Monday 24th June 2019

Telling My Story. Chapter Ten. 1980-1982. 28/2019.

Telling My Story. Chapter Ten. 1980-1982. 28/2019.

To read all of Telling My Story to date: here is the link to the page. Thanks for your interest!

I mentioned at the end of Chapter Nine that telling my story for 1980 would be significant. And indeed it was.

Education Professional Matters. 1980.

I realised more of my professional goals via the fact of healthy competition in the school where I was a teacher. Coming back in May 1979 to a full-time role (no such thing as part-time maternity leave then) I was immediately interested in proving my professional worth.

In the system of public education back then (and for almost the whole time till it ended in the 1990s) a female teacher who wished to gain promotion to the next level to become, in my case : a deputy mistress or  a head mistress of an Infants Department. These were grades Kindergarten to Year Two.

Virtually no men taught in the Infants Departments so their promotions were to deputy master or head master. Sigh. Sorry, more to come!

To gain promotion was to show your readiness via classroom teaching skills, programming, supervision of some other teachers, understanding of the curriculum, providing leaderships skills, being well-read in the latest of education theory and…..being observed in your classroom for a whole day by the local District Inspector. That person observed you, asked you many questions through the day, looked at the children’s workbooks, spoke to the children and read through everything you’d been asked to provide.

Nerve-wracking?

Yes but in some ways gratifying. I recall enjoying the challenge of being ready for this a few months into 1980 having seen others on staff go through it and achieve List One…so I was onto it.

List One meaning? Literally a LIST of people who had been shown and observed in their work to have met the requirements fo List One and on the date of that achievement your name was added to the List. Someone whose List One had been achieved earlier than me, would be “more senior” to me by chronology and so, if we wanted to apply for the same promotion position at a school, SHE would get it before me but I would continue to wait on that list.

Taking a move to a less desirable area might be a faster way to gain the first promotion, pay rise and new role but as I was in north-western Sydney, had an unwell spouse, a child at school and a now toddler in family day care, then I remained on First List within the same school. More to come.

Family Matters. 1980 – 1982.

My clever and very education-focussed husband who had his second list and was a Deputy Master in a large Sydney Primary School was very unwell. His problems related to his spine (cervical initially) and from the time we had returned to Sydney he sought various treatments including awful disc removal and replacement with parts of his hip in 1978. This stabilised his spine somewhat but pain was never far away.

Instead of success in his career as he had so much promise, in 1979 and into 1980 his days were more and more challenging in terms of even getting to school. In a sad time for us both, he reluctantly accepted the NSW Department of Education’s offer of medical retirement at age 30. Such a loss to education and the beginning of a very painful and hard time in his life.

Our children brought him joy and love of course, but he wasn’t able to interact physically as he might have liked and the kids understood but it was hard. He supported my venture into the professional realms of education promotion but it was hard on me and for me to balance home and school life.

My parents offered physical support from time to time, having the kids come to stay in the school holidays and also preparing meals for us and tending to our yard as my previously very fit husband just could not.

It is still sad for both of us to recall this period and even more to consider that some of the medications that he was using under doctors’ instructions were actually making him sicker. Next chapter will tell more.

In the usual way of things, we still had some small family holidays even if it was just for a few nights. Our income had reduced but we could scrape by and our children brought us fun and laughter especially at birthdays and Christmas. Christmas remained a special time and memory for sure!

Onto More In My Career. 1981.

School in many ways offered a great distraction from some of the hard parts of what was happening for my husband. I could not prevent anything for him and it was hard to be an observer of someone in pain. He had good support from local medical professionals and did seek to help himself physically by continuing to drive and help with the children after school time where he could.

I admit that the competitive drive educationally was very strong in me and so with a very helpful set of leaders in our Infants Department which had over 24 classes, there was always room for someone like me who was on a promotion trail. I took the initiative of developing a pre-Spelling program which matched what was currently ‘the’ Spelling program called Quota Spelling.

Do you remember it? Our son in Year Two (getting ahead of myself) was an amazing speller and was on the maximum of 30 words each week to learn. As he always got them right, I did ask his teacher “why does he have to write them out 5 x each night?” I was not appreciated even though I was correct! 

So, I had more responsibilities willingly and loved them. The school was changing in terms of the huge numbers as the new school up the road was finally ready to accept new students and our HUGE class numbers reduced and we all went back to being on the same site. So much better for cohesiveness AND getting to know who was on the same staff as you.

Our daughter came to school with me each morning but many afternoons her dad was able to pick her up as I would be back for meetings and classroom preparation. Our son was in a very happy Family Day Care setting and I could take him and then pick him up later. We were so blessed having him there for the 5 years until his school start. In the two years before school he attended a long day care setting in a pre-school. More on that later.

I was readying myself for a ‘go at List Two’ in 1982. It was a more rigorous inspection and more leadership skills needed to be shown. Even though I did not hold a position at the school, our forward thinking Head Mistress gave people like me curriculum leadership responsibilities so I could hold meetings and help guide the work of others.

Promotions and More. 1982.

A very big two days in my life were those when Mr Inspector J.E. turned up and spent two days with me and my Year Two class asking them and me questions along the way and referring to the many documents I had written and he read through as I continued teaching. He also visited my colleague next door to measure the influence of my leadership within the curriculum and the grade. It was gruelling but I was rewarded at the end with the words “I will be nominating you as suitable for placement on the Second List”. Wow. Then what, I thought?

Not long to wait. In a most unusual scenario I had my Head Mistress tell me that Mr J.E. needed to speak to me about taking on a Relieving Head Mistress role at a school quite a few suburbs away….and I am adding, into a different socio-economic realm from the one where I was teaching.

I took some time to consider it as I needed to speak to my husband first to see if it could work logistically AND then I accepted the acting position. From classroom teacher, up not one list but two, to Relieving Head Mistress (on a class!) with a Deputy Mistress and 6 teachers to supervise.

I met the person who was taking two terms off school due to illness and it was her view that the school needed a new person in (moi!) as there was no-one on the staff who could replace her. This left me wondering even more. However, I was gracious and professional and took on board the class I would be teaching ….and some of those kids…let’s just say, I learned a lot!

From 1982 Staff Photo

Relieving Head Mistress.

I admit it, it was a job I loved. It was very tough though, combining my full-time teaching with the administration of the Infants Department. However, I formed a good relationship with those staff members and I believe they found me refreshing. I was nevertheless thrown in the deep end of leadership and I mostly swam. The community was a different one to get to know. There were families from other countries, and those from Aboriginal backgrounds. In fact some children were, sadly, already known to social services. Interesting to say the least. I did get some teaching time off (there was no such thing as Release from Face to Face teaching then) which was when a specialist teacher would teach the class. Did I mention they were a challenge? Yes, I did.

I missed the staff and the kids in fourth term when it was time to return to my classroom duties a few kilometres (and socio-economic circumstances) away. I was actually restless and that was when the Lists of Vacant Positions was published and there was a school even further west in Sydney needing a Deputy Mistress. It was a List One position and I was on List Two but it did not matter, I was on my way to my first substantive role.

First a telegram came with promotions or transfer offer, which required a visit to Post Office to send back response (YES!). Then a letter confirming all would be sent by mail.

Next time: Chapter Eleven and 1983-1984. Busy times! In the family and school life.

I do hope you are enjoying Telling My Story. I admit I am liking stretching the brain and recalling the memories.

Tell me what you think about “life back then” as I have outlined it. Some of you would have been kids yourselves!!

Denyse.

Joining with Sue and Leanne for MidLife Share The Love link up here on Wednesdays.

Here I add my post to Leanne and friends Lovin’ Life Link up on Thursdays.

And…in Friday I am adding this post to Alicia’s link up called Open Slather, here.

 

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Telling My Story. Chapter Nine. 1978-1979.11/2019.

Telling My Story. Chapter Nine. 1978-1979. 11/2019.

Telling My Story

For the past two years I have been writing my memoir which is a mix of my life as a daughter, wife, mother and educator. Written now with no personal details to protect others, I am moving onto the first two significant years of our life back ‘in the big smoke’ a.k.a Sydney. The years are 1978-1979. The chapters already written are found here.

1978.

Living in Sydney as a family.

