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1960s A Girl's View of Chermside School - Christine Wilkes (nee Wilding)

Christine Wilkes (nee Wilding)

Data from Chermside State School Register

Mother: Alwyn Shirley Powell
No. 2748 Commenced 28th July 1946 aged 9 years 11 months in Grade 3. Left Grade 7 Scholarship December 1950.

Daughter: Christine Alwyn Wilding
No. 5342 Commenced 30th Janury 1962 aged 5 Years 3 months in Grade 1. Left Grade 7 Scholarship December 1968.

Grades One and Two


Grade 1B 1962 at Chermside State School.

I attended Chermside from 1962 to 1968 as Christine Wilding (now Wilkes). I was absent for a year from March 1963 to March 1964 as my family moved to Melbourne - my dad was in the Navy. My sister Dianne (two years younger) and brother Steven (five years younger) also attended Chermside. In fact my Mum, Shirley Powell, attended Chermside (Scholarship about 1949). My sister, brother and I are now all teachers.

My oldest memory of my time at Chermside would be Grade 1 with Mrs Duus - she went on to teach Grade 1 for many years. I know she was considered to be a very good infants' teacher. My classroom was the first one at the top of the stairs and closest to the female staffroom (NE Wing).

I remember using slates and sharpening our slate pencils under the building before school. I thought my little plastic container, with a sponge that I wetted at the beginning of the day with which to clean my slate, was my most prized possession. I know it took me a while to settle into Grade 1. Mum and Grandma had a colouring book and pencils to give on the first day I came home and was able to say I didn't cry. It took me three weeks to earn them. I wonder what my teacher thought of that.

In Grade 2 I was still in the infant wing but at the other end. We had long desks (with inkwells), about 6 students across, and sat on forms. Boy was it tricky standing up every time we gave an answer when you couldn't push your chair back. We had an infants' parade area (behind the infant block) and we had to line up before school and after little and big lunch. We had a fenced off playground area that faced onto Gympie Road. There were monkey bars in there for the little kids (Grade 1) and the big kids (Grade 2).

When I returned to Chermside after living in Melbourne for a year, I went into Grade 3 and I was so disappointed because I was no longer allowed to play in the infants' playground.

Teachers, Swimming, Roses & Grass, The King and I


Chermside State School from Gympie Road. Christine was in the right wing in Grade 1 and the left wing in Grade 3.

My Grade 4 teacher was Mr Brown. I think he looked a lot like Brian Cahill, the TV newsreader. Mr Allen was my Grade 5 teacher. I have fond memories of Mr Allen. I know he went on to teach at Craigslea and I think he retired from there. He always wore dark trousers, white long sleeved shirt, and a dark thin tie. In Year 6 Mrs Morris was my teacher. She was a very clever lady - she was later on a quiz show on TV and did well. Mr Stewart was my Grade 7 teacher but was Acting Headmaster for a while at the beginning of the year. He had a grey patch at one side of his hair. I think he died of heart problems at a fairly young age.

From Grade 5 we went swimming at Wooloowin School. I hated swimming. We used to get the tram and I used to be frightened that I was going to fall out. We went swimming on Fridays and the pool was emptied on the weekend so by Friday the water had lots of chlorine in it and was very smelly and murky. We also used to go by tram to some schools for Friday sport (eg Kedron).

I recall there not being a lot of grass at school except for the bottom oval where the boys played football or soccer. This oval was beside the Headmaster's residence. There were extensive rose gardens at the front of the school. For obvious reasons we weren't allowed to play in that area. I remember seeing Mr Haupt (who was Headmaster all the time I was there) walking from his home to school and back again. Mr Haupt retired at the end of my Grade 7 year.

The school went to the Dawn picture theatre on breaking up day and I was asked to walk on to the thin narrow stage in front of the screen to present Mrs Haupt with a bouquet of flowers. Long legged undies with lace around the legs were the fashion that year and I remember being worried that my lacy bits were showing as I was up there on stage. We did a few special things that year - like a big school concert at the Methodist Church Hall (corner of Hamilton Road and Gympie Road). We performed "The King and I" and my sister played Eva.

