Coronations I have known…

A ceremony in which a monarch is crowned. Not always a happy event…. This guy was triggered by one:

Watch on YouTube

Sir William Walton’s music was wonderful in that version!

Watch on YouTube.

He also wrote the Coronation March Orb and Sceptre and a seting of the Te Deum for the actual Coronation of Elizabeth ii.

I remember 1953!

Here is one of many things I at age 9 found exciting! Australia is home to one of the world’s best nuclear reactors. And in The Shire too! Cliffy Tanko and I spend some time scouring the Devil’s Back — a hill near we lived, overlooking the Woronora Valley — for Russian spies! The fun of being a Cold War Kid!

I am circled, and I think that is Cliffy on the right of the boy with the board. Maybe not. Could be 4th from the right in the second back row…

Certainly my Vermont Street neighbour Colin Dawson is second from the left in the front row. Colin is still with us; Cliffy passed away some years ago.

But this was still the reign of King George VI. In 1953 we were in 5A. We had a Queen by then.

Two years later I was no longer at Sutho Public but at Sydney Boys High, though at this time I don’t think I knew where the place was let alone that it would become so much a part of my life. There they were celebrating the Coronation. As was the whole country pretty much.

At Sydney Boys High

Of course we did not get to see the Coronation as Australia did not have TV, but it was on the wireless coming from the BBC no doubt via short wave.

The sound of short wave on YouTube

Yes, apparently BBC recently restored its short wave service! That is how we heard the Coronation. I seem to recall there was a public relay in the park by the old Ambulance Station in Sutho, with a band and fireworks. I was there. It was the first time I had ever heard this tune and it thrilled me then.

Listen on YouTube

The Sutho band may not have been quite as good… Or as big…

But for a kid who had that week been making Crown Jewels out of his Meccano set…

This was getting quite a bit of airplay around those days…

Watch on YouTube

Well, I did get to see the Coronation — at the Sutherland Odeon. I was in love…

This very film.

From my past they come — the boys of 70 years ago…

In 2017 I posted: 65 years on I recall Vermont Street.

And here I am in that world, towards the end of the period.

That is April 1955 and I am in the front yard of 1 Vermont Street with my mother.  I am 11 years old, and newly at Sydney Boys High. I had had a serious illness just six months before – pancreatitis – so I may look a touch thin still. All the ribbons are because we are going to the GPS Regatta at Penrith, a big deal in those days and perhaps even more so in my family. I was the first in the family entitled to go as I was in a GPS school – albeit the only state-owned one – as I would later be the first in the family to go to university.

Just three years earlier my sister had died – 71 years ago now. She was cremated and her urn placed in a rose garden at Woronora Cemetery, which she now shares with Grandma and Grandpa Christison, who died in 1959 and 1963 respectively…

Here is my class at Sutherland Public School:

Front row 2nd from left Colin Dawson and on right of boy with board ? Cliff Tanko

Next row 3rd from left Mervyn Simmons and two along to the right Malcolm Simmons

Srcond back row 2nd from left Robert Greer. Two futher along a Stapleton, then two to the right another Stapleton

Back row 5 from left ?Ross Mackay. then Brian Smith, me, Laurence Napier

This concerns the Dawsons

Just a few days ago I retold this story.

An episode when I was 8 or 9. I described it here: A bit of a mystery about my own life solved perhaps, thanks to Facebook.

And I remember my neighbours in Vermont Street, Sutherland, the Dawsons. Facebook puts me in touch with first the next generation, and then, miracle of miracles, with one of the three brothers I knew in the early 1950s.

Colin and Jimmy [Dawson] probably saved my life once when I had a bursting appendix at school in 1952 or 3 — complicated by the fact my sister had died of something similar in January 1952. They took care of me and carried me home one lunchtime when I am afraid the teachers were not taking much notice of my case. I was in such pain. I have never forgotten what they did. The next day I was in St George Hospital.

The youngest brother writes:

Hi I’m Graham Dawson, Jim & Col’s younger brother. They are both well & Jim lives here with me on The Sunshine Coast & Col lives in Bundaberg. I remember you from those times, I was just the little brother hanging around. Lol.

How wonderful is that, after all these years!

I thought that was wonderful — but as nothing compared with what happened in the Facebook group Sutherland Shire School Photos and Memories – Early Times to the 1990s yesterday!

