Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bordertown High School 50th Anniversary Weekend

I returned home recently for the BHS 50th anniversary. The committee organising the reunion had been planning this for a long time and I registered my interest last December. Bought the plane tickets a couple of months ago and The Boy and I left home on the Friday. We headed to Adelaide where my mum and dad were waiting to pick us up at the airport. I managed to keep The Boy entertained most of the way and he did read a rather large book as well. After that it was a three hour drive back home after stopping at an uncle's home along the way to have dinner. Fish and chips. And Farmers Union Iced Coffee - I think this is only available in South Australia and I have to have some every time I return.

The Boy got up for an early morning walk with grandpa. I'd had a bet that he wouldn't be able to get out of bed because it was 4:15am back home and his body clock hadn't adjusted. Must be something about money because he hauled his arse out of bed. We walked down to the supermarket and bought a newspaper.

My mum had arranged for a visit to Clayton Farm for us. Luckily Ingrid, the caretaker, had been nice enough to open up for us on a day that the museum was normally closed. Before we left another three carloads of people had come for a visit. She even showed us some places that are usually off limits to the public.

Clayton Farm Visit Album on Facebook.

After Clayton Farm we went home and had some lunch before heading down to the school for a tour. It was reasonably busy even though we'd bypassed the first couple of hours when I fully expected the largest crowds. Mr O'Connell, my old biology teacher and now the deputy principal, was our tour guide. And who should accompany us on the tour but none other than Mr Flatman, my old yr 8 maths teacher. Now, that brought back some memories. He used to live behind some relatives on the other side of town and I hadn't seen him for over 20 years as he left the district after my first year of high school.

We wandered around the school and quite a bit has changed. An old shed has been removed and the building where my home group was located has been replaced by a huge sports shed. The Common Room has changed into a weights room used for P.E. but the boys and girls change rooms remain. There is a new chemistry lab and arts centre. The old Nissan Hut is no longer. We visited the technological studies (woodwork and metalwork) and the quality of work on display was fabulous. The biology pool has gone and the agriculture building hasn't changed a bit. There's a new shed for storage which is quite sizable. Not much else has changed expect that the reception is now at the front of the school building.

After a bit of a chat with my old teachers we journeyed home. The Boy played his grandmother at Connect Four and there were a few card games. Later that evening he went for a walk with grandad. This was something that he'd been looking forward to for quite a long time as the cans and bottles that can be collected are worth some money.

I had a cocktail party to attend. Along with about 600 other people. It was quite a do. I don't know why they bothered with some musical entertainment as when people had the opportunity to talk that is exactly what they wanted to do. The music and singing were no longer required. Mrs Pat Williams, who had turned 91 earlier in the year, and who was an original teacher at the school, reminisced about the early years. And can she tell a good yarn? You bet she can. Another speaker was a female prefect from 1959, the year that the school opened. She's achieved quite a bit since finishing.

I saw quite a few teachers that I remembered and nearly got to catch up with all of them. I didn't pin down Mr Cadd or Mrs Cunnington but spoke to Mr Cunnington, Mr Douglas, Crawf, Mrs Walter, Mrs Milton (was Mrs Lawrence) among others. Disappointingly I only noticed two former students from my year level. One of them had driven for 11 hours from Roxby Downs to attend and I'm sure she wondered why she had bothered. Caught up with another bloke that I didn't really get along with so well at school but I guess we're both a little more grown up now. Oh, the painful days of being a teenager. And to think that he has a kid finished trade school this year. Interestingly one woman came up to me and acted like she knew me from long ago. I was trying to place and then she mentioned that she was a few years older than me. When she mentioned her maiden name it dawned on me that she was one of the hairdressers that I used to go to. I tell you, recognising school teachers is easy as people who were 40-odd don't change all that much in 20 years. People from your own age bracket go downhill a lot in the 20 years after leaving school.

There was a good display of memorabilia in the Resource Centre with old year books, class photos, letters of apology and a film from the 1980s (I think). The night drew to a close about 10:30 when people were going to head over to the hall to listen to a band. I didn't see the need to go and dance and talk with nobody that I knew.

BHS 50th Anniversary Album on Facebook.

Early morning walk again was on the agenda. I didn't have to do anything at school until 11am when they would have a roll call by decade and guest speakers including Mr Schinkfield, the second principal (from memory), Mr Cox, the current principal, Mr Douglas, my former geography teacher who went on to be principal, and Mr Phillip Wollen, a former student who only attended BHS for his 12th and final year. Mr Wollen made an amazing and inspirational speech. I wish I'd recorded it to replay to my son. For the roll call I would estimate that about perhaps 25% of the students that attended in the opening year turned up for the reunion. I was one of two students from the 1980s. There were even more teachers from that decade than the students in attendance. And some of them were still teaching.

Following the speeches I met up with my mate Grooks and his brother and sister. They'd missed Phillip Wollen's speech unfortunately. It was good to catch up and we bumped into Mr Flatman again. Quite a bit to discuss and it's amazing how much we had in common. I went home to collect The Boy, who was thrashing his grandmother at Connect Four, and walked back to the school for a BBQ lunch. In the Resource Centre, talking to Grooks and his sister and the mother of another former student friend, I was accosted (well, it felt like it) by a former student. She seemed spaced out. A Jimi Hendrix fan who appeared to have dabbled in illicit substances (she gave me that impression), she proceeded to give me her life story. I don't think I've had the chance to thank Grooks for turning his back on me and continuing a conversation with other people. This woman then showed me a photo of her year level. Well bugger me, she finished high school before I was even born. She didn't know me from a bar of soap and felt compelled to bore me to tears as she couldn't read the "Oh what do I have to do to get rid of this person" look that must have been evident on my face. I'm not one of her friends and didn't know who she was but I guess it didn't hurt to humour her a little.

