To Cronulla High. Here are shots taken very close to my time there — late 1965 to the end of 1969. A couple of samples:
Mind you, I have changed a tad since then:
Many of us noted Australia’s ‘Mr Movies’, Bill Collins, dies aged 84. When I (and Dick Stratford) were Dip Ed students at Sydney Teachers College, Bill Collins, already well known on TV, was a lecturer — in Latin! He also like all the lecturers supervised student teachers in their prac sessions, and one such he supervised towards the end of 1965 at Cronulla High. I was also in that prac group, but supervised by someone else. (I was on Brendan O’Connor’s classes.) I think there were three of us students. Bill was rather waspish in his comments on one of our number, and we didn’t approve. I recall us ganging up on him one day about the way he was treating that colleague, but it is fair to say he took it well.
In my October 2011 post Meanwhile in Sutherland in 1954… I recalled:
[In 1954] The Odeon was still a flourishing cinema presided over by a dragon in the form of Miss Collins, aunt of the fabled Bill Collins. Here it is in the 1930s.
BILL COLLINS: Oh, dear! I was born in a place called Sutherland, south of Sydney, in the Sutherland Shire. And I was born there on December 4, 1934. The house where I was born in is no longer in existence. But it was within easy walking distance of the Sutherland picture show where my Aunty Lil was an usherette and where I became a frequent patron.
In 1934 there was the Depression. I say sometimes in moments of anguish, “I’m a child of the Depression.” And money was not easy. Life was a little tougher. But I think we were a lot happier then. The 1940s was an extraordinary period. The war was on and there were terrible things that were happening. But we also enjoyed ourselves a great deal. There weren’t many of the tensions that exist in Australia today. I can remember so vividly the night the Japanese submarines came into Sydney Harbour. And that was quite an extraordinary experience because by that time we had a trench in our backyard, as most people did in Australia. It was the worst of all times, and the best of all times. My mother’s name was Rita May Collins. Originally her surname was Miller. And my father was William Michael Joseph Collins. That’s why I became William, or Bill. And sometimes I think my father was lacking ambition. He just wanted to be in the police force and he loved being in the police force. My mother, she was a teacher. And I learnt a lot from her. It was my mother incidentally who started my interest really in classical music, for example. And my mother, of course, encouraged my reading and all the other things that I did during those years. When I was young, I would rather go to see adult movies than go to children’s matinees. I guess I was about nine years old when I saw ‘Gone with the Wind’. And I’d never seen anything like it before. I’d seen other big films but ‘Gone with the Wind’ emotionally, I think, got through to me. And I still remember vividly, one of the greatest scenes ever conceived and put on the screen, where she vows never to be hungry again…
This makes Bill Collins just one year older than my brother, by the way. I might also mention that in 1965 Bill Collins, then a lecturer at Sydney Teachers College, was the supervisor of a colleague student teacher at Cronulla High – and we rather gave him hell, I recall, as we thought he was unfair to her…
That has got me thinking about Cronulla High again. I was appointed to the English and History staff there in 1966 and stayed until 1969. I had my first inspection there:
I have been here in Elizabeth Street Surry Hills since 1992, and I brought quite a bit of unsorted rubbish with me. Some items go back, well, to Noah almost.
- My first inspection report from Cronulla High School.
Mr W is an enthusiastic and resourceful teacher who is establishing good relationships with his pupils at all levels of the school.
His lessons are thoroughly prepared and informed: he uses a wide range of material and shows enterprise in presenting this material to pupils who respond well.**
Following advice earlier this year he has improved his supervision of pupils’ work, increasing his effectiveness in teaching. The results achieved in recent examinations testify to his successful teaching: the results in Form V History and Third Level groups in English V are especially commendable.
It is recommended that Mr W’s efficiency be determined as meeting the requirements for the award of a Teacher’s Certificate.
— E. Guthrie (Inspector) July 28, 1966
I see I had Forms 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 English and Form 3 History — That is Years 7-11 English and Year 9 History. No Year 12 as 1967 was the first Year 12 in NSW, and I took that (bottom) Year 11 class through.
** I am sure Eula Guthrie was not suggesting my lessons only worked with “pupils who respond well”! 😉
So I have been trying to recall my colleagues in the English Department in those years. Here is the list from 1969:
Looking at this list, what do I recall?
Jack Morrison was a good old guy to have had as my first head of department. Phyllis Wheeler was totally amazing as a person and as a teacher. Soon after she moved on to the famous Frensham School in Mittagong….
Some other names that I also recall: Geoff Borny from Jersey in the Channel Islands — an interesting character, and what a career he went on to, Paul Herlinger — responsible for some great school drama productions, including a Hamlet that starred Robert Graves’s grandson:
And more: Beth Kimball, an exchange teacher from Colorado who went on to tutor at Macquarie University then, I assume, returning to America.