We arrived back in Sydney and my parents’ house would be our place of abode for the next 3 or so months. Our furniture was transported back to a storage facility in Sydney and we had a holiday – at Mum and Dad’s. Almost by the beach and of course our daughter was the much-welcomed presence. My husband had a new appointment in a north-shore K-6 school as a Deputy Master and I was appointed to what was then a brand new school in the leafy glades near Pennant Hills. Our daughter was to go to school with me. It would be quite a drive across Sydney so we made the decision to get a second car. This was radical and maybe not a great financial move, but we were young! Oh, and the small matter of somewhere to live permanently meant our first mortgage and a house search.

Finding a house.

No longer able to be ‘near that water of the northern beaches’ due to affordability it also made sense for us to go ‘west’ …north-west in fact, as both of us could access our schools with greater ease AND the house and land package was, for us, affordable once the mortgage came through: $44,600.

We were stoked and then I had some health news. About my women’s issues. Just before going to our new schools I had a consultation with my Mum’s ob/gyn specialist who believed the source of my pain on the side was from my ovary. He also heard the full story from me about the NO pregnancy news from others who’d treated me in the previous years.

His plan was to operate on me and remove whatever was causing me issues, and then we might see about the possibilities of a second child.

So proud to call this our first home…that we were not renting.

Schools.

I was already at my school but with no class. In those days the Department of Education appointed teachers when they saw the numbers of students were likely to increase. I was not a happy teacher as I was experienced but I had to comply. Our daughter had settled in too. With the news of this surgery which could be done asap and my recovery period would be around 3 weeks, I decided to go for that then. Mum was there for our daughter’s practical care as was my husband but he was also working in a completely new and busy environment learning about managing large student populations and staff. He took our daughter, Miss Flexible it seems, with him to his school for the weeks involved in my surgery and recovery.

My surgery.

The findings once the abdominal surgery was done, were that I had multiple issues inside for both ovaries which were covered in cysts and ovulation was impossible. I also had some benign growths on fallopian tubes and both of these were causes for my infertility. Not fat. Thanks Dr who told me that. My now ob/gyn, Dr O, said “I have cut tiny sections in your ovaries and that should assist with egg release.”

Home to Mum’s then more news. And We Are In!

I recovered with the best of care and then came the time just before our house would be ready to move into and I returned to school. The news was this: a transfer had arrived at the school where I had no class and I was to report to this new-to-me school asap AND it was much closer to our new house. Thanks to the deities. We moved into the new house with help (and yes it was the wettest 17th March ever) and over time we made it home. I began very soon after at the school where I would be for the next 5 years and it became our daughter’s primary school until she was ready for high school.

New School. New Routines. And NEWS.

The schools in NSW had a different way of enrolling Kinder students then and my class, one of 8, was to receive each of the June and July birthday kids until the end of Term One. Every Monday over a few weeks a new set of scared, sad, happy, nervous young kids began with me in K. In a demountable. No fans or air-con people. Our daughter meanwhile who had a rocky start to the BIG school of 8 classes per grade, finally found her place and flourished. Phew. Meanwhile my husband, who was feeling effects of the neck pain and back pain along with managing his school roles, did it pretty tough. But he is tough.

Can I Be? Really?

We found ourselves a fantastic GP team of a husband and wife who were our medicos from 1978 to 2012 or thereabouts. They were family-oriented and even our kids as adults went to them and then their kids. But I am getting ahead of myself. I was feeling different. It had only been two months since my surgery but I was pretty sure I could be pregnant. No peeing on sticks then but a blood test and wait for results. Oh. My. Goodness. The nurse who did my test was a parent in my class! So much for privacy because she actually knew my story (I must have shared) and she rang me to tell me, yes I was pregnant. She kept quiet but I was always grateful to hear what I had not ever expected to hear again. The news was not accepted as excitedly by my husband right then because I have to add, we were “up to our eyeballs” in loans for cars, house and so on. But I could see we would be OK. And over time, he did too of course!

What Happened Next?

I decided to return to my Dr O who I trusted for my care and birth and even though he was not 100% impressed in my ahem, rapidity, in becoming pregnant took me on and this meant a monthly Friday afternoon trip to the Northern beaches to see him, with my daughter in tow, and then have tea with my parents and trek back. I was well. Mind you, I was tired but teaching was a joy and there were two other teachers also pregnant on Kinder and even before it was recess, the lovely canteen ladies would send us cheese crusts! Yum.

So Much Better This Time Around.

I was almost 8 years older than the first time I was pregnant. I was more educated on childbirth and breastfeeding. I did not know the sex of our child and we chose names for both. I enjoyed preparing a nursery from scratch (remember, we had given all the baby items away except for a special baby basket). My weight remained stable and there was no pre-eclampsia. However, the toll of teaching Kinders in Summer in a hot demountable classroom saw my GP recommend finishing earlier than the mandated 6 weeks and I did that willingly.

With regular visits to my parents’ house where my Dad had finally added an in-ground pool, I was treated pretty darned well. My teacher mates gave me a great baby shower, and one of my friends was now at home with her baby and my other colleague was due after me. The due date was mid January and by then I was “over it”. A slight rise in BP meant I took up the locum Ob/Gyn offer to admit me the following Sunday for induction. My Dr was still sailing in the Sydney to Hobart I was told.

Birth day Time

After a leisurely float around the pool, we changed and went our way across Sydney to North Sydney saying good bye to our daughter then 7 knowing she would be a sister next time we saw her. I had then-practice of pre-induction enema and I was given a private room as I had hoped to ‘room-in’ with my baby after having such a different experience in 1971. The night was slow even though I had some pain. My husband went to Mum and Dad’s and I saw him the next morning when I was taken to labour and delivery. If only. Induction was s for slow and I had p for pain. I was adamant no pain relief or epidural. Until I could not bear it any longer – 8 hours of so of pain every 10 mins going nowhere broke me. It appeared, I had another posterior lie baby. I had the epidural and it worked. On one side. S for sheeeet.

I got tired. I was over it. And of course, that meant I was ready to give birth. But I had forgotten that. This time with as gentle coaching husband, a calm Dr, oh and a million or so nurses who rocked up to count my birthing as one of theirs for registration, I pushed out….the watermelon. I was OVER it. In fact, the baby boy was passed to my husband for care, the Dr started his stitching and they chatted. About whether this new boy would play cricket for Australia. Seriously. I was done. In fact the hospital was crazy busy with births and we got some time-out together in a side ward until I (we!) was taken to my private room.

It was a painful but glorious end to our quest to have a second child and he was just a much-wanted child. Not much more to add. His sister was proud, we thought he was great and on the date of our wedding anniversary we took him home – firstly to my parents and then back across Sydney home. Even in those days, car safety for babies was slack and he was in a basket, protected with a net and a safety belt around that.

The family baby basket. This is his sister in it. Later, over the years, our grandchildren slept in it when we cared for them.

Parenting Two.

It really was not a big issue. His sister was 7.5 years older than him and doted on him. We also made sure her routines continued and I would bring the baby with me. One thing I remember doing as a member of the local Australian Breastfeeding Association was take him to the local pre-school and show the kids how he was fed and cared for. However, I was still not as happy about being at home. My friend had her child now and occasionally we would meet up for baby weighing days. But we needed me to be back at school and I did too. There was only one choice in 1979 – full-time or stay on leave.

Of course, it was always going to be about the family day care options. I was given some places to see and I was disappointed on first impression. Then I remembered one of the parents from the K class had told me about Aunty Y who cared for her two and she highly recommended her. I visited with my son and the house was messy but it was kid-messy and a more grandmotherly person I was yet to meet. She agreed to care for him 5 days a week and her house was on my way to school. Win.

I had continued to breast feed with success and at 18 weeks our son happily went to his family daycare home with some bottles of expressed breast milk and was cared for with love. I, on the other hand, found it trickier being a breast-feeding teacher and when I thought about it, my milk would ‘come in’. I found over time though the my milk regulated and with the energy expended by me with teaching Year 1 , playground duty and so on, I had enough to feed him once we were home, and then express for the next day. Over time he added milk in a bottle and some food as babies do but I was proud of “us” lasting around 8 months.