Testing, Copy Books and Compositions, Games, Metric Money, Fish & Chips and Dux of Scholarship


Chermside State School from the playground. The North West Wing in the background was the home for Gradr 5 and 6.

From at least Grade 5 I recall being tested regularly and at least three times a year the seating arrangement in class was adjusted in order of first to last in the testing. Once in Grade 6 Mrs Morris did some kind of handicap system and I ended up in the middle of the class. Mr Stewart in Grade 7 used to test us every week and shift us around the room. Several times a Year Mr Haupt ran tests for all of the students in a Grade level. We used the Grade 5/6 block (NW Wing) and opened the doors between the classrooms.

Copy books were a big part of our primary years. Up until Grade 7 we used nib pens, ink from the ink wells and blotter paper. By the time I was in Grade 7 cartridge fountain pens had been invented. Yahoo! And of course who wouldn't remember writing compositions. I remember Mum making me rewrite one the morning before school.

There were big trees at the Gympie Road side of the school and between the Headmaster's house and school. There were bench seats around the trees. My friends and I were big in making cubbies under the trees. We would outline rooms with pebbles and sweep the areas with branches from trees. Other games we liked to play were "beam" played with a tennis ball under the buildings, and hopscotch. There were fads that came and went like yoyos, hoola hoops, skipping (with rope) and French skipping (with elastic).

Dollars and cents were introduced in my Grade 5 year. I can still remember the jingle to "Click go the Shears" - "In come the dollars, in come the cents, out got the pounds and the shillings and the pence". Boy did money sums get a whole lot easier after that. A teacher used to get me to walk down to one of the banks near the corner of Gympie and Hamilton Roads each week. I was really excited when one day the bank officer gave me a lovely booklet on the new money.

There was a fish and chip shop over the road from the school that we were allowed to go to each lunch hour. One day in Grade 7 those of us who had gone for lunch there got into trouble for leaving the school grounds without notes from our parents. No one knew we had to have notes and we had been doing it for years without them. We all thought Mr Stewart, who was Acting Headmaster, was trying to assert his newfound power.

I can't remember from what grade but girls did sewing once a week. I wish I had kept some of the samplers we made. I remember in grade 7 having to sew our Christian names in chain stitch - I took longer than everyone else with the name "Christine". We also used treadle sewing machines in Grade 7. Thank goodness my Grandma was a great sewer and helped me finish off all the things we made at school.

I remember being a staffroom helper. Men and women had different staffrooms. Each day we would set the tables and get the tea ready just in time. Each teacher had their own cups and saucers (no mugs in those days) then we would go back afterwards and do the cleaning up.

I was not only Top Girl in 7C (there were three drafts of Grade 7 that year) I was also Dux although there was no specific award for that title. I remember the day my teacher told me. He was surprised that I wasn't more excited about the news. There was ongoing friendly rivalry between me and a couple of boys. But I had a terrible headache, something I have suffered with all of my life. My teacher sent me home. My Grandma lived not too far away and I walked to her place.

As a teacher myself now, I look back over my primary year and realise how important those years were and what an impact they made on who I am today. Buildings come and go, but the memories linger, and it has been a pleasure to be able to share some of mine of the days at Chermside State School with you.

Dux of Chermside State School 1968


Christine Wilding - Dux of Chermside State School Grade 7 1968

Christine in 2009


Christine Wilkes (nee Wilding) in 2009. Taken while on a cruise around Australia.

I am married to my high school sweetheart, Greg Wilkes (34 years in December!). We started going out in Year 12 at Wavell High. We have two children - David, 28 and Amy 25. I was a primary then a special education teacher and head of department until my retirement due to poor health in 2007. Current interests include scrapbooking and card making.