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ANDERSON, Lorna Meta nee Polack (c.1928-2013)

ANDERSON, Lorna Meta nee Polack (c.1928-2013)

Lorna Anderson, 2012.

Lorna Anderson, 2012.

An unlikely group of beneficiaries of Geelong College boarding during World War II were the pigs of Fyansford.

Lorna Polack, the very young, but able, chief cook at the Geelong College during 1946 remembered well Mr Rumpf of Fyansford collecting the food scraps from the kitchens for use at his Fyansford pig farm. Lorna Polack, now 85 years of age, started working in the College kitchen in 1941 as a 15 year old after her sister, Elva, a waitress at the College, urged her to apply for a job vacancy. Lorna eventually became head cook and only left to marry Basil Anderson in 1946.

These were the days of uniforms, starched aprons and war time scarcity. Boarding had expanded with the war and over 200 boarders were accommodated throughout the School. It was a hard and demanding life for domestic staff with long hours and rigorous standards. The residential accommodation was spartan by modern standards – draughty, unheated, bare brick walls, a shared bathroom and minimal furnishings. Lorna started as an assistant midway through 1941 at a time when the domestic staff were managed by Mrs Searle, who Lorna described as ‘strict but very good and welcoming’'. There were then about 15 domestic staff most living upstairs in the Refectory Building and Miss Pimm was the Head Cook. Lorna trained as an assistant cook, and when Miss Pimm became ill, took over as Head Cook.

At this time, junior boarders under the supervision of teacher, Des Davey ate separately from the seniors in a room that was known until 2018 as the Junior Dining Room, though it hasn’t been used for that purpose for over fifty years. (The room has since been converted to a toilet).

Lorna described a typical day's meals starting with cereal or porridge and fruit juice in the morning. Lunchtime was the main meal and usually a roast dinner. In the evening, a light meal was served - often a salad together with a varying menu such as saveloys on Saturday, or minced meat on toast followed by fruit. Sweets were usually served at the midday meal and these were typically ‘steamed puddings, baked rice, jam and fruit pudding and bread and butter pudding. They always came back for seconds for sweets’, she said.

Her working day would usually start before 6.00am; finish at about 2.00pm with a return at about 4.00pm. Sometimes she would return again to prepare suppers in the evening which were at about 9 or 10 o’clock. During term she worked seven days a week. Other staff in the kitchens then, included the Cameron sisters, assistant cook, Mrs Wilkinson and Laurie McGrath who looked after the pantry. She also remembers several waitresses including Beryl Quinn and Beryl Pescott.

When asked if much had changed in cooking for boarders she thought possibly not as much as people imagined. Menus have changed and there is a lot more pre-prepared food. She recalled how they were very conscious of diet and nutrition which was often complicated by wartime restrictions. During the 1940s there were several students with gluten intolerance at the School. She described how she had a separate food preparation area made up for them with separate utensils. ‘Whatever I was doing I would always put the gloves on and each time I would put fresh gloves on to do the coeliac (meals). There were only one or two children (with this condition) but you still had to be very careful as those children get very sick. They didn’t know what it was then. It is very difficult when you are cooking for so many and you have got to keep this food separate ... so that nothing would contaminate it. People couldn’t understand that I couldn’t use a knife for one and not for the other.’

Life, upstairs in the Refectory Building then, was very different however. ‘We would sit in the lounge and talk. Someone read the paper, somebody listening to the wireless. It wasn’t like today's age, it was different altogether. We played cards, but not money wise. We played 500 and Euchre. And we’d have other games, snakes and ladders, and board games if there were a couple of us up there for an hour.’

The modern College kitchen is still going strong and a pivot of boarding life. The 100 or so boarders at College still enjoy their evening and morning meals in the Senior School Dining Hall as they have for the last 84 years. By our very rough calculations over 1,000,000 individual meals have been prepared and consumed in the Refectory Building since 1929. Today, the College Kitchen remains one of the School’s enduring features and Lorna’s experience, its long-lived testimony. Her memories of the School remain as a fascinating record of boarding life.


Lorna's Reminiscences.

Lorna Anderson: Staff: Transcription by Cathy Carman.
This is an edited transcription of a conversation between Lorna Anderson nee Polack, Con Lannan, Archivist and Cathy Carman at Lorna’s home in Bell Post Hill on 7 November 2012.

