My New School – uncertainty, fear and hope

To the class of 1964

We arrived in dribs and drabs at the Farmers School in early February 1964; another car would pull up in front of the imposing mansion that was the centerpiece of the school.

Another set of parents and another frightened boy would wander into the Principal’s Office for the official welcome to school.

Kids from areas as disparate as the Murray River to the South and the Lachlan River to the North, from the crowds of Sydney in the East, to the isolation of the far flung regions of the West.

There were kids from the verdant green of the mountains and kids for whom the churning, dust storms of the desert plains were their natural habitat.

Kids for whom the artificial green and fruit trees of the Irrigation Area were home, and others like me; who shuddered at the man made environment we were being thrust into.

We were the children of the soon to be successful, the progeny of the fading grandees of the pastoral period, the kids from the many small towns that dotted the vast landscape and the offspring of the struggling folk, who saw this school as the hope for the future of their bright eyed sons.

We sat uneasily in our blue Blazers and pressed grey pants, avoiding eye contact with the boy across the hallway sitting awkwardly with his parents, as we waited to be called into the Principals office.

There were the future sportsmen, who dreamt of glory on the cricket pitches of the world or of playing in the Rugby League Grand Final for the JJ Giltinan Shield; there were klutzes like me who could not bowl a ball to land near the wicket and who had never seen a Rugby League game.

Many of us had been brought up on Aussie Rules, we loathed the crudeness of this new body contact sport, we were soon to be forced to play; and yearned for the gracefulness of our footballers, flying high for a mark or kicking a “Speccie” 50 yards down the ground.

Where we had been raised had dictated our code of football, but this school would channel all its energy towards Rugby League and those of us from the South would have to live with that.

The strangeness of the artificial landscape and the code of football played, were just some of the adjustments many of us would have to deal with if we were to succeed in this new environment.

The readers, the more studious and the day dreamers would be the outcasts in this crushing new world of impending manhood.

The thought of group showers and having your bodily defects scrutinized were another source of anxiety for many of us, who previously; had never seen another naked body of anyone other than family and even then; had averted our eyes in embarrassment.

This was to be a hotbed of rampant masculinity and those like myself who feared exposure of our physical shortcomings, could only hope there was somebody even less Adonis like, who would ensure we were not at the outer edge of physical imperfection.

We were a strange, mixed bunch embarking on this adventure together; our hopes, our fears, our nightmares and our dreams were yet to be played out.




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