Looking back on 65 years

Wānaka retirees Eleanor, 85, and John, 86, Lischner look through photographs from their wedding...
Wānaka retirees Eleanor, 85, and John, 86, Lischner look through photographs from their wedding day which took place at Tapanui Presbyterian Church on May 15, 1959. PHOTO: MARJORIE COOK
For rural Otago teenagers, Eleanor Roulston and John Lischner there was never a proposal. They just understood they would get married.

More than 120 people turned up to their wedding at the Tapanui Presbyterian Church on May 15, 1959. 

Tomorrow, the Wānaka retirees will celebrate their 65th anniversary with family.

"I don’t know if it was so much a matter of proposing as a discussion between the two of us and agreement," Mr Lischner recalled.

After first meeting at the Tapanui movies, and then going to a birthday party together, the teenagers began "semi-regular" dating.

"He just kept asking me out because we used to have balls every Friday night, a netball dance or a tennis dance on Saturdays. Our weekends were very social," Mrs Lischner said.

The Otago-born and raised couple owned the Tapanui Butchery for many years before they moved to Canterbury to focus on breeding and training racehorses.

In 2011, they retired fulltime to Wānaka, where they had enjoyed many summer holidays.

"It is 65 years. I wonder where it has all gone to. And I would be happy for it carry on for many more years," Mrs Lischner said.

Eleanor and John Lischner were married in Tapanui on 15 May 1959. PHOTO SUPPLIED
Eleanor and John Lischner were married in Tapanui on 15 May 1959. PHOTO SUPPLIED
Mr Lischner was born in 1937 and educated in Tapanui, West Otago, until he finished primary school.

He spent his third and fourth form years at John McGlashan, in Dunedin, before deciding to return home to work for the family.

He earned five pound and two ($5.13) for his first fortnight. Sausages were 29 cents a kilo.

Mrs Lischner was born in 1938 at Balclutha and raised at Toropuke farm near Heriot. 

She boarded at Gore High School and thought to study nursing or accounting, but went home aged 16 because her mother was injured.

She cared for her mum and cooked for seven men. 

"It was unreal. I still don’t know how I got through that," she laughed.

They were the third generation of Lischners at the butchery, taking over fully in 1961.

"It was very antiquated, I tell you," Mr Lischner said.

"It was physical manual work. There was electricity in the town, but not at the butchery. We had to haul water from a hole in the creek to wash floors and the yards."

Power got to the shop in the 1970s.

Mrs Lischner did the accounts, paid wages, and raised three children: Keith (born 1960, died aged 50), Lynley (born 1962) and Kim (born 1963).

They belonged to many West Otago sports clubs and societies. 

Mr Lischner also served on the Tapanui District Borough Council and other organisations. 

When they had Tapanui Butchery the business would, among other things, make about one tonne of sausages a week, using locally-sourced meat and a secret recipe of herbs and spices. People would travel to get them.

Gradually more people got cars and shopped in town, which affected rural shops.

New rules forced rural slaughterhouses to close down. Meat processing and packaging changed. 

The Lischners attended industry seminars to learn about innovations.

Mr Lischner was not sure if his customers would like them so decided to do both — the old and the new way.

The customer area was renovated for refrigerated packaged meat displays while the butchery kept its formica walls and rubber floor mats.

In 1998, they had a "senior moment", sold the butchery and moved to Ashburton to begin breeding and training racehorses.

Mr Lischner had already started this successful "hobby" in Tapanui.

After 17 years in Ashburton, they moved to West Melton to help set up a training facility.

Over time, they produced 563 race winners for stakes more than of $4million and Mr Lischner was inducted into the Addington Hall of Fame in 2014.

Mr Lischner said their story was a joint one. 

"Eleanor was involved in everything I did and we worked together."

After three years at West Melton, they moved into Christchurch city to be closer to grandchildren,  then moved to Wānaka after the Christchurch earthquakes.

Their daughter, Kim Crawford, said her parents were "a great team" and "absolute role models".

Her parents could have done anything they wanted, but were restricted by the era they were born into. Nevertheless, they took opportunities and made the most of their lives, Mrs Crawford said.