It was February, 1963 when Steven began his primary schooling at North Perth Primary School where his sister was now in Grade 3. The children were still being driven to school in the taxi my mother hired each morning to go to her CAB office and with Steven being so terribly shy, poor mum had at times to gently pry his hands from the rail in the back of the cab as he feared getting out and confronting other children. He was doing quite well at school and from what is known he was never bullied at all. I think it was just the thought of that walk through the gate of the school and not perhaps knowing just who would be there. Once he was with his friends he seemed to be quite OK.
Karen on the other hand, so my mum told me, would walk up the school path quite regally acknowledging her friends as she passed. Karen always looked so nice and, even though she perhaps wasn't the extrovert she appeared to be, she carried herself very well which gave the impression of her being in complete control of herself and her surroundings. This is a photo of Karen with her Grade 3 fellow students at North Perth Primary School. Karen is second from the left in the front row and is wearing that dress of which she was so fond. My thanks to Karen for emailing me this photo when requested. I would prefer to have shown it larger but it would then take up too much space but you can enlarge it by clicking on it if you wish to do so. It is well worth doing so as it is a really lovely photo of the children taken way back in 1963 and incidentally the lady on the far right at the back is the junior school Headmistress, Miss Thackerah, who was also the Grade 3 teacher.
I was quite surprised when I received the copy of the photo at just how many of the girls I remembered as being Karen's friends. A number of the children were from migrant families whose parents had not been in Australia very many years. Phil commented, when looking at the photo, that there seemed to be far more girls than boys in the photo. I must ask Karen about that when I see her as I can only count 7 boys in the group.
When Steven was in Grade 1 he was of course minus a few front teeth as is often the case with kiddies of that age. In the back garden at Walcott Street in June, 1963 when he was 6 years 9 months:
Murders terrify the city of Perth. From 1959 through to 1963 there were a series of violent crimes, eight of which resulted in deaths. At this time people seldom locked their back doors nor did they bother locking their cars and would actually leave the keys in them. All these crimes were committed by one man....Eric Cooke who was eventually hanged at Fremantle Prison on 26th October, 1964. It is known he would 'borrow' a person's car and return it without the owner being aware that it had gone, unless there was actual damage to said car. Cooke was sometimes involved in hit-and-runs driving someone else' car but would still return the car despite the damage.
At this time people would also often sleep on their front verandahs in hot weather and I remember one afternoon hearing on the radio that people should discontinue this practice because of the danger of a man going to houses randomly and shooting the person who came to their front door. When I heard this I sent Karen around the corner where a family who lived in Venn Street had six children some of whom did sleep on their front verandah. I hated the thought of something happening to any one of them. These events made everyone very nervous and it was with relief that we learned that Eric Cooke had been taken into custody. He confessed to several crimes, including eight murders and fourteen attempted murders. He also confessed to more than 250 burglaries and had a phenomenal memory of the items he had stolen including the number and denominations of the coins he had stolen. This was a very black time in Perth's history and one that not only shocked but, in many ways, also stole our innocence, if that is the right way to put it. I think we certainly changed our ways after that episode. Previously, Perth had been rather a peaceful place where we had all felt safe.
Karen and Steven continued to do well at school and I became involved in making items for the school fete. The head mistress of the lower school, Miss Thackerah, did not believe in a Parent's and Citizen's committee C but preferred to call a few mums together once a year and plan events for the school fete each year. I remember sewing quite a few items and also knitting and quite enjoyed being involved in doing so.
The Rosemount Theatre where I used to go to the Saturday night pictures with mum and dad when I was 15 - 16 closed and became a 10 pin bowling alley, one of the first in Perth. It was owned by a Mr Guerin who was often at the bowl when we played there. It only had 8 lanes because of the limited width of the building; it was run by a young woman called Vera and the mechanical side was managed by Fred. I enquired about playing and was told they were beginning a ladies league on Tuesday mornings with five ladies to at team, a total of 40 players in the league. I met a mother and daughter (both their names were Norma) who wanted to join a team, so we needed two other people to make up the number. I asked Aub's Auntie Min (who played lawn bowls in the summer months) if she would like to play and she agreed and brought with her a bowling friend whose name I regret to say I've forgotten. None of us had played 10 pin bowls before but we hit it off personally and were never critical of each other's games. I have several 10 pin bowling trophies but it's the only 'sport' I ever excelled at although, through the years, I did play tennis and badminton and of course lots of yachting when a teenager. Those trophies are now in a box somewhere in a cupboard but I was very proud of them at the time and I guess I still am.
As a family we had several holidays on Rottnest Island. Twice we shared a house with Aub's Uncle Bert and Auntie Min, and on one occasion when we were holidaying there at Easter and extending our holiday by a couple of weeks, Karen and Steven attended the little school on the island. I think they began at about 8 a.m. and finished at about 2 p.m. so the children could still enjoy their holiday with their family. It was on one holiday that Karen learned to ride a bike (you could hire them on the island or take your own on the ferry when you crossed from the mainland). This is Auntie Min and me on Rottnest Island in 1962 and yes, I just may be holding a cigarette in my right hand:
On another Rottnest holiday I had to fly back to Perth as it was the 10 pin bowling final on the Tuesday. I flew to Perth on a MacRobertson Miller DC3 the pilot of which happened to be a personal friend of Aub's family and during the short flight the hostess asked me to go up to the cockpit. I felt quite important, as you can imagine, and it was quite an adventure seeing what our coast looked like 'from the front seat'.
Arrived at the airport, caught a taxi to the Rosemount Bowl, joined my teammates and we all played so well that we won the final and were very thrilled with ourselves and were later presented with our trophies. I had arranged for my youngest niece, Wendy, to fly back with me to Rottnest Island so that night she stayed with me and we flew to the island the following morning.
I have been madly searching for photos of: 1. Karen riding that bike on Rottnest and 2. of Wendy and me walking from the plane when we arrived on the island. I suddenly realised that Aub had not long before bought himself a movie camera so most photos from then on are on Super 8 film which I do not have. I will go through the photos I have and may be do a part b to show them at a later date.
From here on life gets a little complicated so after I've sorted it out into some kind or chronological order I will begin Part 21. No more of the glamour of my teenage years but just life as it happens.