Home' Greymouth Star : May 13th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - 7
PICTURE: Paul McBride
Gerry Glen ser ving behind the counter at his Karoro School Store.
From growing up at the Taylorville Store to running the Karoro School Store for the past 20 years, and lots in between,
Gerry Glen has more than a few tales to share. Reporter PAUL McBRIDE taps into just a few stories from this
colourful Brunner boy.
erry Glen has been
operating the Karoro
School store for 20 years
now and he is the first to
admit how fast time flies.
“ It seems just like
yesterday I took over the shop, and when
I look back I wonder where the years have
gone. All I can say there is a lot of water
gone under the bridge, that ’s for real.”
Born and raised in Taylor ville with his
older brother Russell, their mother Madge
Glen ran the local store in the riverside
Their father, Robert, was killed in the
Dobson Mine when Gerry was just 18
months old and it was left to his mother to
bring up her two boys alone.
“A large rock struck my father while he
was working alongside Harold Newby, at
Dobson. Harold later told me a fall of stone
came straight down from the roof and struck
him. That was in 1942.
“Mum ran the local store and raised
Russell and myself at the same time. She
had the first Four Square shop on the West
Gerry received his education at Taylor ville
School, followed by two years at Greymouth
Technical High School before taking up a
motor mechanic’s apprenticeship at Schaef ’s,
where he worked for the next 12 years.
“In those days you only needed two
years’ secondary and you could get an
apprenticeship. I went to Schaef ’s and
Russell went to work for Tim Harris as a
panelbeater. Joe Cunningham, the mine
manager at Dobson, had already put the
word out and made sure when we were
growing up there would be no mine jobs
anywhere on the Coast for Russell or me.
He was a good friend of my father’s.”
Growing up in the mining town has fond
memories for Gerry as he reflects on his
younger days at Taylor ville.
“ We lived in the bush every chance we got,
chasing possums with our dog called Chang.
He had a look of Chinese and had a tail like
a corkscrew. Probably with his tail he looked
like a pig dog but he was the best possum
hunter in Taylor ville by a country mile —
unbelievable,” Gerry grinned.
Gerry played rugby league through the
grades for Brunner and as a winger was
selected for the 15-year-old Kiwi team. He
eventually played seniors for Brunner.
“Brunner had a very good side back then
— Jock Butterfield, Trevor Kilkelly, Colin
McMaster, Johnny Menzies — a lot of good
players, and league was strong back then. I
think the highlight for me was scoring the
winning try in the 8-6 win over Runanga in
the grand final at Wingham Park.”
While he enjoyed playing the 13-man
game he also enjoyed playing rhythm guitar
for the local dance band The Ramblers, and
riding his motorbike into town at every
opportunity to meet up with like minds at
Frank Bell’s Milk Bar, in Greymouth.
“I was in The Ramblers band for five years,
and we used to play all the local halls and
dances. Terry Kennedy was on piano, Neville
Hay played saxophone, Bruce Sheldon was
on trumpet and saxophone, Errol Goodall
was on drums and later Bruce Tones played
saxophone as well.
“The dances were real popular, a sea of
bodies on the dance floor as we came in
right at the rock ‘n’ roll era. I spotted Dale
out on the dance floor wearing one of those
rock ‘n’ roll skirts — that ’s how things got
started,” Gerry chuckled about meeting his
“I know one thing, the skirt sprung out
because of the petticoat system the girls
wore in those days, and driving the car I had
to have my head out the window so I could
see where I was going, my word yes.”
They courted and eventually Gerry
and Dale married and together raised
five children — Graeme, Marisa, Stuart,
Michael and Phillip.
“Before I was married all the boys and
girls getting around at the time would
assemble at Frank Bell’s Milk Bar. There
would be lines of motorbikes parked outside
the milk bar — Ford V8 Coupes and
sedans. Frank’s was the place to be. We’d
park the bikes on an angle outside the shop.