We were grateful to have a very independent and resourceful daughter, a pretty good baby and a hands-on husband who was also in full-time work and we made it happen. It was hard. I know we got some nights where sleep was patchy because of the baby but we all know we can power on…thanks to coffee! My parents offered on some occasions to cook a meal at our house and that was readily accepted. We were new residents of a growing suburb in north-west Sydney and though very busy, our life was going well.

Teaching and Ambition.

I returned to a Year One class in May 1979 and was immediately struck by the teamwork and professionalism in this particular section of the school. I admit, I saw teachers who were applying for promotion via what was then called The List system and it made me say to myself “I can do that.” So, from then onwards, I took on a few more responsibilities within the school. It was a very large school in a newly populated area. 8 classes per grade: 24 classes K-2! We only tended to meet with our grade as the time was hectic. We were in temporary lodgings as a new school to take some of the kids was being built further along the road. By 1981 that would occur and we would be all on the same site.

Family Life.

What would occur in our family life in 1980 is part of the next chapter. It was huge, and significant and continues to affect us in some ways today.

Next Chapter: 1980 onwards. 

This will incorporate more of my teaching career as it was the beginning of promotions and new roles for me. NOT something I had planned but it happened for quite a few reasons.

Denyse.

Joining here on Thursday with Leanne and crew at Lovin’ Life.

 

 

 

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Telling My Story. Chapter Eight. 1976-1977. 2018.124.

Telling My Story. Chapter Eight.1976-1977.  2018.124.

 

Dear Readers,

This is the eighth instalment in Telling My Story. I hope that you are enjoying the blasts from my pasts. I am finding your comments very supportive. This chapter takes us through the beginning of  two years, namely, 1976-1977. You might consider what you were doing then or even if you were alive. I know! It IS over 4o years ago. Are you ready?

But first, let me remind you….I started telling this story almost 2 years ago. Then there was a slight long break while I dealt with the matter of oral cancer. By the few times I wrote though I was smile-added back again!

Photo (#1) For Telling My Story.

Photo (#2) post major cancer surgeries.

Photo #3 for Telling My Story. Post Upper Teeth Prosthesis.

A Teaching Career Means a Move or Three.

By the end of 1975, my clever husband had earned what was called “First List” in the then promotion systems of N.S.W. Department of Education and along with starting a part-time degree, HE was on his way, up the career ladder and I was more than happy to support him as I needed to. This meant the following….

He was offered an Acting Principal’s position in one of the most remote schools in New South Wales. By remote, I mean very and would still be regard that way. Here’s where it gets interesting and would not be part of a job-ad these days. He found out about the vacancy in this school via the travelling N.S.W. Teachers’ Federation Organiser who said “why don’t you take up the offer to go and see it?”. We thought, ‘why not?’. I was happy(ish) teaching, our daughter was now 4 and we could make a change BUT I was still longing for a second child. More about that later.

He Went, He Saw, He Said “We will take it”.

We were ambitious but also professionally-centred and once my husband had driven the many miles to this school, stayed with the then-teaching team, and driven home again to our little one teacher-school and home, he said “let’s do it”. By WE I should add, the pre-requisite that there be a married couple take the two jobs on offer. Teaching Principal and Classroom Teacher. That was because of the extreme isolation and only one place to comfortably live. I saw photos of the place and loved the idea of the new challenge. Our daughter, though under school starting age, would be able to come to school as there was a pre-school year attached to the school which was part of the Principal’s responsibilty.

Special School Indeed.

This school, a two-storey building, had a library underneath and shelter for play, a toilet and shower block and a flat in the school grounds for visitor accommodation. Across the sandy playground was the School Residence, up on stilts too with a garage and laundry underneath. The previous husband and wife teaching team had added in the window air conditioners to the school and to the residence. It was needed. Back of Bourke this is!

The student population, aged from 4 years to around 12 years was, in the majority, from the Aboriginal community which was located on the banks of the Culgoa River, some walking distance from the school. There were ‘white kids too’ including our daughter, the children of the local land lessee and the son of the shopkeeper (one shop which stocked limited supplies but was also the telephone exchange).

Adventures BEFORE Starting School.

By adventures, I really mean ADVENTURES. So, between us, we had organised the movement of our furniture to the new school and house – some 6-8 hours drive from where we had lived. We went back from Mum and Dad’s in Sydney to oversee the packing up and then we followed them in late January 1976 for our belongings would arrive, and we unpacked in the HEAT and went back to Sydney…only a 12 hour drive…which we did in one stint this time. A small respire time in Sydney, then with a very packed station wagon – 4WD were only farm-type jeeps then and we got a new Ford Wagon because we were going to a remote place and needed to have one of the more commonly known vehicles “just in case” (and there was one of those!).

With our daughter safely sat between us with a proper seatbelt harness, and a very, very full wagon, we took off for Dubbo. First stop and where we were most welcomed by the District Inspector (who would be a visitor from time to time) and his family to have a meal and stayed in a motel. All good! Not really. You see, we are talking many decades ago, no mobile phones and so communication was by radio announcements and talking to locals about road conditions. We were due to go to the school via a series of dirt roads after coming off the main road to Bourke…until we knew there had been heavy rains and flooding was expected. My husband got the news to “take the detour via Warren and you should get in to your place”. OK…I admit I had no idea it was a wee bit troubling that this was necessary. Packed (even more!) with some fresh food and more groceries…we got to the school and residence…after a MUCH longer drive and pretty wet conditions.

But WAIT…there is MORE.

So this school of ours was located away from the Culgoa River on a flat tract of land..in fact is all flat. The house and school were on a dirt road (heck everything was dirt) and the Aboriginal camp was next to the river. Just up the road from us was the store and over the road was a tennis court, an airstrip and further over, by the river, on the other side of the bridge over the Culgoa, was the land leased by the family who would give us both support and grief!

The rains came…and came and never left. The River was already flooding from the rains in nearby Queensland (only 14 miles away) and we were in for a LONG stay. School starting day came and two students turned up. Our daughter and the boy whose parents ran the shop. We began the day at school but due to the conditions came back to our place, and the mum of the boy said “if anyone calls from the Dept I will put them through to your place.” The system was helpful as it was a party line but certainly there was no privacy AND the phones only operated 9.00 am – 9.00 pm.

STUCK in the MUD.

Isolation is a new environment but with lots of advice and help from the locals was made better. In fact, we got school started once the pouring rain stopped and the lessee of the property collected the kids from the camp to bring them to school. His own kids and wife had left when they knew the floods would be arriving and went down south. We did not have them come to our school until Term 2. In the end, we got to know the support services very well. The Doctor in the nearest town who had never met us, could consult on the phone when we had a couple of health issues, the Chemist in the town would fill the scripts AND I could also ring the small town grocery store to order food and all of what we could get would be flown to us via the RAAF helicopter or a RAAF carrier plane. Other times, the supplies might land via a large drop off by the helicopter. The store got its supplies which helped us and the Aboriginal community. Sometimes too, someone may be taken to hospital that way.

In the initial days of the flood, we had no power for a few days BUT fortunately keeping the freezer closed and packed meant no food spoilage. We had a portable gas stove for a meal or two. And, the man who had the tractor had us to his house once a week for a cooked meal. He had more options on his property. He would come and get us in the tractor (see my husband in the second shot, with the friendly farmer, walking ahead to check levels and ditches and then on this occasion it was for us to see what things looked like along the way.

In the first photo this is the road to the school and our house is obscured by the school is in the distance. To the left of the photo, out of sight, is the airstrip and tennis courts.

THIS LASTED FOR TEN WEEKS.

In some ways it was one heck of a learning journey and in others it was very very tiresome. It was the very poor condition of the dirt roads because tractors and 4WD had left tracks and bad scarring on the road so no regular vehicle like ours could go anywhere. Somewhere in this time, my parents who had been very concerned about the situation drove up to Moree and chartered a small plane to come and visit us. The air strip had dried out. It was the roads that were impassable. Armed with all the makings of a fresh baked dinner and more my brave Mum and Dad hopped in the little Cessna and came for the weekend. They flew back the same way but with lots of love and hugs from their much-adored granddaughter. 

GETTING OUT.

I admit I became very stir-crazy and whilst it has been a term and a half of learning much about a new community I was determined, somehow to get to town for wait for it…Easter Eggs! How could our daughter miss the Easter Bunny? So one Saturday, our friend with his tractor, went before us, and gave us newbies to this situation, guidance on where to go to avoid being stuck and eventually we were on a better dirt road to town. We got back OK too.

