'99 not out . . that's a lot of runs'

21:54, Feb 10 2014
Eric McIsaac
Tickling the ivories: Eric McIsaac, of Picton, celebrates his 99th birthday today

Picton's "Cabbage King" is celebrating his 99th birthday today, but is hoping no-one will make a big fuss.

Eric McIsaac, who prefers to be called Cabbage, still lives on his own and loves to play the piano.

"I had my own grocery store for almost 30 years and started by supplying the shipping and whaling boats with food supplies. I would hurriedly cycle down to the docks when I saw boats coming in and the shippy's on board would yell out ‘Get your orders ready guys, here comes cabbage' and the nickname stuck," he said.

Mr McIsaac moved to Picton from Linkwater 91 years ago and has loved growing up and working with the people of Picton and Marlborough, he said.

Starting the first milkbar in Picton, now called the Seabreeze Cafe & Bar, was a highlight in his career.

"I owned six businesses over the years and was blessed that my late wife Zena and my children all worked in them and supported my ventures," he said.


He said he has always enjoyed a good laugh but making others laugh was much more fun.

To celebrate his 25th anniversary of being in the grocery business he held a banquet and invited all his colleagues.

"I put all their names in the draw for a cake I iced and piped myself - little did they know it was an actual cabbage. My accountant won and had a good laugh when he tried to eat it the next day," Mr McIsaac said.

He has been a lifelong member of the Picton Volunteer Fire Brigade and the Picton Rowing Club, which he joined in 1930.

He will be spending his special birthday with immediate family and cousins visiting from Wellington for the day.

"I am 99 but not out, we will celebrate again next year when I make my century - that's a lot of runs," he said.

The Marlborough Express