A F B Lusk Club Home Trust Members Interview

Today is 1st May 2018. We’re interviewing a group of ladies from the Lusk Trust – the A F B Lusk Club Home Trust in Havelock North about what has happened in the past twenty-six years. Judith, would you like to start?

Judith Thornton: Right, thank you, Frank. So now we’re known as the Lusk Centre for brevity reasons, and our history does go back almost to December 1990, when there was a meeting in the Borough Council Buildings in Havelock North because it had been drawn to our attention as a community that there was a shortage of care for older people, and it had been noted in particular too, that there were people in Rest Homes who were lonely. And Lyn Barham had already become the convenor of a group, training quite a few of us, including me, to be volunteers visiting in a Rest Home. She had an office in the Borough Council Building, as did Ron Greenfield of the Police, so it was very central. Lyn in particular had a number of people come in who were really not destitute exactly, but in poor circumstances, and she was central enough to be very useful.

So in December 1990 there was a public meeting in that lovely chamber, which we all regret having lost. And that was the first time that I saw Sally [Lusk]. She seemed to be asleep. However, at the end of the meeting when it was agreed that something needed to be done and there would be a possibility of starting an Age Concern branch for Havelock North, Sally came to life and with this lovely burr, she spoke quite forcefully about the need for looking after older people. Sally had come from Arrowtown where she had been a town councillor, so actually she was a very experienced person and, as we found out, very thoughtful; and as her son, Tim Lusk, once said, “a driven woman”. So from that meeting arose a committee, in particular Gordon Gandell and Vic Constantine were involved, both previously working on Council Boards; one as an engineer, one as an administrator, I think. And I must have joined the committee at that point, and so we were just an Age Concern Committee.

However, Sally wanted to set up a home away from home for the community in general. She invited Trevor Webb, Jeremy Gresson, Marilyn, her daughter. When I say she invited them – she almost instructed them that they had to join I suspect, because as Tim said, she was a driven woman. And so the Age Concern attempt was very similar to what Sally was considering. However, Sally decided that she would like to have a home proper, as we were meeting in the Church Hall which has since been removed; and subsequently at Norah Lizra’s dining room table because we had nowhere else to meet. And Sally gathered a flock around her – and I think I can only describe it as a flock – of people … helpers … but also people who needed companionship, and so subsequently on 30th January 1992 the Club Home house was opened. Sally had financed it entirely from her own money, but as she said, it was really her husband Alan’s retirement fund – what do you call that? Superannuation. And she had her five children agree that they would help finance this very comfortable, and as we like to think of it, Art Deco home.

This is the home we’re in at the moment?

Yes, that is. It was quite a small house, but Sally’s flock grew and grew, and in the small dining room we were sometimes as many as fifty people. So Sally felt that Age Concern should move in with us in this home because it was much better than Age Concern could provide at that stage, because we had joined together as a committee, and that was really because Sally encouraged Vic Constantine so much, that [quiet chuckle] in the end he couldn’t say no.

Sally had hoped some of us residents would provide $5,000 each. It seemed a lot of money at the time and the response was somewhat limited. She decided to go ahead on her own, so once we were established here – we were mainly volunteers – the office was manned quite carefully and particularly by Ron Greenfield, who lived here for a short time. And the need for expansion of the house was pretty important, and so it was discussed at a meeting that we should have a verandah built behind the dining room so that there was more seating possibility. And when we came to the next meeting, to our astonishment we found that the verandah was under way, although the vote had not yet been taken. [Chuckle] Age Concern was most generous; they contributed to the cost of that verandah. Subsequently, as you can see, the verandah was converted to a [an] activities room; and that really comes later, but it was Hamish Thompson who was the Clerk of Works for that. Marilyn Lusk was much involved, and – I don’t know that Marjorie Staunton-Dean was our chairperson by then – I don’t know. Anyway, it has created a lovely activities venue; we consider we’re very lucky, and we’ve had quite a considerable procession of volunteers, each doing what they like to do.

