in the old house,
the halls, Hibernian and Columba, and wet playtimes jammed in the
shelter shed. Also, the coal cellar, the film shows and the rickety fire
escape. But no one will ever forget Stumpy’s bottle drives.
First, though, in time sequence, the marble patch on the ruins of
the old toilet block at the far end of Dean Carew. Remember Tony
Mundy’s accident and severe lacerations to his leg?
The boxing gym run by Vic Graham, dominated by the Tucks and
Colls, and those classic bouts in Columba Hall when all the adults
threw coins into the ring. A burning ambition to ‘have a go’ but
sensible mothers like mine wanted their sons to stay handsome - the
sight of one straight poke from Kevin Morgan was enough to scare
One evening, the banned Dennis Gibson appeared outside the
gym and quickly, assistant trainer Norm Williams went to see him
off the premises. When Norm grabbed Dennis, a pile of Crunchie
Bars fell out from under Dennis’ jersey.
Then there was the chief suspect in the later, great tuck shop heist.
When the kids arrived on a Monday morning, a neat job had been
done on the shop’s Yale lock in the wooden door. Around a dozen
neat brace and bit holes had been drilled around the lock to push it
out. Crates of Icee drinks, boxes of Buzz Bars, K Bars and pineapple
lumps, all gone.
The playtime, schoolyard scrag and cricket brought out the best
and worst in many. Fights became common over issues like bowling
and batting orders; some were resolved after school, like the Mundy
and Tony Connors welterweight bout up on Chunn’s Hill.
The two halls became extensions of the classroom and much time
was spent within St Patrick’s Church, as well. The assemblies and
the church were a hoot and then the prayer book and hymn book
handing out rituals when we arrived - we all had to have one and
the old prayer books with Gospel pictures were great for ‘finding’
Terry McBride was always the champion at such games, inventing
them and then staying saintly as rigorous inquiries resulted from the
fuss they ignited. Dropping ‘goobies’ from the choir loft on to the
kids below was also popular.
Church activities also meant that a steady supply of altar boys was
required. Strong Catholic families pushed their sons into soutanes
and the Latin proved no hurdle for some. Gerard Harcourt was
adept at matching sounds, the best being his mea culpa alternative:
“me a camel, me a camel, me a Mexican camel”.
Candles, incense, prayer books, wine, offertory bells all had their
alternative uses. A weekly midwinter service schedule of 6.30am
Masses with Fr McKeon has left an early morning discipline leading
to a nowadays ethic of arriving on time, for his wrath was usually a
solo march on to the altar if you were late, with mum and the nuns
Funerals were a regular altar boy’s duty with a guaranteed mortal
sin chalked up if you hit the flickering flame hanging above the altar
gates with the big cross.
It was Harcourt’s mother’s death in 1967 that came as a sobering
jolt. ‘Bubs’, good fun and always rubber sprung, tough and athletic,
was to take me into his front room in Murray Street and we were to
say some prayers at the open coffin.
He pushed me into the room, not coming in himself, and the sight
of the dead body of someone known and always kind, was a shock.
The definite Mary Alice Harcourt RIP engraved Formica nameplate
on the upstanding coffin lid remains vivid.
Bikes in the bike sheds and boys tampering with them were a
constant sore for the Brothers. Our neighbourhood always biked
and called in for each other before school and at lunchtime - the
Connors, McBrides and others, four or five abreast over Eassons
Hill. Terry McBride always had to feed Chas’ chooks first, making
everyone late, but gate prefect Jimmy Costello was awake to that
The magic of secondary school meant the merging of Catholic
boys from all over the district. Dobson and Cobden kids had joined
earlier, now added to by Blackball, Runanga and Kumara-ites.
Town versus country events took on a real passion. Others joined
our class at various stages, including Harcourt and Pat Coll, adding
new ideas to teacher tricking tactics. Later, trial classes in sixth form
with the St Mary’s girls paved the way for the John Paul II merger
The teenage years saw a new ‘unholy’ trinity emerge - girls, rugby
league and pubs, replacing school, rugby league and the church.
These activities dominated life to a large degree for most in a time
warped by Dobson and Blackball mine closures, Strongman disaster
and Inangahua earthquake.
Legends developed - Mickey Keating, Sarto Malloy, Skippy
O’Donnell, Peter MacDonald, Jimmy Southorn, Jess Jefferies and
Pat Coll. The class based on the third form of 1966, in reflection,
was full of character and spark, with nothing ever harmful intended.
