At the December meeting, Vice-President Bill Glen invited members to take part in a short story competition. The subject was to be either a historical incident regarding the Blockhouse Bay area, or an incident pertinent to the beach and Yacht Club. Several anecdotes had already been related at the meeting, many very humorous, and the narrators of these were urged to “put it down on paper” and enter the contest. It was felt that all the members would almost certainly have something to contribute, and all the entries would be preserved in the archives. Ray Howlett was appointed judge and the contest closed at the end of January.
At the February meeting the judge said that over twenty entries had been received and how much he had enjoyed his task, learning much about the Blockhouse Bay area and its people.
The winning entries were:
“George Oxton’s Horses” by Brian Witton
“Motor Boats and Bands” by Trevor Welch
George Oxton’s horses
As narrated by Brian Witton
George Oxton was a man used to handling and looking after horses. Before he came to New Zealand he had served in the Cavalry during the Boer War. In the Cavalry, the care and grooming of your horse came before your own needs.
George bought a small farmlet in Karaka Street, which later became Bolton Street, where the Blockhouse Bay Intermediate is now. In the 1920s horses were necessary to work the land and he used them for working his holding. When he did not have work for the horses, George hired them out to the proprietor of the Avondale to Blockhouse Bay bus.
One day he was walking up past the bus which was stopped outside where the present Community Hall now stands. He recognised his horses and saw that they were in a poor condition. They were thin and had not been groomed for some time.
George removed the horses from their harness and led them home.
It is not recorded how the remaining people on the bus got home.
Motor boats and bands
As narrated by Trevor Welch
Doug and Max Taylor, sons of H. O. Taylor who had the large furniture store on the corner of Dominion Road and New North Road, were great supporters of the new Blockhouse Bay Yacht Club in its formative years.
The Taylors lived in Chalmers Street, Avondale, as did the Higgins and Cloughs.
Merv Clough, Ron Higgins and Doug Taylor were the Merondo Melodium Band that played for the Yacht Club dances and socials in the early years. With Merv Clough on the piano, Ron Higgins on drums and Doug Taylor on the piano accordion, they made pleasant music with a good beat for dancing.
The Taylors’ twin cockpit speedboat Mustang with its 100hp Chevrolet engine was a feature of the Bay in the early 1940s.
The Taylor brothers also had a flat-bottomed boat, driven by an air propeller, powered by a motorcycle engine. This was not particularly fast but it was a fun boat. It was unfortunately wrecked on the reef between Blockhouse Bay and Sandy Bay by Ron Walters, cutting the corner too close and hitting the reef. The mechanical parts were salvaged and taken home but the wooden debris was the basis of the next beach bonfire.
It was the Taylor brothers’ involvement that added Motor Boat to the Yacht Club name.