Getting back to Sally, she had such a knack of drawing people in; and very often you would think you wouldn’t be able to comply with whatever she’d asked you to do, but somehow she persuaded you so easily that you could. She had a lovely American burr in her voice and she had an absolutely sparkling and lovely laugh. You could never forget her – an amazing person. She had a congenital hip problem which she said should have been attended to when she was very, very young in the States. She had grown up in Lee, Massachusetts, in a range of hills that I’ve visited since; and I wonder whether she was influenced perhaps by the Shaker movement that was in that area at the time; quite a strong movement in the States in those days. So she went to an agricultural college, but she told people also that she had been to college in Maryland, in College Park, where actually our daughter became a Professor at the university, which we had visited also. So I like that closeness to where she came from.

Well, as a group, how does it finance itself? How does it keep going, because obviously there’s an ongoing cost? Do those that come here pay a sub? [Subscription]

Well, Sally was absolutely adamant that this must be voluntary and that people would not be charged. And I don’t think the law allowed you to demand membership fees. Vic Constantine was always onto this, and finance was a great problem; and indeed our first Hostess/Manager, Marie Evans, who was a trained nurse and who was very suited to the job – her employment had to be discontinued because of financial worries. And I think that trying to fund two organisations, not in competition with each other, but it became very difficult. And in fact the women who contributed as much as they could in the way of hand-work or … I suppose jam-making [chuckle] which wasn’t very profitable of course … we really found it very difficult to keep up.

Do you get any support from the DHB, or help with it?

Ah, yes – from Internal Affairs in particular. Once Sally asked me to attend a meeting with a person from Internal Affairs who was one of the funders; and she said, “Oh, perhaps we could open a dairy as a fund-raiser.” Well, none of us had heard of this possibility before and luckily we didn’t hear of it again, because with the driving which was all voluntary; a lot of the catering was voluntary; the first three or four Christmas parties we had were free of charge at Duart House, and volunteers provided the food. So a lot was voluntary; that couldn’t have lasted forever, but Sally of course didn’t know. Because she died in 1999 she didn’t know that we had had to make requests for funds, or fund activities in general. Sally’s initial idea was that people would come here and entertain themselves, but it turned out that that really wasn’t possible because of disparate interests. There was a group who would come on Saturday afternoon and entertain themselves, but generally speaking, Sally was here at least six days a week, and often seven. And out of that grew a Sunday group, and Glenda Smith, who’s going to speak soon, was very much involved with that, and her husband, David. I can recall at least two occasions when Sally had to be here on Christmas Day because there were a couple of people who she felt needed to be looked after; so Sally’s entire family were here on Christmas Day as well. So her requirements were … she was hard on herself, and also asked, but so very nicely, for help from volunteers.

Glenda Smith: Thank you very much for giving me the chance to talk about Sally – she was very special to me. She’d ring me three or four times a week looking for my husband; he was such a busy entertainer in those days – had his own band when he came here to Havelock [North], but he didn’t advertise. So he managed to spend more time with voluntary work, going around the Rest Homes and entertaining.

But one day, Sally was out at the gate talking to Ron Hill. Now, Ron Hill was a major caregiver of Sally – he would be here doing her odd jobs and keeping her company; looking after her, ‘cause she was late at night on her own, alone here at the Club Home; and she relied a lot on Ron Hill. And Davy stopped to talk to Ron Hill, who was in musical things like Gilbert and Sullivan with him. And Sally – as soon as she found out that he was a singer, she got him along here, but she couldn’t get him back; he was too busy – he was all over Hawke’s Bay – Waipukurau, Waipawa. So she’d ring me to try and book him in, but she couldn’t ever get him ‘cause he was booked several months ahead. So she had this grand plan that she would bring me into the Lusk Club home, and she invited me along to a barbeque. So that was my introduction to the Lusk Club Home. Then she said, would I like to work beside her? And I wasn’t quite sure that I was able to do that, ‘cause I was still working on orchards around Hawke’s Bay to help my children to finish their schooling. But she said, “I’ll get you a wage – it’ll take a little time, but I will get you a wage.” And so I came to help her voluntarily for about six months or so, Judith? It was quite a long time before she had Jillian in as Manager, and she managed to get me a wage.