The many and various Br Herbert incidents, the class caning by
Hughie, the taxi rides, science classes, the rigged horse sweeps and
borrowing, not stealing of various items like a crate of Fanta from St
A class group conning Garry McGeady out of a whole box of jelly
babies at the tuck shop was a special highlight.
School Cert English sat in the Oddfellows Hall will be
remembered more for the concentration of most of the class on the
3ZA race commentating competition happening in the same week,
where most had targeted their study effort.
Or the visit of the Queen to Greymouth in 1970, where, as the
school’s rep at the Victoria Park VIP luncheon, I was cajoled
through gaps in the tent by schoolmates to make sure I collected the
unopened packets of Rothmans left on the table by Neville Tiller,
the local agent.
Alas, with blazer and trouser pockets bulging, my name tag was
taken on the way out by a Mr Etheredge of Reefton, who said to my
horror that he would remember what I’d done. Thankfully, Keating
and others dispersed the prize quickly and I expected the Inangahua
County chairman knocking on our backdoor for ages afterwards.
But getting back to the teachers, the people who had so much
influence in their hands. There were some kind-hearted and
understanding individuals. Brothers Charles, Osmund, Eugene and
Colin stand out.
Bro Kenneth, ‘Stumpy’ brought so many new ideas with him. We
sang Camptown Races, acted in The Mikado, went on special trips,
carved in lino, painted, wrote creatively and ran the tuck shop like a
business under his direction, making cream and jelly buns.
Stumpy’s special forte was encouragement and he drafted kids into
special roles in various musicals and sports; he had something extra.
For a shorty, he could also wield a mean cane.
His coupe de grace were the bottle drives and fundraisers. I live to
tell the story of travelling down the Brunner Track from Taylorville
to Greymouth on the back of a big green Monteith’s Brewery’s
Bedford, where he could only just reach the pedals.
Our group won many of his bottle drives, beating the Greaney,
Molloy and Fauth gangs occasionally by the odd dozen to enjoy
superb rewards for our efforts, an afternoon watching flicks in the
science lab supplied with plenty of Grogan and Blackmore’s and
It was as competitive as it could get. After Colin Tuck and I were
refused at a house in Lydia Street to take away a large supply of gin
bottles, as they were allocated to the scouts, his older brother John
and Dennis Gibson heard our moans and then went in to the very
house and collected the booty by saying they were from the scouts!
Marist boys were always enterprising.
On a serious note, Stumpy’s creative writing sessions lying prone
on the playground asphalt describing ants and insects, the emphasis
on excellent grammar and spelling, remain seriously useful today.
Good on you Stumpy for teaching us more about the world around
us than from textbooks.
And by the way, where is that Dean Carew crucifix you made us
raise all the money for?
Danny Spark leads the boys at the 1950 Marist reunion, as the parade passes Revington’s Hotel in Tainui Street.
The Marist Midgets in 1958.
St Patrick’s Parish confirmation class of 1962. From left, schoolboy with sponsor: Dennis and Mr Power, Kevin and Graham
Cooper, Chris and James Greaney, Garry McGeady and Andrew Pfahlert, Craig Radford and Jack Morris, Gerard Morris and Mick
Kelly, Tony Mundy and Wink Wakelin. In near front of schoolboys’ row is Maurice Pahl.
125 years of Marist education
Greymouth Marist old boys plan to hold a school reunion in early December to mark 125
years. Among them is Wellington PR man and former Coaster GERARD MORRIS,
who remains indebted to the nuns and religious brothers for steering him through his
formative years, from Primer 1 at St Patrick’s Primary School in 1957 to Form 7 at Marist
Brothers High School in 1970.
The Catholic compound in the 1970s -- clockwise from left: St Columba Hall, Dean
Carew Memorial School, convent, music block (two storey), St Patrick’s Church,
presbytery, St Mary’s High School, St Patrick’s Primary School (middle), Marist
Brothers High School (extreme left).
The Marist Brothers High School buildings -- the monastery, left, chapel, and classrooms. The brothers’ house has since been converted into a backpackers (now closed), and the classrooms are now part of John Paul II High School.
Links Archive June 23rd 2017 June 26th 2017 Navigation Previous Page Next Page