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Stan Wenban

By May 2, 2012No Comments

By Freda A. Wenban 1988.

These are true facts often related to me while he recollected over his younger days.

F. Stanley Wenban, eldest son of Frederick Henry Wenban (our old grandfather), was born at Red Hill on their selection.  He later shifted down the road to Meranburn and when Stan was about 18 they all came to live in Manildra opposite to where the Manildra Bowling Club now is.

When Stan was a young man after coming to Manildra to live, he used to earn his living trapping rabbits and shooting foxes around the hills and flats within walking distance.  When he was 23 years old he married Edith May Cole in Old Manildra.  They had a family of five children – Isabel, Freda, Fred and Marie (twins), and Ruth.  Young Fred was named after Frederick on the family tree, which had been handed down the four generations to the eldest son.  Stan being the eldest son of Frederick Henry inherited it when his father died aged 101.  It will now be Frederick Richard’s as Stan has died; then will be Frederick Myles’, then Luke Curtis’.

When Stan and Edith had Isabel and Freda, he got a job as handy man working for Mr Chas Hazelton, where he worked for several years at Toogong.  Later in the wheat seasons he and Bert Townsend lumped the wheat at the wheat stack close to the silos (now walled in for loose bulk oats).  In those days it was open sided.  When it was filled end to end to the iron roof, hessian was hung down the sides to protect the bags from the weather.  Each bag had to be pulled up by rope and pulley tackle with the aid of a horse.

Stan then took on house building with his wife’s brother, A. S. Cole, as previously they had built their own weatherboard houses.  They built Charlie Beddie’s house, Esme Davis’ out past Rodwell’s.  I remember going there with food supplies for Dad in the sulky and the little horse called Tibby.  We had the baby (Ruth) in an old hamper on the floor of the sulky.  It was only a few miles away but at about eight years old I thought we’d never get there.  I had to open the gates.

They built Moolahway, Claude Miller’s house on Gumble Road only a couple of miles away.  They said they used to camp there, as it was too far to walk home and back each day.  They also built Austy Hamilton’s house, Bill Snell’s, Colin Riache’s and a lot of others I can’t remember, as well as doing repairs.

We all (Wenbans) went up to The Entrance for a holiday and rented a cottage and boat for about 30/- a week; a lot of money in those days.  Dad had bought a motor car, a Chevrolet in buckskin brown.  While travelling over the mountains Isabel, myself and the twins had to get out and walk up Mount Victoria, as the car wouldn’t pull us and the load up the steep grade.  We were aged about six, eight and ten.  We used to run for fear of being left behind like babes in the woods I guess.

While we were away all the Kiwa Street (Front Street) in Manildra shops got burnt to the ground.  A.S. Cole and Stan got the job about four years later of rebuilding them, which they did with cement all mixed up by hand with a shovel on the ground.  They are called the Griffith Buildings, as the sign overhead reads.  The cement came in bulk trucks and had to be carted from the train; a lot of hand shovelling.  The sand was carted from the flat near the traffic bridge by a Mr Cassell in a tip dray, twenty five bags at a time.  The pay was £1 per day, good wages then.

After building the shops they got the contract of building the Soldiers’ Memorial Hall, the foundation stone of which was laid by Sir Neville Howse on Armistice Day, 11th November 1925.  This building was also constructed of layer upon layer of cement mixed up on the ground by hand held shovel.

Tom’s used to show films (movies) in the hall but it was decided, since the acoustics weren’t very good, to build their own theatre around the corner in Derowie Street.  It was called AMUSU Theatre and a garage was built alongside.  These buildings were built by Stan Wenban and Bill Lea round about 1947, or thereabouts. [The AMUSU theatre was built in 1936. Ed.]

The Second World War erupted and Stan and Bill were called up for National Service.  They went to Darwin for two years to build soldier’s amenities.  When Stan was asked what his previous occupation had been he said “apiarist”, bee keeping.  He was sent home to go bee keeping full time, as honey was a necessary ingredient needed by the army, as sugar, tea and clothing was rationed.

So Stan and Walter Wallace pooled their beehives and registered as W. And W. Apiarists.  Dad then bought a new Bedford truck, and Walter an ex-Army truck and they set off and went migratory bee farming travelling from Bega and Bodalla State Forest on the south coast to Emmaville up north.  I myself went traipsing round the bush wherever they set up their hives.

When Stan was about 70 Manildra built a bowling green.  Stan helped with voluntary labour, and when it was finished and the grass grown he was employed as greenkeeper for the princely sum of £1 – $2.00 now per day, £7 per week.  He stayed on for a good many years, can’t remember exactly till he eventually retired and just grew vegetables and flowers.  He still had his old truck, which had been traded for a Ford by this.  He still had a few beehives which he scattered around on different sites.

He kept his license to drive till he was 90 years of age.  He now had a utility which he later traded for a Holden station wagon, which he later sold after relinquishing his driver’s license at age 90 years.  While he had the Ford truck he used to drive Ruth’s daughter Anne to school.  When she was about three or four years old she used to stand at the back gate and yell “Take me with ya!” till he pulled up and let her in and she would stand on the seat and shout at the cows to “Git uo, git up!” when they were hunting them home to get milked.

When he was greenkeeping he’d wait until she, a little five year old came along with her little port and old straw hat, and he’d shout her a little bottle of red cordial.

Stan died 5th January 1986, aged 95 years.