Caulfield South Primary School

Caulfield South Primary School in Melbourne.

I became a pupil, briefly, at Caulfield South Primary School when I was five but then spent some six months at home with a variety of illnesses including mumps, measles, chicken pox and rheumatic fever. I returned to the school and remained there until grade six when, at just 12 years of age, I was turfed out and went to Brighton High School which had only been open for two years. I remember the final three teachers very well, Mr Mitchell, Mr Taylor and Mr Feehan. In the early grades there was Miss Anderson and Miss Staples. The two classrooms could be opened up and I remember once, as a pupil of Miss Andersons, joining the big kids in grade one and seeing a word on the blackboard. It took me ages to work out it said 'health'.

Another former pupil has written and shares her memories here.

Memories of the school from Fiona Chanter

I would have been at the school from 1959 to 1965. I also walked to school and often went home for lunch except on Fridays when we were allowed to take our bikes for safety cyclists training in the big boys playground (the gravel one). The kids without bikes used to turn the traffic lights & the playground had roads swept into it. We learnt the road rules & I still have my safety cyclists badge.

We had assembly in the asphalt playground, and one day we had a fire drill and all had to line up in the playground. It had just been milk issue time - it used to make me feel so sick until the event of the flavored straws. Anyway, I still had my milk when the fire drill was called and thought it a brilliant idea to ditch the bottle, and put it down on the stairs. One of the teachers kicked it and cut her foot badly and the whole school was asked to own up as to who had left their milk on the stairs. Needless to say I never did, and the whole school had to stand there for what seemed like forever.

South Caulfield State School photograph 1960.

Fiona thinks the teacher in this photograph was Mrs Allen. Fiona is the last girl in the second row on the right, next to the boy with the very dark hair.

Mrs Allen was the kindy teacher when I started and she was so lovely with us little kids. Then I moved up to Miss Trelewers class. I could never understand how a woman could be a mister? I'm sure I left primary school none the wiser. I had Mr Mitchell in 6th class also.

I used to go to the non-scripture class and we got to garden in the headmasters garden out the front of the school. I thought it was the best class ever. There was a tuck shop across the road where we could order our lunches and buy lollies if we were rich.

There must have been a school uniform by the time I went there as mum knitted me a jumper with the blue and gold school colours on the band. I so wanted a bought one.

We played rounders (boring) and elastics and were big into swap cards. I remember the Coca Cola yo yo team coming to school to give a demonstration - wow. The temperance society and the Gould league of Bird Lovers also came and they both gave us these amazingly embellished certificates.

We used to walk across a big park (Princes Park) - past the library to a big sports oval for carnivals. I remember going to a town hall for the end of year performance-come-dance. I only remember one of these and we had to dance with boys.

Allan Taylor bought me a ring (the 2 bob one - expensive) from the newsagents. It broke immediately, but I kept it in a box for years. We used to play at the tip on the weekends - it was on the way to the main road. I could never figure out how mum knew where I'd been. I had glandular fever for the last week of school and missed out on the party, but some of the kids came around with lollies - it was so nice of them.

There were several kids from refugee families from Europe in my year - Giselle Greenbaum was my best friend. She was very bright - her mother took in piecework sewing and if you went to her house you had to turn belts for dresses before you could go out to play - and they had unsalted butter. We also had a Greek family move in next door and I had to look after their daughter Machie and take her to school. They moved to Cooma where her father Basil worked on the snowy scheme. We went to visit them once. Tthey were lovely people and invited me in for their Easter celebrations and gave me a real egg - not something I had expected, and sugared almonds (that was more like it).

We went to school camp in year six at Somers - it was fantastic although I was homesick and cried in my bunk at night even though I was having such a good time - that was where I learnt Kumbaya and I still remember snippets of the camp song. You have unleashed many memories - mostly good except for the milk bottle.

Memories of the school from Russell Witts

Former Caulfield South State School pupil, Russell Witts, who attended the school from 1951 to 1957 has many memories of his schooldays. His brother, Terry, also attended from 1950 to 1952.

I remember the large bitumen 'playground', which was where our Monday morning assembly was held, the raising of the flag and the 'pledge'. In sixth grade I played the kettle drum for the march into class and although I had been having lessons in the shelter sheds for some weeks I totally 'stuffed up' and caused the whole band to go out of whack. I got the cuts because I was told I had deliberately misplayed.

