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U3A Writing: A 1930s School Day

...Meanwhile mother is up, making porridge, packing our lunch and seeing that two bricks are in the oven warming, to be put in the pony's bag of chaff, to act as a foot warmer for us as we drive the five and a half miles to high school at Lilydale...

Mima Fisher remembers with delight what a school day was like in the 1930s.

It must be about 6.30 am for I hear Dad's alarm ring, then the back door slams as he goes to the stable. Tommy greets him with a whinney, which says, "Where's my breakfast?" Our school pony enjoys his morning chaff and oats.

Meanwhile mother is up, making porridge, packing our lunch and seeing that two bricks are in the oven warming, to be put in the pony's bag of chaff, to act as a foot warmer for us as we drive the five and a half miles to high school at Lilydale. It will be very cold this morning, as our route follows the Olinda Creek, and the frost is very crisp, crackling around our feet as we groom and harness Tommy into our little gig. My sister, Lorna, and I, drive about a mile out of our way to pick up Tony, a local boy who travels with us each day. We three, are the only students from our local state school, who are going onto secondary education.

The road is busy with Council trucks carting gravel to resurface it, making it rough for the pony's hooves. The Duke of Gloucester, out here to help celebrate the Centenary of Melbourne, is to drive along Swansea Road soon, so I guess the road has to be top class. We are a bit late leaving this morning, and Tony will be waiting at quarter to eight for our hour long drive.

Oh dear! Only half way there and Tommy has suddenly become lame. Probably it is a stone caught in his hoof. The little tool we carry will fix that, but it has held us up. Poor pony will have to put a spurt on to make up time. Eventually we reach our destination, the pony paddock provided by the school for the several horses which bring students in from the country. I think we have the furthest to come, but some children ride push bikes further.

We hear the school bell as we trot down the last hill, so Lorna and Tony hurry off after we unharness and leave me to settle Tommy for the day. I will be late, but it is my turn this week. He has to be rugged now that we have had him clipped for the winter. The feed has to be put in his bin, and the water trough checked. I will get into trouble too, for having dirty shoes again. It rained over the weekend so the paddock is muddy, and cut up with all the animals there. It is difficult to keep spick and span attending to the necessary chores. Mr Mack doesn't realise what is entailed in our mode of transport.
Lorna has cooking class today, and is to be "housekeeper." which involves being hostess at the dinner table. She has been practising the Grace the students usually say all the way to school this morning, (it is different to what we say at home). I am looking forward to P.T. We will be doing folk dancing on the oval. Miss Power has a squeaky gramophone which will beat out 'Sir Roger de Coverly,' while we skip around! Tony's day is a good one too. He is doing 'sloyd' with Mr Smith, and hopes to bring a finished pin holder home today.

So the day passes happily. We chatter away as we yoke up for the drive home. Dad had given Lorna three pence to buy him an evening newspaper, so we had to go by the main street. There will be a penny-half penny change, so I hope she will have three "White Knights" to share!! I notice Lorna is a bit quiet tonight, so I ask her how the cooking class went. "All right" she answers, "until I had to say Grace. I was so nervous - instead of saying "for what we are about to receive, Lord make us truly thankful" I said "For what we about to receive Lord help us," and everybody laughed. I never want to be hostess again!"

As usual we all have some reading to do, so I loop the reins over the side of the jinker and we just relax. Tommy knows the road so well he will walk when it gets a bit too steep, then trot when he reaches the flat again, without any action from us.
We will have to light our lamps tonight, before we get home. I hope the candles are right. It takes awhile to go around via the local Post Office to collect the mail. The sun goes behind the hills in the late afternoon, and in winter it is dark soon after half past five. Mother is, as always, listening for the pony's clop clop sound as we come up the drive and gives us a yodel in answer to ours.

It is great to be in a warm house at last and to have a hot meal. Tommy is pleased as well, with his warm stable and his manger full of oaten hay.


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