I commenced school very early in life. At three my parents enrolled me at Tamworth Church of England Girls’ School in Kindergarten. As my mother was getting bored at home and because the school required a latin teacher for their higher classes a solution to my child care had to be found. Hence my enrolment. I of course do not remember this but gain an insight into what I was like at this age from the three report cards I obtained whilst there. One general comment was “Irene has fitted in very well to our kindergarten group and is interested and co-operates well in all our activities. She is not very voluble yet but apparently absorbs much of what she hears. Has an independent spirit and a lovable personality.”
After a year my family moved to Casino where I attended another kindergarten. Although it was called kindergarten, these days it would be called a pre-school. Although this was my second kindergarten it was my first age-appropriate one. Mrs McDougal was the principal and only teacher. Although her voice boomed like a sergeant-major, she was always smiling, and her bosom wobbled like jelly when she laughed. She was old and lined like my grandmother. She would gather her children to her, enveloping us in her embrace whilst she read us stories. We also played games, did craft work and music. I went home one afternoon and ran around in circles with my arms outstretched. My mother asked me what I was doing and I replied “I’m playing hocker hen hips.” This had my parents baffled for some time until they realised that I was playing Focker Friendships: the first of these planes having flown into Casino airport days before.
Kindergarten at Casino Public School was my third kindergarten and my first experience of falling in love and having an idol. I idolised my teacher Miss Rogers. She was young, pretty and had really soft, silken skin. Her musical voice was mesmerising and I hung on her every word. We all vied for individual attention and tried to become the teacher’s pet. At the end of the year it was devastating to learn that she would not be returning as, she was marrying a man in Sydney and would move and live with him there. I was lucky however, as we were in Sydney on holidays and my parents took me to the church so I could see her as a bride. She looked even more beautiful.
I also had my first boyfriend in kindergarten. Raymond Fardon. He asked me to marry him and as I was giving this serious consideration I took him home to meet my parents. My Mother had no time for this nonsense and quickly showed him the door. It was many, many years before I again took a boyfriend home. I had learnt my lesson well: Raymond no longer spoke to me and took up with another girl, whose parents were no doubt more accommodating.