When the Whole Village Turned Out
The earliest Sunday School Picnic may have taken place in Aaron Adsett's paddock on the site of the present Wheller Gardens. It was there, in 1873, that the first Methodist Sunday School classes were held in the then Downfall Creek village.
The first Methodist church was built in 1877 on the site of the Bob Jane's Tyre service, corner of Banfield Street and Gympie Road. From that time the picnic may have been held in the grounds of the church or in the large paddock behind, which is the site of the present Westfield Shoppingtown.
The accompanying photo was taken at Kedron Shire Chambers building beside Downfall Creek which became, in 1921 and still remains, the site of Vellnagel's Blacksmith Forge. Although the site is occupied by Dixon Homes the old forge is preserved intact.
The Happy Days of the Sunday School Picnic
Helen Richards, Fifth Avenue, Kedron writes.
Brisbane's fresh bright May mornings bring happy memories of the "Sunday School picnic "beloved of the early '50s"
In those days most children attended Sunday school, even if Mum and Dad never saw the inside of a church except when they were married. And there were an awful lot of us kids - "the post-war baby boom" - so the Sunday School picnic was a gala occasion, eagerly-awaited.
It was held on the first Monday of the May school holidays. The children would gather at the church hall, and before leaving there would be a hymn to sing and a short prayer, endured with a slight impatience hardly becoming to Sunday school children!
When we were finally skipping down the street to the park, I don't think any world traveller of the sophisticated '80s could have felt more excited.
On arrival at the park each child would be handed a big, sticky-topped currant bun. Informal games were the order of the morning; old-fashioned drop-the-hanky, oranges-and-lemons, cricket using a metal rubbish bin for the wicket, "chasey" or "tiggie" as it was called, and skipping.
Some sophisticates even skipped with two ropes at once; this was called "French-and-English" and was much more admired by those of us with "two left feet" who found its intricacies a complete mystery, not to say an impossibility.
As lunchtime drew near, we were all seated cross-legged in rows on the grass outside a big tent in which ladies had been preparing the food. The Sunday school superintendent would "say grace" and then the ladies would walk up and down the rows of children, bearing tin trays of mixed sandwiches. Huge enamel jugs of cordial were brought around to fill the mugs worn on string around our necks. Trays of small cakes, Cream or iced, followed up the sandwiches and all were well satisfied and ready for an afternoon of organised races.
There were races in age groups wheel barrow races, sack races, egg and spoon races using the solid china imitation hen's eggs of the kind that people used to put in the nest encourage the hens along: these were the days when every house had its backyard chooks. A creamy toffee, or a striped crab apple, or a pink musk stick was yours if you won a place. . . perhaps you'd even get a chocolate frog (not foil-wrapped of course - we didn't go in much for food hygiene regulations then!)
The final treat of the day was an apple and a bag of boiled sweets for each child and then back you'd all march up the street, flagging a little, nose a little sunburnt, but "as happy as Larry" and bursting to rush home and tell Mum what a beaut day you'd had.