Sometimes people touch and shape your life when you least expect it. And continue doing so even after they have gone. David was one of those guys. Dr “Herb” Money was another, pictured here in his MA gown in the 1920s. It is hard to know where to start with Dr Money. At the beginning probably makes most sense. Well, at my beginning that is. I met him in the early 1970s when he was 70 something. He was born in 1899. But there was nothing 70 about his disposition. He had the spirit of a teenage boy about him. The inquisitive. The “game for anything” approach to life. He was keen painter and I remember him sitting down with me at Akaroa one summer afternoon and walking through some oil painting techniques with me as he looked over my shoulder at my childish attempts. Then he pulled out his favourite sketching device – a square edged carpenters pencil – and rapidly sketched in the scene for his own later reference. He loved coming rabbit shooting with us although he never had a subtle approach to the hunt, stomping around and talking as we went. No one minded.
He was a big man. Over six feet with a shaggy mop of white hair. And a booming irrepressible laugh to match. When we moved to Australia and he would visit – often but never often enough – from his hometown of Christchurch he would slip into the family routine as if he was always there. We lived in Melbourne in those days and he would invariably come to the house via the markets or ensure he had visited there as soon as possible after arriving. He loved grapes and olives. Especially olives, and he would park his huge frame at the kitchen table from where he could immerse himself in the “to and fro” of family conversation and fuel himself from a tin of olives at the same time. They were always bought in bulk. A $5 case of grapes from Mildura was especially a treat.
Even as teenagers we were in awe of his forty years pioneering work from the 1920s through to the 1960s as a missionary in Peru where he made himself a name for his work in education – both building and reform. And for which the Peruvian government awarded him the highest education accolade they could – the Palmas Magisteriales. His intellect was always sharp and his memory and story telling of and from those days were something enthralling and bordering on the mythical. I count myself fortunate to have been able to listen to any number of lectures which he gave and even as an older man he was sharp and forthright and lucid and commanding.
He described himself as a “bad Baptist” in part because he held to some doctines loved of Calvin. Also in part because he liked the occasional drop of wine. Which he made himself in the garden shed. The code word cue to follow him and have a quite tipple was anything that referred to “the Lord’s tender mercies”. After Nette (his wife) had finished serving up scones and tea it was “come on boys, let me show you some of the Lord’s tender mercies” and off he would stomp down to the shed. If it engaged in photosynthesis in some remote way Herb found a way of turning it into a wine.
I could ramble on in reflection but I won’t. He was large in my life as a young man and seems to loom larger and larger as the years slip by. He was an Everyman yet never was so at the expense of his faith and he lived a long, fruitful, modest and influential life. It sure is something to aspire to and a model I could do no better to emulate.
If you knew Dr Money in any way I would love you to introduce yourself and perhaps share some of your own insights into the character and person who is “Herb.”
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