Pooh Reflecting

Pooh Reflecting
Pooh Reflecting

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Riding An Elephant

Yesterday I had the District Nurse here to flush my Port - she brought a student nurse with her, who originally came from South Africa.  We were discussing native animals and the nurse asked the student if she had ever seen an elephant (among other animals) in the wild.  She replied she had, but to answer another question, had never ridden one.  I said I had - at the Melbourne Zoo.  When I was a child I clearly remember having a ride on the elephant.  An internet search provided the following information:
The Royal Melbourne Zoological Park received its first elephant in 1883 from Calcutta, a year after opening an institution modeled after the London Zoo. The female Asian elephant, named Ranee, died 21 years after her arrival. The zoo’s most famous elephant, Queenie, arrived in 1902 and gave rides for more than forty years until she killed a keeper in 1944 (possibly by accident). The following year she was put down by zoo management due to a food shortage stemming from World War II. In 1962, the zoo discontinued elephant rides. The two oldest residing elephants at the Melbourne Zoo, Bong Su and Mek Kapah, arrived in 1977 and 1978, respectively. They would remain together until the import of three juvenile females from Thailand in 2006.
Elephants at the Royal Melbourne Zoo
It may be that I had a ride on Betty or Peggy.  These were two baby elephants who arrived at the zoo in 1939.  Betty died in 1973 and Peggy in 1988.


(Click on this image to view a video of the baby elephants)

I can't find a photo of either of these elephants giving rides, but here is one of Queenie.  I remember that when I had a ride we sat in a seat just like in this photo.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sunday School Picnics

Thinking of the "Robyn Rae" reminds me of Sunday School Picnics.  I may be wrong, but I seem to remember one involved the "Robyn Rae", although I'm not sure how as not everyone would have fitted on it.  Most picnics seem to have been held at Mossvale Park near Mirboo North.  We sometimes went in a furniture van - although that seems a rather precarious way to travel.  My good friend Pam Ratten and I used to climb a tree - perhaps this one - and pretend it was The Wishing Tree from Enid Blyton's stories.
There were also three-legged races, sack races, potato races, egg and spoon races to be enjoyed.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The "Robyn Rae"

Can't mention the Shillings - Harry, Iris, Peter, Wendy and Robyn - without mentioning their boat the "Robyn Rae".  Unfortunately I don't have a photo of "Robyn Rae" - named after Robyn, and Wendy Rae.  She was moored in a berth beside the Raymond Island Ferry.  Not sure how big she was, but she was a metal boat, painted aqua blue with red trim if I remember correctly and as well as the Captain's cabin had sleeping berths for about 8 other people in bunks aft.  We spent several holidays on the boat at Paynesville with them.  I well remember a trip to the Grange, where we caught lots of eels and I lost my sunglasses off the jetty, shrimping with nets from the marina jetty, swimming near Progress Jetty, trawling for skip-jacks.  I also remember Harry broke his arm one day when he was doing something to the engine.  I know we used to have some photos or slides - goodness knows what happened to them.
The jetty at Ocean Grange

Josie the Joey

Not really our pet, but we once babysat (or should that be roosat) for our friends the Shillings.  They were caring for an orphaned baby wallaby, and when they went away we looked after Josie for a couple of weeks.  She was gorgeous and it was so special to have her in our back yard.  Eventually Josie was taken to Healesville Sanctuary where she lived out her days.


We always had a pet of some sort when I was growing up.  I don't think I can remember all of them, but I do remember Tiny the dog.  She was a stray that we adopted - a long-haired terrier of some sort.  I don't remember that Tiny was particularly a barker, but Mrs. Milligan obviously did because eventually we had to have Tiny put down because Etta complained about her barking.
Mrs. Evans next door always had cats, and we had at least one of the kittens - a trio of kittens were called Whiskey, Line and Soda - I think Whiskey became ours, but I'm not quite sure.  Then there was Coconut, a white kitten.  When we had Coconut we also acquired a miniature dachshund cross which we called Ruff - Coconut Ruff!  This was Ruff a few days after we got her - we went to an Aquatic Carnival at the Hazelwood Pondage.  This photo was taken by the photographer from the local paper.  I also remember that Ruff got very brave and chased a horse that day!
This was Ruff when she was older and a bit bigger.

