ADDRESS BY MR J. T. MORTLOCK AT OPENING CEREMONY.
A report of the opening ceremony of the permanent alterations and additions to the Mintaro Institute, declared open by Mr. J. T. Mortlock, appeared in our last edition. A very fine address was given by him on this big occasion.
Mr. Mortlock said:—
‘Ladies and Gentlemen—The duty with which you have entrusted me this night is indeed a most pleasant one and one in which I am very happy to be joined with you all. In these times we often hear Sir Walter
Scott’s lines quoted:—
‘Breathes there the man with soul so dead
Who never to himself hath said
This is my own, my native land.’
Patriotism has several different forms and perhaps the most sincere should be that of a citizen to his native town.
The village school where he first learns his three R’s.
The little church at whose altar he first lisps his childish prayers.
The playground where he plays his first games.
A hall like this where he first takes part in organised amusements, views his first picture play, hears his first concert and attends his first straw berry fete.
All these first impressions should remain with him all his life or his soul must indeed be dead.
Wheresoever he may go, in what lands afar he may wander, still some times his thoughts must hark back to the scenes of his early childhood days. To the permanent resident in any locality be it city, prosperous country town or humble village, the old public buildings with their attendant memories must be doubly dear.
To me this old building has many happy memories. The first concert I ever attended was in this hall. I think it was given by the Lynch Family of Bellringers. In those days, there was a proscenium over the stage with two allegorical sepia paintings, one on each side. I think they represented music and drama or tragedy and comedy.
Another recollection I have is of attending religious services once a month. The denomination to which I belonged had no place of worship in this town at that time, and so we had our services in this hall until we obtained our own Church. This, I think, was about 1906.
Again, I remember joining the library and riding in on a pony to collect books from the excellent selection then available. Also I have recollections of strawberry fetes, concerts, bazaars and many other entertainments held in the village of Mintaro. Most of you present no doubt have similar memories.
As you all know, in our Centenary Year 1936 a determined effort was made by the Mintaro Progress Association under the able chairmanship of Mr. P. C. Jacka to collect funds to enable the building of a new hall, as it had been felt for some years that this building was not suitable nor large enough to cater for the town’s requirements. A sum of money amounting in all to about £300 was collected, with much more promised, but the price of wheat, our principal local product, fell to a really low level, and then this terrible war burst upon us. Since the Centenary Mr. Tom Jacka had placed the Devonshire Hall at the disposal of the Institute, and we owe him a debt of gratitude for this kindly act. However, some time ago owing to trouble with the floor of the Devonshire, it was found that dancing at any rate was impossible, and the respective committees of the Mintaro Institute and the Progress Assoc. were approached to see what could be done to rectify the situation.
You see to-night the good work that has been done.
At the time of the Centenary Celebrations, Mr. M. L. Giles, the chairman of the Institute, suggested that something similar to the present layout would be sufficient for our needs, but most of us had more ambitious ideas, and several tentative plans were drawn up for new Institute buildings. We were not able to realise these ambitions and we have now fallen back on Mr. Giles’ original suggestions. The money collected at the Centenary was spent on additions and alterations to the existing buildings and I think you will agree with me that we have had good value for our expenditure. The old floor has been taken up and a new floor laid down which in the opinion of local terpsichoreans is eminently suitable for dancing. The stage has been done away with, thus greatly enlarging the space available. Provision, however, has been made for a temporary stage to be erected whenever it may be required. The old Council chamber has been acquired from the Clare District Council and has been renovated and a wooden floor has been laid down over the existing slate floor and suitable supper conveniences provided. The Council chamber will in future be known as the Assembly room and will be available for suppers, also as a room for lodge meetings, sewing circles and similar activities. Our honor rolls, portraits of our pioneers and similar treasures are all housed in the Assembly room, and I should like to point out that we are almost unique amongst South Australian Institutes is possessing a South African War Memorial in addition to one of the Great War 1914—1918. I think too, that the collection of portraits of our pioneers and local celebrities is noteworthy amongst country halls. The space is between this hall and the assembly room has been fitted out as a lounge and I am sure will be found most useful. Also a projector box has been constructed to enable us to enjoy moving pictures, a plea sure that has been so long denied to us. We are hoping that arrangements will be made in the near future to have a regular screening of the latest releases. Well ! ladies and gentlemen, you have at last a hall that if not imposing or ornate should fill the requirements for many years to come. I hope, too, that it will provide an opportunity for enjoyment for all sections of the community in the way of dancing, pictures, concerts and other forms of entertainment. The assembly room will provide our two friendly societies with all facilities for their lodge meetings. The library still exists and I hope sufficient interest will be engendered to enable it to be built up to the high standard of many years ago. Perhaps I may go further and venture a hope that some of our local intellectuals might find scope to display their talent in concerts, amateur dramatics or lectures. We all know to what heights we rose during our Centenary and what was then attained in that direction can, I am sure be done again and so make these buildings a centre of culture, such as was intended by our forbears when they designed and founded Institutes throughout this fair land. Personally, I was born and reared in Mintaro and this old building and town is very dear to me, as I hope it is to you all. It gives me the greatest pleasure to declare this building open. It was built by our grandsires and used by our fathers. To-night we witness its resurrection, and I hope it will stand as a Memorial to be used by generations yet unborn.
Ladies and Gentlemen—I now formally declare this Institute Building open to Public use.’