But I still remember the first day – she gave me this lovely job of cleaning out the larder. [Chuckle] And Ria [?Kerr?] came in and said, “Oh, I’m so pleased to see this done, it’s a wonderful job!” Well, of course I was very good at cleaning; I had eight children and I was quite a master of the art – anything to do with the home – but I had no idea how to help Sally at the Lusk Club Home so I had to learn from the people. And she asked me to help her in the office, ‘cause I’d been a typist in my younger years before getting married, and I had great difficulty following her words and typing them up. She had a unique way of writing letters; I don’t think it was quite Americanised, was it, Judith? But it was quite different, wasn’t it? And I used to think I had to change it into English; but that never happened, because people for fundraisers actually enjoyed her type of personal writings. And I’ve got a letter here which I thought you might like to have a look at and copy, because it’s a ‘Thank you’ to all the volunteers.

Now, we had a great lot of volunteering in those early years. Sally would have us in Havelock North, and right in the middle of Havelock; and great tables, and we’d bring the folk down and they’d all have their little time-sharing in looking after the tables and sewing things. So we became quite well-known in the Havelock area at that particular time. And Lyn Barham was a great fund-raiser, and I still remember her and David singing in the middle of Havelock; and dancing and singing and performing to bring people’s attention to the Lusk Club Home.

Johanna Lizra: Right. I’m Johanna, and I was introduced to the Lusk Centre by the Avon Lady who happened to be a member here at the Lusk Centre. I was incredibly lonely, having left New Zealand at the age of twenty-two … Registered Nurse … returned with my family at the age of forty-seven. And Trish introduced herself and told me about the Lusk Centre and said, “Why don’t you come along? But I will speak to the Assistant Manager”, who was Glenda. So Trish brought me along and introduced me to Glenda, who was absolutely lovely; she said that there was always a place for someone else. So I started here, helping out, fitting in where I could as a volunteer. I was taught to play 500 by one of our most amazing members called Muriel Rudkins; [chuckle] and she taught me well. Glenda had a problem with the mah jong group – it was quite extensive, but sometimes there weren’t enough people to play, so she said, “Why don’t you learn to play?” I have to say, Glenda, I really didn’t enjoy mah jong very well, but I was happy to help out. [Chuckle]

When I came here, every room was bursting. We had people in every room. We didn’t have the extension at the time, and I couldn’t believe how many card tables we could fit in that tiny room. Glenda used to produce the most amazing afternoon teas, and we would hand out the sandwiches and the cakes, and everyone … it was and still is, an extended family. I felt the love, the warmth, [noise on recording] and people just looked out for each other. If someone wasn’t well and they would return to the Centre, you would hear about the many phone calls; people would be phoning up to make sure they were all right. And you really felt that you were a part of this family, and I believe that that was Sally’s … that was what Sally wanted us to be – just a family.

I have seen many changes over the years. I was helping Glenda; I was her volunteer on a Tuesday and Thursday. And I’m not sure how it all came about … oh, yes I do. Jillian had retired and a new manager was to come in. And that was when Diane came; she was the new manager. Glenda remained on – I hope my memory’s correct – Glenda remained here along with David, who, I might add – I don’t drive, and both Glenda and David used to take me home after a Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. I’m pretty muddled, aren’t I?

But Diane came along, and of course that was a new era in a way, because Jillian had been here for so long. But we had Glenda here who knew the ropes, and Judith, who was always here making her jams and helping out folk, helping me – we help each other.