We also had a rosella (I think) in the aviary beside the playhouse.  And at various times we had budgies.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Young Adult Fellowship!  Oh, how one longed to turn 13 so you could join YAF.  This was the Church youth group, but you had to be 13 to join.  How I envied Pam Ratten, because her birthday was in May, and I didn't turn 13 until the August.  YAF was run by the minister, Brian Dowsett - can't remember if other adults were involved.  We had film nights, discos, games nights - can't actually remember what else we did.  It was held on Saturday night in the Church Hall, unless we went somewhere else. We also went on camps, but can't remember if they were YAF activities or just Church activities, the former I think.  The camps were at Banksia Peninsula on the Gippsland Lakes.  I always thought it was called Camp Banksia - but from the little I can find on the net it seems it may be called Camp Cormorant.
I dearly remember the outdoor altar on the banks of Lake Victoria - particularly one beautiful dawn service on Easter Sunday, where we were joined by kangaroos.  I also remember a trainee minister who was with us on one camp (can't remember his name though) who said Grace for one meal - "Heavenly Pa! Ta! Amen."  Wish I could find a photo somewhere, especially of the altar.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Yallourn Hospital

I was born in the Yallourn Hospital - there wasn't one in Morwell in 1953.  I used to show Susan where I was born on our way to visit her Nan - and pointed to the Open Cut Coal Mine which eventually swallowed up the Yallourn Hospital.

I don't ever remember seeing the hospital myself, even though we went to Yallourn often when I was a child.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Going back in time now.  When I was about 6 I guess I began ballet lessons.  Actually, it was ballet and tap at first, but I soon gave up tap and just learnt ballet.  I can't remember how long I went to lessons but it was a couple of years.  I loved it, so don't know why I stopped.  My teacher was Marie Morden, and although she also lived in Morwell the lessons were held at Kernot Hall in Yallourn.  We had concerts here too.
Kernot Hall, Yallourn
I remember that Marie used to say she could always tell how far up we raised our legs when doing one position because she could see the trail of coal dust up our opposite leg.  I used to travel to Yallourn with Marie.
Aunty Joan paid for my lessons, despite living in England.  She was a dancer herself.

My First Job

When I asked Mum and Dad if I could go on the Geography excursion to Broken Hill I was told I could, but I had to pay for much of it myself.  That meant I had to get a Saturday morning job.  Dad knew Mr Norman Sharpe, owner of Sharpe's Emporium, an institution in Morwell.  Before I knew it I had a job.  It paid less than $2 for 3 hours work - 9:00am to 12:00 noon.  Dad made up the pay to $2 each week, and that paid for my trip.  I didn't spend a penny of my pay before I went away.  I think the trip cost about $40 all up.
Sharpe's!  What a place.  According to the Morwell Historical Society - * Sharpe's Drapery Store - Established in Commercial Road in 1924, ceased trading in 1984.  I began work there in 1963, about mid-year I think.  I spent some time in the Men's Wear Department, some in Haberdashery, but most of my time in the Ladies' Underwear Department.  One of the jobs for all the Casuals on Saturday morning was to unload Mr. Sharpe's car when he arrived with new stock - especially shoes!  Boxes and boxes of shoes which immediately went on sale for $2 a pair.  Over the years I had numerous pairs of shoes from the Saturday morning arrivals!  I'm sure some of the stock in the shop had been there since 1924!
This from the Morwell Historical Society newsletter of April 2009:
Latrobe Valley Express
18th May 1966
Over $120,000 has been spent by Mr. Norman Sharpe, proprietor of Sharpe’s Emporium, Morwell, in reconstruction and re-fitting of the department store in the last six years.
The latest renovations, which cost $40,000, have given the emporium situated in the heart of Morwell’s commercial world, a modern display window front plus extensive interior alterations.
To mark the “new look”, Sharpe’s are conducting a special opening day sale, commencing next Wednesday, May 25.
On the opening day the eldest of the Sharpe brothers, who helped establish the original Gippsland store at Sale 50 years ago, will be in attendance.
The Sale business, which was sold only eight years ago, preceded the Morwell store by nine years.
In the 41 years which have followed, Sharpes Emporium has progressed with the times.
“With the $120,000 I’ve spent in providing better facilities and display room since 1960 I could have bought all the land in Commercial road in 1925”, Mr Sharp recalls with a grin. In those days the price was around £5 per block.
He started in a small shop with one lad and a girl as assistants, eventually purchasing adjacent premises from a saddler and a grocer.  Today the Emporium, which boasts a wide range of mercery at extremely competitive prices, employs a permanent staff of 45.
Mr. Sharp says he is able to provide the valley with bargain prices because of both a long association with the trade, and the fact that he is in daily contact with manufacturers and fashion houses.
He spends two days per week in Morwell, where the store is under the management of Mr. Albert Robinson. Mr Sharpe and his family were closely associated with a store in Northcote known as “The Beehive” and today is closely associated with Norman’s in Bourke Street Melbourne.
Sharpe's Emporium, Morwell - 1970s
Before I began work in the shop I remember it used to have a unique system of sending cash to the cashier in the office.  This was a a sort of flying fox arrangement where the money and docket was put in a tube and sent whizzing away overhead to the cashier who would send back the change if required.  We used cash registers by the time I worked there.
At the end of my first year in the store I was offered a holiday position, so I worked full time for the six weeks of the school holidays.  It may have been longer as I remember that if we had a job to go to we could leave school a couple of weeks earlier than the end of term.
Previously Norman's Corner Stores, Bourke Street
At the end of Form 6 I was in a quandry, because Mr. Sharpe offered me a holiday job in the office of the Morwell store, or a shop assistant's position in his Melbourne store.  Although I would have loved to work in the office, I opted for the Melbourne position.  By this time I had become a personal friend of Mr. Sharpe and his driver Max.  I often used to get a lift to Melbourne with them when they returned after the shop closed at lunchtime on Saturday.  I would go to Melbourne to stay with friends and return on the train on Sunday night.  When I was working in the Melbourne store Max used to take me to lunch at different hotels around the city.  I didn't realise it at the time, but I think he was courting me - whereas I only saw him as a good friend.  Norman's Corner Stores was on the corner of Bourke and Russell Street in the city.  It was several floors high, and each floor was a different department.  I worked in the Ladies' Wear department.
Norman's Corner Stores, Bourke Street