Such a time it was of social change when I was 24, even in The Shire — where one Beth Kimball, an American teaching at Cronulla High School, introduced me to the following hitherto unknown exotica. Well, maybe not to the rose wine or the cappuccino, but they were new to me around that time.
Banana cake and carrot cake: both seemed quite odd things to do at the time…
You would be surprised how hard it was for Beth to locate this piece of exotica. What was wrong with Bushells or LanChoo anyway?
I refer to Crazy Egging, a carbuncle of the former Senate who wants his pus spread to the lower House in quite a few Queensland electorates and some in NSW, including the PM’s seat of Cook, which includes Cronulla — my home in adolescence and early adulthood. So he visited the other day, and guess what? Violence ensued. “Nothing to do with me,” quoth Egging, perhaps while chilling in a Munich beer hall later on.
I like to think Egging has Buckley’s or none in his malevolent intentions, but…
What was he trying to cash in on? Well, Cronulla 2005, that’s what. Happens I live-blogged at the time: here’s how I started, and note that this is now a long time ago, so links probably don’t work*:
Here are twenty-five sometimes passionate posts written during the Cronulla affair of December 2005. I see this period as something of a watershed for Australian multiculturalism. There will be some links that are no longer viable after two years. See also Four Corners: Riot and Revenge (March 2006).
1. Bad blood boils in the Cronulla stomp – National – smh.com.au: 2005-12-08
This was my first entry on this affair which, with its sequels, attracted an amazing amount of attention during December. For details, go to the December 2005 archive.
Ugly scenes at my old beach.
When I began teaching at Cronulla High 1965 (prac) and 1966 (appointed), the main street looked like this.
This is a recent pic, but I recognise it and can almost hear and smell the sea and the Norfolk Island pine trees.
…racial tension resurfaced at the beach when a group of young men started brawling with three locals outside Cronulla’s lifesaving club, then turned on a news photographer as police intervened. Police arrested a 20-year-old man from Riverwood and charged him with smashing the photographer’s camera. They were still looking for the rest of the men last night and said they had not ruled out a link between yesterday’s violence and Sunday’s attack.
Erika Lamour, 18, was at the beach yesterday when the violence broke out. “I saw a group of ethnic people come down as usual and try to start a fight,” she said. “They always do it. I didn’t actually see the fight. But I saw everyone running towards the club.” Ms Lamour said the gangs that roamed the beach targeted the locals. “They always come down trying to start trouble. It’s the only reason we don’t want to come down, because we know we will get harassed.”
She said she had received an email asking locals to come to the beach this Sunday. “I got an email this morning saying that all the [Sutherland] Shire people should come down on Sunday and we should reclaim the Shire.”
After Sunday’s violence, lifesavers said gangs had been intimidating them and beachgoers in the southern and eastern suburbs for two years. The State Opposition says police cannot respond to the violence quickly enough because they have lost 18 officers in the Cronulla area.
Chief Superintendent Robert Redfern said yesterday’s violence started at 4.20pm when three local youths made a comment to a group of about six Middle Eastern-looking men at the beach. The comment sparked a fight. “As a result of the fight, one of the males coming off the beach received a cut to the face and some bruising,” he said.
Detective Inspector Steve O’Grady said one of the men involved in the fight had left the beach before police arrived. He said tensions were still high when they got there.
Worth highlighting that couple of sentences, though this is not to deny that the “usual suspects” often act out their own stereotypes only too well. Or some groups within their communities do; probably most do not. Testosterone too has a lot to answer for, as well as, perhaps even more than, culture. Judging from ABC Radio 702 this morning, the police do seem to be handling things well now and the locals would be well advised to leave it to the police.
Judge for yourselves the email doing the rounds in Sutherland Shire. And here is what a right-wing piece of shit does with the story. This one is more balanced, from a girl who is a lifesaver at Elouera, “300m walk tops” from North Cronulla. But one cannot help sympathising with Larissa:
Tuesday, December 6
This is just disgusting.
These guys volunteer to help keep people safe. They give up their free time to make sure no one in their local community gets injured and also give up their lives to save people like these louts.
As someone who’s grown up in Cronulla it angers me that people come and do this.
Don’t bring your sort of lifestyle to our area, just because you’re bored with yours mean you should do that here. Either play nicely or stay away.
Mind you, there have been earlier, and worse, incidents, such as this one reported in NSW Hansard in February 2001.
[Cronulla] is an outpost, an area where the population increases dramatically during the summer. As my correspondent has said, there is gang activity. On Thursday 15 February the Commissioner of Police was interviewed on radio by John Stanley. The transcript of that interview reads, in part:
John Stanley: And your problem is, if you sent more police to Cabramatta, they would be taken from areas like Cronulla, where we had all those calls last week about that gang problem, that I think you are aware of. These people are coming in from other parts of Sydney, into Cronulla and are causing big problems there.
Commissioner Ryan: They are causing huge problems there.
