Tuesday 18th December 2018

Telling My Story. Chapter Seven. 2018.124.

Telling My Story. Chapter Seven. 2018.124.

Dear Readers,

This is the seventh 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 Eight soon.

Denyse.

Joining Kylie for I Blog On Tuesdays here and Sue & Leanne here for Midlife Share The Love linky on Wednesdays.

 

 

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Telling My Story. Chapter Six. 2018.112.

Telling My Story. Chapter Six. 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 Seven.

Have you lived in different places?

Tell me more in the comments.

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie here on Tuesday for I Blog On Tuesday and On Wednesday I link up here for Midlife Share The Love with Sue and Leanne.

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Telling My Story. Chapter Five. 2018.100.

Telling My Story. Chapter Five. 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!

Back to School For Me. Chapter Six. Next time! 

Joining with Sue and Leanne here on Wednesday for Midlife Share The Love.

There is no I Blog on Tuesdays this week as Kylie is enjoying a much needed family break.

 

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Telling My Story: Chapter Four. 2018. 79.


Telling My Story: Chapter Four. 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…re-commenced here to the next post here and then to last time I wrote a chapter. My plan is one chapter every 4 weeks from now. I am glad readers and bloggers are finding the story interesting. Thank you for your gracious and kind words.

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.

Joining with Kylie here for I Blog On Tuesdays
And with Sue and Leanne here for Mid-life Share the Love linky.

 

 

 

 

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Telling My Story. Chapter Three. 2018.68.

Telling My Story. Chapter Three. 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“. I did just that and here it is.

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. I just was not sure when.

Here is Chapter One …..and then Chapter Two.

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 Two. 2018.54.

Telling My Story. Chapter Two. 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. Moving along into 2018 I got back to this…and wrote my first chapter here in March 2018.

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 1962-1967.

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 Three 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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Telling My Story. Chapter Two. 2018.26.

Telling My Story. Chapter Two. 2018.26.

 

Photo of Me on my 67th Birthday 30.11.2016.

The day before I was diagnosed with upper gum cancer I published ‘the first’ of a fore-shadowed series of posts about Telling My Story.

The response to the post of 16 May 2017 was well-received and I am glad I made a start. Here it is. I have included, from that post of almost a year ago, the introduction:

Recently I decided to begin Telling My Story.

Initially it was school-career based in a memoir genre. Then I wanted to tell what had happened in my life once I’d reached 60 and what I had learned. Where I am at now it a mix of all of this! I am going to start here: the beginning of my life, and interspersed with my career will be aspects of my life and how I have grown and changed…over and over!

I hope you will find something of interest. I know essentially I am doing this for me as it helps. However, as a blogger, I would like to think it has enough appeal for you to enjoy too.

I admit it was a pretty full-on time from 17th May 2017 and my mind was in quite a few places where blogging took a lesser priority but I knew I wanted to keep on doing this story of my life. I am finally ready to dive deep and remember where I was and what I want to say next!

Fast Forward: 2015 I returned to my old H.S. and presented at my last ever teacher professional meeting. I was retired in full after this!

High School Years. 1962-1967.

I was part of the cohort of N.S.W. students to enter high school in 1962 and become ‘the guinea pigs’ for the introduction of the Wyndham Scheme where it was decided that breaking the high school years up into 2 sections was the best plan. The first was Forms (years) 1 to 4 with an external School Certificate examination and then Forms 5 & 6 with an external Higher School Certificate.

The previous system which had been around for decades had students doing an Intermediate Certificate at the end of 3rd Year (and could leave school for work or a trade) and those who wanted to train, for example, as teachers or go to University went to do the Leaving Certificate at the end of 5th Year.

I was in a public primary school at Balgowlah Heights on the Northern Beaches in Sydney and the ‘feeder’ High School for my area was Manly Girls High School. It was located quite a way from home & not in Manly but a bus took us from a street near home to school and then the same in the afternoon. Manly Girls High was only pretty new too. So, when we arrived, there were students doing the five years and us, the newbies. There were at least 5 classes of 35+ students in this cohort of mine and I was placed in 1A. . This was, apparently, based on ability from primary school testing. In 2nd Form 2A meant I was studying the compulsory English, Maths, Science & History  along with my chosen subjects of French and German. We also had P.E., music lessons too. I admit I was not a swot but enjoyed the social aspect of school. I have written about that before here!

