I was born at Wondai Queensland 1936. I have two birth certificates (in different names) issued by Queensland Registrar of Births Death and Marriages. There is doubt if either one has the identity of my true father.
The following is an account of my primary school education.
My Schooling Story
My mother did not believe in schooling and believed I would learn a lot more when I started work.
My earliest memories revolve around my mother, a a single parent, who worked on a Darling Downs dairy farm in the early years of WW2. It was from here that my formal education began by correspondence lessons with which my mother tried to help. It did not work out and the following year I was taken 4.8 kilometres by horse and sulky and enrolled in Mt Sylvia State School – awestruck by so many other children and desperately shy.
Next morning the cows needed milking there was no time to spare for a sulky drive, so at five years of age, I had to walk to school. My mother left the farm after a few months and we moved to a property near Dalby. I attended another one teacher school at Beelbee where a teenage boy told me “where babies come from” and demonstrated how to masturbate. We returned to the dairy farm and I tried to show a five year old playmate how she could get a baby – her mother caught me by the ear and I was banned from visiting. Next we moved to my grandfather’s farm.
My new school, Bergen, was only 3.2 kilometre walk from grandfather’s farm and the teacher was a novel experience. A dedicated alcoholic, most days he returned to school after a liquid lunch and slept. Naturally we kids went wild in the playground and missed the afternoon lessons.
My mother then got work on a dairy farm near Nanango which again meant a 4.8 kilometre walk to school. I upset my mother terribly by getting lost on the walk home on my first day. One teacher at Nanango entertained us during lunch time. He would stand in the playground while boys ran up behind him and tried to steal his cane. No one ever managed to steal the cane, but many got a whack on the backside for their efforts.
For a time my mother left me with a friend who lived next door to a one teacher school at Narangba (south-east Queensland). It was a good school and the teacher boarded with mum’s friend, so I had extra tuition and help with homework
A few months later we were back on the Darling Downs (Braeside) and again I attended a one teacher school. It was the year we progressed from slates to pen and ink. My worst memory was spilling a bottle of ink over the sheets when I tried to do my homework in bed.
My next one teacher school near Warwick (Mt Gordon) was not exceptional although I was bullied mercilessly. Pick on the new kid is a very old practice.
During the latter stages of WW2 we moved to Warwick where I attended a large State school. I was good at sport and fitted in fairly well. After school I sold newspapers to the servicemen and earned pocket money in tips, especially from the Americans!
My mother met the ex-serviceman she would eventually marry and we all moved to Gympie to stay with relatives. The move did not work out and we returned to Warwick where I had a really “cranky” teacher and a tough kid in class who cheated off me.
When the war was over, we all moved to Oakey where we lived in quarters attached to stables. Again I was bullied by bigger kids at school.
My mother and stepfather got work back at Narangba where I was re-enrolled at school and was introduced to alcohol. A 14 year old boy gave me a drink of gin behind the toilets – it took my breath away. The lad was sometimes drunk at school but apparently the teacher suspected nothing amiss. Unfortunately the lad drowned in a swimming hole a short time later.
After a few months we moved to Moorina where I was again bullied by bigger kids at the one teacher school.
In 1946 we moved to Caboolture where I went to the state school. By this time, I was ten. My mother and stepfather had to work away so I was left in a shack to look after myself and get to school. My parents would return on weekends. On one weekend I secretly went swimming with another lad in the nearby creek. We jumped in, not noticing a higher than normal water level. Neither of us could swim and he drowned. Mum decided I should go with her to Woodford where she worked at the hotel. For the remainder of the year I lived in a hotel room with her and attended a local Catholic Convent school.
In the following year we returned to Caboolture area where my parents started to build a house about 4.8 kilometres out of town. We lived in the building which again meant a long walk to school. Once more I was left by myself. On occasions I raided a nearby citrus orchard and swapped fruit for sandwiches with school mates. My big problem was forgetting to wind the clock and guessing the time – sometimes I arrived at school by 7 am.
After selling the property, we moved into a barn closer to Caboolture but then moved to a property at Morayfield. I had to walk past the Morayfield School to get to Caboolture and after I was kept in for 45 minutes on one occasion, my mother decided I should transfer to Morayfield School.
During my last year at primary school we moved into a house in Caboolture – this was new to me as previously we only lived with relatives or in barns, stables, tents, servant’s quarters, dairies, shacks or a partly built house.
When I turned 14, my mother removed me from school to work as a tailer-out in a sawmill in bushland near Brisbane. In reality the “sawmill” did not exist, only some posts and a tractor with a fly wheel running a belt to a saw bench. The boss was a con man and during the 6th week he was taken away in a Police car, leaving me to get home the best way I could.
Over the years I felt my lack of education quite strongly. I did eventually finish high school by correspondence, then completed university studies to Masters degree level as well as gaining professional qualifications, all after my day’s work.
I guess my mother was right after all – I did learn more when I started work.