Monday, 11 March 2013

Boarding School - Woolwich NSW

My Sister Joan and I went to Boarding School. Two of them actually.  We went to a Marist Sister's College at Woolwich, NSW for just  a few years and then we attended St Mary's Convent, Katoomba, NSW.  There was another sister, Sandra however she lived with my Father and his family and there was no contact until I was 22 and a mother of 2 young children.  Back in the early 50's there was no such thing as a "single parent" pension.  If a woman was divorced and had children she had to work to earn money.  Like it or not, that was a fact.  Both Mum and my mother worked and once Mum started working for someone else as a dressmaker, then it became more difficult during school holidays.  My Great Grandmother also lived with us (Nana) and she probably found it difficult during school holidays to supervise John (Mum's son), Joan and myself.    My mother worked for the Metropole Hotel as a food waitress and the Metropole was one of the "swankiest" hotels in Sydney when I was a kid. 
Not much different in 1956

Back then only the very wealthy would dine out and many of the hotel guests would be from overseas or country people visiting Sydney.  I can remember one time Mother meeting Joan and myself at the Quay and taking us back to her work.  We were huddled into this small room (probably staff quarters) and we stayed there until she finished work.  Occasionally another waitress might call up to see we were OK.  Gosh, we kids were good when I think about it.  I guess she probably finished work about 11pm from the dinner trade and then we got a taxi home to Paddington.  Who knows.... maybe she and Mum had had an argument and Mum told her to make her own arrangements to pick us up from the quay.  But looking back on it, it was strange not to have gone straight home from the ferry ride back from school.

ferryTo get to Woolwich I remember we would get the Ferry from Circular Quay and the ferry would go under the Harbour Bridge.    Oh my, the terror I used to feel as we approached the Bridge and going under it that the mighty structure would fall on our ferry!!  We would get off the ferry at the Woolwich  wharf and we usually travelled on the ferry unsupervised by the nuns (as I recall) as the ferry would be full with Boarding students returning from school holidays.  One part of the school I recall was an area we used to call "Greenland" which was part of the college waterfront but so overgrown with greenery and bush it was forbidden to go there.  However of course we did.  I also recall one dessert we used to call Lane Cove Purified Mud which was ever so delicious and looking back it was chocolate mousse.  We used to have mosquito nets over the beds as it being right on Lane Cove river there were mosquitoes in abundance.

I made my first Holy Communion in 1954 at 6 yrs of age in the St Peters Chanel church and I remember being woken very early and I was happy not only to make my Communion, but it meant my Mother would be visiting us that day also.  Mum and my mother made my Communion gown and it was long, as were most of the girls and it had a very big bow on the back and also puff sleeves.  Back then, you had to fast prior to receiving Communion and we were woken at midnight to have a cup of hot cocoa and a slice of bread and butter.  Then back to bed until early waking time.  

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