HIGHLIGHTS and LOWLIGHTS and NO LIGHTS!

Just writing about the transition to the place, then what we went through personally and professionally means I am going to write more about the stay (and it WAS only for two years!) in point form:

  • The second term meant a more settled life. Well, in terms of the weather it was. My husband, who was both teaching principal and my supervisor meant “we” had some interesting and challenging conversation about teaching. You see he had not ever taught with another staff member, I had, and my temperament is totally opposite to his. We sorted this with roles and responsibilities (as every school should!) and subject area responsibilities and his work toward his next promotion, called List Two, was what he needed to achieve within his  stay at the school.

 

  • This was achieved by him and his classroom and school management was policy-central and all very much in keeping with educational standards then, and with the District Inspector (friendly man from Dubbo) staying with us too, it was good to know he had succeeded.

 

  • The unfortunate side of such isolation related to both social matters and health matters. My husband became ill for a number of reasons and was even hospitalised for some time and in the meanwhile I was relieving as Principal (and a worried wife!) and the N.S.W. Department of Education sent a replacement teacher from Bourke (almost 2 hours away) to stay and help out.

 

  • We also did our best to mix with the local and wider community, playing social tennis (the afternoon teas were amazing!) and getting together for meals. However, we would always be, as in many country settings “blow ins”.

 

  • Our daughter was socially isolated but as an only child she was quite content with play and reading at home by herself. We did have one young student board with us for a while to be company and to help our daughter too. That same family had our daughter stay when we went to Dubbo for a weekend.

 

  • Getting OUT was important. School terms were up to 3 x 13 or even some 14/15 week terms. We needed the break and so on the last Friday of term, our car would be packed and ready. I must add, that IF any rain fell, we would be delayed. Because of the road conditions.

 

  • The District Inspector allowed us an early Friday finish mid-term so we could drive to Dubbo (6 hours away) and shop and have respite for the weekend.

 

  • On one of those occasions, in Winter, it was meant to be that  we chose a Ford in the year we left Sydney. As we drove along stone filled road, we would get chips on the windscreen but even worse, as we found one almost dark afternoon getting back onto the BITUMEN at Coolabah, our lights were shot. The garage was still open. Yay. He had replacement bulbs. Yay. MY husband installed them. Yay. BUT, our daughter aged 5 was growing worse from a virus and her temperature was high. NO!

 

  • The next town east was Nyngan and we called into the hospital. She was given something to help and we drove through the Dubbo with great relief. Next day, with her health on our minds, we had a doctor call and she got meds. I also “needed” to go shopping and she had a particular wish to have some new sneakers. I got them. What a weekend. Grocery shopping was done too but I chose parcel pick up. THEN at 11.50 a.m. I remembered shops closed on Saturdays and not open till Monday. One ‘fast’ drive to Coles and I loaded them up.
  • The school was a hub for health professionals from Sydney and other places with specialist teams and most would arrive by air. Some came in 4 WD convoys. The professionals would examine anyone including us and in that time we had the late Dr Fred Hollows arrive with his then girlfriend, Gaby, in the team to check everyone’s eyes. We needed to have food at the ready and I often entertained thanks to cooking multiple dishes and freezing them along with my now-regular little cakes.

 

  • I also travelled to Brewarrina to see an Obstetrician who, upon hearing my story of tests done previously declared I would never have another child. See more about that here. It was such a definite and firm view, I mourned what was not going to happen and gave away all of my baby things to the Aboriginal community.

 

  • ABC TV did a story about folks living where we did and we, along with the children in the school were part of that program as were the locals from far and wide.

 

  • We had a grant from Disadvantaged Schools Program which funded the students from the school aged 7 and over, along with family carers and us to fly to Sydney, stay in lodgings in Kings Cross and experience places like Manly beach and the Zoo. Our daughter came with us but stayed with my parents and met up with us back in Manly.

 

  • But….this place got to us in some ways,  particularly access to health services for us both. We announced that at the end of the two years minimum we would be transferring back to Sydney as we hoped to find our first house and have our daughter attend school with more kids than 25.

This news was not taken well by SOME of the community but many also understood our motives. We left the school, and the area on the last Friday of term and with relief, when we got to the bitumen, this (then) 28 year old wife, mother and teacher sighed with relief.

What next?

Stay tuned: Chapter Nine soon.

Denyse.

 

 

 

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Telling My Story. Chapter Seven. 1972-1975. 2018.112.

Telling My Story. Chapter Seven. 1972-1975. 2018.112.

Where has this month gone? I have sort of made a promise to myself to add another chapter each month but then I realise this is the second post in October. All that aside, I think I am delaying writing and for no other reason than I am a bit worn out.

However, I am a determined person and I do well with deadlines, so off I go.

Telling My Story. The Early Mothering Years. 

Back to School. For Me.

For someone who longed to be a mother it may seem strange that I did not enjoy staying home with my child. However, I tell it as it is and know that time and time again, for me, I have been better off going to school and working. As long as I had care for my child I knew would be great, then I could get on with my work and be more content.

As we lived in the rural area outside Narrabri and I was to return to teaching in the 2 teacher-school where I had begun after our marriage, it was a great and generous offer that was made by my boss’ wife. She said she would happily mind our daughter as she was home with her 4th who was a few months older. That was a great way for me to feel better about what I was doing. We had no real dramas and M, who was our daughter’s godmother, was a motherly soul who had a lot of time for us. Some days, when I was on playground duty, she would appear on the grassy area with both her charges as they had their house next to the school.

I was someone who had gone back to her first love: teaching little kids. It may have been a bit of a struggle at times but with a very hands-on and caring father, our daughter did not miss out. We managed to out on a sweet first birthday party for local friends and family arrived from Sydney. By the end of that year though there was more new.

We Were Off To a New Area To Live and Teach.

In ‘those days’ with the Department of Education, the husband’s job took precedence on transfer over the wife’s. In a little aside where I can tell you the regret is strong…we also took up the option in that first year of parenting for me to withdraw from my State Super Fund because “only the husband will need the pension and you will have his”. Stay tuned for future chapters where R E G R E T is the word!

A big reason my husband wanted to transfer (as did I but I had not served the minimum of 3 years yet) was to another one teacher school but with a SCHOOL RESIDENCE. Where we were living was “ok” but it was relatively primitive compared to the 4 bedroom brick bungalow with garage and a yard next to the school. We left our daughter with my parents in Sydney that Christmas Holidays in the January and with our then two cars, we went back to the old place, and packed and as the Department was paying for the move, I think we arranged for that to happen for our furniture etc without us being there.

Arrival at the ‘new-to-us’ school residence….and in backyard, former occupant of said-residence with former teacher. Roo poo ain’t fun and this one was also aggressive. Glad he hopped away.

We met the Furniture truck after their long trek from one end of N.S.W. to another in a hot summer and we had Mum and our daughter with us too.

The weather was hot. So hot, we tell the story of my mother drinking beer in the wee hours to try to cool down. In the meantime, my Dad in Sydney was trying to get a cooler of some sorts sent to us by train but they were all sold out. We eventually got one but none of us have forgotten that January.

Where Will Denyse Teach? Who Will Care For Our Daughter?

We were now proud owners of one car. A new one with the new fangled air conditioning in it. It didn’t really work. Sigh. My husband had his new school of kids from 5 to 12 to get ready for but I was still school-less. That was when we knew we had a professional contact who was also a friend….who had been my deputy in my first school and was now the principal in the town some 40 kms away. We rang him. “Oh”, he said, “good news, I need a new Kindergarten teacher as one is on leave”. I can fix that with the Department. He did. So good. Such a mate too, along with his wife. We had been to each other’s weddings in early 1971 in Sydney. But wait. One more question. “Who will mind our 18 month old?” “No problem, I will ask (J) the primary AP if his wife wants to mind a child as her kids are all at school.” He did. She said yes and for the next 2 years our daughter became a 5th child (and spoiled one too) in that family.

Wonderful Three Years In a Great Community.

Off I drove to H every school day, dropping Miss K to her loving surrogate family, and I was able to do my job. It was a great rural community and lively with activity and positivity. Whilst my husband’s school was some 40 minutes south, he also became involved in this town.

