My dad Geoff Brebner turned eighty last month and so we gathered in Coromandel Town to celebrate with extended family. My family’s roots are deep in the Coromandel, Port Charles to be precise, however my dad and his siblings were brought up in Avondale. Dad, went to Avondale Primary, Intermediate and College.
Pops, as dad called his father, was a veteran of WW1 having served with the Otago Infantry Battalion. He was also a founding member of the Avondale RSA and part of a committee that in 1947 organised a fundraiser which involved purchasing a brick for five shillings, and which for 2/6d could also have the benefactor’s name inscribed on it. As Dad recalls it, Pops bought a brick for himself and the younger four of his six children, all with their names inscribed.
Dad must have been about eight at the time. He recalls walking along St Georges Road with his dad to the Glenburn brickworks and saw all these bricks on pallets ready to go through the kiln, with names stamped on them. The raw clay was white and probably a bit too perfect for a mischievous 8-year-old, so young Geoffrey picked off some of the sharp corners of the bricks.
For 70-odd years these inscribed bricks stood as part of a brick wall at the old Avondale RSA premises in Layard Street, which was demolished in 2018. The bricks that survived the sledgehammer were relocated to an alley behind the RSA’s new premises in Rosebank Road, and there they remain.
A few months back, my husband John, having heard the story of the bricks, poked around and miraculously came up with two with the name Brebner on them. And one of them was Dads.
So, what do you give an eighty-year-old on his birthday? Old Spice? Socks? A nice cardy?
You give him a brick with his name on it.