Sunday 22nd May 2022

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….


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.









  1. I love your pregnancy stroy. Isn’t it good how things have changed. You are still together with the same man but back then – not a good thing.

  2. You could make these posts into a book! Love reading the chapters <3

    • Thank you Amy, yes am printing each one off for me to keep. Unsure it will be anything more than that though. It was Rebecca Bowyer who told me the idea of “one blog post at a time” as she knew that was how Mrs Woog wrote her first book. It is good for my memory to do this as well I reckon!!

      Denyse x

  3. I find the one teacher school (even two teacher school!) so far away from my experiences that I can’t imagine it!

    • It is not too much different to a class of 20-30 kids but their ages and stages of learning are more wide-spread. What we did (my husband and I taught together – another chapter in the future) is for Maths and English the school of 25 kids were ‘graded’ by learning need rather than age.

      Most regular classes have a range of abilities and needs but it does take some skill to manage and teach that way.

      Denyse x

  4. what a memory you have for remembering the details back that far!

    my brother attended a tiny school in his primary years, but even that had 90 students, your 1 and 2 teacher schools were even smaller!

    • Thank you Cate, I have a good memory for this kind of thing so hope it stays for me to continue.

      In the days when we taught outback there was virtually a small one-teacher school in the farming communities. There a far fewer now, with technology helping families with distance ed etc.

      Denyse x

  5. I love these chapters of your life story – I too am amazed at your memory. Also gobsmacked at how far away you were sent as a new teacher!

    • Thank you Sammie, glad you are enjoying them. To fulfil the requirements of the paid scholarship that all NSW Public School teachers were given (paid to study: $22 a fortnight for me who lived at home, more for B who was in a residential college in Armidale) and being bonded for 3 years, we HAD to go to anywhere we were sent in NSW. In my case, I asked to go to the north west as my then bf was going to be in Tamworth. I fulfilled my requirement and with the large population starting school in 1970s they even changed some fo the boundaries to include the far reaches of suburbia – Green Valley near Liverpool so that they could staff the schools.

      Denyse x

  6. Oh, Denyse, what a lovely walk down Memory Lane. I grew up in a very small town, “in isolation” it was called as there were no roads in in the early days, just a choppy boat ride! Small schools, small classes – everyone knew everyone! But you learn to adapt and go with the flow… as you and your wonderful husband did. Looking forward to the next installment!

    • Thank you so much! I am glad you ‘get it’ and yes, living in a small community has many benefits and the odd one of two negatives! In future chapters there will be more about our small school teaching days.

      Lovely to read of your experience.

      Denyse x

  7. This is so lovely Denyse and a wonderful way for you to document your life for your family and friends. Yes, you did inherit your beautiful smile from you Mum and you looked lovely in your wedding photos. Have a beautiful week and thank you for being part of the #MLSTL community.

    • Thank you so much Sue. I said to my husband this morning “I think I look more like Mum now than I ever did” It IS the smile, as I take after dad in other respects. Double & triple chin anyone…

      Denyse x

  8. Ah the frogs in the cistern I remember them well. We had a long drop in the back yard and yes a snake was once found in there. I preferred it though to the flash flush toilet at the home of neighbours – it had the green frogs and they terrified me as a child.

    • I love your story too. We had city visitors in our first year at the Narrabri house and the girls wouldn’t have a shower because of the frogs.

      Denyse x

  9. I’m really enjoying reading about your life Denyse – it’s such a little time capsule of the 60s and 70s so far and I can relate to a lot of it. We were 21 and 22 when we were married and had known each other less than a year – and are still going strong – love is worth investing in and people give up on it too easily these days.
    #MLSTL 🙂

    • That’s great to know and I am pleased you are enjoying it. From now though, I need to be careful of the story’s other characters, places and times to avoid any kind of identification. I had a good think about where to go next and am pretty sure it will work. We shall see.

      Denyse x

  10. Hi Denyse,
    Enjoyed reading this part. Teaching is such a noble and satisfying profession. I am sure you both must have enjoyed that a lot.
    I liked that introspective doubt regarding privacy at the end of the post. When I write personal posts, I too get such doubts. I play safe, and decide not to reveal too much.
    Good wishes,
    Pradeep |
    (#MLSTL visitor, shared on Google Plus)

    • Thank you kindly for your comment and understanding about the privacy issues. A while back I realised that this blog was about me and somewhat about others but unless I had their specific permission I would not publish. I just have to be careful. So far, OK.

      Denyse x

  11. You have such a great memory of your life. Good for you for knowing your husband was the one.

  12. What a wonderful love story Denyse! Thanks for sharing. I’m looking forward to the next installment. #MLSTL