I was approached by the new Chairperson to see if I would be able to help Diane. Actually no, that’s not correct; I’m sorry. Trish Webbley at this stage had become the Thursday hostess because Diane didn’t work on a Thursday. And after a few years Trish Webbley retired, and that is when I was approached and asked if I would take over the Thursday afternoon, to which I said “Yes.” It was wonderful; I mean, this place was my life. It kept me going. You know, I was quite … relatively young, I suppose … I wasn’t quite fifty … forty-seven, forty-eight when I first came here. But these people are my friends; they’re my family. And yes – they saved me.

When you think about it, loneliness is not peculiar just to elderly people.


And it’s really quite touching that you came as a person that this was created for, and ended up being very enthusiastic. And you know, you said, “I don’t think I’ll have anything to say”, but what you’ve said’s been very, very nice.

Oh! Well, I became the Thursday hostess, and I continued to be the Thursday hostess. I’ve been here for, what – sixteen years nearly; and I have now become the Assistant Manager to Diane. I work here on a Monday and a Thursday; I volunteer here on a Tuesday afternoon for our quiz sessions, which are a huge success; we have lots of very enthusiastic quizzers here. That in itself has led to a big fundraiser event that we have started – an annual quiz evening, which has helped us to put in our disabled toilet.

And I have to tell you a story; trying to get the community to support us in our big fundraisers meant us going out asking the folk here if they would be able to donate. Our first quiz night happened to coincide with that terrible outbreak that we had with the water … the water problem that we had. And those businesses were really, really struggling; I mean they really were, but they still supported our quiz night. One in particular was Bellatino’s, owned by an American gentleman, and when I told him the story of Sally, he said, “Say no more! She’s American; she’s one of mine. [Chuckle] I’m going to help.” And then he donated a wonderful hamper. So it’s the community working with us as well that is just lovely.

Thank you, Johanna. Now Diane, do you feel that you could say something yet?

Diane Leighton: Oh, I could probably …

I think you should, actually; this is Diane, the Manager.

Yes. I was employed to modernise and bring us into the twenty-first century, so I came fresh from university. I got my degree for my fiftieth birthday, so [chuckle] had a little bit of experience. But I loved Sally’s philosophy. I’d been primary caregiver to my husband before he passed away, and I knew I wanted to work with well elderly; I’d done my stint with people who were sick. And Sally’s philosophy that everybody was welcome and everybody was worthy to be loved and be part of the community, was exactly … exactly what I wanted. Yes, there was a bit of opposition … scared of a computer; they didn’t really want a computer in the place. When I arrived, the desk was a dressing table, so I worked at a dressing table for about two or so years. [Chuckle] And then they wanted the place to be in a computer, yes; and that was treated with an awful lot of suspicion – you know, their names were going to be splashed all over the world, and corrupted and things like that. And I wasn’t really particularly computer-literate; only from having to use it at university, so I wasn’t at all opposed to their ideas, either. However – yes, so when I came it was very surprising – there were very little procedures; there was very little policy; there was no accident or incident book, or health and safety things. And we had this terrible kitchen where the oven opened up, opened in the passageway; and two little elements. So anyway, so I joined in. Glenda was there, and she helped me understand and work through, and so we worked together on the Wednesdays.

And [?] was a mind [mine] of information. She knew all the works and everything, so she was really my tutor once I started work. I had some wonderful … met some absolutely wonderful people; Muriel, who taught Johanna how to play cards. I remember us playing scrabble one day, and with as straight a face as you could imagine, told me that “this word – that’s how you spell it”. And I looked at it, and I’m not really a word person – couldn’t place the word at all – but anyway, I’ve accepted. It was at the end of the game that she told me [it] was completely made up so that she could use some letter. [Chuckles] She was a real character.

We had a change of Chairman, and Marjorie Staunton-Dean took over and she was very work-driven. But she was also a perfectionist. And we had this new kitchen put in which legally dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s so we were allowed to cook in there. And there was a lot of consultation that went into that.

Oh, and our new garage. I went into the garage one day and I thought, “My goodness, the garage looks untidy!” Then I realised that the roof beams inside had actually fallen down and the things that were stored up on the beams were all on the floor. And so we obviously needed a new garage; and I actually watched … the frame was up in the garage and I watched this workman quite literally just tap it, one corner of it; and the whole thing fell down in a whole cloud of dust. It was just rotten to the core, [chuckle] so we got this wonderful new garage.