Leslie Roll, now Peter Norman Meadows! Classmates from Sutho 1951-4 reappearing here! Nice! 70 years on…. And the Dawson boys last year through FB and my blog — they are in Queensland: Jimmy, Colin and little brother Graham, the one who made contact….

How good is that!

And since posting this I have been thinking more about that time Colin and Jim really may well have saved my life. It must have been in early 1953, so I was 9. Col might have been 10 — I was young for the class — and Jim possibly 11. They literally did carry me, quite a way including through the Sutherland shops and across the railway bridge at the station. And they carriied our school bags too no doubt. I still remember some people staring at us, and Jim I think giving a bit of cheek to some who questioned what we were doing in the middle of a school day. Yes, looking back on it what they did was quite remarkable. Talk about mateship.

Sutherland Public School again

I have contributed more to the private group Sutherland Shire School Photos and Memories – Early Times to the 1990s.

Did you attend a Sutherland Shire School in the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s or earlier? Post your school photos, reminisce, re-connect with old friends, plan or advertise your school reunions. 🎵 Remember the days of the old schoolyard; We used to laugh a lot, oh don’t you; Remember the days of the old schoolyard; When we had imaginings and we had; All kinds of things and we laughed; And needed love, yes, I do; Oh and I remember you 🎶 

If that applies to you go for it! Some really good stuff has been posted, and not just class photos. Of course as it is a private group I cannot reveal anything from or about other members. But I still have a good post I think.

Sutherland Public School Heritage

The school has an admirable heritage page.

Sutherland was subdivided in 1886. The newly opened railway gave easy access to Sydney. There were only 4 permanent buildings. Three were for the railway whilst the fourth was a general store.  Mr Bramley the store owner was instrumental in organising a petition by the settlers to the government of the Colony of NSW to establish a school. Following a visit from an Inspector for the department of Public Instruction it was determined ‘that the population be sufficient to maintain a small public school.’

It had been built at a cost of  £145 ($290).  The first teacher was Maria Meyer…

1942     Air Raid precautions—Parents dug trenches in the playground.  Proceeds from 1942 Christmas Party spent on wire netting which was pasted onto the windows to prevent flying glass injuring students in the event of an attack. The school was an assembly point for civilians in the event of attack.  Many fathers were involved in active service overseas or in the war efforts of road building to Heathcote or the garrison at North Head.  Some of the fathers of children enrolled in 1943 were lost with the sinking of HMAS Perth off Java, were prisoners of war in Stalag 7A on the Danube, a POW in Malaya, or in active service in the Middle East and New Guinea.

To add to the misery of war, the 1940s saw outbreaks of infant  paralysis (polio) which required children to be hospitalised for 9-18 months.

Struggle Street— ‘The school was their support in an uncertain world’

The lack of available housing post war meant that many families of children attending the school resided in temporary accommodation blocks at Kirrawee, on  the camping ground established on the old rifle range at Waratah Park and in tents on reclaimed poultry farms at Sylvania….

Great stuff!

My contributions yesterday

Sutherland Public School 6A 1947 — my brother Ian’s class. He is second from the left in the back row. Ian Whitfield 1935-2017.

My sister Jeanette Heather Whitfield’s 2A Class Sutherland Public School. She is third from the left in the front row.

My sister Jeanette 19th March 1940 – 14th January 1952. Here she is with some friends — Sutherland Public School 6th Class 1951. She is back row third from the right.

I may be wrong but I think her teacher that year was Miss Winter.

This is a bit different but may prompt some memories and better pics to represent this. In the 40s and 50s anyone going to full high school — to the Leaving Certificate — had to leave the Shire and take the morning train — in my case the 7.25 am from Sutherland in 1955, from Kirrawee in 1956, and in 1959 Jannali! Port Hacking High kicked in in the late 50s. Jannali was two schools — Domestic Science for Girls and Jannali Boys was a Technical High founded in 1956.

One of my Sutho classmates, Graeme Boler (RIP), eventually became (I think) Vice Captain of Port Hacking in 1959.

In my 6th Class 1954 at Sutherland 5 of us went to Sydney Boys High and a few to Sydney Tech High. Girls went to either Sydney Girls High or St George. I was at SBHS classmate of kids from Cronulla and Caringbah and Como — though most were from the Eastern Suburbs. 1955 meant wearing a school uniform — a new experience which I was proud of but also felt a bit weird about. There was a hat which I was always doing my best to lose!

So there I am in my finery in a pic taken at Vermont Street Sutherland.