Marching was almost a sport. I was in a marching group that practiced and practiced until we were considered good enough for some intra-school competition that was held at the Gardenvale Central School. We surprised everybody including ourselves when we won a blue ribbon.

Remember the iron roof shelter shed, hot as hell in the heat of summer and icy cold in winter, and all of us being forced to sit along its hard wooden bench seats and drink little bottles of warm milk that had been left out in the sun for much of the morning. One year a very enterprising boy brought to school some of those flavored straws ( I believe, Frank Sedgman, the tennis player, started producing them in Australia after he had seen them in America) and started selling them for a halfpenny each to all the kids who were sick of drinking that revolting tasting milk. He made a small fortune until a teacher confiscated them.

Phantom rings were extremely popular amongst us boys. I saved my pocket money and sent away for one via a cut-out coupon on the back of the Phantom comic and made the fatal mistake of wearing it to school the day after it had arrived by mail. I was so proud showing it off to my class-mates but a teacher spied it upon my finger and confiscated it. The other playground beyond the shelter sheds I remember being merely some form of gravel and not very kind to a young boy's knees particularly when British Bulldog was being played with unreserved vigour. (Mercurochrome was a badge of honor for us boys, after, of course, the tears had been wiped away)

Ah...those stairs! I got the cuts and a lecture about how dangerous it was to run up and down them.

I remember well the water fountains that were outside the toilet block and how I and some fellow wags thought it was extremely funny to jam an icy-pole stick into them and watch some kid lean over to take a drink only to find themselves squirted in the face. I too, walked to school. Across Princes Park, where at times, one got distracted by the playing with a mate and forgetting the time and being late and then having to rush across Bambra Road. Fortunately, traffic was not a big problem in those days. Although, I have fond memories of most of the teachers, there were a couple that were very unpleasant, however, their names are just faded memories, and unfortunately, the same can be said about the majority of my class-mates names.

Russell's parents bought a newsagency at the corner of Hawthorn and Glenhuntly roads and it was one of my (Diana's) favourite places to the extent I dream of it continually over the years, even now, in my 70's it features in a big way. I am always looking for the Australian and never find it, but of course it didn't exist back then.

Back to Diana's memories

I used to walk along back streets to get to primary school and still, fifty years later, have dreams about those streets. At that time, in the 50's the school was backed by a huge open area.

In the 1880's a private railway line, called the Rosstown Railway, had run down that huge vacant allotment from Rosstown, now called Carnegie, where there was a sugar beet processing mill, to Elsternwick. The mill never produced sugar and the railway, apart from a run by a ballast rain in 1891, was never used. The railway was eventually removed around 1916 and what was left behind was an open area that acted as a playground for countless children. At school we were all told the story of the Rosstown Railway and I was convinced sugar beet was simply beetroot by another name.

Although we did not have a uniform at Caulfield South Primary School in those days, (they do now), we did have school colours which were blue and gold and our motto was Play the Game. During my early years at school I understood this to refer to school breaks when we played all sorts of games. It was only in my later years that I truly understood the meaning. Today the motto has changed to Children come first at Caulfield South, but it doesn't have the same ring as our motto did.

The school was a double storey brick building, as above, which to a small child was most impressive. Even now, as an adult, the building leaves most schools for dead. I remember the huge stone steps between the first and the second storeys and continue to have dreams about them although often the stairs flatten out and it is impossible to get to the higher floor.

Today the school has moved into the technological age and has a website on the Victorian government education portal. There is onsite child care and all classrooms have networked computers. A new hall and staff rooms have been built, in my day we didn't have a hall but met on the bitumen area. There are also relocatable classrooms and plans for a new building with six classroms.

We had an annual school fair which consisted of a few stalls set up on the large bitumen area. I remember the awful toffees in pattycake papers, and the fact we could take decorated bikes and go in costume. We also had an end of the year function held in the Caulfield Town Hall. As far as I remember I only went to the one in sixth grade, which would have been in 1956. I danced a solo, Sugar Plum Fairy, and then took part in the grade six performance/dance of "Oh how we danced on the night we were wed!" Not the most appropriate music for twelve year olds.

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This page was updated by Diana Kupke (Diana Mann) on 8 January 2020