Michael writes on his time, Schooling at Molong and Fairbridge. By all accounts. “A bit of a lad.” Ed.
In 1950, I arrived as a spotty urchin, from England into a strange land of sunshine, flies and some 200 other children, in all shapes and sizes. Welcome to Fairbridge Farm, Molong NSW. I straight away attended the school which was on site at the Farm.
This little quaint school at the farm, nestled in a hollow just some hundreds of yards from the village was the foundation of schooling for many kids at the school. It was a four room building, and it catered for the 12 years of education. Each classroom actually taught three different age groups, not exactly the ideal situation for a solid educational start. I can only admire the teachers who had to adapt to this regime, with the added problems of different dialects. Initially coming from the Midlands I found it difficult to understand some of the other children, especially the kids from the North. I recall during the war my mother saying that she could not understand the language of the people across the road.
The school was not on a sewer system, and the toilets were sheds placed over deep pits some distance from the classrooms.. I recall one day the urge to go, and my hand went up “Can I go to the toilet”? to which the usual reply was ” Yes! But you may not.” In growing discomfort, I would just sit there until in the dim recesses of my mind a bulb would light and the idea to say,”May I go to the toilet” popped out. In their ways these corrections by the teachers ,seemed stupid and vindictive, but were actually good examples of correct grammar. I enjoyed my short spell at the village school. I enjoyed the exams that the headmaster set, he prided himself on not having failures.
Molong Central school, set in the town of Molong 10 kms from the farm, holds different memories for different kids, some of them not good ones. The year was 1953 and I was assembled in the playground fronting the main building ,the teachers would come out and the kids would form two lines. Girls in front ,and the boys behind. ‘Pick up your material’ was the instruction.
Australian girls were a breathe of fresh air, easy to talk to, and of course good looking. All were wearing pretty clothes, not just drab Khaki.
One of the girls in my class was named Beverley Osborne, she was a tall, brunette and wore longer a longer skirt to the other girls. When we had to pick up our material her skirts would flow out around her, out of devilment one day I put my fist on the hem of her skirt. On the command rise, she tried too, but lost her balance and fell backward, I gallantly caught her. A couple of weeks later I tried it again, I was careless and instead of the hem, I had hold of a lot more skirt. As she rose her skirt and petticoat stayed under my hand. She wore the prettiest cornflower blue panties I had ever seen. It was the first time I had seen a girls legs other than in swimming. Amid the confusion that followed we managed to get her skirt and petticoat adjusted. The slapped face was a small price to pay.
Our teacher was a one Vivian Cranstone. An excellent teacher. He took a lot of stick, due to his name. I liked him.
My education finished in 1954 at the Intermediate Certificate. There was only one boy who went on to the Leaving Certificate. I cannot recall his results, but there is a vague recollection of him failing. Further education was discouraged by the Admin. at the Farm, due to the need for Farm Trainees. What I missed at the Molong Central School were the plays put on every year at our own little school at the farm. These were part of the English Literature lessons. But that is another story.