'I am 85 years old - nearly 86. I was married with one child. I was married in 1946. I grew up near Mortlake on a farm. I was one of 4 daughters, and then a boy. My parents also adopted a boy.

'When did you begin at College?'
I was at college from 1942-1946 although I think I began at college part way into 1941.
My sister and her friend were going to go up fruit picking and they decided to spend a night at Geelong. So she went there as it was very hard to get people into work as it was war time. About a week later she rang up and said would you like a job down here because I was on the farm. I thought I’d give it a try and my mother said,
'Why don’t you give it a try?' So I went down there and they said where you would like to work.
I said, 'In the kitchen because I love cooking'.
They said 'Yes' and I said 'Great', I had done a lot of cooking since I was a kid.
So I started, and Mrs Serle, she was the Directress of all the cooking and the kitchen staff and the waitresses and others, and she made me very welcome. Miss Pimm was the Head Chef then, and she was very ‘to the point', and I was only there for maybe a month or 6 weeks, and she said
'Would you like to start learning the cooking?'
I said, 'I would love to,' so she was the one that started me in the cooking. Within 8 months of me joining the college, she had to leave, I think she had a stroke or something, but in the six months I was learning with her, I learnt everything, and so I just took over from her. It was quite simple to do it with the training and if I used my thinking skills.

'What was a typical day like for you?'
I would be up any time between 5.30 to 6.30, depending on what the menu was. If it was 6.30, it was corned beef as that didn’t take as long as the roasting did. So it was a pretty long day. The roasting dishes were over a metre long and fitted six legs of lamb in them. There was a vegetable girl apart from the kitchen staff, and she did all the vegetables. The Manageress and I would do the menus each week for the next week. I also had two girls in the kitchen, to help me. I needed help with jobs like making the pastry and rolling it out. We made all our own pastry, very little, almost nothing was bought.

'Were there still vegetable gardens at the school?'
Yes, but not big ones. Mr Davey the junior master, he used to have a little garden. He was in the junior school and that was a real interest of the children as well. The littlies at the college it was very, very difficult for them.

'Were you living in all the time?'
Yes, I was there all of the time.

'Was your sister also living in?'
Yes, she left, but I was there until I got married.

'How did your day continue after the early start and then preparing the lunch?'
In the afternoon, we normally got some of the preparation done before we finished our lunch. Say we were having a salad, you would prepare the mayonnaise and you would soak the lettuce and all those sorts of things. You did that before you knocked off.

'Did you have a broken shift?'
Oh, yes. About 2.00pm we would finish and then I would have to go back at about 5.00 or 4.00 depending what the dinner was at night, because we had the hot meal. Then sometimes I had to come back at 10 o’clock at night because the Masters would have a meeting or whatever and you’d come back and you would get their supper. There was no 40 hour week. The kitchen staff today also work extremely hard. I don’t think people realise the preparation that takes place. Our Manageress Mrs Serle she was very strict but very good.

'Did you do anything other than the cooking?'
I didn’t do any dishes or anything.

'Were there quite distinct jobs that the girls had?'
Yes, that the girls had. They didn’t do a bit of everything, but they would help me. They would sift flour and things like that. Normally there would be 4 people there.

'How many people in total were living in the building?'
I’d say 15, could be 16, or 17, around that figure. It was a lot of girls. You see they had Mackie House, all the different houses to do. They would do the waitressing, then as I said there was the vegetable girl, then there was Mrs Serle who ran the whole show, and she had an assistant and that assistant used to do the stores as well and she would take the orders when I gave them. I didn’t ring the orders through. I just wrote them down. We would do the menu together with the Manageress and then the other one would come to the party when necessary.

'Was there someone in charge of the cleaning and laundry?'
The laundry was left to us girls if it needed it we cleaned it out. We cleaned things when they needed it. Nobody else did the utilities. We did our own rooms although they were serviced once a week with the linen but we didn’t do the linen. Our linen and the boarders linen was all done outside the college. You had a certain day you stripped your sheets and just left them at the door and one of the girls had a little job that she used to go around and do them. We had a utility girl, who was very good; if someone was away, say if one of the Mackie House girls was away, she would take their place. There was always that one extra and she quite enjoyed it. She said you get a variety of jobs and she liked the variety.
We didn’t get uniforms done, we had uniforms but we didn’t get them done we had to do them ourselves. We had to have them starched. You can imagine it took a lot of starch for the starched aprons. There was a lot of starch. I used to have had a clean apron twice a day because I believed you had to.