At the Lusk Centre we celebrate everything and anything. We love to celebrate; we have parties at the drop of a hat. So we had a celebration for the opening of our new garage; we had a celebration for the opening of our new kitchen.

Well, why not?

Absolutely – why not? Yes – the van was a wonderful … and remains to be a wonderful thing. A lot of organisations who don’t have the transport, they lose a lot of members because they haven’t got the ability to pick up people. But our van has got a seat in it, and again, this was Marjorie Staunton-Dean; she says, “If we’re going to get this van” … which we got at a very reasonable cost from Hawke’s Bay Trust for the Elderly, and we had this lifting seat put in, so that anybody, again, could be involved whether they could get up and down the steps or not; we would just hoist them up on that … [hydraulic lift]. Lyn’s husband [David Barham] drove it for a while.

Have you thought of anything more you would like to ..?

Judith: I’ll think of it tonight in bed, no doubt.

Diane: We haven’t talked about our entertainers on a Wednesday.

Judith: No.

Who’s going to talk about those?

Well could I just introduce it? As I mentioned, Sally had the idea that we would entertain ourselves, but it became apparent that it needed to be more structured than that. So I suggested Wednesday entertainment because there was already Monday entertainment elsewhere in the village, and Friday entertainment; so Wednesday has remained Entertainment Day. And Glenda and David between them have presented a lot of that entertainment … music entertainment … and then more recently we’ve had more talks, and other entertainers as well. And Diane does a wonderful job organising that with the help of Laura Baker. They too [also] arrange the outings with a lot of, I think, great enterprise, and of course, one of the outings recently was to the Knowledge Bank, so that’s the sort of outing that we like to have, and this [the interview] is the result of it.

Yes. Are you going to talk about the entertaining?

Glenda: David and I did every Wednesday for entertainment, and we thought, seeing that we had such a broad experience of entertainment throughout Hawke’s Bay, that we would bring along outside entertainers every fortnight, just to make it more interesting for everyone. And I think one particular entertainer that came over was Ernie Rouse, who many elderly really had gone and danced for through balls, and knew so well; and he would bring singers also from Napier. But David, being in almost every choir and musical show in his younger years, had great contacts and we never had any trouble finding people who would do things for us. And they would quite often do it voluntarily back in those days, which was a great help as we had limited income.

But David also entertained round all the Rest Homes, and had … though he did it free and voluntarily, he was given a token for petrol. And we would use these when people came from further afield to entertain us – we’d give them a token from David’s pocket. [Chuckle] So it was really handy that he kept up his entertaining around the Rest Homes. [Chuckle] But we initially did that entertaining at Duart Hospital and places locally, for just a pot of jam. So it became traditional here to give a pot of jam to the locals for entertaining, and of course when they came from further afield we had to give them a petrol token as well.

So we had a lot of fun, and fortunately, it’s put in Sally’s letter: ‘What a different history and shape today if you had not come to our rescue and to our delightful enrichment. Life is such fun with you around, too. Please stay with us for keeps. My love, Sally.’ So I rather treasure that; it was her unusual way of speaking to us. But she really loved David because he brought so much fun. And I’ve been quite impressed with Diane, who’s brought in some great decorations to help liven people’s lives on a Wednesday and make our singalongs so much more fun; and also, I think you look up the odd joke for us. It was always traditional with Sally to have a joke on a Wednesday, and that was fine until computers came in and we had one gentleman from Mason Village who would bring along the jokes that Jillian wouldn’t read out; Margaret and [?] wouldn’t read out. [Laughter] They were just not the sort of jokes that …

Johanna: They were censored.

Glenda: [Chuckles] They did need censoring. So we still bring along jokes, don’t we, Diane? But we do censor them first to make sure they’re appropriate. [Chuckles]

Do you have anything else you’d like to say, Johanna?

