The most exciting thing about 1956 for me was that I started at Brighton High.
In those days there were schools called Central Schools where students did Years 7 and 8, getting their Credit Certificate ready to go into factory work. I went to Caulfied North Central, which had been the school I went to through what for me were the horror years of primary school.
Central School opened the door to timetables; different teachers for each subject; softball instead of rounders; rooms upstairs and a uniform to be proud of in the marching team. Most of all there were exams to see who was good enough to go on to the Macrobertson High School for girls, or Melbourne High School for the boys.
I wasn’t good enough for Macrob but was offered a position at a brand new high school being built at Brighton for the ‘Baby Boomers’. It was certainly a building site and being a wet year in ’56 was awash, with sticky clay everywhere.
I loved my new school and felt at home from day one. Our school colours were purple, green and gold and I was in purple house, Grant by name.
I was keen on all sporting activities and the first up were the swimming sports. I had given up ballet lessons to follow up my first true love, swimming and had a great coach, Marj McQuade, who had swum for Australia in the Empire Games (later to be known as the Commonwealth Games).. Dad had struck a deal for a free lesson with Marj, who was just starting out as a coach, so when I started winning races I could tell people Marj McQuade was my coach. Perhaps I showed some talent for she agreed to this arrangement. Anyway, I won first the house sports and then the inter-school sports.
In those days all the students went to the sports, swimmers or not. I became well known in the small population of our new school, so was voted into positions of responsibility such as Prefect. I shudder now when I think of how I carried out the duties allocated to this role.
One of the tales I have told over the years that have passed since ’56 is of sitting in Year 9 History with Miss Drummond upfront trying hard to interest us in the importance of modern history to our everyday lives.
Dawne, who was sitting next to me and at the time was one of my best friends, whispered, ‘Which of these boys would you go out with?’. ‘None!’ was my answer, as we girls at this stage liked our boyfriends to be more mature and outside of school. For instance, I was keen at the time on the best diver, (who happened to be 18), at the Malvern Baths.
Dawne kept pushing as Miss Drummond droned on, so I looked around and picked out the redhead two desks over. At that stage I wasn’t that sure of his name, let alone my ‘for better for worse’ destiny with the redhead two desks over.
So it was that 1956 was an important year in my life.