Here are some things we did:

  • We became electoral officials one year at a tiny place (I won’t name it) where the road to Hay crossed it. It was a very slow day – 8.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. in those days in a hot country hall. I cannot remember who won but I remember we did not offer to do that again. Counting the votes with scrutineers in a closed space, and waiting for the number to tally…is hard yards.
  • My husband and some of the town’s folk and teaching/office staff formed a Drama Society and put on Musicals (Gilbert and Sullivan)…an aside, I auditioned for a role, and the producer did not let me have it. He said “I needed to be at home”….because of night-time practices…. with our daughter. He did “offer” me a chorus role but I rejected it. Mind you the production was superb and I was a very happy audience member.
  • We often held impromptu parties and dinners at our place for the couples and any stray singles from the school where I taught. As we had put an above-ground pool in (summers were brutal) we rewarded those who helped with dinners for a while.
  • In 1974 “we” were the ones who got Colour T.V. I wrote about that in another post. We sure were popular but we loved having T.V. nights.
  • We also went back to the town on Movie nights when they were held at the school
  • We got to have weekends away. By ourselves. We had, as I said above, a wonderful family caring for our daughter during the week and they offered to have her for us to go away and she was fine. In fact, I do recall her crying to come home. As in “I don’t want to come home because all the kids are here”.
  • My husband started study via distance to gain a new qualification in teaching and he also added an inspection from a School Inspector to get First List. Back in the day this was how promotions to new roles happened. My husband was looking to become a small school principal – one with 2 or more staff. More on that later.

This daughter of ours had it all! A tent, a swing set, a dinky with a trailer and a cat. But no-one to play with…except Dad!

School Holidays.

Most of these were back at my parents’ house (free, by the beach AND they loved having our daughter stay) and we took time to shop and relax and sometimes have a little break just for us. We went to shows and the movies – the drive-in was the best – and I recall how much we loved Blazing Saddles. Still do. This was at Frenchs Forest which is slowly been eaten up by development.

We visited family and friends. We went out for dinner. We got supplies for our classrooms from that wonderful place called Dominie and slowly we wended our way back to the bush. Only in the school holidays preceding our 3rd year, we purchased the best.car.we.had.ever.seen. Well, maybe that is an exaggeration but it was a wonderfully comfortable car with PROPER air conditioning and it was LIME green. A Toyota Crown.

At Mum and Dad’s where we holidayed each school hols from 1971-1978. Miss K, the apple of their eye.

Sadder Times.

It was around the middle of the three year stay in this area that we decided to try for our second child. So easily pregnant with Miss K, we were saddened, over many months, that I was not with child. My weight ballooned from stress-eating (or calming eating!) and I cried each month. Our G.P. decided I needed to see a specialist in the regional town some distance away – probably 45-50 minutes. There I went, on a sad but true journey to disappointment and heartache. Tests showed I was rejecting my husband’s sperm. I had a salpingogram without anaesthetic to check the fallopian tubes and I have never had worse pain after. Nothing seemed wrong there.

Then with my heart soaring and my fingers counting since the last menstrual period, I thought I was pregnant. It was a time well over the usual 28-30 days. Almost to the point of having a test (it was nothing like it is now back in the mid 1970s) I began to bleed. At school. I was heart-broken and someone took me to the cottage hospital where the G.P. sadly said he could not tell if I had been pregnant but now, I was not.

That was it.

For then. It played on my mind for some time, and it took every ounce of courage I had to enjoy seeing friends and colleagues’ families grow. But not ours. Mind you, we had a gorgeous bright little girl and my husband had a new job.

As an Acting Principal.

Off We Went. Again.

More to come of THIS particular time in Chapter Eight.

Have you lived in different places?

Tell me more in the comments.

Denyse.

 

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Telling My Story. Chapter Six. Becoming Mum. 1971. 2018.100.

Telling My Story. Chapter Six. Becoming Mum. 1971. 2018.100

Since May 2017 I started telling my story. There have been major gaps of time in between the introduction and Chapter One when a little thing called head and neck cancer took up my time and attention. I am celebrating yet again…with a new smile…

New photo to celebrate my new ‘teeth’ and smile!

However, I would like to pay tribute to my first photo for this series…and the second one too. It’s been quite a time!

Taken on my 67th Birthday – late 2016. Cancer unknown but it was ‘there’

One year post major cancer surgeries.

Chapter Five. Becoming a Mother. 

We were young at 22 (my husband) and me 21 but we knew we loved each other unconditionally and we were going to become parents within the first 8 months of our marriage and that we were already teachers working hard in country N.S.W.

By the time we got to the July appointments with the local G.P. in the town closest to where we lived, things seemed to be going well. I had stopped teaching (and was already bored), but I had a nursery to organise (aka a spare room) and my husband was building our first child a cradle. Mum ensured we had some items like clothing and manchester in the previous school holidays when we visited my parents in Sydney. I think once she was over ‘the shock’ of me being a pregnant bride, she relished her grandmother-to-be role.

A Pregnancy Gets Complicated. 

The next visit I had to my G.P. raised alarm for him when my previous weight had ballooned by around 6 kg in a short time and it was all-fluid. He needed to send me on…to a specialist Obstetrician Gynaecologist in the city that served our north-west region. Yes, now it was serious. And yes, I was more than a bit scared.

Where we lived, in this little cottage on a farming property, access to our place was via a dirt track, which led to the road which was one not bitumened. When it rained, and we got warning, my husband would drive the car to the road and we would walk through the mud and wet to the car. That is what we had to do on the morning of the scary-t0-me visit to the OB/Gyn at T. A trip that would be punctuated by slippery sliding of the car (but my husband knew what he was doing) and me being quite frankly terrified.

Even moreso when we got to the office in T, and with kindness but showing concerned care, Dr G decided I had what was called ‘toxaemia’ then and I needed bedrest, diuretics and that was to be in a hospital. A hospital! Where I would know no-one and it was confronting. I had a stay in a shared ward with other mothers-to-be at risk for a week. It remains as a memory of a pretty worrying time (and I was not a fan of hospitals). Not seeing my husband nor anyone I knew was very isolating. My parents were 6 hours away by car.

Playing the Waiting Game At Home.

However, I was released when Dr G said things had settled and he sent me home with instructions to rest and eat plenty of lollies (I never knew why, but happy to comply) and to return on a specific evening around what was my due date and the process of induction would commence.

Another weird thing (in today’s terms) I had to have was an X-ray of my pelvis to see if the baby was lying properly. The X-ray showed there was a slight placenta previa. When we saw the Dr he did not think it would preclude natural labour.

I was better prepared for my next stay in the large regional hospital…even though it was going to make me a mother! We drove to T after my husband had finished teaching and that early evening on a Wednesday entered the maternity award and he reluctantly said good bye. In a pre-labour ward (4 beds) I was given ‘something in the form of a gel’  to start labour. Umm. Nope, it did nothing. More. Still nothing. All day the next day, niggly pains but nothing of significance. By the time Dr G visited on the Thursday evening he took me to a labour room, accompanied by a nurse and he ‘broke my waters’ finding some blood. He was not perturbed as he thought it was connected with the marginal placenta previa.

Would I Ever Give Birth?

I felt that way on the Friday. I had no real idea of what labour would feel like other than it would be painful. I was in the hands of the experts…and those who were trained in the safe delivery of babies. On the Friday morning I was taken to a more scary room! I say that because it had a bed (for me) and many instruments and hospital things I had no idea about. I had a nurse with me on and off but generally I was alone. My husband was teaching (of course) but at lunchtime, he rang the labour ward to ask if things had started. He was told “no” and was instructed to stay home instead of leaving at 3 p.m. to drive the 2 hours to T. Outside even though I could not see it, I could hear it was very windy and raining. It was early August and the late afternoon turned into early evening with me  saying ” I am going to be sick”. I wasn’t but I had decided I was ‘over it’ and using the only pain relief – a gas mask – along with clutching my lovely midwife’s hand I really had NO IDEA I was near giving birth. This was, as I know now, transition.

Things sure changed from around 5 p.m. and by 6 p.m. in raced Dr G in whites…squash gear. He’d got the phone call that I was labouring (no-one told me LOL) and presented himself quick smart. With a quick application of gloves, and a gown, I pushed our daughter into his hands with no pain relief…although I think I may have bruised the lovely midwife’s hand.

