The School Part 3

Well my schooldays commenced and I became No. 112 on the School Register. My Dad, Hugh Brady was No. 14 when he enrolled after moving here from Mordialloc with his family which shows that most people were not taking up permanent residence in Mallacoota only staying for short periods.

The three ‘R’s were the basis of our curriculum during those years. It was the era of chanting the multiplication tables, which I have found invaluable for remembering them over the years. Our early school Readers were soft covered but from grades 4 to a they were hard backed. When I hear people speak of spine chilling movies which must give children nightmares I really do not think, that anything could be more terrifying to a small child than the dreadful story “The Hobyahs” which featured in the Grade 2 Reader. Each month we received the School Paper a monthly newspaper costing 1/-(.one shilling) 10 cents, today. It was posted from Digby’s Newsagency in Bairnsdale and we loved it. With stories, poems, a school play and sheet music on the back cover, it was great value. One of my favourite songs was “Sunny, Sunny Victoria,” and another, with the words, “In the harbour, in the islands in the Spanish seas, are the little white houses and the orĀ­ange trees, and day long, night long, the sweet and gentle breeze of the trade winds blowing”… How I would love to hear a recording of it. The late, Marjorie Howden who lived in Mallacoota for many years illustrated many poems and stories in the School Paper.

Art lessons consisted of co louring in drawings in our pastel books, the pages of which had tissue paper in between to prevent smudging. The drawings were standard, a pear, an apple or a bunch of balloons with appropriate shading areas marked, which didn’t give much opportunity to develop individual artistic skills. Papier-mache was popular and we covered bottles in this way, later finishing with designs cut from shiny, coloured art paper; when varnished these became vases. We loved French knitting, achieved by looping wool over four small-headed nails around the centre of wooden. cotton reels. (Years later, my daughter had a Knitting Nancy, a colourful doll which certainly updated the cotton reel). The long cord which emerged from the bottom would eventually be wound into flat, round mats, then stitched to make smart tea-pot stands for our Mothers. I am very much afraid I never could quite get the hang of it and mine took on a saucer-like appearance.

Buckrum was used in our ‘sewing classes’, and a material called huckaback which was cut into oblong pieces; a fancyworked design added to each end, made table mats. With large needles …::__lIIIwe sewed around the dotted, outlined flowers and animals to make cardboard pictures. The piece de resistance must surely have been the woollen mats made by stretching coloured strands around nails on wooden frames, then tying, knotting and cutting. The result was most effective with rows of small multi-coloured porn -poms forming the mat.

Not many teachers stayed long in those days as it was so isolated and they never owned a car to go for a drive up the coast. Mostly they boarded at the Hotel, and walked with the town children to school looking not unlike the proverbial “Pied Piper.” City teachers were the butt of many pranks and jokes by the older boys which could at times be very confusing, especially when lads like Laurie (Bulla) Allan would seriously put up his hand during Morning Nature Talk and make the outstanding revelation, “Please Sir, when I was coming to school this morning, the rain was… wet!”

They were happy years, although we were quite unaware of the fact, we were all desperately poor as the early 1930’s were hard years. It was becoming evident that the township was commencing to develop down near the Entrance so it was decided to move SS 3515 down to the present site. For years Jonquils and arum lilies bloomed on the old school site, a reminder of those happy school days…

Leone Pheeney

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