Many trees were planted by Mr Plescher at the school – namely two chestnut trees by the chapel and the cherry and birch avenues along McMeakin Drive. The two chestnut trees were reputed to have come from the Garden of Gethsemane. When planting such trees Mr Broadhurst directed the ground to be turfed first, and the turf to be later re-turned. The same principle was used when digging drains or similar jobs. Mr Plescher recalls that Mr McKinnon was a very knowledgeable man on identifying species of trees and the uses of their timber.
As many as 20-30 varieties of apples were grown in the large orchard. It was surrounded by a large belt of trees and a plantation which provided shelter. The heat in the orchard about 3 pm in the summer was almost unbearable. Apples were packaged and sent to Donnellys Crossing by rail. During the picking season outside labourers were employed. During a very heavy hailstorm which lasted about one hour, the plums were chopped to pieces and the leaves shredded.
Mowing the lawns was the largest job for Mr Plescher. He began this job with a team of two horses and a gang mower. The slopes were difficult as the mower had to be kept far enough behind the horses’ legs on the downslope. Later when a tractor was purchased it would take from 11 am – 5 pm approx to mow the 22 acres on the flat. When Mr Plescher was mowing the playing field on one occasion he was puzzled by large shadows appearing on the grounds. With the noise of the tractor and no sound of an aeroplane it was a mystery. Eventually a glider landed and three men got out. A large truck later arrived to pick up the dismantled glider.
Each year after erecting the goal posts and preparing the rugby field for the opening of the season, Mr Plescher would kick the ball over the cross-bar for the boys – it became a ritual.
Odd boys were seen to leave the grounds by Mr Plescher, and when it was mentioned to Mr B. he’d say ‘they’ll come back when they’re hungry’, and they did.
When misbehavior of the boys was reported to Mr Thornton he was often heard to say ‘The boys are paying guests, so I suppose we’ll have to put up with a few things …’
A delivery of china arrived at the railway station for the Dining Room from England. It was in wire crates weighing 7cwt and 5cwt, and packed in straw. This was transported by Mr Plescher back to the school. The china was all unpacked and the straw had to be burned carefully to comply with import laws, dealing with overseas diseases.
Mr B. had a Humber Hawke car with leather seats, which Mr Plescher washed for him. Mr B. always rewarded a job which was well done with a compliment.
Mr Plescher served St Peter’s for 32 years, under three Headmasters. On his retirement, he was farewelled at a special afternoon tea ceremony at which tributes were received from Carl Gillies, Head Boy; from Mr Colin Allan, on behalf of the Board; and from Mr David Thornton, Headmaster.
Notes from the 50th Jubilee Register