#52Ancestors: Week 9: Females

Females in my Family Tree: Introduction

This month’s theme is all about Females. That fits in well with March being #WomensHistoryMonth. I was intrigued with the number of Genealogy quotes from Women and found a great blog post from the Simple Living Genealogist. In this post, Jon Marie Pearson displays 10 quotes from women. My favourite is this one:

“History remembers only the celebrated, genealogy remembers them all.” Laurenee Overmire

https://www.thesimplelivinggenealogist.com/post/10-genealogy-quotes-from-women

This quote resonated for me as I recall why I am ‘doing Genealogy’ – to leave a legacy for my descendants. It occurred to me I had been focussing on ancestors from the distant past – and not on those from the more recent past. Today’s post is one of several stories I have been composing in my memoirs; called Between the Pages!

The featured image shares a precious moment in time with my two older sisters, Pamela and Patricia, and my mum Winnie.

Let’s start with some of my childhood memories: micro-moments!

Micro-Moment 1: preparing for primary school

Braiding my hair was the task I hated the most, whilst growing up in Moonee Ponds, Victoria. When I was quite small, my mum did the braiding. She was ruthless with the brush in the detangling process, and I would often feel the tears pricking my eyes even before she wielded the brush. I loved my long auburn hair and much preferred it hanging loose over my shoulders and down to my waist. However, this style would not do for school days, so the braiding ritual began in the tidy kitchen in our house at 11 Laura Street at 8:30 am every weekday.

My eagerness to get to school was a big catalyst for me to endure the ritual and eventually leave the house. Dutifully, I would bring the brush to my mother and sit still whilst the brushing and braiding began. I sat as still as I could and tried to avoid squirming – and the harsh words from my mum if I dared to complain. The whole ritual only took about 10 minutes; braiding done, bands in place, and sometimes a ribbon on each braid. Soon I was free from the ordeal and would happily gather up my satchel and walk the 850 metres down to Eglinton Street and to the schoolyard. The old red brick building of the Moonee Ponds West Primary school is now heritage-listed, having existed since 1888.

Moonee Ponds West Primary School today

I recently discovered this old black-and-white photo from an album of family pictures put together by my sister in the 1950s and 1960s. I had not paid it much attention before, as it was a very dark image. When I scanned it, using the Photomyne scanning tool, I could see it more clearly on my computer screen. It prompted this story.

Carole: the braiding ritual

When I peered closer at the image, I realised that my mother was already in her fifties by the time of the photo; I was born when she was 45 years old. This sparked a thought in my head: was I self-conscious about my Mum, among the other young Mums of our small community? Did I worry I differed from the other little girls who were in my class at school? Was I embarrassed about having an older mum? This was 70 years ago and any knowledge of such feelings at 7 is now missing from my memory bank.

Micro Moment 2: School photos

What I do recall are my extreme shyness and fear of new places and new things. Another photo discovered in the same album, of me, sparked these memories at my next primary school, Oakleigh East. We had moved to a new house by 1955 and that meant a new school for me. I was not happy at starting again at a new school. You can see from my expression that I was not keen to be in this class photo, and could not conjure up a smile at all. That’s me third from the right in the second row, with my head down.

Carole: aged 7

Micro Moment 3: Marching to the tune!

I stood in the quadrangle, along with my classmates, ready to begin the marching exercise for the day. It was Monday – a cold winter’s day in July 1955. I was 10 years old. My thoughts were elsewhere. I was still angry with myself for not remembering to bring my homework, and I knew I would probably get detention.

As the band marched onto the parade ground in front of us, I shuffled my feet and looked down at the remains of puddles from the overnight rains. I clenched my jaw and my hands and threw my shoulders back, in defiance of a yet to be identified enemy. My thin school blazer did not help prevent the icy wind from rippling through to my skin, and I shivered.

The music began with steady four-four beats. Our headteacher stood at the lectern, tapping with the baton in time to the music. With a well-practiced flourish, we all marched on the spot, feeling in rhythm with each of our neighbours just one arm’s length beside us. It felt good to be moving – warming up. At first, we were all facing the lectern, then when the headteacher bellowed the command ‘right turn’ we all turned to our right, still marching on the spot. We then marched once around the quadrangle, swinging our arms as they had taught us to do.

As we returned to the lectern, the headteacher finished conducting the band, and the music concluded as we once more marched on the spot. On the command of ‘left turn’, we pivoted on our heels and stood to attention; waiting for the command of ‘dismissed’.

As soon as I was free to return to class, I decided I would skip class and hide out in the shelter sheds. The sheds still scared me, ever since the school bullies cornered me there. It was dark and damp and no one could see into the sheds from the school building – making it a perfect place for me this day.

East Oakleigh State School No. 4327

Micro Moment 4: Dux of school

Fast forward to 1957! I remember quite clearly the pride I felt in becoming Dux of the school that year. It was a close finish; I think I won it by a slim margin. There was my name in gold letters on the wooden board displayed outside the office. I received a voucher to purchase a book of my choice – no memory of its title – however, it did have a label pasted later on the inside page showing my achievement award.

I did go looking for any photos obtainable from the historical archives on Pinterest and found several old grade photos and this one of the Scholarship achievements 1962-1980. This board looks similar to the one on which my name was displayed as Dux of the school in 1957.


Committee Scholarship Awards: East Oakleigh Primary School 1962-1980

What are the micro-moments in your childhood that sprint to mind after reading this post? Come and share those with me by posting a comment!

2 thoughts on “#52Ancestors: Week 9: Females

  1. First, I would love to know what the Dux is? I also had to change schools a lot, as my father was in the Army, but I got used to it, eventually. More poor little brother had to change schools for his senior year of high school. One of my micro-moments is winning the third grade spelling bee, beating out the boy I had a crush on, Dale Knecht.

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    1. Hello Eilene, thanks for that micro moment! I conjured up an image of you accepting your prize! Dux of the school (back in the 50s in Australian schools) was achieving the highest marks across all academic subjects and sporting achievements. Similar to valedictorian.

      Liked by 1 person

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