I had an AJS 500 Twin at the time. Most
of the boys had bikes Dale Aldridge had
a Triumph 650, Billy and Peter Warren
both had a Matchless 350 — you name it,
everyone had a bike or an old Ford V8 back
“ We’d sit at the tables eating our
ice-cream sodas, or ‘spiders’ as they were
known, us on one side and the Beynon boys
on the other. We’d listen to the jukebox and
per v at the sheilas going in and out,” Gerry
“I remember the parfait amours, a tall
glass on a stem with layers of ice-cream and
filling with nuts on the top were a speciality
of Frank’s. They were happy days.”
Gerry Glen worked for four years at Dey ’s
Panelbeating before taking up a position
with Matai Industries, where he worked
from the old Shannon and Glen Bakery
“I worked on the new wheel alignment
machine that Dey ’s had recently installed
in the workshop, just as you came in the
door, over an existing pit. I was the wheel
alignment specialist in town, basically the
only one doing it in those days. When I was
there, Donny Macbeth, Graeme Sara, Billy
Cook, Ian (Buck) Buchanan, Pat Knowles
was our painter and we would go across to
the Duke (of Edinburgh Hotel) on a Friday
night and have a few beers — quite a few,
“After Dey ’s I was working at Matai
Industries, run by the Meates brothers, it
was an employment initiative the Labour
government had brought to town. I was in
the workshop making components for irons
and pressing out small metal toys. Matai
was quite a robust operation at the time,
employing a lot of people in the Regent
Theatre and Shannon and Glens. It only
lasted for a year, though.”
From Matai Industries, Gerry turned
his focus on to the brewing industry and
Westland Breweries, which was a big
operation in the early 1970s.
“ When I started work there in 1974 there
were 76 people employed in the breweries.
There was a good crew working down there,
some real identities. Bob Davies, from
Hokitika, was the brewer. The breweries did
all their own brewing and bottling then.
Bill Seguin ran the bottling plant then, the
filling and monitoring process, and there
would be the bottling line, checking the
bottles and putting them into crates.
“ When you started there as a driver you
did the town deliveries and worked your
way up. There were the country deliveries,
and bulk deliveries with the tankers. Freddie
Bachelor did the Nelson run back then. The
hotels would get tankers individually but
the trucks had the capacity to carry up to
four tanks, holding 270 gallons each. Bob
Chamberlain and Brian Groom did the
Haast runs. Bob Glover, Jock Allan, John
Cruse, Peter Burnett and Pixie Hayden were
driving the trucks.”
Driving the beer tankers became second
nature, and it was a routine operation
replenishing the many hotels requiring a
top-up for their tanks.
“Everyone had their set jobs, but if we
weren’t out in the trucks you would chip in
and help in the bottling plant. Bob Hubbard
and Cliff Smith did all the lines in the pubs
all over the place, as well as the installations,
while Bill Sweeney and Harold Newby
cleaned all the lines at the breweries and
looked after the tanks.
“O ld Chief Tuhurua used to make up the
brew, along with Peter Low — tip all the
grain into the vats — the mixture men.
Every night we had the quality tasting in
the social room as well — to make sure
the product was up to standard. It always
was and Friday night was always a big
night. After leaving the social room late
we normally did the pubs around town —
another quality control check for the boys!”
Gerry took over the Karoro School Store
in 1994. Twenty years in one place is a long
time for him, he says.
“ I’ve seen generations of mothers with
their children starting school come and go.
Now the children are bringing their children
to school, and I’m still here ser ving over the
counter and they all still call me Gerry,” he
In his spare time, Gerry enjoys his music
and for many years operating his video
camera has been one of his main hobbies.
“One of the first video cameramen in
town, I’d have to say. Filming the league
for many years with the ace commentary
team Smithie and McBride was rewarding.
It all started back on the No 2 ground at
Wingham Park and I just happened to be
trying my camera out. Marist was playing
Runanga and a brawl started near the flax
bush. Spectators joined in. We played the
game at the pub that night — it was a hit.
“ Basically, from that point on we covered
most of the league matches out at the park
for a number of years. We had a lot of
laughs. Like the time when a wild pig ran
out on to Wingham Park at half-time when
Runanga was playing Cobden-Kohinoor,
the boys started commentating, ‘It looks like
Bacon O’Neill, or is it Porkie Cain?. No, it
could be Ham Thompson, but it’s definitely
not Ham Monk — he follows rugby!”
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