Saturday, May 11, 2013

Sepia Saturday 176 - School Days

This week's Sepia Saturday theme is about the classroom.  It could be about chemistry.  It could be about classrooms.  It could be about glass.  It could be about windows.  We can always go quite broad in terms of theme with Sepia Saturday.  In my usual frog like fashion, I shall jump all over the place.

Chemistry and I did not go together.  Poor Mrs Pyle had an uphill battle with me.  And I had an uphill battle with Mrs Pyle's fashion sense.  I could not take seriously anyone who wore such lairy ponchoes.  It is apalling to confess, but I failed Chemistry miserably.  I always maintained I must have been away the day they explained everything.  It is fair to say that I loathed the subject.  

I found some photos of Canberra Girls Grammar, my alma mater, on the National Archives website.

Canberra Girls Grammar School 1971 front entrance
These photos were taken in 20 August 1971.  I'm not really sure why.  But they certainly look like how I remembered the school.

Here is a photo of what I remember to be the science labs.  They were off to the right of the front entrance.

Science Labs at Canberra Girls Grammar 1971
I am happy to be corrected if anyone out there thinks differently.  Classmates from my year get together every ten years for a reunion and are gobsmacked by how much the school has changed and improved.  There is a massive gymnasium and swimming complex there now.  And a gorgeous arts centre and chapel.  All very swish.

I am conscious of how lucky I was with my education, teachers and facilities when I look back on my parents' school photos.  I had a pretty stable school life and much fewer students in my classroom.

This photo from my mother's collection struck me as particularly grim.

Berala Public School 1946

My mother would have been about 10 in this photo.  She is the one in the middle of the back row.  The only one wearing a tie and, I suspect, feeling very out of place.  I'm not sure why on earth she is at this school.  She did tell me that she was reefed in and out of schools in her youth because her parents disagreed about which school she should attend.  Poor Mummy.  I know she went to Petersham and enjoyed it there. And Summer Hill too.  But Berala is really out of the box.  I worry about the broken window in the background.  It's a hopeless photo isn't it?  They've even chopped one of the kids in half.  It's not my bad cropping I assure you.

Berala School had been going just over 20 years before my mother went there.  The cultural mix has changed vastly now if you check out its website here.

Are you ready to be confused now?

I found another school photo from 1946 for my mother.  Here it is.

My mother is second from the left in the back row.  No tie this time but a happier face.  And no broken windows.

Written on the back of the photo (no kids chopped in half this time) is the note Junction School 1946 and the important hint "Newcastle".  Aha!  My mother's aunt (her mother's twin sister) owned a bakery in Newcastle.  Wingfields Bakery.  So my mother must have spent some time in Newcastle and went to school there.  Hmmm.  

If you check out the map of where the school is, it would have been a reasonably easy walk (2km) to the bakery which was in Hunter Street as per this post here or home to Aunt's in Hebburn street as per this post here.

My mother was selected to go to Fort Street Girls High later in her school life and I know she really loved school then.  Here is a rather blurry photo of her dressed in her uniform outside the flat in Nowranie Street Summer Hill.

This next photo is taken at Fort Street I believe.  

Lots of windows here aren't there?  I wonder which classrooms were in the background.

Here is a photo she took of the girls outside the school when it was up near Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Observatory.  Check out those windows!

If you graduated from Fort Street you were called a Fortian.

I know it broke my mother's heart to leave Fort Street before matriculating for university.  Her mother did the best she could for her and sent her to Miss Hale's Secretarial College which was what the family could afford.  University fees were out of the question.  My mother said she sulked for years to punish her mother.  She was quite mortified about it I think - the sulking AND the not matriculating.

I believe that my godmother (my mother's very good friend at school), did go on to study Chemistry at Uni.  She and her lovely husband, also a chemist of some renown, never seem to hold it against me that this wasn't my strength.  

Twenty years ago my mother's Fort Street class had a reunion and took this fabulous photo outside the old school.  My mother died two years later.

The windows are like something out of Playschool aren't they?  Will we go through the round window or the arched window today?

It took me quite a while to find my mother in this photo.  She was a bit self-conscious and very clever at hiding. She is in the second back row, third from the left with her glasses on her head.

Here's another photo of Fort Street Girls High from the National Library's picture collection.

I would like to acknowledge the passing of another Fortian this week - my dear "Uncle" Warren.  He will be sadly missed by all who knew him.

Want to find out more about Fort Street ?  Go here.

Want to see other takes on this week's theme?  Go here.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Smokin' - Sepia Saturday 175

The theme for this week's Sepia Saturday post is smoking and anything else associated with the prompt image on the blog e.g. black cats, vending machines and so on.

I am kind of excited about this theme because it gives me a chance to highlight an interesting series of photos found in my maternal grandfather's collection i.e. those belonging to Thomas McLouglin (1898 - 1982).     

Seated Smoker

 I don't know who is who in any of these photos or whether any of them are my grandfather.  It's hard to tell.  I suspect that they are friends, brothers or cousins.  I have a memory of my mother saying that her cousin was a photographer and there does seem to be a lot of posing going on and experimenting with light and contrast so, maybe her cousin's father owned the photography business first and then passed it on to his son.  

Here are some more photos of the likely lads.  They look rather sharp don't you think?  I think that could be my grandfather in the background. 

Last but not least, this next photo appears in the album three times: twice as postcards and I think that this is the original.

Silhouette of smoker

 Once again, nothing on the back identifies the smoker (to my mind anyway)...but there is a lot of writing in pencil.  I suspect it is a list of horses' names (my grandfather did like to be on the ponies)

What do you think?

Back of silhouette photo

Anyway it all rather puts me in mind of this scene from Little Caesar from 1930 starring Edward G. Robinson.
Little Caesar 1930

It would be remiss of me not to note the time honoured tradition (now rather politically incorrect) of "Smoko" in Australia.
Here is a photo from the other side of the family.  Taken in the 1950s it is I suspect in Springwood where some friends have gathered to play cards.  My paternal grandparents are seated at the front: Edwin Arthur Conner on the right and his wife Ethel perched on the arm of the chair next to him.  My father is behind her and I expect he drafted the sign.  My father was fantastic at parties always decorating and hanging up signs with rules for games and so on.

The Crums, The Neils and The Conners

 "Smoko" is possibly a very Australian phrase and if you want to know more about it I suggest you read John O'Grady's Aussie Etiket which will set you straight.  Leura Books is having a half price sale on fiction this weekend.  Or you could go to the UQ Alumni Book Fair.

And now black cats.  I've had a few in my life: Sooty, Yum Yum and Rambo.
I had hoped to post a photo but it seems to be taking an inordinately long time to load photos today so I've given up.

I shall leave you instead with a cartoon (for want of a better word) of one of my favourite black cats - Norman Lindsay's Fuzz Buzz.  Norman Lindsay, an artist,  used to live at Springwood too.  Fuzz Buzz was a studio cat.  If you want to read more about him, I urge you to get a copy of the wonderful volume Norman Lindsay Artful Cats introduced by Meg Stewart.  It's just beautiful.
Norman Lindsay's Fuzz Buzz
For more black cat and smoking stories go to Sepia Saturday.