Following the BBQ we walked down towards the centre of town to tour the local radio station. Franky Faul, one of the presenters, was kind enough to open up for us and give us a guided tour. She was presenting at the time so we we able to see how you run a radio station. She even did an inpromptu interview with me live on air. Thanks Franky.

Then next day we headed to Naracoorte. On the agenda was catching up with an aunty and uncle, visiting Alexandra Cave and seeing my dad's farm so that The Boy could have a drive and check out the sheep.

Back at the caves we took a guided tour of Alexandra Cave which was quite good and then a self-guided tour of Wet Cave which is quite a bit more expansive.

Well, we went one better than planned. My uncle wanted to go to his farm to collect some equipment and I was quite happy to go along. It's been years since I've been down there. After taking a few back roads we arrived. He'd been driving with Yu-Jin and they swapped at the front gate to the property. My aunty asked what sort of driver he was and I responded that we'd soon see. Well, blow me down. He took off and we followed. I was doing 40 km/h behind him and he was pulling away. Must have been doing 60-65 up the track, mainly. Bit of off-road involved.

We had a good look around the farm, including a lake that is normally dry and their horse needed a bit of treatment so Yu-Jin was able to feed him. Chloe, the sheepdog, was wonderful and friendly. What a lovely dog.

We popped over to my dad's farm for a short look. The feed is growing quite well and there's lot of healthy sheep to look after.

Naracoorte Caves and Farms Album on Facebook.

The Boy got to drive my uncle's ute. And boy, did he give it to her.

The Boy to the chance to feed an orphaned joey at the Sheep's Back Museum in Naracoorte. Museum visit with a difference, eh? I wish that The Boy had taken his milk as quickly when he was a baby.

I was a little disappointed with the Sheep's Back Museum after hearing about the awards it had been winning over the years. I guess when you've seen one woolshed or flour mill you've seen them all. They did have some old buildings and machinery on display including an old school room. So it wasn't too bad. The joey was a pleasant surprise.

Last item on the day's agenda was a visit to Padthaway Estate. The oldest building standing dates back to 1849, with the property having been settled in 1847 by Robert Lawson, and it's the third oldest building in the Tatiara. My mum had phoned up a couple of weeks ago to see if we could visit. The lady who took the phone call said that it was private accommodation but if no-one was staying that night she would show us around the house. We were welcome to look around outside too.

We decided to have a look at the cellar, just quickly, before having a look at the house. As soon as we started walking up the driveway this guy shot out of the cellar where he had been demonstrating his wines to customers and demanded to know what we were doing. I explained that we were going to have a look at the house. He said that it was private property and that we weren't able to. I told him that mum had spoken to someone about it previously but that didn't sway him. He made us feel so unwelcome and that we were only allowed in the car park area. I think he confused what I was saying with looking through the house but I only ever intended to walk around the grounds. What an absolute prick. On the way out of the property I parked the car down the driveway, ran back to the fence around the house and then took a couple of photos. Stuff him. I'd come a long way to view this and that prick wasn't going to spoil it completely. Unless you're a rich arsehole, like himself, I wouldn't be recommending his hospitality in a hurry.

To be continued...

Being continued...

Travelling home through the back roads of Padthaway we drove past the houses of two sets of my grandparents. Something interesting for my boy to see. At Mundulla we stopped at the primary school and my mum was able to relive a few memories. They must be fading a bit know as they're over half a century old. He he. A couple of the ladies working there were more than happy to show us around.

Next day was a long trip to Adelaide. Long, because we went via Kingston so that The Boy could see the Big Lobster. Larry, his name is. Also visited the beach which was covered in about 1m of seaweed. Talk about stink! That's probably why the place in known as Stinkston.

Drove up through the Coorong National Park. There was a pelican oberservation point whereby you could see a couple of islands where hundreds of the birds nest. There is supposed to be a free set of binoculars but there wasn't. Luckily my mum had her binoculars in the car so we could see pretty clearly. It's about three kilometres north of Policeman's Point. Lot of Mr Percival of display. Pretty desolate area though.

At Tailem Bend I wanted to take the long why to Murray Bridge which included a ferry ride over the Murray River. The Boy has never been on one of them before. All over in a flash. I remember as a kid it was quite exciting to do.

Got into Adelaide and dropped our gear off at the hotel before doing a bit of shopping. We'd arranged for an aunty and uncle and great aunty and great uncle to join us for a meal. I don't get to see them much and wanted to thank them for putting me up last year when I came over for my grandma's funeral. Wasn't a bad bit of tucker and it was a buffet. The Boy was a bit bored, seeing as he was the only one his age and everyone else, apart from me, was over 60, I don't really blame him. But I gave him the camera and he found out that you can take a picture and then zoom in on the viewfinder. Everyone had to guess who the photo was of and it took a bit of guessing actually.

Back to the hotel for some shut eye. In the morning, reasonably early, we had to head out to the airport. That basically ended the holiday. The Boy arrived at school that morning after only missing one lesson and I headed off to work. No rest for the wicked.

Kingston and Coorong National Park album on Facebook.


Anonymous said...

Found out Padthaway Homestead is privately owned. Dale Baker, former state pollie and some one else own it and have been trying to sell it. Anyone I have mentioned that guy's reaction to reckon he was out of line and VERY rude.

Anonymous said...

Great. I am glad you had fun. Take good care now. Annette

Anonymous said...

Next instalment,SOON??

Iris Flavia said...

TREE! TREEEEEEE..., whew, that looked close! :-)

Now take care where you leave the car-keys! I know what I´m talking about, I was such a kid, too ;-)

Haha, sounds like you guys had some fun!!!