Deb finally got her Primary School memories to me and here it is -
So the challenge this time is all about our Primary school years which were spent at Bennettswood primary school. Bennettswood primary school ran off Station Street and Burwood Highway and we skirted directly into it via numerous windy roads and side streets.
I must admit my memories of primary school are fairly dim but I will try to recall as much detail as possible here.I actually don’t ever remember Mum taking me to school. However, that would seem strange, particularly as I started at the age of 5 – I would imagine she had some time where she did so. Although having said that, I guess life was a lot simpler back then and seemingly there weren’t as many crimes or criminals to worry about. I do vaguely recall the episode that Karen spoke about taking Karen, me, Annette & Joanne to school (I think) one day, in Mum’s car and we turned from Eley Road left into Station Street and Annette went flying out the back door. There were no seat belts in those days and obviously the door wasn’t locked and she went flying out. I recall the laughter and the subsequent embarrassment from Annette – but I’m guessing she was absolutely fine or there would have been more problems.
As Karen and Laurie were much older than me, I actually spent nearly, or all of my primary school years walking to and from school. It was actually a fair hike to go in those days. I remember getting home around 4.00pm of an afternoon, so I’m guessing it was about a ½ hour – 45 minute walk. I do remember that I didn’t like doing it on my own, and would hang around outside the corridors after the bell went to see who I could walk home with. My favourite people were Sally Whitcher and Susan although I can’t remember her surname at the top of my head. The only problem with both of them was also that they didn’t have to go the whole way and Sally’s place was out of the way a bit, but at least it gave me some company.
Again I’m guessing, but I think there was probably around 500 – 600 kids that went to our school. It was a friendly school, well mostly. I do recall one incident with a young girl; I think we were in about Grade 3 who got teased a lot. This was simply because she was Italian decent and her name was Giovanni – which was of course a hard name to have in an evidently typical Anglo Saxon school. The kids were teasing and teasing her and eventually it upset me and I made friends with her and told them to back off. We did of course have other kids from other descents as well, but mostly we were all white Anglo Saxon and you got away with having other unusual names if you were part of the “popular kids”.
We wore uniforms – they were green and white striped dresses and we had jumpers as well. I can’t remember what we did in Winter time, although I’m guessing that let us wear pants. I was certainly happy that by the time I got to Bennettswood I at least didn’t have to wear the silly hat that my sister wore and I was allowed to wear my hair long – again unlike Karen who had to have the short boys hair cut. I usually wore my hair tied up in pigtails and would put a green ribbon in them.
Winter time – I remember going to the school canteen at lunchtime and ordering a tomato soup which cost about 10c and certainly did help to warm us up. For Summer, the order of the day was a Frosted Sunny Boy and again it was only about 10c. In the very early days of my primary school life the school provided fresh milk for us in a bottle and we had to drink it. That was O.K. in winter time, but in Summer time, when they had been left out in the sunshine, it was bloody horrible, as the top of the milk had turned to cream. We were still forced to drink it.
I also recall an incident with my Grade 4 teacher – who up until that point I had thought a really lovely lady. Something had happened to her overnight and my memories of the actual event she described are really vague. However, she was keeping us in and accusing all of us of doing this “wrong thing”. She kept looking at me throughout the day and was “saying Debra, if you know anything about this, you have to confess”. The day dragged on and it came to the end of the day where she had decided to keep us all in after school. I just remembered that if I ever got detention I was going to be in some serious bother. So after about the 3rd or 4th time that she accused me, I actually “fessed up” and said, it was me. As I’ve said, I have no memory about what it was, although a vague recollection of perhaps some menacing phone calls to her overnight. I don’t know why I would have volunteered that I was guilty about a crime I didn’t commit, except to say that I was really terrified of Mum thinking I had ever been given detention. After that she let us all go home, gave me a very stern warning not to do it again and we were allowed to go home. After that, I never did like her again, and I think she probably felt the same about me!
I recall a terrifying incident one winter’s day while at primary school. It was pouring with rain; it must have rained so hard that I can recall the smell of my woolen jumper being wet. I walked out after the bell went and started to walk home – well really just got past the main buildings and was walking down the driveway. The rain was absolutely pelting down and the wind was howling. I had my umbrella up and was trying to shelter myself from not only the rain but the driving wind that was almost pushing me off my feet. With that I caught a great gust of wind and my umbrella turned inside out. You know when you see someone like that; you have a laugh, only this time it definitely wasn’t funny. As quick as a wink, one of the spikes on the umbrella literally stabbed me in the eye. I knew it was bad, because I couldn’t see out of that eye due to the amount of blood that was pouring out. By the time it had happened, there appeared not to be anyone around and I was getting panicky that I was seriously hurt and couldn’t find anyone. I managed to get myself back up to the school buildings and couldn’t find any teachers. Eventually still with the blood pouring out, I made my way to the office and there was someone still there. They took me inside and got me to sit down and held a cloth to my eye. They phoned Mum – and I had to wait probably around the ½ hour or 45 minutes it took her to drive to school. She flew into the office and got me in the car and off we went to see Doctor Hewitt – our family GP in Box Hill. Doctor Hewitt said I was a really lucky girl that if the spike had have entered 1 mm either side of my pupil I probably would have ended up blind. As it was, it just missed the main spot and I only had to wear a patch for a couple of days. Now when it’s too windy as well as rainy, I don’t bother with the brolly, I’d rather get wet.
I remember getting together with some of my girlfriends and creating dances – mostly to Susie Quatro. We would choreograph a dance and then all get together to make sure we had done it properly. I think I was always secretly annoyed that my sister did Ballet and I was never allowed to. Mum only let me choose “one thing” as an after school activity and for me that was Brownies and then Girl Guides.
I remember Grade 6 where I guess we had the first of the “muck up” days that the kids have now. The only difference being that ours was simply a day of dress up’s – I guess that tradition has carried on. I can’t remember what I dressed up as, but I do know that I have some photographs of my friends. A vague recollection is that I might have been one of the band “Kiss” members, but I’m not sure if I’m remembering me or my friends.
My favourite classes at Bennettswood were cooking – funny that I definitely didn’t like that tradition, once I grew up! I loved bringing home the bits that I cooked during the day and asking Mum and Dad to taste them. I don’t remember them going back for seconds, so I guess I wasn’t very good at it even then.
The other classes I loved were Art, Art, and more Art. Like my brother and sister before me, I was of the “arty” type. Although unlike Laurie, I couldn’t actually draw from my imagination – I became a really good copier and you could put a picture in front of me and generally I was able to replicate it. As I grew older and became better at my construction of the human body, mostly in pencil, I lost my natural ability to do a face, so replicated many poses of males and females all without faces. Maybe I should have obscured them a bit more and had a shot at becoming the next Picasso.
I was also a pretty good runner while I was at Bennettswood – I entered most running competitions and was known to win a lot of the sprints. Not much of a long distance runner, but had a good stride on me. I did also do Little Athletics (so I guess I did two after school activities at one stage) maybe that helped me. Or perhaps it was Dad who did run in the Stawell Gift one year. I also entered all of the hurdle competitions and the high jump. In primary school in the high jump I got through to the inter school sports and won and then got selected to go into the interstate sports. Unfortunately at that point, I was disqualified because I used to actually hurdle the high jump – I had no idea how to do the scissor jump, but could get just as far as anyone else by hurdling, so at that stage none of my teachers had picked me up on technique. I was bitterly disappointed to get no further.
Primary school was O.K. for me – I passed everything at that stage although began my dislike for subjects such as Math at this early stage. It really was just the stepping stone for me to move into high school and I couldn’t wait to be the big girl.