High School – loving it

December 7, 2015 at 12:30 am | Posted in Australia, Education, Family, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, high school, Memoir | 14 Comments
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For whatever reason, many people look back on their school days with distaste. But I did truly like school and my attendance reflected that. I only missed an occasional day almost every year (except when we were quarantined for the polio) and, in my final two years, my attendance was 100%. When the time came, I actually regretted having to leave school.

It wasn’t the social side I took to so much, as I didn’t have many friends. What I loved was the learning and the rewards I gained from my own efforts. My parents supported me in my studies and as the only one in our extended family to have the opportunity of completing high school, I wanted to make the most of it.

 

 

David,Ernest,Linda.1964-350

Dad never had the chance to go through high school (he went to work at 14), but he supported me. Here I am at home in my summer uniform with him and my little brother in 1964.

 

My sisters and younger brother were much more sociable than me, and had friends right through school. I was self-conscious and I sometimes wonder if it was because of our poverty. Most of my free time was spent at home. We never had the extra money to go out anywhere, or if we did, it was only to church. I didn’t have new clothes very often, and Dad used a cobbler’s last to repair our leather school shoes.

In Fourth Year, I needed a new school bag. Instead of buying one, Dad, always good at making things with whatever he could find, made one for me. He cut up an old leather coat, and stitched it to make the outside with a flap over the top. He then glued plywood inside for the base, front and back, and also glued and riveted two straps around it. The handle consisted of a piece of thick round dowel attached to the straps. At first, I’d usually go to my locker when I’d get to school in the morning and leave in the afternoons, so nobody else would see it. However, once I got used to it, I was really proud of Dad’s ingenuity and skill, and I really loved that bag. It was a symbol that we were different, but in a way that I could accept. I really wish I still had it, or at least a photo of it!

A more realistic interpretation of my feeling of being an outsider was probably because I had many insecurities. I envied the girls who were confident, social and popular, and I felt so different that it was hard to feel accepted by them. I was a tomboy, not into makeup and fancy clothes, and I probably contributed a fair bit to their excluding me by my own attitude. Looking back with a clearer knowledge of humanity, I realise they probably thought I was stuck-up and too good for them.

When our English class put on a play, in spite of feeling excluded, I really wanted to take on one of the roles – even a small one. However, the teacher chose those who were confident and outgoing to play every part. My timidity didn’t allow me to even ask to be involved, not even in the support crew. My only friend, Valerie, didn’t get asked either, but I didn’t even ask if she’d wanted to be. I wonder if I’d been allowed to take part in the play it would have made any difference. Mmmm…

In my final year, I went, together with one of the top boys, Tony, to attend a Lions Club dinner and speak to them about our hopes for the future. I’m not sure, but I think it was because that group had paid my scholarship and Tony must have been the other recipient. I also gave a speech to the school at our Anzac Day ceremony in April 1964 about the importance to Australia of Anzac. Dad helped me write that speech, and I wish I still had a copy of it.

(c) Linda Visman

 

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  1. I can relate to your story. Congrats on coming out of your shell to relate tothe world! 🙂

  2. Your dad sounds so supportive and with natural talents that aren’t learned in a classroom. Good parenting has very little to do with education or money. 🙂

  3. I loved high school too, but mostly for the social aspects. I had a remarkable time at my 20 year HS reunion in June.

    • Lucky you with the reunion! How I wish our year’d had one. I’d love to see how everyone went after they left.
      As it is, it is only since I reconnected with one of my school friends 15 years ago, then married him, that I have occasionally seen a couple of his old mates. Apart from my one friend, Val, I haven’t seen or heard from a single girl from my school years.

      • How neat that you married someone from school. I’m friends with most of my high school friends on Facebook. Ive only seen a couple of them in real life. I enjoy keeping up with their lives and accomplishments online. I knew most of our class presidency have busy lives, and a reunion wasn’t their top priority. I helped organize, picked a theme, made decorations and promoted it to build excitement and get people to attend. Sometimes it just takes someone wanting to be in charge and do it. We only have reunions once every 10 years.

      • When I married the first time (47! years ago), I moved away from where I’d grown up – teachers had to move a lot then – and I haven’t lived close since then. Nobody else took up the idea of a reunion, unfortunately.
        Ten yearly reunions would be great, as that keeps up the interest, as well as the contact between. 🙂

  4. Yes, I can relate to those feelings of insecurity at high school. When my best friend left in 4th year I was bereft as I had no one else. Nevertheless, like you, I enjoyed the schoolwork and look back with mixed feelings.

    Your writing brings back many memories of school in the ’60s.

  5. My school was only a ‘Secondary Modern’, as they were described in those days, but it was a very good one, and it cultivated the extrovert in me. Life afterwards was the awful truth that drove me back into my shell – probably because I didn’t have a father (he died when I was very young) when I most needed one. The school was a sort of paternal influence on me. I recall being the school’s head boy in my final year, but I don’t think I was a very distinguished advertisement for the position. It sounds as though your education was very good, especially in the social conditions of the time.

    • Sounds like school was good but the after-times not so, Frederick. It is sad to lose a father so young; especially I think for a boy.
      Being head boy would mean you were at least at the top of the candidate list!
      Yes, I think we did pretty well during those years, when going through to matriculation was not such a common thing – I have recently discovered that the school is not up to the same standard nowadays.

  6. What a heartfelt entry Linda. So many memories. Your Dad was wonderful!

    • The last few years of my schooling were good in many ways, Debbie, and I like to recall them. And yes, I had a great dad. 🙂

  7. So did I luckily!


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