Friday 1st July 2022

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

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

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

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

Telling My Story. The Early Mothering Years. 

Back to School. For Me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wonderful Three Years In a Great Community.

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

Here are some things we did:

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

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

School Holidays.

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

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

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

Sadder Times.

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

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

That was it.

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

As an Acting Principal.

Off We Went. Again.

More to come of THIS particular time in Chapter Eight.

Have you lived in different places?

Tell me more in the comments.





  1. What a fascinating story. I’m amazed at all the moving you had to do and how generous people were with child minding services! As an only child from a (working) single parent family, I have fond memories of being cared for by family and neighbours and always loved going to their houses, it was such a treat! In other ways I’m pleased that times have changed – the pensions!

    • Thanks Sammie, yes many teachers of our era moved all around N.S.W. I think teachers these days need to get a broader perspective than their own area where they grew up, trained to teach and now teach. As you know from your work with refugees there “IS” a world outside our own backyards.

      We did pay the people who cared for our children but it was more about what they offered too: the care and closeness of a family setting. Very fortunate indeed.

      The superannuation thing …grrrr. Our life would be so much easier now but for that simple decision made in 1972. Sigh.

      Denyse x

  2. Love your story.
    I remember my mum being home when I was quite young, but I also then remembering walking home from school on my own at the age of 5 (from kindergarten) which was about a 1 or 2 km walk. Felt like 10 km for 5 year old legs. It seemed to take hours. But I enjoyed it. I would NEVER have let my young kids walk that distance on their own. Different times. I remember when I started going to my neighbours place for many years when Mum started work.
    My own kids were in daycare at 3 months and 6 months. As a new mum I needed that at the start. It wasn’t until I became comfortable and confident in my mother role that I “came home”.
    We all have such unique stories … yet also so similar.

    • So true Leanne you are right about similarities and differences. My daughter (the one in this chapter) has always preferred the stay at home life…but couldn’t sustain it as a main breadwinner and then a single mum. She was only able to complete her Masters lasy year thanks to part time work and LSL> Now her youngest is in school she “has” to work full-time but I suspect, even with the tiredness, she is happier to be having full-time say in her Library.

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. We walked (or rode bikes) to primary school back in the 1950s and 1960s.

      Denyse x

  3. It sounds like there was a wonderful community in all of these places to support you teaching. Was that reflective of the time/small town or do you think it still exists?

    • I think there are elements that still exist, yes. However, many more teachers are not prepared to ‘go bush’ like we were. I guess it depends on the small communities too these days as more women are likely to be working in town while the husband works the land.

      Denyse x

  4. Love your story. I grew up with mum being home every day so to me that is what just happened. Mum would pick us up from school and take us home for a snack. My cousins often joined us while mum had coffee with her sister. They were pretty special times.

    • That is so cool as a memory. My mum was always at home and I recall walking home as a kid to have a fresh bread sandwich. I can still taste it!!

      Denyse x

  5. You have had such a fascinating life Denyse and I love how you ‘tell it as it is’. We are all different so having the courage to keep working and admit that being a SAHM wasn’t your thing is admirable. I’m enjoying reading about your life and there is so more to come. Thanks for sharing with us at #MLSTL. xx

    • Thanks so much Sue. I guess some of our ‘outback’ adventures were quite fascinating but it made great memories and experiences for us both – before we turned 30! My parents used to visit quite a bit too and we never really felt isolated because of the strong friendships developed through teaching.

      Denyse x

  6. Moving around was definitely part of the job for teachers (and for dental therapists – I worked at three country schools and a city school over a six year period). It was just the normal thing to do back then. I didn’t know you’d had such a difficult time with pregnancy Denyse – not an easy journey at all but your daughter was a gorgeous little girl (and I can understand why she would have been spoilt by her babysitter and grandparents!)
    MLST and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    • We do have similar early days’ stories. Ironic to fall pregnant so easily #1 and then to face the prospect of infertility…and I was told “you won’t have any more children”…this will be part of Chapter Seven.

      Yes our daughter had the best life before school and as a solo grandchild. Lots of love and attention from many.

      Thanks for your kind words, and I am glad you are finding my story of interest.

      Denyse x

  7. i can relate to so much of your story Denyse, it’s just great! Having been married to a teacher for 38 years I know so much of the background. Have you kept notes along the way or are you writing purely from memory? #mlstl

    • Thank you! I would love to put the places in as well but I did determine no identifiers after the first chapters where I was the only one involved. I am a good memory keeper and maker & whilst I can remember all the schools I taught at and each of the years it is good to get it down. I am the person in the family who has made scrapbooks and tributes for birthdays (my parents big ones ending in zero) etc. I do enjoy the trips down memory lane and I find if I can keep this memoir in chronological order that helps me. I was fortunate ages ago when my daughter had some time away from work I gave her a project to help sort my photos into dates by years and whilst the albums are now kind of falling apart, it is helpful for me doing this that I can get the iPhone and take pics of pics. I have many more photos of schools with teachers etc but I keep the identifiers out. Next chapter will be the trials of going to one of the most remote schools as the husband and wife teacher and where our daughter started school! Denyse x

  8. I hope you’ll consider making a book out of these posts!

    • Thanks so much Amy. I am keeping them as print outs for the family to read. Because of “protecting privacy” of places (schools in particular) and names of people (teachers, family) I am making each post with non-identifiers. It is a bit of a shame but that’s what I decided once I got into parts of the story I did not fully “own” as they involved others who may or may not have wanted details made public.

      Denyse x