Johanna: No, I don’t think so.

Judith: Back to Sally – it was important to her that we didn’t have religious hang-ups here, even though she herself had been a missionary. I understand that she was a Baptist missionary, but first she worked in a school. And of course her training was in agriculture, so I think that her missionary enterprise was more on the agricultural scene. In her later life Sally became a Franciscan, and that gave her a lot of pleasure; and that really suited her, I think, as a person. At her funeral, which was held in St Luke’s Anglican Church in Havelock North, Vic Constantine summed up her life so well; he said that Sally saw every problem as an opportunity. And I just feel that ties it up very nicely.


Glenda: Can I say something about Johanna? So many people benefitted from the Lusk Club Home. I can remember when the lady was brought along from … the Men’s Club, actually; little Dawn brought this lady along because she had just shifted from Wellington; she was very lonely. And in Wellington she used to be an extra on films; take the train out to the venue, and she was a very active little lady. So when she came along here she gave a lot to our Club Home. Peggy; do you remember her, Judith? She dressed up as a fairy, and one day for my Wednesday, Diane, she mannequinned clothes. And David played little intervals, and she got changed and came out. She was a character; but not only that, she found that friendship and love. There were three particular ladies who used to get together every Saturday in each others’ homes, and they built a very strong friendship. And that’s what the Club Home has done for all of us. David and I have worked so hard, but it took Johanna to show us how much we needed help one day. And we came to the Club Home with David’s problems, and Joanna took it all in her stride. She left us in this little room, and she managed to cope with David’s sister who had a few little problems that for us … with court cases and goodness knows whatever else, but Joanna saved David’s life that day, and we’ll never forget. The Club Home was somewhere you could come and you were safe and you were secure.

Diane: We’ve had one lady who reached one hundred years; Doris. She was [an] absolute sweetheart … absolute sweetheart … and she loved poetry, and to sing. ‘Doris Bluebonnet’, was it – was that her song? No …

Glenda: ‘Sweet little Alice Blue Gown’.

Diane: Ah, ‘Sweet little Alice Blue Gown’. Oh, she was a sweetheart, and her daughter now is a member and is equally so a sweetheart. And Annie Hill – goodness, she must be about ninety …

Glenda: Eight.

Diane: Yes, she was – ninety-eight. She did the most beautiful quilling work, and one year she presented me with over $400, wasn’t it? Over $400 – she had made cards and sold them.

Judith: It’s Judith again – shall I just say that we’ve had over the time such a lot of people come from England to be with their families here, and somehow they’re less reluctant to come over the doorstep than some of us who are Kiwis. And so Muriel Rudkins has been mentioned; Doris Carr has just been mentioned; and Anne Hill has just been mentioned. They were three women who went through The Blitz in London – must’ve had awful times. It was quite hard to draw them out on their experiences, but Anne Hill and her husband who came from Yorkshire, had just established a dairy-type shop in Croydon. Muriel lived very near London also; her husband was in the Forces but maybe stationed in England still at this time. And Doris Carr, the lovely singing angel, lived in what she called ‘Hoole’, and we call Hull; and she said that the bombers as they were leaving London, if they hadn’t discharged their load, would drop it over Hull on their way back to Germany. Those three women must’ve had really hard lives, and yet they’ve all lived either to their late nineties, or in Dorothy’s case to a hundred. We really admire them. And there’ve been lots of others, too, who have come from England and that’s been of benefit to us all because we’ve learnt such a lot from them.

Diane: There’s been some wonderful histories and wonderful stories of our folks that’ve been through here; they’ve had some tough lives, and yet they are very positive; a lot more endurance, I think, than the generations that are coming up..

