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Turning back the clock

By Don Farmer

[email protected]

It may still be quite a way off but the Cobblestones Museum exhibition planned for 2018 commemorating the wartime history of Greytown is definitely one to pencil in the diary.

News of the exhibition is starting to filter out and from all accounts some fairly unique items of memorabilia are already coming out of the woodwork.

These include an astonishingly well preserved dessert set, donated by retired Masterton woman Ngaire Gregor brought back to Greytown from Cairo by World War 1 soldier Paul Brickell.

Judging from a photographer published in the Times-Age last Saturday of some of the pieces the dessert set in pristine and features famous desert landscapes, the pyramids and the sphinx.

To be able to see it in person is something I am looking forward to and I would love to know the story behind its journey from the desert to Wairarapa.

It would not be hard to imagine how much care and effort the old soldier would had to have put in to getting the dessert set home in immaculate condition.

I wonder whether he had to lug about in his wartime luggage for weeks, perhaps months or even years in his determination to get it home.

What did he pay for it, and what is its value today?

Of course the dessert set will be only one of many items being exhibited and the organisers have put out a plea for come forward with items and information to help commemorate the soldiers and nurses on the frontline and also life in Greytown during the Great War.

I suspect they will unearth all sorts of things that have been locked away for decades.

They may not all be as unusual as the dessert set but nevertheless will add to the exhibition’s success.

During my own childhood in Greytown I recall children playing with genuine gas masks issued to World War 1 soldiers and carrying clothing and other bits and pieces around in kitbags the soldiers had returned home with.

It was not uncommon for households to have tunics or other army issue clothing, and bedding being used in everyday life.

No thought was ever given that one day these things could be looked on as exhibition items.

The truth is they now are.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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