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Memory lane . . . Former H&J Smith’s staff member Brian Lavender has fond memories of the 46 years he spent working in the Gore store. PHOTO:SANDY EGGLESTON

Former H&J Smith employee Brian Lavender concedes there may have been “a few hijinks” during his 46 years at the Gore store.

Mr Lavender started as a shop assistant in the menswear department in 1959.

It was his second job after leaving school.

When he started at the store, there were about six young men about his age working in the various departments.

“So naturally enough there is going to be a few hijinks.”

The young men found another use for the Lamson pneumatic tubes which took customers’ money upstairs to the cashier for the change and docket to be returned downstairs.

“It wasn’t unknown for us to catch a mouse . . . and put it in a cylinder and send it up to the girls in the office.

“Of course there was an awful lot of lollies went upwards, backwards and forwards.”

One day, amid a play fight with a salesgirl, Mr Lavender was pushed against the wall.

“She finished up half pie sitting on my knee and then we hear this cough.

“We look around and here’s the managing director, the general manager from Invercargill and the manager from Gore standing there.

“I stood up and the girl landed on her backside and took off back around the corner.”

He spent the next couple of weeks looking in the newspaper for a new job but nothing more was said.

Many years later, he heard the three men had gone upstairs to the manager’s office and burst out laughing.

Staff never used each other’s given names on the shop floor.

“It was always Miss, Mr or Mrs in front of customers.”

Sometimes Mr Lavender noticed shoplifters; one day he chased two girls down Main St.

He worked in many departments and liked the work.

“Every day was different.

“When you took on running your own departments it was good, it was challenging and it was enjoyable.”

There were also times when things were not going so well.

“I looked around and decided the grass was as green as it could be where I was.”