I attended the
Auburn Central Primary School, no, 2948, in Rathmines Rd, from 1945 to 1952. I had originally attended a religious
school for a short time, but was pulled out of that in favour of a Government school. In 1944, I attended the Robert Cochrane
Free Kindergarten in Minona St, East Hawthorn.
I recall these events which happened at Auburn
Ink Monitor Duties
1945, fountain pens were not used by pupils and we wrote with thin wooden quill pens with steel nibs for writing in our
exercise books. We sat at wooden desks, one kid to a desk. These had hinged lids - the idea was to put your books and other
stuff in the shelf under the lids. There was an inkwell at each desk, which had to be refilled each day by the
kid designated as the "Ink Monitor". The ink was black, and was made up in large glass bottles, which the Monitor would bring
to each desk each morning and refill the wells.
The ink was virtually indelible and was
very hard to remove from your fingers or clothes! I still have some of it on my hands!
We also used sheets of blotting paper as the
ink took a little time to dry.
We also had Slate
Boards. These were about the size of a modern A4 sheet, made of some sort of grey stone-slate, set in
a wooden frame. We wrote on these slates with Slate Pencils, which came in various colors, and were about as thick as a modern
knitting needle. We wrote or drew on these slates, and when we were finished, we would wipe them clean with a damp rag.
At the start of each year, we would be issued
with a "Book List" which had various items we had to buy at a newsagent, including packets of slate pencils.
We used exercise books which had rows of blue
and red lines printed across each page. These lines were guidelines for learning writing.
I remember filling entire pages with sloping
"Copperplate" style letters and words, which all had to be the same size and shape, then join these letters together!
I had a lot of trouble with capital "Q"!
Our language learning topics included Dictation,
Reading, Transcription, Parsing, Spelling and Writing,
primary schoool we learned many interesting things! We wrote in Vana-brand
excercise books - there were two versions, one with blue lines, the other with red and blue lines. The back cover was devoted
entirely to arithmetical and weights and measurements, which we had to memorize,
These books were actually manufactured in Melbourne, at a factory in Bourke St, near Spencer St, and were widely used
in most Victorian schools.
We were exposed to the Imperial system of weights - grams, pennyweights, ounces, tons, and pounds. For measurements
of area, length and volume, we had to learn rods, poles, perches, furlongs, miles, inches, feet, yards, acres as well
as pints, bushels and quarts.
We learned about money and commerce! In those years, there were half-pennies, pennies, threepences, sixpences, shillings,
florins (two shillings), crowns (five shillings), ten shilling notes, pound notes, five pound notes and ten pound notes.:
for many household products were widely shown in "guineas" - a guinea was 21 shillings. Guineas were used right up to
decimalization in 1966. The final edition of the Melbourne Agrus, of January 19, 1957, carries adverts
for Stromberg Carlson TV sets, ranging in price from 210 gns to 255 gns, a huge amount of money in those days.
There was no physical guinea, but cheque transactions could be made in either guineas or the equivalent in pounds and
So, if something was advertised for two pounds two shillings that was two guineas!
The School Paper
This was a glossy monthly publication (not in
January) and we had to buy it at the newsgency. It cost 1d. It had many interesting stories, articles, poems and other articles
which we were expected to read, and these were discussed in class. There were various editions of the School Paper, which
first came out in 1911 - for Classes 3, 4, 5/6, 7/8.
These were cloth-covered books which had started
in 1930 (in Victoria). Each book covered a different area of learning, They were designed to be handed down within families.
There were eight books in all, known as "First Book", "Second Book" etc. They were purchased at newsagents. In the mid-1940s,
these Readers started to go out of fashion, as parents could not afford to buy them as well as the School Paper.
They were eventually abandoned as a classroom
aid in 1947 when the "John and Betty" learning books were introduced.
Throughout primary school, the Strap was used
often as a means of punishment for boys who had not behaved correctly These were lengths of leather, rather like a belt, about
2" wide. The idea was that the offending boy would be paraded at the front of the clas with his arm outstretched and palms
facing upwards, to receive the allocated number of "lashes". The hand would be left reddened and often inflamed.
For nore serious misdemeanours, the offending
kid would be marched into the Headmaster's office where a "cat and nine tails" strap would be used. These were leather instrumentys of torture. and the ends were cut into thin strips ("tails")
The pain inflicted from these things was intense,
and many kids cried put in agony.
I got caught up in this cruelty on at least two
occasions. The worst was when I was caught reading a Jules Verne science fiction novel during class, which was on my
knee under the desk. This resulted in a trip to the Headmaster's office, for a session with the cat-and-nine tails. I
continued to read science fiction novels in class! Despite such indiscretions, I gained the Dux of the School Award at the
end of 1952!
In later decades, this form of punishsment disappeared,
being replaced by detention and other forms of correctional behavioural reinforcement.
The Bell Warden
For Foms 1 and 2 (Grades 7 and 8), there were
classroom periods of about 35 minutes each. A hand bell would be rung outside the classrooms five minutes before the end of
each period. This was done by "Bell Wardens", on a roster, usually pupils who had volunteered from Form 2.
In the years I was at Auburn, there wasn't as much
emphasis on participation in organized sports, as there is these days. School was based
mainly on classroom activities and little attention was extended to other activities. We played "Rounders" in the quadrangle
during breaks and before school - this was based on American Baseball. We delighted in teasing ths girls!
We played "Cricket" in the quadrangle, with the
wickets being the base of a big gum tree (that tree is still there!). At the back of the school, there was an open paddock
in which we went through a "hole in the fence" to play.
We played various games in the schoolyard, such
as marbles (boys) and hot-step-jump (girls).
We played supervised football at the nearby Auburn
Oval in Victoria Rd, and at Stackey's Park, in Rathmines Rd.