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Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 27, September 1983

by R.J. HUGHES

A meeting of 24 locals on 26 February 1925 decided that a Club similar to others in the district be formed. Mr. Percy Williams was elected as the first President and it is interesting to note that among the names of those elected to executive positions were W. Marshall, G.P. Lamb, E. Edwards, R.S. Carden, G.H. Taylor and E.V. Slyfield. Mr. Percy Williams continued to be elected as President until 1936 and again 1937 to 1940.

We were often asked the origin of the name, "Orphan's Club", and the only explanation I have been given was that it was generally considered that the members felt that they were poor relations - Orphans of the "Savage Club". How true that is, I do not know.

Among the first items of business to be discussed, was the purchase of a piano and it was finally decided to purchase one at a price not to exceed £75 on terms similar to those offered by Lewis Eady Ltd. This was finally purchased for £10 deposit (from Kenneth Eady) and the balance was spread over two years.

At the second Annual Meeting we find further new names among the Officers, i.e. Brennan, Flatt, Cassrels and Porritt. I cannot find out where the original sessions were held, but it was evidently a place without water and heating, as, at a Committee Meeting held on 25 May 1925 it was moved that the two largest Primus stoves available, be purchased.

I find that at the fourth A.G.M. it was decided that the Club was now well established, and should be seeking their own permanent accommodation. It was to be the "Soldier's Club" and the Orphan's Club were to contribute £5 or £6 towards the cost of renovation. At the A.G.M. held on 1st May 1934, Bro. Samuel spoke at length on the necessity of steps being taken to provide a suitable Public Hall for the holding of various functions and that representations should be made to the Borough Council in the matter of a Town Hall being built. The Memorial Hall was opened in 1956 and so they had a long wait. Sessions after 1952 were held in the "Civic" and then the Druid's Hall and later the Memorial Hall.

In its early years the Club had its own Conductor and two official pianists, R. Flatt and W. Forrest. I know that during my time as a member, our Orchestra was always a very important part of session nights. Unfortunately with the passage of time and members leaving the District, our Orchestra passed into oblivion. This was later replaced by the Mouth Organ Band, and it was pretty good too, when you hear eight mouth organs combining. During the war years (1939-45), through members going Overseas and leaving the District, the Club was forced, in 1940, to go into recess and remained so until the first Committee meeting held on 14 February 1952. The new President was Mr. C.G. Jackson and the Secretary, Mr. A.E. Kinsella. According to the Minutes, it was due to the efforts of Mr. Cecil Jackson, Mr. R. Osborne and Mr. N. Wattan that the Club was revived again and from then, for many years, the Club had the full support of an increased membership. Mr. Jackson was a foundation member of the revived Club.

Checking through, I think I am safe in saying that Mr. Jim Brown is the oldest active member of the Orphan's Club. At a meeting held after the decision to function again, I see that Mr. Brown was elected as a Vice-President. That was 19 December 1951 and he was a financial member until when the Club ceased in 1981 - a good member.

The general idea of the Club was to provide some form of entertainment for the benefit of others. Unfortunately this was something that was hard to achieve. I think really it was a certain amount of shyness that held a lot back - a little afraid of criticism, and yet I have seen some wonderful performances and all by amateurs. There was generally a fair amount of humour and I think the funniest one was put on by Ray Clarke, on a Ladies Night. It was around the time that the Morrison Quartet was so popular and in his inimitable way, Ray was able to put it over that with considerable effort and expanse, he had been able to secure the Quartet. Immediately the hall buzzed with excitement. Then the curtains were pulled back, and there stood four lonely Morrison Motor Mowers.

Ladies Night.

Ever since the club's inception, Ladies Nights have always been very much in favour, both with the Members and the ladies, as by and large, the items provided have been very good. Away back, I see a couple were allowed to bring a further lady as a guest and the lowest charge for an additional visitor was 2/6, and this rose ultimately to 6/3. The extra visitor was finally stopped owing to the growing membership. I joined Orphans in 1959 and on Ladies Nights we had quite a job getting about 300 people around the tables.

Control of Sessions and Ladies Nights.

This was always something that was taken very seriously by the Controlling Committee and I feel that a good job was done by them. Two cases I can quote are:- Firstly a member misbehaved and was asked for his resignation. Secondly, an artist we had performing on Ladies Night overstepped the mark with his humour and was never invited to perform again.

Unfortunately, with the growth of television and "10 o'c1ock closing" membership dropped off rather quickly until the worst happened.

Suppers.

Over about 15 to 20 years from the Member's own choice, suppers were always a newspaper parcel of fish and chips. Bill Green would come down after the Session had started and count the number of parcels required – and they were good too. On one occasion it was decided to change to pies and being Secretary, I had to arrange the supply with Mrs. Wheeler and ordered 12 doz. That night our numbers increased and at about 7.30 p.m. I had to ring Mrs. Wheeler and order another 4 dozen.

Trips Away.

I can only talk of those trips while I was a member. These were a wonderful experience and such sociable occasions. One of the early trips was to Palmerston North for a biennial conference. Twelve of us left Paeroa at about 5-30 a.m. At this time it was 9-00 a.m. opening of hotels and we passed through Taupo too early and the first step was Waiouru. Everybody was very virtuous and had only one drink. Next stop was Taihape and this took much longer. On the trip again and the next stop, was Ohingaiti. I was a delegate to the Conference and here the biggest job I had was to get them on the way again. Naturally, Conference was late. We were at Palmerston North, Saturday and Sunday nights, and the first night the programme was put on by the host Club; visitors put on the second night. The most popular item on the visitor's night was given by Bill Pine. At the close of the Sunday night, two members played pianos and, believe it or not, before the night was finished, there were fourteen playing various instruments.

Over the years, our weekend visits were to Orewa, Gisborne (twice), Palmerston North and New Plymouth. At New Plymouth our bus was met by the local members and, as we came from Thames Valley, we had to remove our shoes and socks and go through a foot dip to avoid any possibility that we may have brought something from the Valley that would infect their cows.

That was alright, but afterwards we found that our shoes and socks had disappeared and we were led by the local Band and had to march bare-footed to the hall - hard on our feet, and sorting out our shoes and socks was even a bigger problem. You would have thought that we were a pack of kids, but this was all part of being a member of the Paeroa Orphan's Club. Regretfully, one must say, that one of the unfortunate happenings was when the Club finally folded up.

PAEROA ORPHANS CLUB - PRESIDENTS 1925 - 1981

Bro. P. Williams

1925 - 1935 and 1937 - 1940.

Bro. V.J. Innes

1936.

Bro. C.G.. Jackson

1952 - 53 - 54.

Bro. S.G. Wood

1955 - 56.

Bro. R.B. McLachlan

1957 and 1975.

Bro. W.R Pirie

1958.

Bro. M. Lally

1959 - 60.

Bro. R.C. Clark

1961 - 62.

Bro. J. Lally

1963 - 64.

Bro. H.C. Jackson

1965 - 66.

Bro. W. Overall

1967 – 68 and 1974.

Bro. W. Dean

1969 - 70 - 71.

Bro. J. Fraser

1972 - 73.

Bro. W. Overall

1974.

Bro. R. McLaughlin

1974.

Bro. Mellor

1975 - 77.

Bro. W. Grice

1978 - 79.

Bro. C. Amos

1980 - 81.