It was a sad day when Mr. Sharpe died, and even sadder still when his children sold the Morwell store.  They had a massive sale - but they had taken all the quality stock back to the Melbourne shop so that all that was left for the sale in Morwell was outdated items that no-one really wanted.  As I said, I'm sure some of it had been there since the store opened in 1924!  Norman's Corner store in Melbourne operated for some time, but it too has now gone.  Looks like it is now a Hungry Jack's!

Scroll to page 61 of this document to read some interesting facts about Norman's Corner Stores as a Heritage Building.

Geography Trip to Broken Hill

In Form 4 we were given the opportunity to go on a bus trip to Broken Hill as a Geography Excursion.  Not sure how long we were away.  I think my geography teacher then was Ross Hartnell - although he may have been my Form 5 and / or 6 teacher.  I think we went to the Wimmera, then to Broken Hill.  I remember Mallee scrub, and the mine at Broken Hill.  The bus driver was Bluey - and believe it or not he was the driver when I later went on a bus trip to Western Australia when I was at College.
At Broken Hill we went for a drive out to Silverton to see Mrs. Alfonso's Felspar mine.  I remember we drove along dry creek beds for some reason -  but we got stuck and had to reverse back and continue on the roads.
We also went to Mootwingee Gorge where we saw some Aboriginal cave paintings.
Here is a link to some beautiful pictures of Mootwingee Gorge.
Mootwingee Gorge
We also went to the Opal mining town of White Cliffs - much of which is actually underground.  Very desolate.
White Cliffs

I really enjoyed the trip.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Morwell High School

Well, I wouldn't have believed it - hardly a mention of it with any information on the web.  Did find this picture.
If I had $1 for every time I've walked through these doors I'd be rich!  The room on the right was the needlework room, and on the left was the Home Economics centre.

I started at MHS in 1965.  The Principal was Mr Ivan Theodore Maddern.  I believe his headstone may read thus: Hus of Elsie (nee JONES); father of Marian, Dorothy & Philippa; 2nd son of Esther (105) & David (106). "Educator, Esperantist, Historian - A man ahead of his time"  I would agree.  He was a controversial man with many ideas ahead of his time.  For instance, he introduced a Study Day - can't remember at what year level it came into force, but it meant we only had lessons on four days a week, with the fifth day for private study, homework etc.  He also thought examinations were abominable and an unfair way of assessing students' abilities.  So I had no exams until I got to Form 5 and 6 when we had to sit the State exams for Leaving and Matriculation.  Our assessments were cumulative throughout the year.  But he was a very authoritative man with some decided ideas about what was acceptable and what wasn't.  I remember one male student a couple of years ahead of me who had long hair.  After refusing to have his hair cut he was expelled.  It was two years later that Laurie returned to complete his schooling.  He was then in our Form 5 class.  Ivan T also had firm ideas about boy / girl relationships.  The school captains lost their positions when he saw them talking to each other (they were an 'item' I believe) outside her house one weekend.  I still have a copy of a letter sent to all parents 'explaining' how important the matriculation year was, and how parents were NOT to expect students to do chores around the house, nor allow them to socialise as these activities would detract from their studies.  He also decreed that girls were only allowed to walk to and from school with their brothers - no other males.