Glenda: What I’d like to add to Diane’s little piece is the fact that many, many folks who came through here, their children were so grateful for what we did for them and the time we spent on them, that they came back and helped us in the gardens. I can think of two or three that I played tennis with that came and helped here. So when we bought mah jong, she came here; I had her contact at home and I asked if she’d like to come along and teach us mah jong. And at one time we had two groups here, playing mah jong. But her daughter came and she helped in the garden. And then there were others that followed – Jackie Peacock; Muriel – one of our first, most elderly members that came would come every day of the week except Saturday. And her daughter came back and helped too, with cooking in the kitchen.

But in the very early days, Sally was very involved in the Sunday group, and we would make a soup on Friday, she and I, and everyone on a Sunday would only have to make some sandwiches in the toaster, but it was with the lot inside them – toasted sandwiches. They would have that with the soup, and that’s all they got on a Sunday. But then we came along, with people … little Annie started bringing sausages along and others added to those menus until we had roast dinners on a Sunday. One particular lady was so amazed, because all week in her own little home she ate sandwiches, but Sunday was the only day she got a roast dinner and it was here, at the Club Home. So Sundays became a day that they could ‘specially enjoy for the food that they couldn’t manage themselves.

Judith: [?Ishmel?] contributed a lot to that, too.

Glenda: Yes, [?Ishmel?] did Sunday dinners.

But holidays – there were never holidays, we never had any. It was always open when Sally was here because she felt that other things closed, like Age Concern and the shops.

Judith: The shops closed early.

Glenda: She felt they needed somewhere to come, and that’s why she started her Christmas Dinner. And David would perform for Christmas Dinner from Rotary in town with – who was it? Rotary? And then they’d come on here, and sing here with his daughters afterwards. But I was very thrilled when Marjorie carried on the Sunday Christmas Dinner for those who were alone; it was really lovely.

And holidays – Jillian had a holiday [in] January, but we kept it going right through Jillian’s holidays. And even if we only had a barbecue for Christmas/New Year … we even opened over the New Year with a New Year barbecue. Sally wouldn’t let them be alone and lonely, so it was amazing how much people felt this was their home away from home.

Well it’s wonderful that you know, the original idea has carried on, and on, and on due to the effort that you girls plus others put in, maintaining the direction of the Trust.

Johanna: I can see [?] [noise on tape, deleted] sitting across; she would be my 500 partner, and no-one wanted to go against Muriel because Muriel at the age of ninety-plus knew what everyone had in their hand, and when the last card was put down she’d say, “That’s the six of spades.” And I’d look and think, ‘She’s looking in my hand!’ [Chuckle] But I’d look at Dot and Dot’d look at me, and she’d say, “I’m firing on all cylinders. Don’t worry.” [Laughter] We would have so many laughs. And we still have many laughs; that hasn’t changed. You know, the spirit on the Centre has remained, I’m sure, as it was in Sally’s time, and that’s the beauty of the Lusk Centre. It is a home away from home, and it’s just been a pleasure being a part of it for myself.

David, would you like to just say a few words? What it was like to be behind the accordion?

David: [Chuckle] Oh, well it’s almost second nature these days, but yes, in the beginning it was a bit of a learning curve. But singing with it sort of took away from all the bum notes, hopefully.

Glenda: Tell us about that lovely lady who got us the amplifier and speakers for our entertainment. She sold her beautiful doll, didn’t she, Diane, and bought us a speaker and microphones, amplifiers. We had it all set up and it’s lasted all these years. They were the first couple to win the award …

Judith: Oh, the Civic award. The couple who practically established the Women’s …

Diane: The Women’s Refuge.

Judith: They practically established that. They worked through the night on that. They lived in Te Mata-Mangateretere Road; and I just can’t bring up her name.

Glenda: I remember taking her home. [Chuckle] It’s a long way, as you know, Frank; it’s a long way out on Waimarama Road.

Diane: And she sold her beautiful … was it a doll collection, or just one doll?

Glenda: It was one doll; it was [a] very special, antique doll.

Diane: Right.

Glenda: We had a photo, didn’t we, Judith?

Judith: Yes. It is here, we could find it.

Well speaking of that being a long way to drive, remember …

Glenda: Oh – you and I went to Taradale to pick up an entertainer.

