Braeside State School Recollections

Past pupils of Braeside School celebrate 60th anniversary of the school. From left: Mrs. Winifred Clancy, Mrs. Betty McCormick and Mrs. Jean Fischer and former teacher Mrs. Ella Bishop with headmaster Mr. Ron Bradfield.

I turned six on 30th July 1950, and in those days before playgroups, kindergartens, and prep-school, kids commenced their schooling at the age of six. On the next school day after my birthday I was duly sent to start my education at Braeside State School. It was about a mile away in Boundary Road. Naturally we walked, with my sister Yoland, who was two and a half years older than me.

My only memory of the first day of school was standing with a group of other kids outside the general store on the corner of Lower Dandenong Road and Boundary Road when a magpie perched on the overhead wires dropped a message on Beverley Fisher’s head.

Braeside State School was built in 1915, after a group of local residents, including my Grandmother, Mary Follett, (Mrs. James Follett) lobbied the State Government of the day. It was a one-room school with one teacher and six rows of desks – one row for each grade. I can remember little of my stay at Braeside School, except that the teacher was Mr. Fitzgerald and my Mother didn’t like him. Consequently my sister and I were enrolled at Mentone State School from the year of 1951. I had been in grade one at Braeside for only six months and the Mentone teachers didn’t know if I should re-start in grade one or go into grade two. Getting me to read from the grade two reader solved the problem. I started at Mentone State School in grade two.

The following anecdotes are based on what my late sister had told me over the years.

The toilets in those days were a male one at one end of the playground and the female at the other end. They were a wooden structure and a “one holer”.  They were the typical old fashioned toilet consisting of a pan which was duly collected by the ‘night watchman’ though a hinged panel at the rear.
In 1948 or 1949, the school burned down. To what extent I’m not sure. Apparently the outside of the one room was being painted and the painter was using a blow torch to remove the old paint when a bird’s nest caught fire and up went the school. My sister could recall being evacuated. From my own recollections there was only one entrance or exit in the room. Later on a second room was built on.
My mother used to often make a ‘treat’ out of crushed biscuits and cocoa. I think the correct name was hedgehog cake but we called it ‘tobacco’. So naturally when we told other kids we were eating ‘tobacco’ we were immediately told on and the teacher would investigate our horrible crime.
For my religious education, I was sent to Sunday school. This was operated by the Dingley Baptist Union Church and was held every Sunday morning at the Braeside State School. The teachers at Sunday school were Mr. Faulkner [Fawkner?] his wife and daughter, Betty, Mr. Lang, Mr. Lamb, and Roy Crouch. They used to pick up us kids from home and then drop us off afterwards. I was picked up initially by Betty who drove her father’s “A” model  Ford.  Whoever was sitting in the front when it rained had the job of leaning over and working the hand operated windscreen wiper.  Later we were picked up by Roy Crouch in a covered tray truck where we all sat on bench seats in the tray.
Mr. Tom Minton, who lived in Lower Dandenong Road, was the caretaker/cleaner of the school and on Sundays the key was collected from him and later returned.  One day, and I have no idea why, we were denied access to the school building and from then on we held our Sunday School classes in the shelter shed.  The Sunday school later moved to a hall in Mordialloc – I think in or near White Street.’
Neil Follett
26 April 2019
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City of Kingston acknowledges the Kulin Nation as the custodians of the land on which the municipality is a part and pays respect to their Elders, past and present. Council is a member of the Inter Council Aboriginal Consultative Committee (ICACC).