Saturday 21st May 2022

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.




On Tuesday this posts links with Kylie here

On Wednesday this post links with Sue and Leanne here




  1. So lovely to read this Denyse. It’s wonderful to have your past documented and I love that your eyes locked with your love straight away too! All those children were very lucky to have you as their teacher

    • How very kind Vicki. Thank you. Yes, t’is a true “love at first sight”. When I think of how many kids I have taught or had some influence in their lives once I became a Deputy and then a Principal, it is a substantive number. It really is a privilege to teach. Denyse x

  2. How beautiful is the excerpt written about you? What an amazing special woman you were and still are today.

  3. Oh wow, I’ve never received a telegram. Have seen plenty doing archival research, but never actually gotten one 🙂

    • I love that you liked this bit. It was a real life situation for much communication in the past. Telegrams were often sent in code and then deciphered at the Post Office or Phone Exchange. In my more modern years, 1950s-1970s, you’d go to the post office, write what you wanted (and a little like twitter, certain limits would be cut off points for how much it would cost) and then the P.O. person would send message to your local P.O. and a telegram delivery person, often on a bike would deliver it in an envelope. Telegrams were read out at weddings from people who could not be there. Often they were somewhat risque. Fun times.
      Denyse x

  4. A telegram for your placement – how funny! You’re so right about that first year of teaching – as good as my four year teaching degree course was, I learned more in my first year of teaching than I ever did at uni! I love the story of how you and hubby met! Now I want to see the pink pantsuit…

    • Sadly no pics of the pink pantsuit that I can recall. Hardly any pics taken then in colour. In fact our professional wedding pics are all in B&W because that was how it was done in 1971. We only have some colour pics from friends and family.

      Telegrams were used in many forms for the years I recall until early 1980s. B and I had telegrams of job transfers, then we would have to telegram back a reponse. Later a letter would arrive. It was all about getting the offers of employment or promotion out to respond by a certain time (48hrs I think) or the offer would go to the next person “on the list”. There really were LISTS! Chronological for initial employment and then, if you were successful in promotion inspections, you would be “added to the list” of possible candidates for a job. More about that in further chapters!!

      We are pretty proud of our story and how long our marriage has lasted…..opposites attract??

      Denyse x

  5. I’m really enjoying reading about Your Story Denyce. You have a fabulous memory for detail.Looking forward to the next chapter.

  6. I’m really enjoying reading your story and also seeing your photos. Look forward to the next instalment!

    • Oh thanks Erika! I think the advice from Rebecca Bowyer about “one blog post at a time” for this is working well for me to remember and to write!

      Denyse x

  7. Nothing like a love story to keep your readers engaged Denyse! It’s so interesting reading your story because it reflects that stage of life for a lot of us. I remember how optimistic and bulletproof I was in my first year away from home. I was also part of the school teacher community (dental therapists were attached to a primary school and did a country posting too). So much fun and so many memories from that time. I also met my husband during that stage – ain’t love grand?
    Thanks for linking up with us at #MLSTL and I’ve shared this on my SM 🙂

    • Yes we sure do seem to share those common elements from the ‘early years’. I do recall the travelling dentists and dental nurses being in caravans in the school grounds in one school. We were a very social bunch and they were fun times indeed.

      Great to know how you met your husband as well.

      Love IS a beautiful song…as they sing!

      Denyse x

  8. This was such a beautiful read. I look forward to the next installment.

  9. Hi Denyse, I love reading about your life and I actually wanted to be a teacher myself. Unfortunately, my parents weren’t of the same mind and I went with their wishes. I wasn’t very strong in those days, however, I did find ‘teaching’ with my career. I ran a Ballet Studio for many years, teaching ballet, tap, jazz and highland dancing. A few years ago, I became an H&R Block Teacher, training people on preparing tax returns. Even though I never made it to teaching in the Education system, I did enjoy the satisfaction of watching my pupils learn, progress and grow. Thank you for sharing more of your story with us at #MLSTL. It is always a pleasure to have you join us. Have a lovely day, Denyse.

    • I know that about you and teaching and it always makes me sad. But I also get that it is/was very hard for a girl in particular to speak up to her parents (not any more, I tell Dad now when he has gone off a bit and it stops!)

      I have a theory and your story proves what I say. Teachers are born not made. You obviously HAVE the vocation of a teacher and you have been able to channel it to fit what else you did. Teaching others something and the joy of when they ‘get it’ is powerful!!

      Good on you I say!

      Denyse x

  10. I come from a long line of teachers, I never cared much for children myself so knew that wouldn’t be my choice. I am enjoying reading your story.