Judith: Oh, that was a few times, but one of our people who had the egg farm – who was it?


Yes. She walked to school from Mangateretere Road every day, to Havelock North School.

Diane: What, Lorna?

Judith: Lorna Mitchell, yes.

Yes, her maiden name was McRobbie, and they lived on Te Mata-Mangateretere Road.

Diane: She wouldn’t’ve been the only one.

Have you anything that, you know ..? We’re starting to just run out of some ideas.

Glenda: I can think of three or four women who would have trained as singers … members … if it hadn’t been wartime.

Diane: Doris – she would’ve been …

Judith: Yeah. Brenda Cole was another.

Glenda: Oh, Brenda Cole was the one that played beautifully – the piano, wasn’t it?

Judith: I never heard her play the piano, but I knew she would want to – she wanted to be a singer.

Glenda: David, what was the name of the lady that played the piano?

Judith: Oh – who lived in Guthrie Road.

Glenda: She rode into the wrong gateway.

Judith: She was nearly blind.

[Speaking together, unable to distinguish]

Diane: I heard about her – it was before my time.

Judith: You know, there were a lot of people who really had seen difficult times. Oh, best of all I love Muriel’s story in war time, and how she described it. Her husband, Les, was dressed in khaki, I know that; so he came home on leave. He must’ve been in England, not overseas. And they said, “Wouldn’t it be lovely to get away from the bombing?” So they got onto their … it must’ve been a dual bicycle – what do you call those?

Johanna: Tandem.

Judith: Tandem, yes. And Jackie Peacock was in a sidecar. And they decided they would go to Cheddar. That is a long way from London – more or less central to Cheddar, Jackie in a sidecar. They hadn’t got very far when the sidecar developed a puncture and of course there was no possibility of a new tube, so they filled the tyre with grass and continued on their way to Cheddar. And they reached there, and on the very night they got there Cheddar had its first air raid, so they had not escaped the air raids. But what enterprise! And that really illustrates the sort of person that Muriel Rudkins was.

Yes. Well that’s lovely.

Judith: Well apart from the people who came from Britain, we did have another American woman named Laura Ruben, and it was she who bought Sally’s bach at Kairakau to help finance this place. And she wrote an article for our little magazine every month. It was always about the outing we had done, but perfectly executed; she had a lovely flow of language. Of course, we didn’t really need to know about the outing after it was over, but it was just that she described it so beautifully that we all enjoyed it.


Glenda: And the entertainers; she always wrote up about our …

Judith: Yes. Yes – any activity she wrote about, yes. Any activity she wrote about. A lovely, lovely woman who really brought a lot of joy to many of us, me in particular because it seemed to me funny that our daughter’s child spoke broad American, but her daughter’s children spoke Kiwi, because she came to join her daughter here. So she was yet another who came to join family here.

Sure. Okay, well I think probably that gives us a thumb sketch of the Lusk Centre.

Johanna: Oh, we did have here [?] [noise on recording] who was the first piano tuner … female … in New Zealand.

David: That’s right. She tuned pianos down at the [?].

Diane: And she was self-taught, because it was war time, and there was such a shortage of people to do that.

Johanna: Yes. So we had many firsts here. Because it was wartime and there was such a shortage of people who could do that.

Diane: And we still have Sally’s piano which is in beautiful condition. We get it tuned every other year, and it’s still in beautiful condition and gets a lot of use.

Well that’s wonderful, and thank you for keeping on with such a wonderful facility. I think at this stage I’ll wind it up and say thank you Judith, Glenda, Diane and Johanna for putting together … it’s only a young Centre as far as history’s concerned but it can be added to over time.

Judith: Yes. Well may we thank you, Frank, and the Knowledge Bank, for giving us this opportunity, but may we also – finally – thank the Lusk family for their exceptional generosity, and what they’ve done for us personally, and for Havelock North and the Hastings area.

Oh, that’s wonderful – thank you.

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Interviewer:  Frank Cooper

Closed July 2021


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