10/10.

At 6.35 pm this child was pronounced 10/10. I had no idea it was an apgar score and teacher-me thought it was about my effort!!

I “think” our girl was placed in a crib – there was no bonding much then nor anything like putting baby to the breast. I delivered the placenta – and was shown where the ‘breaking of the waters’ had cut into it. Interesting!

But the best part, evenso, was hearing Dr G speak to my husband who was so far away to congratulate him on becoming a father. I did not get to speak to him but was assured that he was on his way to see us.

I had given birth and was a MUM!

In the way of those times in the early 1970s, our child was placed in a crib in a nursery with all the other babies, and I was in a shared ward. She would be brought to me for feeding and nothing else and then returned. Her Dad got to meet her behind a glass window around 9 p.m. that night, and then when greeting me, said in that romantic way: “She’s got my long fingers and your fat cheeks.”  It did not matter! I was over-the-moon in what I now know is a wonderful post-partum feeling of endorphins. Reluctantly my husband left to return home in the raging weather but with his mate (my principal-boss) who had driven on a really horrible night.

And then it began. 

Breastfeeding was what I wanted to do and tried. Oh yes I did. With nipple shields but also with ignorance too. There was some help given but not much. My parents, my grandfather and aunt surprised me (us) with a visit on the weekend. I admit I was not gracious. I couldn’t believe they had come and uttered “what are you doing here??” Unbeknowns to me (and my husband) it was my father’s decision to have my relatives catch a train to Sydney, then he met them and they drove, in rotten winter weather for 6 hours to see us. Fortunately my ill-mannered reaction was ignored and they all saw her (via the window) and stayed overnight before the long drive back home.

Almost a week later we were discharged. Mum flew up to accompany us home ( I am guessing we needed help but do not remember if we asked for it) and in the meantime, bought a stroller/pram and other goodies for her first grandchild and granddaughter. Miss almost 1 week was brought out to the car by a nurse and placed in my arms and then I gave her to her Dad. He had not yet held her. It was not done then. I can tell you I do believe bonding is vital and she did not get much in her early days because of hospital rules.

We drove home, a long night ahead, and I held her in my arms. Yes there were seatbelts but no baby restraints, just put them in a basket on the back seat. Mum sat there and we kept our daughter in the front.

I would like to tell you all went well. In many ways it did. She was/is a much loved child. Her maternal grandparents were overly attentive but meant well. Her paternal grandparents visited us in the next school holidays with some of her uncles and aunts and she was welcomed into the family. There was not a lot I enjoyed about being a mother to a newborn. Feeding was a challenge and at a 6 week check up at the clinic, I was strongly urged to forget feeding her myself and start her on a bottle.

Early Months of Motherhood.

We lived in an isolated area and we had one car. Each Wednesday my husband would drive us to his school and then  I would take over and drive to the small town near us. This involved some small socialisation – visits to the clinic and to various shops. Home again. I know I looked for distraction from the tedium of those early months. She was a good baby once her colic settled and loved trying custard and foods like that. I was bored and needed more. So I cooked. I also ate what I cooked and I believe that IS where a lot of my eating to mask feelings commenced.

Denyse.

P.S. I wrote this after Chapter 4 as I wanted to keep identifiers from the story. Please tell me if you think it detracts from what I am writing. Thank you.

In keeping with non-identification and privacy matters within our family and relating to our places of living and working, the next chapters will not disclose them directly. I did give a lot of thought to whether I would continue once the family grew and hope this will work out. If it does not, then I will dis-continue writing it on the blog. Fingers crossed!

 

 

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Telling My Story: Chapter Five. 1971.2018. 79.


Telling My Story: Chapter Five. 1971.2018.79.

One year post major cancer surgeries.

I am back with my memoir: Telling My Story, which began here, then had a long break.

Then what happened?

I met the love of my life (and he is still that indeed!) when I completed chapter 3 and now to tell more.

On turning 21. 

Late in 1970 was my 21st Birthday. My parents had met the young man who I knew I would marry but they did not know ALL of the story. Later! Mum and Dad kindly put on a family and friends 21st celebration for me back in Sydney. I flew down from Tamworth, farewelling my love at the airport and it was supposed to be that I came back by car. My parents were generous, no doubt about it, and I was given a start with a second-hand car for my birthday. That is what I drove back to Barraba in. On the Monday evening after, Mum and Dad hosted a dinner at a Tamworth Club for me and all of the school staff was invited. Kind of over the top for sure and my now husband wondered about the extravagance. We knew more about what was also happening. That we were going to be married in the coming school holidays. So we could be with each other forever.

Family Birthday & Mum is obviously who I inherited my smile from!

Teaching Nearer To Each Other.

We knew we wanted to be married and teach in schools close to where we would live. Easy peasy? Not but in one way yes. I was teaching in a town with a central school (K-12) and my husband-to-be was literally over the mountain teaching in his one-teacher school. Normally the NSW Department of Education requires a teacher to stay at least 3 years in a school before a transfer can occur. In my case, in 1970, my D.P. put the situation to the Area Director at the time, and he came up with the plan, if agreeable to the other teacher, to do a ‘swap’ of positions. The teacher in the small 2 teacher school was moved to my position and I to hers as it was a school close-ish to my soon-to-be husband’s school and to where we might live on a country property.

Wedding Bells.

So, we became engaged just before Christmas and my fiance spent his Christmas in the NSW countryside with his family as I did with mine in Sydney. We had mentioned our forthcoming engagement and desire to be wed in January to both families. His was concerned about religious difference and they had not yet met me, mine was concerned similarly even though they had met him. A few times by now. WE knew more but as long as a wedding was locked in and planned for late January we were fine. Until….

This

We knew I was pregnant by the school holidays when we had arrived at my parents’ place to stay until the wedding. However, given the times we lived in (1970), the already raised concerns about religion (he was catholic I came from protestant stock) and from a parent’s perspective I guess, our short time in knowing each other we were not letting THIS news out.

But it did come out and it is not something to detail here, suffice to say, but there were a few “convos”!

The thing all through the weeks of the above was we KNEW all would be well. We KNEW we love(d) each other. We were CERTAIN and I add now, that doubt has never crossed our minds in 47 plus years.

Married Life Begins! 

The day of our wedding was a typical Sydney January one: rainy in the morning, warm and then incredibly humid in the afternoon (our wedding was held then) and stifling hot when we departed the church. In those days the wedding photographer did black and white shots. Fortunately some family members took some coloured ones. We really enjoyed the party that was the wedding. After all that had gone on before it was a celebration of family and love. The next day, we returned to my parents’ place, had breakfast with the assembled wedding party that woke up, and left with our one car laden with presents, our clothing and to begin our honeymoon travelling slowly up the Pacific Highway to end at Ballina.

 

Family shots in collage of our Wedding Day.

My husband grew up near there and it was/is a favourite place. We had fun, went fishing, swimming and ate out. I remember being tired (never gave preganancy a thought really) and eventually return to school made us wend our way west. Meanwhile, NSW experienced some major flooding in January 1971 and yes, we did keep an eye on the TV and soon found that despite our wishes, the road into our new married home ( a track of sorts) would not be passable and we were kindly given space at one of the local families’ farmhouse. We began the next stage of our married life…in single beds…and with parents and kids from my husband’s school. Eventually we did get in and tried as best as we could to prepare for ONE of us to return to teaching.

Teaching and Schools Then.

The one of us was me. Yes, the two-teacher school where I had received the swap was, in Department of Education-speak on the eastern side of the imaginary line in N.S.W. This line, still exists, and schools west of it, have an extra week’s holidays at summer time because of the climate differences. Let me tell you, my husband’s school was a 20 minute drive away on dirt road from my school and HE got to stay home for another week.

I love teaching and the class consisted of around 20 kids who were in K to Year 2. I am organised and it did not take me long to timetable the work each day to enable me to spend parts of the lessons with the youngest children. In the meantime, my husband did eventually go back to his school of K-6 with around 20 children.

On my husband’s trip back to where we taught and lived he visited this school – two classrooms – this is the one where I taught K-2. No air con back then!