The ovens were big, big ovens (about a metre across) and the trays were very big. You could fit six legs of lamb in one tray. I would lift them in and out by myself. I’m telling you it’s a wonder I never got a bad back. On my own, I never had anyone to help me. I had two girls in the kitchen with me but, as I said, I never had anyone to do any of those things I used to do them myself. They used to help me make pastry as well. One girl used to do all the dishes and things like that. The mixers because we had a big mixer to mix things with but she used to do all those sort of things she was kept quite busy. If we had a big number, perhaps some people came in extra she would also help me. But not once did I let them down with the meals, I always felt proud, that I never let them down with the meal. I’d always be able to manage. The Headmaster would come over, his name was Mr Rolland. I thought he was very fair, firm but very fair. If he had any complaints it was a complaint that really had to be looked at. He used to come and chat. He would always pass a comment if there was something I made that was different and the children loved it but I never used to make it that I would have it every week or anything like that. That was a little speciality. Especially the junior school because I thought that was very sad that people sending them over here like that from New Guinea and wherever used to send them. When their birthdays were on I used to make some little patty cakes and decorate them. I used to ice their name on it and they would think that was lovely. And I used to make sure the boys had some little thing. It was only 2/6 I would pay, I didn’t pay very much for it but they thought that was lovely. Mr Davey only died about two years ago but he was a man out of a hundred, he really , really was. I don’t think anyone could really take his place with the children. I really don’t because you could imagine what they were like when they first came.
I did see some very funny things happen at the college, with the boys though.

I’m in my room, I looked out the window and it was two storey, the housing. I thought 'what on earth are they doing there those boys' and then I saw a white sheet come out and it looked as if it was full of sheets… No It wasn’t full of sheets, it was a Sunday afternoon, and the boys weren’t allowed out only on certain times, and they wanted to go down to Mr Loffals at the shop, so they put one boy in the sheet, then they tied another sheet on the top and another sheet on the top to let him down. So curious Lorna thought, 'I will see what happens here'. So he was gone for over half an hour but I still stayed there. He came back, he had the packages, he got back into the sheet and they pulled him back up. Oh there were some cunning things that those children did do, there really were.

I even had parents coming to thanking me very much when the child would leave and I used to think that was a real honour. I remember the Weatherley boys, the Palmers - only because the parents came to me because the children had problems. Health problems, that is the only time I ever met the children themselves. I knew most of the – I can’t say most of the staff, but most of the working staff. Mr Hobbs he was over the men, the maintenance, I was over the kitchen staff and then Laurie McGrath was over the pantry more or less. I’d write down all I wanted but she used to keep the pantry full for me. I’d say I’m on the last of that and she would see all those incoming orders and she would ring the orders through to the butchers or green grocer. I didn’t have to do that I just wrote down what we wanted. She was the assistant to Mrs Serle or more like a half assistant. Mrs Serle, she wasn’t easy to work for but she had her good ways. She didn’t have a clue on cooking that is where she fell down. She wouldn’t have known salt from flour. She didn’t realise, 'why do you have to get up so early Lorna?' Well there were things you had to make and let sit for an hour or whatever before you can bring them back together and being a single girl girl you can imagine how that used to hurt me, because I couldn’t go out like I would have liked to have gone out, and my courting days were at Ticklebilly Park. That is where the little park was, opposite the school. That was my courting days were as I couldn’t go out at night, so if I got an hour off on a Saturday or whatever, my future husband and I would go out and there was a swing there and we used to sit in it and it used to go like this (a log swing). I met my husband in Geelong. I went with a boy four years prior to that, but he was too uppity for me. Everything had to be the best. It was war time and he came home on leave and he said 'You have my photo up', It was a heart shape (frame). He said 'why didn’t you get a good one, it’s got my photo in it'. I wasn’t brought up like that then; I was brought up on a farm. At Mortlake.
Then I met Basil at the Palais one night, and he asked to take me home and I said 'no, not tonight'. So I only went there Saturday nights because I couldn’t go there during the week.

