Thursday, August 19, 2010


I spoke previously of my love for Victoria Square (Mercedes) College and the sadness I felt at being forced to leave there before I had a chance to attend the BIG SCHOOL to do my Junior and perhaps even my Leaving certificates.

Events do change the course of our lives and I am convinced that this certainly changed mine to some extent. My mother's choice for my next school was Perth College in Beaufort Street in Mount Lawley.

I was due to begin there in February of 1944 but as chance would have it my appendix decided to burst in the last week of January of that year. I was in hospital until the end of February and following that there was a long period of convalescence and I was unable to attend school until the beginning of second term in May. Mum and Dad tried to keep me doing school work at home but I don't think they ever actually procured any word from Perth College itself which to me now seems a great pity.

Their curriculum was somewhat different to that of Vic Square as some subjects studied in the senior school here had been studied by their students in lower classes. Subjects like algebra, geometry and languages had not been part of our learning at Vic Square and to start school a whole term late made it very difficult to catch up with all the new subjects. My marks at Perth College suffered partly because of this and partly because I was just not happy there. I had no incentive for achievement.

The war had not affected staff numbers at Vic Square because of course the teachers were all nuns but at Perth College there was indeed a shortage of staff because of the war and we even had a man teacher which was most unusual at a girls' school in those days. He was I must admit a bit of a character and took us for geography and science. He had a thing about the Zulus in Africa and we did play on this a bit as one of the girls would innocently put up her hand and mention the word Zulu and off he would go talking about them for quite a long time. Also, when we were supposed to be in the prep room (we would go there when we didn't have a set class) a few of us would find him in the science lab when he wasn't taking a class, and he would show us how to blow glass and all sorts of weird and wonderful things. I even remember that his name was Mr Scobie.

I didn't like Perth College as I felt some of the teachers tended to favour the girls from very wealthy families. I may at age 12 been wrong about this but I have never liked snobbery of any kind and this was how it seemed to be to me. Many of the girls went on to marry into wealthy families and I hope they were very happy.

One thing that amazed me was the fact that at the catholic school nobody went to church during the day except when the catholic girls attended a service at St Mary's Cathedral on Ash Wednesday when they would all arrive at school with little dobs of black on their foreheads. Shirley and I would have fun and tell them they had dirty faces and we would all have a laugh about it. At Perth College however we had to attend chapel every morning before we began our lessons. This was of course a Church of England school and one of the heads was actually a C of E nun (Sister Rosalie). If we got the chance we would hide in one the cupboards so as not to go to chapel which I am sure was very wicked of us.

Although I would have stayed at Vic Square for a further 5 years my only thought was to leave Perth College at the first opportunity. I felt the best way would be to say I would like to do office work as perhaps a shorthand typist. Although I think Mum was a trifle disappointed at this choice she agreed and I was therefore meant to go into the commercial class in my 3rd and 4th years at Perth College. It took two years to do a commercial Junior certificate because you had to study other subjects as well.

When I finished my second year there we were told that the commercial class was booked out for the following year and I'd have to do another year in between. I was horrified at the thought of this and finally persuaded my folks to allow me to attend a commercial college in the city.

One highlight of my time at Perth College was when the war in the Pacific ended which was of course the complete end of World War 2. We were, I remember, allowed to go to the shop on the next corner to buy a special newspaper that had been printed to commemorate the cessation of hostilities. I think we had to queue at the gate (of course wearing our hats) and about 10 girls were allowed out at any one time. As one arrived back another would be allowed to go to the shop. I think I still have that newspaper in my possession but can't guarantee it.

I had 3 special friends at Perth College and their names were Hillary, Pam and Betty. I often think of them and wonder which direction their lives took. I remember a few of the other girls as well and one in particular later became a lifelong friend although we hardly knew each other at Perth College.

I have beeen invited to school reunions but have never felt the inclination to attend. I doubt I would know anyone there and I feel I am a little out of their league or the other way round perhaps.

Soon I will tell of my year and a bit at City Commercial College and my very first job.
It may not be all that interesting to others but I am enjoying reminiscing about the early years of my life so bear with me with patience please.

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