One of those huge problems occurred two days after Christmas. Following a dispute at a Sutherland nightclub, a gang of 30 Lebanese Australian males arrived at Cronulla railway station with baseball bats, iron bars, knives and guns. They open fired on a rival gang, spraying more than 20 bullets over a 50-metre area. Such behaviour and activity are totally foreign. The Premier would be aware of the writings of a former New York senator, Patrick Daniel Moynihan. Back in the 1960s he wrote an essay entitled “Defining Deviancy Down”. That summarises these appalling standards of behaviour. Previously, this incident would have made headlines all over Sydney…
Mr George: Throughout New South Wales.
Mr KERR: Indeed, throughout New South Wales, but it did not because it is so commonplace. The mayor of Sutherland shire wants surveillance cameras, and there is no reason why the council cannot put surveillance cameras in the places sought by the mayor, although the problem exists throughout the Sutherland shire. The Carr Government has failed in its basic responsibility to maintain an orderly society and should therefore make a financial contribution towards the cost of the cameras. On behalf of the people of the Sutherland shire I ask the mayor to indicate when those cameras will be installed in Cronulla.
While I freely admit that troubling, troubled, and trouble-making (and usually virulently homophobic) groups of “middle eastern appearance” are an unlovely feature of Sydney life, it is very important to keep a sense of proportion on this: see Tunnel Vision: The Politicising Of Ethnic Crime by Paola Totaro (2003) for such a perspective. For much more detailed argument, see (PDF file) Scott Poynting Living with Racism: The experience and reporting by Arab and Muslim Australians of discrimination, abuse and violence since 11 September 2001 (2004).
It should be noted that, in the ideology of racism, categorical confusions between ‘race’ (eg ‘Middle Eastern Appearance’), ethnicity (eg Arab), nationality of origin or background (eg Lebanese), and religion (eg Muslim) are common, and distinction in practice between racism directed on ‘racial’, ethnic, or national grounds is not always possible or valid. This is all the more problematic currently, for over about the last decade, especially since panics from 1998 over ‘ethnic gangs’, over ‘race rapes’ in Sydney in 2000-2001, and asylum seekers and then the terror attacks from 2001, we have seen the emergence of we might call ‘the Arab Other’ as the pre-eminent folk devil in contemporary Australia (Poynting, Noble, Tabar and Collins, 2004). The links that are made between these events, the ‘perpetrators’ involved and their perceived communities, depend on the racist imagining of a supposedly homogenous category which includes those of Arab or Middle Eastern or Muslim background. This is not a singular category, of course — it includes people from diverse ancestries and with very distinct histories — but it is seen to be a singular category. A common factor is found through blaming whole communities for criminal acts, but also in labelling as ‘deviant’ certain actions — such as seeking asylum — and a range of other practices whose key feature is their visible and threatening difference — such as building a prayer centre (Dunn, 2001).
The extent to which the categories of race, ethnicity (culture) and religion are conflated in the ‘common sense’ of racism* is an aspect which needs to be studied, especially in as much as it determines the scope of legislation and the targeting of anti-racist initiatives and resources…
Poynting’s long article has much to commend it, including some disturbing personal stories.
I rather think people in The Shire, not being all that stupid, will give Egging the bum’s rush when it comes to the vote! Nice if he scored zero, but failing that let his candidate — whoever the goose is — fail to get his deposit back! For once I have to say, “Go Scomo!”
At 17 I did my first practice teaching session at Jannali West Primary, over the line and up the hill from Jannali shops. In Jannali we lived above the shops in a flat that at least gave a good view of closely watched trains; in 60-61 we rented a house in Oyster Bay Road, and very leafy it was too….
I recalled last year:
Is it really a week since I posted this on Facebook’s Sutherland Shire Heritage page?
That’s my sister-in-law Aileen and my niece Christine (Parkes) in front of The Cotton Shop, Box Road Jannali in 1959. My mother owned The Cotton Shop, a very successful dress shop — until she broke her spine falling over a vacuum cleaner in the shop. The business went on under a manager and in the early 1960s moved to Sutherland, but was never the same without my mother running things. In Jannali she had customers coming from all over Sydney, not just The Shire. On Facebook Mark Wright said: “Mum remembers it mate. She knew Mrs Whitfield.” That’s nice.
Couldn’t help reflecting that in 1959 I was in my final year as a student at Sydney Boys High, and that it was also the 8th term of Prime Minister Robert Menzies! He seemed to me then to have been PM forever, though I did dimly recall his predecessor. Menzies continued until 1966. They built them to last in those days!
For some reason a few days ago I had quite an intense nostalgia for that place and that year! 60 years on!
So I visited via Google. And here on the right of this photo is my 1959 bedroom window:
And here is Mum’s shop/Dad’s office.
Can’t help feeling Mum would have been piqued by the fact it is now Femme Fatale!
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