In the photo we are in Winter uniform (tunic, long sleeved shirts, tie, blazer). I am 3rd row, 2nd from left.

The school uniforms were traditional even though we were essentially a new school. The  main colour was brown, with green too. Who picks that, I ask? There were summer and winter uniforms and prefects checked length of uniforms (visually) as we walked into school and also…if our socks were turned down correctly. If we were seen in public (for example, my bus went through Manly and if I needed to go to the dentist or elsewhere, I would get off the bus there) and we had to ensure we had hat and gloves on. Even in Summer. I am not making this up.

 

First Day of High School. Gloves must be in my pocket! Summer Uniform was beige. Hats were made of straw…and flung around on the bus ( oh, not for a while!)

Our headmistress (no principal title for her!) was very English private school in her policies and we even sang British anthems at Assemblies: Jerusalem being one. (mind you I actually still like it!). To officially open the school we had the daughter of the Governor General of Australia do the honours. As in all things with government the official opening came way after the actual opening – I was in my 3rd year of H.S. but then – but we all got our photo taken to mark the occasion.

 

 

With our group being the first  to have two senior years we got the chance to have (and help design) a senior uniform. By now, the old headmistress had been replaced by a more reasonable head…but a deputy head who was dragon-like in her insistence on petty rules also arrived. Sigh. We also had the choices in subjects and could take 6 subjects in Form 5 and then drop one if we wished into the Higher School Certificate Year. I immediately dropped Science! No good at science ever. So my subjects ended up as compulsory: English and Maths, Modern History, French and German.

 

On Being The First Group To Complete Six Years at High School.

Last year it was the 50th anniversary of the first students to complete the 6 years of high school with the Higher School Certificate examination at its end. In the many years since we did it in 1967 there have been changes, such as making English the only mandatory subject and allowing many more ‘mini but specialised’ subjects into the list. The purpose as was foreshadowed by the Wyndham School of the additional year at school was to add maturity and experience in completing more complex subjects to enable most of those sitting the H.S.C. to go to University or, as in my case, Teachers’ College as they were known then.

The formal end of compulsory schooling was via the external examination called the School Certificate. It was rigorous and we sat for it in a similar way to the H.S.C. After this examination was passed (or not) students could decide to:

  • by passing, they could continue their education into the last 2 years of school at senior level
  • by passing, they could choose to leave and enter into the workforce or get a traineeship or apprenticeship and many did
  • by failing (awful word) repeat the year OR if they were 15 and over, could leave school without the qualification and enter the workforce.

There was nothing like the services of centrelink or similar. In fact, it was true that most people did get work or trained for a career. Some professions like nursing took entrants in with a School Certificate (or the H.S.C.) and they did hospital-based training as well as work in the hospitals. They were paid as they did so. They often lived-in and would have to pay board etc.

For those wanting to attend University in the time of my school leaving, there were paid Commonwealth Scholarships for University for those who wanted to do a degree (say B.A. or B.Sc) and then a Dip. Ed. to become a High School Teacher. These scholarships, earned via the quality of the final examination results,  indentured the student to work in a particular place/area of Australia for an agreed time. For me, as a new-to-be teacher in a N.S.W. Public School I secured a teachers’ scholarship which paid me an allowance to study and as I was living at home I did not need board and food allowances as my husband did when he went to teachers’ college away from home. We were both ‘bonded’ to the N.S.W. Department of Education for the first 3 years of our teaching and could be sent anywhere in N.S.W. or forfeit the bond and not have work from this employer. Neither of us did that..and if we had, we never would have met! That’s a whole chapter in the future!

This is actually still a provision of accepting a role of permanence in N.S.W. Department of Education : whilst in our employ you can and may be instructed to teach anywhere in N.S.W. When I was teaching Masters of Teaching students in 2013 and 2014 I told them of this and many were in disbelief. Unfortunately there is much less of the pioneer spirit had by those of us who graduated in the 1950s and 1960s which is a shame as there is so much to learn by moving away from your home and comfort zone.