Teaching in the N.S.W. country regions of the North West was good. Schools were populated by children of land-holders, and of those who worked for them. Parents were helpful in terms of some fundraising and on Sports’ Days and for the Christmas concerts. Some of the roles my husband did in his one-teacher school included: cleaner – inside the classroom and outside…in the toilets. Where brown snakes might gather and be of danger to the children…and shoosh. Do not tell but he literally had to kill a snake as it was in the girls’ toilet. Mind you, I had a more flash set up at the bigger two-teacher school (flushing toilet) but alas when the green frogs were part of the sistern this non-country girl did not like!

This is the one-teacher school where my husband taught for 3 years. It’s me out the front. We visited some decades later and this was gone and a crop was growiing there.

Home Life for Us.

Life went on, he played cricket on Saturday afternoons, we had meals at our friends’ place (he was my boss, she was a friend) and I grew our daughter. In the May school holidays we drove to my parents’ house in Sydney and I recall Mum taking me to buy some maternity clothes to wear to school. No slacks or pants of any kind then – the sexist boss once told me I could not wear pants as he liked to look at women’s legs. Gah!

By the time the middle of the year came and my pregnancy was evident, the parents of both my school and that of my husband knew and were kind and understanding when they found I would be replaced for the latter part of the year. I have to say, I was pretty ignorant of my pregnant body and how birth would occur  and was given some great help by one parent who was a physiotherapist.

At 22, my husband’s age and 21, mine…. we were about to become parents. There is quite a story attached to this life-changing experience and that will be in Chapter 5.

In 2017 my husband did a ‘trip back to where we lived’ and this is the sign to the property where we lived. No evidence of a house anywhere and the road you see was dirt back then.

What comes next…

In keeping with non-identification and privacy matters within our family and relating to our places of living and working, the next chapters will not disclose them directly. I did give a lot of thought to whether I would continue once the family grew and hope this will work out. If it does not, then I will dis-continue writing it on the blog. Fingers crossed!

I hope you found this chapter of interest.

Denyse.

 

 

 

 

 

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Telling My Story. Chapter Four. 1970. 2018.68.

Telling My Story. Chapter Four. 1970. 2018.68.

A catch up for my readers:

In early May 2017 I began Telling My Story – after being hesitant then giving it a go, thanks to a friend who suggested writing my story “one blog post at a time“.

Deciding to begin my story! Early May 2017.

Then, as many may recall, I was diagnosed with cancer that same week. I did not announce the news till later.

MORE time went by (of course) but I knew Telling My Story would continue.

This is also the new profile photo of course!

One year post major cancer surgeries.

Leaving Sydney and Home.

After the Christmas holidays and break everyone has in an Australian summer, it was time for me to leave home!

On January 27 1970 I commenced my permanent teaching role with the N.S.W. Department of Education at Barraba Central School in North Western N.S.W. The beach and city girl gave that away to ….teach…and be closer to her then 3 year boyfriend who was now working in Tamworth.

Before that occurred: Graduation from Balmain Teacher’s College and Getting the Telegram to send me to my first school. Yes, appointments to a new school by transfer, promotion or first appointment came via a telegram until early 1980s.

I had no trepidation about leaving home and present Denyse wonders why! I think it was the excitement of independence and the love of the job I was starting..and the boyfriend being only an hour away probably helped. Well, I do know one thing about me arriving in Barraba with my parents. I had nowhere to live (yet) and just guessed it would work out.

Mum had lots of home-type things for me such as linen, I had my clothes (teaching apparel was dresses/skirts – no slacks or jeans) and my beginner’s mind!! School was the first place we visited on that long weekend in January 1970 and we found the deputy principal there sorting people out as he did us with a huge welcome and I knew I was going to be fine!

My first home-away from home. Shared Bedroom at front!

But having been given a name of a ‘lady who takes in boarders’ along with my teaching appointment we duly went to this house…and I did not quite think that was my place but, we returned to the school where we were helped again “there’s a share teacher house just over the road and I think they need another person.’ Yes! Off we went and I was in my new home. Shared bedroom with another teacher who went home on weekends and I was all OK.

Mum, apparently, who cried all the way back to Sydney Dad tells me recently. “Empty nest syndrome” had probably not been invented then, but in 1992 I experienced it when our daughter left home.

Dad and Mum in 1990s

Beginning My Career as a Teacher. 

In the overall scheme of things I did really well in my first year of teaching but as most people know, you tend to learn more once you are IN the classroom than when you are trained. I give my training at Balmain Teachers College full credit in how we were taught how to TEACH the basic of literacy and numeracy. We “did” every subject that was in the curriculum and it was a superior model compared to how I saw others being trained in the years following.

My training speciality was Infants teaching. K-2. However as time went on in our N.S.W. education system, this qualification was made K-6 so I could have taught in a primary school setting  too. It is important to note this as specialities were needed and I know my love of and for learning of young kids stays with me today as a passion.

What I Found Out About Myself in My First Year of Independence.

I really am stretching the brain cells to go back to the young woman (almost said girl) of just 20 years of age. I was away from living at home for the first time in my life. I was not, as I recall, wonderful at keeping house because I had been pretty spoiled living with Mum and Dad.

So to be part of a teacher-share house meant a roster for cooking and cleaning. I was also responsible for my own washing. In this town the water was pretty putrid so I used to ‘wash’ …OK Mum used to ‘wash’ my linen etc when I took it back to Sydney every few weeks. How come, you ask? The Deputy Principal of the school (someone I admire greatly and his influence on me as a teacher was a good one) was engaged to a lovely Nursing sister who, it turned out lived a few suburbs away from my parents. Terry, the DP, would drive down on a Friday night after school (about a 4-6 hour trip back then down the New England Highway, and I would be picked up from a central point by my parents and spend time at home and getting the washing done and probably knowing Mum, some home-made treats to take back. Terry used me mostly as a companionable co-driver and that was fine.

I experienced my first (and only) relationship break up in the first school holidays that year. My long term boyfriend (3 years) had not loved his new career at Tamworth and was going through some pretty anxious times and he called off our relationship. Yes I cried but over time, I saw some good things about it. In fact, it gave me a better focus on the school teaching community and the fun we could have as young people as a group outside school hours.

We had drinks at the local golf club, we drove to the coast down the Great Dividing Range for a weekend at Port Macquarie, we staged dinner parties at each other’s houses and of course we supported each other at the K-12 school. It was a year of growth and friendships made. I coached the boys’ basketball team. I had no idea but apparently they went well. I was even encouraged to enter the Miss Australia quest representing Barraba along with another girl and had a day or two in Tamworth to take part in the judging and then the Presentation Ball that night.

For those who want to know..I am 3rd from left. Short! A tall person won!

In a teacher’s first year back then, an Inspector of Schools came to the class to watch me teach, talk to me and then as I was successful, I had a report written about me and what he saw and that led to permanency. An excerpt:

Miss Simpson approaches her work in a sincere manner and her  lively personality enables her to manage a combined group (K/1) in a capable manner. Control does not present any problem and her classroom activities proceed smoothly as a result of detailed programming and thoughtful preparation. Full use is made of the available display space in order to enhance the appearance of her classroom. A good working environment is evident in her classroom

In October 1970 the NSW Teachers Federation (of course I was a member) held its first ever Country Conference in Tamworth. Tamworth was the main centre for the airlines, and good department stores and clubs – RSL and more. For my two teacher friends, Sue and Rob, and I, it was an chance to…..socialise…and maybe meet blokes? We stayed at the Travelodge and whilst I can say I “did” attend some of the day meeting, I also used the time to shop for a delightful pink pantsuit. Pants suits were the rage. That night we were ready for socialising and when we rocked up for the dinner in frocks, there was one table with some spaces. It had 5 men occupying one end and we asked if there was space for us…”of course”.

I sat at one end and this young smiling man sat at the other and I will tell you readers, our eyes DID lock…and we smiled…and then…he asked me to dance. I was nervous and trod on his toes. He WAS about a foot taller than me.

Game Over. The singles one I mean!

Love All.

A preview..of what’s to come!

I do hope you are enjoying the stories. I am quite liking having to use the memory even if trying to find the photos is more troublesome.

Denyse.

 

 

On Tuesday this posts links with Kylie here

On Wednesday this post links with Sue and Leanne here

 

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Telling My Story. Chapter Three. 1962-69. Social Life & More. 2018.54.

