Stories from our past for Thursday 7 September 2023

This week in…

1863: The Gazette publishes a fictional story, “The Joker Outwitted,” by James Scott. It narrates the comeuppance delivered to an inveterate and unscrupulous practical joker: “it is not surprising that this peculiar kind of amusement got him into some ugly scrapes. One might naturally suppose that these little drawbacks would teach him caution, if not total forbearance; but no, he was too thoroughly devoted to this strange passion to be cured by aught but some powerful remedy. His disease was chronic in its nature, but there were those who knew how to treat it, and were busily preparing a dose for him which — but I am anticipating.” Read the full story here  .

1923: Fire gutted Picton Town Hall on Tuesday morning. It was first noticed at 6:30 when the flames were leaping out under the cornice at the south end of the building. Within 10 minutes a large crowd had gathered and Picton Fire Brigade had three hoses playing on the blaze in record time. The building was built in 1867 since which time it had been used as a theatre, town hall, fire hall and council chamber. A few years ago the electric wiring of the structure was condemned and it has been not used for shows or entertainments for some time. It is thought that defective wiring caused the fire.

1933: In the “back to school” issue, the Gazette cites enrolment figures: Picton’s public schools, Mary Street and York Street, have 465 students, to be taught by eleven teachers in total; PCVI has 291 students (56 per cent female). The principal of PCVI, J. H. Fox, offered encouraging words to the 104 incoming students: “Our duty as teachers is to help you to educate yourselves, not to force education upon you.” The majority of the students intended to take either a Teachers or a Matriculation (i.e., university-bound) Course. A number also declared for the Commercial Course, and a few chose the newly introduced General (one-year) Course.

1963: Columnist Phil Dodds describes the drive to get artificial ice installed at the Wellington Arena. “The first step has been taken. An artificial ice making machine has been purchased. Bought at a bargain price, it is already paid for” by Jack Campbell. The majority of the $15,000 funds needed to complete the installation are to be raised by selling $100 shares, in addition to community members’ volunteer labour and donations. “Wellington’s great record in the field of sport is well known. Enthusiasts feel that artificial ice will mean even greater laurels for the village and county. Completion of the Artificial Ice project would be a crowning achievement to Wellington’s Centennial year.”