The Social Aspects of My Teens 1962-1967. This will be the next chapter!!

What was high school like for you?

What kind of uniform did you have?

Did you go to High School to learn or to play?

I will be looking forward to reading your responses!

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie Purtell here on Tuesdays for her link up called I Blog On Tuesdays.

On Wednesdays I link here with Sue and Leanne for Midlife Share the Love link up.

And of course, never least…but the last link up of the week is with Leanne here for Lovin’ Life.

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Telling My Story.Chapter One. 2017.69.

Telling My Story.Chapter One. 2017.69.

Added: March 2018: This was published one day before I knew I has cancer. Once that was diagnosed a lot of change took place for me as I need to focus on my health, surgery and recovery. The story now picks up again…in mid March 2018 here! 

Recently I decided to begin Telling My Story.

Initially it was school-career based in a memoir genre. Then I wanted to tell what had happened in my life once I’d reached 60 and what I had learned. Where I am at now it a mix of all of this! I am going to start here: the beginning of my life, and interspersed with my career will be aspects of my life and how I have grown and changed…over and over!

I hope you will find something of interest. I know essentially I am doing this for me as it helps. However, as a blogger, I would like to think it has enough appeal for you to enjoy too.

Denyse.

Telling My Story.

I was born in the last year of the 1940s.

Photo taken for my Dad in Melbourne.

But before this all happened….

Obviously most memories of early childhood are gleaned from photos and other people’s stories when they tell us too. My life began in a most conventional way, first born to parents who loved each other and already had secured a house. Mum had worked in retail until I was coming along. Dad was an accountant continuing his career started at 15 with Australian Iron and Steel Port Kembla (later BHP) and joining a new company when the old one wanted him to move permanently (with me and Mum) to Melbourne for work. He did not want to leave the familiar and family which was based in Wollongong and surrounds.

Here’s a bit more to that story….

Dad tells me that in my first year of life when he HAD to go and work in the Melbourne office was one of the worst times he could recall being separated from his loving wife and baby girl. He even had us fly to Melbourne for a stay. What a time that must have been for my mum. In Wollongong we had loving and caring neighbours who helped Mum find her feet as a new parent. This family was amazing and I loved that we had a gate between our two places and I always felt welcomed there! Dad found another job, which was in the same company he retired from some 30 years later, and the family was complete when my brother was born AND we got our first car. A Holden FJ of course!

More on my parents before they met…

They were born in 1924 and raised in working class families on NSW South Coast, living through the Great Depression and World War 2 before meeting in the 1940s. My Dad is from Wollongong and my Mum was from Dapto.

Dad’s father died after a workplace accident at The Steelworks in 1935 and his mother was left to raise 4 children. Dad was the second child aged 11 at the time. He did without but his good marks at school and his willingness to become involved in the community which was predominantly the scouting movement meant he developed resilience and knew the power of having some money to survive. Even though he could have done the Leaving Certificate it was his duty to help support his family so at 15 he went to the Steelworks (AI&S as above) to begin in the role of Office Clerk.  Later this would lead to his training as an accountant as he had the mathematics for it! He tells me though, he never ‘got’ algebra.

Mum’s parents worked hard, one in the home, and one outside the home at the coal mine at Wongawilli near Dapto. My grandfather had lost an eye in a mining accident in 1924 so they gave him work ‘above the surface’ looking after the workers’ change areas. They helped raise two families. One, their own, of three children (Mum was the youngest, and 2nd daughter) and the family of two boys where the widower was my grandmother’s brother. It was not uncommon in the 1920s and 30s for this to be the case. Nevertheless my mum remembered it as the ‘boys’ got spoiled and did nothing and we girls did all the work around the house. Mum left school at 15 and went into retail where she thrived.

So how did a young man from Wollongong meet a young lady from Dapto in the early 1940s when there was a war happening? Dad was exempted from war service (age first, then industry reasons) and Mum had only just left school and was working in retail. However, they were both in the Scouting organisation as leaders in their respective home towns and met at Mt Keira Scout Camp Wollongong. After a courtship of some two years, they married on 2 November 1946 at Dapto. Mum’s cub group put on a guard of honour outside the church.