John Murfett

Some of the other teachers I remember (most fondly, some less so) were Elsie McMaster, Ian Fry, Madmoiselle Harney, Peter Caplan,  Sue Smith (? Art Teacher), Glenys Hartnell and her husband, Sally Milner, Max Alvin, John Murfett, Peter Pickburn, Mr Creagh, Mr Withoos, Mr Winkler, Mr Day, Mr Clemens, Mr Traill, Mr Edmonson, Miss Benjafield, Mrs Lawrence, Mrs Dennis, Mrs Cafiso and Mrs McLaren.  I still keep in touch with Glenys Hartnell, now Glenys Warner.  We met up at a Principal Accreditation Program - she was being accredited as a Vice Principal in a large secondary school, I was being accredited as a Principal of a small rural school, but we undertook the same program.

I remember being allowed to go home on the day Man first walked on the moon, so we could watch it on TV as there was only one TV in the school library and we wouldn't have all fitted.

In Form 4 I went on an excursion to Broken Hill.  More of that in another post methinks.

Esperanto!  As stated on Ivan T's headstone, he was an Esperantist, with grand ideas about the value of the so-called International language.  I still remember the first line of Waltzing Matilda - Kai lee kantis kum lee kushas apud billabong - not sure of the spelling though.  Just found this on the net - my line doesn't appear exactly as I remember it (should be the line "And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled" - although on reflection billy boiled and billabong are two different animals!)
Gaja vagabondo kampis apud bilabong
kie la Coolabah ombris por li
kaj li kantis atende gxis bolos en la billipot
Vi vagas valsa Matilda kun mi

Venis sxafido por trinki en la bilabong
kaptis vagulo kun gxoj` plena kri`
kaj li kantis sxovante la sxafon al la mangxosak`
Vi vagas valsa Matilda kun mi

Aperis farmisto sur pursanga al cxeval
Venis gxendarmo unu, du, tri
"Kies bela sxafo, tiu en la mangxosak"
Vi vagas valsa Matilda kun mi

Tuj la vagoulo saltis al la bilabong
"Vi vane kaptas vi min," diris li.
Kaj fantomon vi auxdos pasante cxe la bilabong.
Vi vagas valsa Matilda kun mi.

A.B. Paterson
Trad. En Esperanto: Ralph Harry
 Here's an audio version. 

Trouble was, Ivan had to cajole other teachers into taking the classes - he taught them the lesson one day,and they taught it to us the next!  We had one text book, and we began at page 1 in Form 1, and began at the same page 1 in Form 2.  It is the only subject in which I ever 'cheated' - as did most of the class.  Sorry Ivan, but we thought it was a bit of a joke.  It was a compulsory subject in Form 1 and 2, in Form 3 if we took French we also had to take Esperanto.  In Form 4 I opted out of French because although I enjoyed the subject I didn't particularly like the teacher - but guess what, that year if you didn't take French you had to take Esperanto.  I was finally free of it in Form 5.  But in four years we only ever used the one text book, and always started from page 1!  It was a small tan coloured soft covered book.
Learn more about Esperanto here.

Another innovation of Ivan's - for which I bless him - was his belief that everyone should know how to type.  In those days once you got to Form 3 you began to specialise depending on which direction you were heading.  For those (usually girls) wanting to go into commerce such as the bank or as secretaries they took the commercial subjects like typing and shorthand.  Those wanting to go into the professions took the professional subjects like English Literature, Geography, History etc.  But we all got to do Personal Typing.  We weren't expected to become proficient touch typists, and only had one lesson per week instead of many like the Commercial classes but we were taught the correct fingering and could attempt speed tests if we wished.  I remember I achieved 25 words per minute.  I don't use all the proper fingering, but I am not a hunt and peck typist, and do use both hands.