Telling My Story. Chapter Three. 1962-69. Social Life & More. 2018.54.

Deciding to begin my story!

Well over as year ago I finally set upon the journey, after much encouragement I might add, of telling my life’s story via blog posts. My friend Rebecca Bowyer  who writes here recommended this way and it has worked so far. I admit though, that the May 2017 post where I started got waylaid by the most inconvenient fact of my cancer diagnosis in the same month.

Being a truth-teller and someone who likes to be updating photos and knowledge, I wondered if I might add a new photo which is based on the me now. Here it is.

One year post major cancer surgery.

The Social Aspects of My Teens 1962-1969.

I am really delving into the memory bank now and what I come up with may not be in chronological order!

Music, The Radio and More.

When I was 13 I was lucky, oh so lucky, to become the owner of a portable transistor radio. It was light blue plastic, covered with  brown leather protection. It ran on batteries. It had a shoulder strap so I could carry it. I cannot recall if it had a power cord. BUT, I was in teen heaven with it. My Dad really understood my love of all things teen music (he was enamoured with the jazz musicians and big bands of the 1930s and 40s. Mum was never into music even though she was an awesome dancer. I wonder if her hearing loss after giving  birth twice made her less than keen on music. She was, however, a BIG fan of something I never was…talk back radio (told you I would get ahead of myself) and for Mum and Dad’s 60th Wedding Anniversary in 2006 broadcaster Alan Jones wished Mum and Dad all the best. Gosh. I can’t believe I wrote that.

Mum and Dad – 60 years wed. 2.11.2006. Sadly Mum became very ill and passed away in March 2007.

When I was this age I had already begun babysitting for our neighbours and I know it went well because I got weekly gigs and paid well. It helped with pocket money for the canteen at school. And for purchasing records – 45s at the local music shop. My first record was the Beatles Love Me Do and when I was 14 I was incredibly lucky to be in the audience of the screaming thousands to listen (ha!) and see (almost ha!) The Beatles live in Sydney in 1964. Again I credit Dad with that!

We had a two storey house and the main living was upstairs – hilly block. Mum would be cooking dinner and I was, supposedly downstairs studying. I have no idea where my younger brother was. But as I ahem studied I had my radio tuned to 2SM, the Good Guys (Mike Walsh was a good guy) where on the very rare occasion I would ring and win a prize of a movie pass. We had a phone downstairs!!

On a sloping block Mum and Dad’s house had entry at street level and then it went downstairs to another level.

Around the age of 16 my friend Sue and I managed to get to be winners of a competition to be part of Ward ‘Pally’ Austin’s program on a Saturday afternoon. We liked his panel operator, Warrick more than Ward. But we both got to chat and I chose a record list for the afternoon. Ward drove both of us across the Harbour Bridge in his top down E-type white jag and then dropped as at North Sydney to get our bus home. O.M.G. famous. OK, there are people who will have different memories of Ward but he was fine with us and we enjoyed our 30 minutes of fame.

The playlist from my appearance on 2UW

History I Remember.

It might not be social but I recall very significant events which were now, for the main part, televised after we had heard about them on the radio. The assassination of John F Kennedy was a landmark. Then later on his brother and Martin Luther Kind Jr. We felt glad to be ‘isolated’ in Australia. Of course, I have to mention the Prime Minister Harold Holt who went into the surf one Sunday on Victoria’s Cheviot Beach and he never returned. So many theories still abound. We watched the Vietnam War on our news stations, particularly Channel Two and This Day Tonight with Bill Peach. So many now retired journos made their start on this show and because of the Vietnam war and Mike Carlton was but one.

Of course everything was telecast in black and white and we only had 3 commercial channels and the ABC. I wrote about that here.

What I Did On The Weekends & Holidays.

In my early teens I continued in the guiding movement being part of Manly’s groups in the hall in the park above Manly Oval. I would set off via the bus with my friend who lived nearby at dusk on a Friday and we might pop over to the Wharf and watch the donuts being made and buy one. The walk to the oval was not far and we took part in the meetings. Although my parents were stalwarts of the Scouting and Cub movements in their youth and my brother followed there, I was not enamoured.

I am so NOT a camping out person, even though I did ONCE and it was a long way from home and the site at Marshall Mount became flooded. My dear Papa, who knew the area well and lived at Dapto, got a taxi out there to see if I was OK. I was…but what a sweet man he was. We returned to Sydney on the train on a dismal June afternoon and caught a ferry at peak hour back to Manly, on a very rocky ferry…we screamed a bit. I was not to know it, till Mum picked us up, that Dad too was on that ferry! I think they stopped the ferries that night according to the news as they showed what happened on our trip!

So not into guiding.

I learned ten pin bowling at Balgowlah Ten Pin. This is now where Stockland Mall is. I liked it a lot there and, you guessed it, found a boy that I liked. Sigh. Young love. I played netball with some enthusiasm as I got older and mostly because I was in a team with a group from school and we might meet up with some of the boys…I was at a girls’ school…from the high school who came to see their friends. I also found it great once I had my licence so I could get there driving Mum’s car.

We did family holidays once a year, by car, and usually to the North Coast in the (then) September holidays. We also went to Canberra once a year as Mum’s aunt lived there and we enjoyed seeing snow for the first time after going down to Cooma and I developed my love for and appreciation of Australia’s capital city.

Going to the beach was easy because the bus took me to Manly and then I could walk down the Corso and go to my favourite beach hang – North Steyne. I was not there to ogle the blonde surfer boys. I was there to meet friends and to surf. Body surf, not on a board.

On the left: me at North Steyne. On the right: me at North Steyne on the way to Fellowship. BF chopped out. For a reason.

The movies were great. Sometimes we went into the city to George Street where there were cinemas on both sides. I saw many movies there with family and friends. There were always 2 features so the main movie was after interval. You also had to stand at the end to listen to the National Anthem – God Save the Queen.

Fellowship was a youth group that met at Manly Presbyterian Church. Before I go on. Mum and Dad married in the Presbyterian church and I was christened there. I went to Sunday School. When we moved to Balgowlah Heights there was a new Congregational Church a few streets away and I began attending there because I wanted to join a choir and I started teaching Sunday School. Peak time for me was singing a solo at Christmas and my nerves were such the voice did not do justice to the carol.

I taught little kids at Sunday School. For a while.

Back to fellowship. A great way to meet people. OK, I admit it, boys. See? This is what it was like. Fellowship at St Andrew’s Manly meant something to eat, join in a discussion probably related to the scriptures and then at leaving time, join your mates at the Balgowlah Coffee Shop. And met one boyfriend there…and another where the relationship lasted 3 years: 1967-1970.

The Teen Years of 18, 19 and turning 20. 1968-1969.

Turning 17 meant: Licence gained. H.S.C. completed, birthday parties and celebrations attended, training in typing (Dad insisted I did a course at Manly Evening College in Wentworth St, above the old Library) and I admit it helps me to this day to know how to almost-touch type. He also made me do shorthand in the January before I got my teacher’s college scholarship and I hated that. Off to be a teacher instead. Yay. More about that next chapter.

Very proud of this…and on first go!

In 5th Form (Yr 11) in a Gilbert & Sullivan Show with the Boys’ HS. Look who has her mouth open. Unsurprising.

Turning 18 and onto 19 and 20: at teacher’s college, doing 5 pracs over 2 years, attending Winter and Summer balls at both Sydney Uni and NSW Uni thanks to boyfriend being a Syd Uni student, parties most weekends for someone’s 21st as he was one year older than me, enjoying LIFE, loving independence even though I still lived at home, going on bush-based holidays and beach ones too thanks to the boyfriend’s family.

Wesley College Ball at Sydney Uni (left) and Bacchus Ball #3 for me, Uni NSW right.

So proud of “me now” posting pic of “me then”. Terrigal Beach 1968

Life took a more serious but exciting turn for me at the beginning of 1970 and that is where Chapter Four will go.

I hope that this trip down my memory lane is of interest.

I have been quite amazed at how some memories come back easily. I am also pleased I made some sort of memorabilia after carting around boxes of ‘stuff’ for years as we moved house as  young married teachers…but that is for another time.

Denyse.

On Tuesday this posts links with Kylie here

On Wednesday this post links with Sue and Leanne here

On Thursday this post links with Leanne here.

 

 

 

 

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