Wedding Day. 1946.

 

Dad and Mum late 1950s. Still in Wollongong.

In 1959 Dad got a job offer within the company he moved to in 1951 and that was of promotion to Chief Accountant at the Sydney office. It was one that could not be refused and this time with 2 children, I was 10 by now and my brother aged 7, we moved to what was to be Mum and Dad’s forever house at Balgowlah Heights.

Snapshots of Mum and Dad over the years…

They had active social and sporting lives, which continued in Sydney. Mum who had been a district rep in Hockey in her youth, went into tennis and played socially and competitively into her 70s. Dad found golf as a sport and business connection and played each Saturday and then once he retired on a Wednesday. Whenever they went away, their golf clubs and tennis racquets went with them as did groups of friends or they would meet up with friends. Mum loved her cards and working for charities such as the View Club. Both supported me and my brother in scouts and guides and in our sporting and school arenas.

Dad retired in 1983 and they spent 6 weeks annually on the Gold Coast, chasing the sun and meeting up with the many friends who had retired that way as well. Mum becoming unwell in the mid 2000s saw the end of that tradition. Sadly too, by the mid 1980s Mum had lost both her older siblings in their 60s. Dad, now 93, is the longest living member of his immediate family of 4.

1980s & 1990s on Holidays on the Gold Coast

 

Mother’s Day 2006. Mum and Dad with me.

Up until Mum’s 80th Birthday in December 2004 she had been quite well. A few so-called minor things were wrong and I know where my worry/anxiety gene comes from. But my mum, just as I do, could put on a smile no matter what.

Mum and Dad celebrate 60 years of marriage. 2006.

We knew Mum was not well but Dad, as her primary carer, liked to see she did as much as she could that she enjoyed in what ended up being her last 2 years. on 2nd November 2006, after the messages from the Queen and many more, for their Diamond Wedding Anniversary, there was  a very special family-only get together, where this photo was taken. After that, Mum’s health sadly declined.

Mum was diagnosed with secondary brain tumours in early 2007  We will never know how much Mum knew about her declining condition but she was the one, back in late January 2007 who said ‘no operation’ when it was offered. The specialist and her doctors  agreed, along with us,  that we would not want Mum to go through that. She spent the next 2 weeks at home and sadly despite Dad’s best efforts to care for her there, she was admitted to palliative care where she died some weeks later. Dad visited every single day.

Moving along….

Mum and Dad have always supported our families over the years and of course, we have been there to support Dad in his new status as widower. He stayed in the family home for the next 4 years. He is still fiercely independent and wanted to be there. He did all the jobs as he was raised to do, and learned via scouting. By the end of 2010 loneliness was prevalent and he announced it was time to sell and move on. Along with family help of my brother, sister in law and me he was delighted to find the best place I could have found. In June 2011, after selling at the downturn in Sydney markets (!!) he moved into an airy and spacious independent retirement unit at Dee Why and has more interactions with people every day than ever. He has only given up driving, and the car, in the past month.

3 years ago at Dad’s 90th Birthday. 3 years ago!

Reflections now…about my parents.

I love my parents and I was always well-cared for and encouraged to follow whatever path I chose. Dad was keen on continuing education and I when I wanted  to become a teacher and remain in the workplace, there was no feeling that I should be at home with the kids. However, my mother, who had always been at home, used to say “Denyse you rush those kids too much”…and sadly I may have but my work at school, along with childcare drop off, was where I was headed. I am more like Dad in personality and less like Mum. Yet I do have some of mum’s anxious disposition and I do enjoy what she did which was to cook and care for her family. She taught me a lot about cooking and I have her recipe books too. She did not encourage me to read, but I did. I was not interested in helping around the house because I preferred to read! I did not inherit Mum’s sporting prowess but I did her smile and the ability to chat with people. I can do that without my mum’s deafness for which I am grateful. More to come in the weeks ahead!

Please tell me if this has been of interest…and if it was too long.

I do know I can ramble on so I may need help!

I welcome your comments and thank you in advance!

Denyse.

Joining Kylie Purtell here for I Blog on Tuesdays and then on Thursdays, here with Leanne for Lovin’ Life linky.

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