I was at College seven days a week. Sometimes I got time off at night. You got time off in the afternoon. As far as days off, there were no days off. You were working. It was not a forty hour week. It was a broken time. Not enough time to do anything in between. So I met Basil at the Palais. The only time I went out was the Saturday night. My sister, Elva Polack, was a waitress at the school. She is in a home, my other sister died about a fortnight ago, the eldest one.

I knew the Weatherly boys quite well; they are in the paper quite often. They had a station Skipton way and they had one Chatsworth way, lovely boys and lovely parents. The odd parent would come and see you. They were always very nice; always, I never had any complaints.

'Special care?'
Some of the boys were on diets and I had to see to that. Take the coeliac I couldn’t put anything on after, any other ingredient I would always put the gloves on and everything , whatever I was doing I would always put the gloves on. And each time I would put fresh gloves on to do the Coeliac (meals). There was only one or two of them but you still had to be very careful as those children because those children get very sick. If I put a piece of bread on his bread he would be sick. I had to be so careful, but I never ever had a problem. There was only the odd one, there wasn’t 6 or 7 in the school, maybe 2-3 but never a lot. They didn’t know what it was really then. They knew it was something, knew it was things you weren’t to have certain food and you got a letter from the Doctor, recommending something and I used to try to adhere to it as much as I could. It is very difficult when you are cooking for so many and you have got to keep this separate. The man over where they di d all the repairs and that, he made me a beautiful table that when I made pastry and that I had that and I didn’t use the wooden table I got him to put a lino , it seems funny now, a lino over the top so that nothing would contaminate it . When you wiped it off you knew nothing would contaminate it. The people couldn’t understand that I couldn’t use a knife for one and then for the others. They couldn’t understand that.

'What did the boys have to eat?'
They just had the ordinary breakfast with the fruit juice or water, whatever they preferred, toast and a cereal or porridge. They never ever had bacon and eggs or anything like that. It was just an ordinary breakfast. The main meal was always at lunch time.

'What did you have for evening meals?'.
They had salads. They used to have minced steak and you mixed it up with other things and they’d have that on toast, they had different things as far as the tea goes. Saturday night they had saveloys and they loved them. I can’t remember what they used to call them, ‘Little Boys' I think or something like that and they loved them. They were really very easy. You had to watch the nutrition. And they had fruit always a piece of fruit. That was mainly of a night, the fruit, not in the morning.
At lunch time they had a main meal and then they had a sweet.
I was preparing over 200 meals.

Most of the staff used to eat there as well. All the waitresses, the hospital, they had a hospital there as well. It all came from the kitchen. The hospital they just put down what they wanted. I was busy.

'Was there any social life in the building?'
No. When I say social life, well we would sit in the lounge; it was just a normal topic. Someone would be reading the paper somebody else would be listening to the wireless. It wasn’t like todays age, it was different altogether. We played cards, but not money wise. There was never gambling at all. Not even on Melbourne Cup day. I mean I’m not a gambler but regardless there was no gambling.
We played 500 and Euchre. I didn’t like the Euchre. I always loved 500 we used to play that on the farm. And we’d have different other games, snakes and ladders, and that if there would be a couple of us up there for an hour. We’d get a game out because that used to relax me.
If I used to go up there I'd be thinking what the next thing was.
Because I’m telling you now you do not get a space in your mind. Because even when you go to bed before you go to sleep, at night you’d think I must do that in the morning I must do this in the morning , you know.
You were never free of it. But I got a very good reputation after I left and I thought that was worth a lot.

I left to get married. I didn’t stay when I got married.
Basil and I both thought about work because all the wives started to work then. I said 'Lets sit down and talk about it'. I’m always one that will talk about it rather than jump to it. I said well, personally Id rather not work. He said, 'any reason?' Yes. When you’re sleeping I would be awake and when I am sleeping you’ll be awake.. I’ll be getting up at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning only on odd occasions in the College, you know. He was working at Fords he was only there for a very short space of time at Fords then he took a trade on as an engine driver so you could imagine what it would have been like if I’d been working.

As far as a relaxing time. I can say it and I mean it; I got very little relaxation, because you’re always doing something. If you weren’t cooking you were doing menus. There was none of this quarter of an hour for your morning tea.. or anything like that. That was unheard of. The girl did, the girls got it but I never ever got it. I never had time.