In those days we had Prefects who had certain responsibilities, but also privileges, such as the Prefects Room where we could store our books and go for quiet study when we had a free period.  I was a Prefect, and still have my badge in a box in the spare bedroom.  Also have my prefect ribbon that was sewn onto our blazer, and my school badge.

Adult Baptism

I've already mentioned the Church of Christ.  This Church played a big part in my growing up.  I went to Sunday School every week from a very young age - not sure when I started.  Mum, and possibly Dad, taught at Sunday School too.  Then we went to Church for the rest of the morning.

Mr and Mrs Armstrong are the first minister and his wife that I remember.  Her name was Dot, his name was Don????  They had three children I think.

I think they were followed by Brian Dowsett and his wife Margaret.  Brian was known as "Big Red" because of his red hair and he was rather tall.  They had no children when they arrived to take up the ministry, but children followed later.

It was during Brian's ministry that I made my decision to follow Jesus - in the Church of Christ babies aren't baptised or christened.  Rather people make their own decision to follow Christ.  This is (was) done as part of the evening service.  The Invitation hymn was sung and if there was anyone in the congregation who was ready to make their decision they went to the front of the Church.  I was probably a bit younger than most as I was only 11, but it was a big decision for me, and I meant it as sincerely as anyone else.  I was baptised by immersion on 12 April 1964.  The Church had an immersion pool located in the vestry behind the Church proper - there were sliding doors which allowed the congregation to view the baptism.  The floor was removed during the day of the baptism, the pool was filled with water which was then warmed in preparation for the baptism that evening.  The minister and the person being baptised wore white robes, just like in this picture.  Mum and Dad gave me my own copy of the Church Hymn Book on the occasion of my baptism.  After baptism one was able to take communion.

This was the Invitation Hymn on the night I made my decision.

All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

    I surrender all,
      I surrender all.
    All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
        I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
Take me, Jesus, take me now.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel Thy Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power,
Let Thy blessing fall on me.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Now I feel the sacred flame.
Oh, the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory to His name!

After Brian and Margaret the Minister was Mr. Pavey (Peter?).  Can't remember his wife's name.  From memory they didn't stay long, but I can't remember who replaced them.

Do I still go to Church?  In short - no.  The Church of Christ in Morwell was very special - everyone was very friendly, and they made newcomers very welcome.  It was just part of what going to Church meant.  When I moved to Geelong to go to teachers' College I went to a Church of Christ there - expecting things to be the same.  I don't know how many weeks I went, but no-one ever welcomed me, spoke to me, or even acknowledged that there was someone new in the congregation.  I continued to go to Church when I went home for the weekend and holidays, but not in Geelong.  My experience in Geelong made me wary of trying again in another Church, so after my marriage I stopped going to Church regularly.  There are times when I feel I would like to go again, but so far I haven't done so.

I was married in the Church of Christ in Morwell, by the then Minister Donald Thomas.  And my first husband's funeral service was conducted by the minister in 1990 (whose name escapes me.)

Playing School

From a very early age I wanted to be a teacher.  I guess it must have started after I actually went to school, but I know that a lot of my games revolved around teaching my dolls.  I was in 7th Heaven when Maisie and Harold Fullarton moved into Livingstone Street.  Harold was a policeman, and he boarded with us for a few months when he was first stationed at Morwell.  His wife Maisie was a teacher, and she joined him, at the end of the year I suppose and they moved into a house further down our street.  I used to visit Maisie all the time to talk about teaching.  She showed me what a teacher's Work Program looked like, and I used to write up my own programs just the same.
The playhouse was the perfect place to play school.

I only briefly thought about being anything other than a teacher - when John was talking about going into the Navy I thought that sounded rather exciting too.  I was in Form 4 at the time, and seriously investigated the Navy as an option.  But I also applied for a Teaching Bursary and decided that if I got a bursary I would be a teacher, if I didn't I would join the Navy.  Needless to say I got a bursary for Form 5, and another for Form 6 so I went to Teachers' College.

As a bursary recipient I was obliged to apply for each and every course that would lead to a teaching career.  In those days, Primary Teachers went to teachers' College, while those aspiring to be Secondary Teachers went to University.  There was no way I wanted to be a Secondary Teacher, nor got to Uni, so I only applied for a place at Teachers' Colleges.  I figured that if my marks weren't good enough to get me my first preferences then they wouldn't be good enough to get me a Uni place anyway, so why waste time (and money?? can't remember if there was any cost involved) applying for Uni places.

I obtained a place at Geelong Teachers' College - but that is for another post.