Recollections of a Reunion
by Ray Walton October 2004 (Errors and Omissions excepted!)
On October 31 2003 about 80 ex-students of Largs Bay Primary School gathered at the School and recounted their schooldays between 1946 and 1953.
For me this was my first time back to the school for 50 years having moved out of the district some 40 years before. It was also my first School reunion for either of the 2 schools I ever attended and involved me travelling down to Largs Bay from Darwin in the Northern Territory. It was a joyfull and emotional experience.
I had not had a social or job relationship with any of them since 1953 but on meeting them it seemed that not that much had changed about them in that time. Most of them were easily recognisable and for so many to be there was wonderful. The only sad point is that of course not all of them could be there.
What a wonderful day it was and when I learned some of the background effort that occurred my sincere congratulations goes to the Committee headed by Bill Marston and Marilyn Brown (nee Bloffwitch) who not only had to trace old scholars but in the case of most of the "girls" had to find out who they married etc. to even have the chance of locating them.
Most still live in South Australia which may have made it easier but what a job to trace those who have shifted interstate. I found out about the Reunion after Marilyn put a notice on the Schoolfriends website. Just shows one of the benefits of the internet!
I decided to stay at the Largs Pier Hotel to get the feel of Largs Bay again. I was surprised to see so much grass growing where there used to be sand! Seagulls were the same but it was a bit unique to see them because we don't have seagulls in Darwin! I arrived on Thursday afternoon, hired a car and this gave me an opportunity Friday Morning to drive around my old haunts, photograph houses where my wife & I once lived and buy the Advertiser that costs $2.50 in Darwin so I hadn't read one for 16 years!
Arriving at the School a bit early I noticed that Murrin's Pie shop has disappeared and so had our demountable classrooms! There was a brick building where they used to be and the gravel that grazed our knees when playing brandy and red rover all over was now bitumised and there is a modern playground. "What happened to our garden?" I wondered.
Into the hall where Horst was doing his best to organise things, Bill was greeting everyone and Dean was setting up for the video. What a surprise to meet Len Gardner! 90 and going strong and seemed to recognise most of the kids. Mary Boas was also there and this set the scene for what was to be a great day.
Deane started proceedings and put on the video that took us back to another era. Governor opening the Birkenhead Bridge, Anzac Day March with thousands clapping & cheering and a Beauty Pageant. How about those swimming suits! There was Clive Hutton starting school, then Deane and kids doing the Farmer in the Dell featuring Andrew McLennan. Then Clive & Deane leaving school with a girl. Manners boys! into the car before the young lass! And it finished in colour film with Deane leaving Largs Bay School in 1953 and shaking Len Gardner's hand. Absoloutely Marvellous.
Then it was time for nostalgia. Deane called various "kids" to the front and among them was Graham Smith who explained how Len Gardner's Saxophone playing in the classroom excited him to take a greater interest in music and how it has changed his life. Understandably Graham was little emotional showing his gratitude to Len.
Deane then asked a couple of maths questions and up like a shot went Geoff Naismith. Geoff loved the questions that "Spud" Murphy our grade 5 teacher used to ask. If you were first with the answer you got out of school early. Unfortunately I don't remember getting and early minute! But how clever to remember the answers to questions that are from the imperial age. Pounds & Ounces, Gross, Hundredweight etc. and of course we are all pre-decimal currencies. Kids today don't know what a quid, spin or a brick is. Mind you at Largs Bay I don't remember seeing too many £10 notes!
Reg Freak recollected how he remembers that Berlin is on the River Spree and Anne Drever recalled tales from the girls schooldays. It is interesting to note that from grade 3 the sexes were separated. I'm not sure what the authorities thought that 8 year old kids were going to do if they were in mixed classes in those days but there was probably some obscure reason.
Deane reminded us about the Fife & Drum school band and wondered if anyone had brought their fife with them. Up popped Andrew McLennan and to Len Gardner's amazement (and ours) blew out some magical sounds. And we recalled the bell that hung outside the grade 6/7 classroom. Woe betide anyone who rang the bell other than at the prescibed times! I always thought that it rang better at home time!
And then there was the cake celebrating 50 years since we had left Largs Bay Primary School. I don't know who made the cake and the other mystery is - what happened to it? Perhaps the current day teachers had it for lunch? Then it was off to the Largs Pier Hotel for a trip down memory lane. All the class photos were put on the wall and created even more interest especially for those like me who didn't have any at home. There were names under the photos and unfortunately several were missing but after a lot of discussion and possibly with the help of a little alcohol some were remembered and will become part of the History of the school. Not everyone was able to return to the Hotel but if everyones health holds no doubt the Committee will arrange future reunions.
Thanks very much to Deane Hutton who invited Andrew McLennan who was also staying at the Largs Pier, home for a lovely roast dinner. Clive also joined us after taking photos all day and I am sure that many of them are on this website. The Committee put in a lot of hard work to bring together an event that was enjoyed by all. Sincere thanks and also to Deane for putting together the wonderful video and being the MC. That TV work paid off Deane! Thanks to Clive Hutton for taking photos at the school and the Largs pier and to Len Gardner and Mary Boas for being an integral part of the day. AND especially thanks to all who were there. I hope that the reunion memory is as good for you as it is for me.