'What did you do when the school children were on holiday?'
I used to stay back and I’d do things for the next year. I'd work, for the Manageress but I only stayed for a week. Then the rest of the time, I nearly always went down to Point Lonsdale, because they used to say that was a very relaxing place. At the Terminus (Hotel). I don’t know if it’s still there or not. ... I went down as a housemaid, I thought I will do the housemaid (job). This is over the Christmas holidays. I worked in my holidays. Not for long but when the busy period was on. That was an experience on its own. I was permanently employed at the College. I didn’t go down to Pt. Lonsdale for long. It was just to get a break away from the College.

You saw people, you weren’t at the same routine. They wanted me to cook when I was down there but I said no, I’ve just got away from it. It was amazing what they used to ask for questions. They said at your age to have that knowledge you’re very privileged. I used to help them a bit. If they were stuck for anything. Theyd say what did you say that was, we wrote it down but we’ve lost the bit of paper. In those days you never got any certificates you just worked it as you went along.
I was sorry to leave, I didn’t want to leave but it wouldn’t have worked out.

'Do you remember the names of other support staff employed at the college?'
Mrs Searle, Mr Rankin he was in charge of where they made things, the boys, the House of Guilds, he was in charge of that. I remember all the domestic staff. Mrs Serle was the manageress. Laurie McGrath was in charge of the stores. That was all that was in charge as far as there. They were all the staff. The vegetable girl, she did all the vegetables. She was a Cameron- but she wasn’t Edna. Edna and her sister and her other sister, there was two of them. They came from Camperdown. Edna worked in my department. The vegetable girl was a bit simple; you know what I am saying. There was a little bit missing.
Mrs Wilkinson, she was there, used to help me, she wasn’t the head chef. She was there about two years, if that. It was hard to get good kitchen staff because it was such broken shifts. And then the head girl of waitressing was…. She was a lovely girl.
Mrs Serle. Mr Hobbs was the head of all the maintenance of the whole school. Doctor Buntine. They all had their little jobs. I can’t remember their names. My sisters’ friend was one of the Cameron sisters. The vegetable girl was a bit different from the normal person, but she was all right, she was brought up in a very big family and I think they lacked attention, care. There was no sort of thought because I was used to be brought up with my mother’ family, not Dads and we said grace at the table before we had our meal. But when I went to the college I made them, they all had their meals and they all said grace. First of all they all started mocking it a bit, but then they realised. I brought some of them to church, you wouldn’t believe that but I did bring some of them to a church, not all of them, there was a few of them went back, but I brought some of them.
It was so unruly prior to that. They would all come in, sit down, one would eat and then the other one would eat, you know. It was no joy I’m telling you having a meal there. But then it got quite amiable. It was quite good. But you still had the odd one.

'Other staff memories?'
We had two of them that were really outlaws. That’s probably pretty normal even today. They were just so different.
When you think about alcohol, in those days. See I’ve never ever drank at all, I’ve never ever liked drink, I don’t even like lemonade. I only drink water and tea. I don’t even like coffee. I was never made that way at all. I suppose, I don’t know. But both of them liked their drink and drink in those days, see you couldn’t ever get it, but they used to get it. I don’t know how they got it. Quite a few of them did things they shouldn’t have done really but they never lasted. They would be in the door a few days and then (gone).
They’d bring cigarettes down to the kitchen which was unheard of. Things like that the girls didn’t smoke in those days. They’d bring boys, not into their rooms but inside the gate and that was a ban but they’d still do that. Unfortunately, my bedroom window overlooked there. I was quite stunned with a few of the things they used to do. You know, bring drink in, they never left the bottles there. I don’t know what they did with them, whether they put them in the garbage or where they went, I’ve got no idea. But you got the odd one that was a bit different.

Nearly always when there was the odd one they would take them out of the servery and put them in the kitchen. You could straighten them out there.
But in the servery you couldn’t because they were in the Dining Room then they’d be in one of the houses cleaning, the boarders rooms, well, they could get to anything up there but they couldn’t in the kitchen. If they were put in the kitchen I’d be landed with them.
But I can’t say that I never, ever managed them. I didn’t do any good for any of them, but I can’t say I couldn’t manage them.
Laurie McGrath she was more or less in charge of the waitresses. And she kept them on tap. (Track)
You did get the odd waitress who was a bit wayward.
They soon learnt what was right but these days you couldn’t do that.
One was banned from going out one night she played up.
And what did she do? Got through the window onto the roof and then down the pipe!

