Sunday 24 July 2005
I was thinking about the old days and I remembered that our garden onto your old homestead, Richard and what fond memories ensued. There was Jock Brunton’s place at one end of the garden and later on, ‘Pussy’ Lahood lived next door. Then next were Barbara and her parents, and further still Ned and Mary LaHood and their sons and finally, Mrs Kelly and her grandson Jack. Further down were Mr and Mrs Smith and their dog that we called Toby Uzzah, and then Gordon George and his grocery shop.
Mrs Kelly always asked me to kill her chickens because grandson Jack was too scared to so. She told me that it was only a little bantam but it turned out to be a crazy of rooster that was so old it could have voted. She provided me with an old knife that wouldn’t cut butter and said, ‘Shid, Ya Maklool ul uzzah’ (put some power into it you weakling!).
Your brother, Anthony, always kept my dad company while he worked in his big garden. He would always ask, ‘What ya doin’ Ummie?’ and dad would answer, ‘Shoeing horses.’ So Anthony adopted this reply whenever he was asked a question.
Dick Joseph used to tell us stories in the Club at night sessions that were so funny we developed seriously sore sides from laughing. One was when he found a wallet in Christchurch and told Paul Hannah that he would share the contents with him. However, when he opened the wallet, it was empty, but Paul never believed him.
Paul Hannah himself also filled the old Cedar Club with laughter.
Lebanese humour, Carroll Street style, like the food, was unique and deserves to be recorded.
One of the oldest and best printing works in Australasia was Coull Sommerville and Wilkie. Their head office was in Crawford Street, Dunedin. My uncle, Tony Milne, gave fifty years unbroken service to them and was one of their key craftsmen. One of his fellow workmen was Walter Hudson who eventually became the member of Parliament for Dunedin Central. One evening, he was a guest speaker at the old Cedar Club in Buffalo Hall. During his speech he paid a glowing tribute Tony as the best master craftsman and lithographic artist in this part of the world. This received spontaneous applause as Tony was a respected and loved member of our community. Kindness and under statement were his hallmark. Typically, when one of our people hit a rocky patch, he received in the mail a letter from Tony which contained money and the comment, always walk on the sunny side of the Street. A rather diminutive man, Tony’s actions made him a giant in the eyes of others.
Our community, like others, had among its number many unsung heroes and heroines. Lizzie Mansoor was among them. Formerly a Dunedin girl, many considered her a saint because of her kindness to our young soldiers, Johnny George, Bert Arab, Eddie Ferris and Dick Sheehan, leaving for active duty in 1942. Lizzie plied them with Lebanese food and hospitality to lift their spirits before facing what was ahead. They never forgot her kindness.
At my twin sister’s funeral in Gore nearly twenty-five years ago a chap came up to me in the church yard and told me about Rona’s kindness in anonymously providing financial help to the families of unionists out on strike and really in need.
Lebanese picnics and other gatherings that filmed by Victor Coory provide a fascinating insight into the way we were. He has provided an invaluable resource for future generations.