Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 12, October 1969
By CYRIL GWILLIAM
Miss Leila Thorp's article on the Paeroa B.N.Z. [see Journal 9: BNZ Paeroa - E] brings to mind an authentic incident in which the writer took an active part many years ago. The scene in the first instance was a long disused room in the old Bank which stood on the site of Paeroa Motors. In the late 1890's till about 1907 it had been used as a refinery for bullion from the mines, and numerous bottles and copies of old records and correspondence still cluttered the many shelves right to the ceiling.
"Sammy", the Bank Manager, met "old Ben" in the street one day and the course of conversation went after this manner: "Look Ben, there's a small room at the back of the Bank I want to clean out. There are lots of chemical bottles on the shelves, some full, some part-full, but I know what they contain and I'm dead scared to handle them. If they are any good to you in assaying you can take the lot for a fiver". [£5 – E]
"Old Ben" decided to take a look and perhaps, a chance.
Shortly he called me up - "Son, bring up the little truck; I've bought a lot of chemicals up at the B.N.Z."
I duly arrived and assisted with the loading. In the meantime "Sammy" came in.
"What are you going to do with this room Sammy", says old Ben.
"Clean the whole place out", says 'Sammy', and make a bit more room for the staff to hang their coats on a wet day. All that junk and paper work on the shelves it's all got to go".
"Well look, here's the fiver,"says 'old Ben'", and if you like, while we're here we'll get all that stuff down, put it into sacks and sweep up the mess we make. By the way - there's an old half beer barrel half full of sweepings under the table as well. Do you want it?"
"No," says 'Sammy' take it out of the way - clear out the whole darned lot!"
So, 'Son' gets to work, heaves every thing to the floor, carefully sweeps down each shelf, not even missing the cracks in the lining boards. Then the bundles of records are beaten and bagged.
The furnace and floor are finally swept, and the sweepings added to the tub.
As we got into the truck "old Ben" looked back and solemnly remarked, "How I would have liked to get up and scrape the bricks-lining that furnace chimney! However I think I'll get my fiver back!"
The load went to the assay office and a couple of days later "old Ben" walked into "Sammy's" office, threw a lump of metal on the table and said, "There's a paper weight for you." "Sammy" picked it up, weighed it in his hand, and looked at "old Ben" quizzically.
Says "old Ben," "That's your 10 per cent of the clean up of the back room, - it's worth five pounds."
"And how much did you get out of it?" says 'Sammy'
"You're a Bank Manager, you ought to be able to work that one out. "Final thought of "Sammy" - "I wonder how much went out the door with each sneeze as I passed through that Room!"