Ronald (Ron) George Ebbett (County Club) Interview
Thursday September 24, 2013. This is Ron Ebbett, former President of the County Club, farmer from the Apley Road sitting here with his wife, and they are running through their recollections. Go Ron.
Now do you want the recollections from the County Club?
Wenda: Can you tell us when and where you were born?
I was born in Wairoa, but first of all I’ve got to correct what James has just said. I’m the grandson of the founding President of the County Club.
Good boy – yes.
Born in Wairoa 1934, with an older sister Janet and a younger brother, Kevin. Son of Harold James Ebbett and Doris Ebbett, nee Kittow, from Central Hawke’s Bay.
Wenda: Where were you educated?
We shifted from Wairoa to Dartmoor Rd at Puketapu in 1937-38. Went to the Puketapu School, mostly by ponies on fine days, sometimes taken by car, and caught a bus to Napier, to Napier Intermediate … Kevin and I, I don’t think Janet did. When we left we went to Wellington College starting in – I started in ’48, the year of the Polio epidemic. Kevin followed in 1950. Janet went to Iona before that in Havelock North.
Wenda: What were your occupations?
My occupation – well, we left school … we were expected to come home and help. Our Dad was a very bad asthmatic; worked a few cows so we were expected to come and help and raise some more lambs … to send to Britain after the war I think. So that’s where we started. That’s where we stayed, because we bought the farm next door in 1950, basically undeveloped. Dad’s brother, our Uncle Neal died when he was aged about forty-seven so Kevin and I leased their farm for a few years ’til cousin Mark was old enough to take it over.
Wenda: When did you get married and how many children have you got?
Yeah, met Wenda Chesterman who was nursing in Hastings. Got married in 1958, and she had four children up until 1967…. Helen, Kerry, David and Peter.
Wenda: Could you tell us the year you joined the club and your age?
Yes, well it must have been … what’s fifty years ago? 1963. The County Club always had a waiting list of members and they decided to change the rules and they took two big influxes every two years, letting thirty or forty members in each year. So we were introduced by our father and joined the club in 1963, and we’re to be fifty years’ membership in 2013.
Wenda: Who were your good friends at the time?
Oh, plenty of them.
Wenda: That joined, I suppose, at the same time.
Would you like to stop it here and take over Leslie? Ron and his wife – this is my brother Leslie Morgan.
Ron: Okay, so I left school in 1948, and well, it was expected in those days for sons of farmers to go farming. I think I’ve already said that our dad was a bad asthmatic and we had to … we were expected to go and help him. We milked a few cows and sent the cream to the Heretaunga Dairy Factory. So my occupation became a farmer.
I went to CMT training (Compulsory Military Training) at age eighteen, and then two camps over a couple of years.
When we joined the Club must have been 1963. The Club had a waiting list – it had a closed list of four hundred members but it had a waiting list of a couple of hundred trying to get in. So they let in over two years, they let in an influx of probably thirty guys at a time. So we joined with Campbell Jackson, Ken Treseder, [?], my brother and I amongst others, in 19…
We were good friends at the time, you know, I just mentioned a few of those, but some of the older members became great friends too, like the Dave Walkers, and the Roy Sewards and [the] Merv Alvey, and Gordon Amner – oh, there’s heaps of them – lot of fun, and the younger guys were all accepted by them, and playing a bit of snooker and they always helped you with your shots. The reason we joined the club was I think the Dads enjoyed it so much … the camaraderie and the fellowship … and thought we would probably appreciate it, and – might have been to keep us away from the rugby clubs or the pubs or something, maybe.
Yes, we did take part in a bit of snooker and billiards – often played in the Town and Country which is an evening in which we have the George Everett Memorial Cup for [?] Town and Country which I still have sitting on the shelf. Mainly went to the club Friday afternoon … Friday after shopping … because we didn’t have a whole lot more time. ‘Do you remember the days of servants?’ No not really, [chuckle] we didn’t have servants. The guys at the club were called stewards under a manager. The Visitors’ room was a bit interesting because that was … it was at one stage called the Strangers’ room, and the ladies didn’t like being called strangers [chuckle] so we didn’t get much participation from ladies, although at some stage when I was on the committee, we decided that the Strangers’ room would become the Visitors’ room and we even had a little mobile bar – self service bar built for that room, but it still didn’t really take off with a self service bar. There were a number of rooms – I never participated, but a lot of guys used to tell me that a bit of money changed hands in the card room. The reading room was always popular – called the Reading room or Library – there was always papers. That was all changed when the Club was getting … membership was growing, and the Club was getting too small so they extended the Reading room out to the … took away the front lawn and the palm tree that was on the front lawn, and the Reading room became a Dining room. And the bar was extended and the manager was … came from the Pacific Hotel. He managed the Pacific Hotel, built that big bar, and they built a replica of that because the little bar used to always … there was never enough room around it.
And wives were invited, yes, on Christmas and later years we had Club dinners, but it was always considered a man’s club, and it was hard to get lady members but we had lots of fun when we did have ladies nights.
I recall the U-shaped bar of macrocarpa that was donated over by Peter Grieve and I just spoke to him the other day because Brendan Webb – the journalist Brendan Webb built a new house overlooking Flat Rock at Tangoio, and when the wreckers got into the bar he bought a piece of bar. He bought all the doors in the passageway into the Club, and the old door latches and catches and he polished them all up, cleaned all the doors down. He’s got them all down the passage of his new home. He’s got a piece of the macrocarpa bar. He’s got – his office I think he calls the car, but he’s got the [?] on that, so it’s quite nice to see all that cleaned up. ‘What was the significance of the bar?’ I’m not sure about that.
Were meals always served at the club was the next question. No they weren’t, until the last ten or fifteen, maybe twenty years, a lot of guys went around there for lunch … a light lunch and played a game of snooker. It’s hard to keep in touch with older members now, because they’re nearly all gone.
Membership was closed off at four hundred / four-fifty. Resignation and deaths were slow, the waiting list to become a member was growing.
Slot machines were introduced some years ago and they helped a little bit with furnishings. But of course a lot of that had to be given to … whatever they called the outfit. The membership I consider was always middle of the road – few out-of-towners, quite a few farmers, but a lot of business people too, professional people. Been a little sad to see its demise.
Original digital file
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Interviewer: James Morgan, Leslie Morgan