Two went around one night, around the streets, and they went around to the houses and got all the ornaments out of the gardens and put them into their rooms. So Mrs Serle, she got the two of them and she made them go, and she went with them, to the houses and take all the ornaments with them. I think that was as good a punishment as anyone could give them.
Mrs Searle was very firm, if she said something, she meant it. She was quite good, she really was.

Mrs Searle (is the one who) had a stroke.
Mr Hobbs was in charge of all the men. Doctor Buntine. I didn’t know, I knew Mr Davey but I wasn’t familiar with the Masters. They would always have the head of the table in the dining room. They would come out occasionally. If there was a complaint they’d come out. Not nasty, but they would come out. There might be something a request that one boy wasn’t very well, could I do so and so for his dinner tonight.

'What did you feel about the Masters as a group? Were they distant from you?'
No not really.
They treated me as if I was Queen Mary actually, they treated me very well. They really did treat me well. Especially Mr Davey, he was marvellous. If he had a junior and they were homesick then I’d make little tit bits for them. 'Any hope Lorna, of getting some little tit bit, he’s down in the dumps today 'he'd say, 'and I really am finding it hard to cope'. And I’d whip up something and it would make the world of difference.
Little things like that (I did) for little children, because I would never send a little child as young as 6 to another country. They were in the old building. Then there was the matron of the hospital.
We had to cook for the hospital as well. There were children who were sick and they’d be in there and she would tell you what she would like.
So that was very easy. No it was an interesting time. I enjoyed it. I can say I enjoyed my single life. It wasn’t a courting life. It was too, too busy.

I don’t know why he (husband) kept me. He was very patient. I never ever, brought … He was in the kitchen a few times but I never, ever brought him into the building or at night. I don’t know if I would have been allowed to.
Mrs Serle used to say 'is Basil coming up this afternoon?' I’d say 'yes.' She would say, 'Well bring him up to the kitchen.'
There would be a special meeting or afternoon for the Masters after 4 o’clock and Basil would come in the kitchen. He would just sit on the chair and have a cup of tea or whatever, then we’d have our tea together and then he’d go home, different from today’s era, they wouldn’t do that. They wouldn’t even take the job on to start off with.
You are getting up at 6 o’clock in the morning. How many late nights could you have? Yes, but I enjoyed it.

'Did you have a special college uniform?'
The uniform wasn’t a special college uniform. It was just an ordinary uniform like a café uniform, a green uniform. They were very particular on your shoes because of the floors in the Dining Room. If you had the high heels it was too, clank, clank you had to have the flat shoes.
They didn’t supply them, you had to supply your own. You had to have certain shoes for it, and they were very particular about the uniform.
They were starched, not heavily starched. Can you imagine what they would have been like? You did your own laundry, but the linen was all (done for you). It was a buttoned down dress, actually they were quite nice with a collar. And the apron was white. The waitresses didn’t have any apron.

And the meals, once I prepared them all went in the 'Bain marie' for about 15-20 minutes and the girls would come and take them. They were all in bowls, they weren’t separated. They’d have a bowl of potatoes and a bowl of carrots. They only ever had 3 vegetables. Sometimes there was four if there was an abundance of stuff. Nearly always, only three vegetables. In those days I didn’t even know anybody else that had more than three vegetables.

The waitresses would put the big bowls in the middle of the table and the boys would all serve themselves.
Before I started I thought their manners were pretty ordinary, very ordinary, yes.

'Did they expect a certain level of behaviour from the students?'
A Master was on each table. They didn’t mind the kids behaving like that.
The kids were quite good really.
They used to get up to other tactics, nearly jumping out of windows and things. Then they would be in 'Pentridge' for a couple of days. They would miss out on their activities after their school. They were stuck back in their rooms to do their homework or they would have to do something. They would be penalised that way. You weren’t allowed to hit children. They chastised them. Some had to do compositions. Oh they didn’t like that.

'If the students were cheeky to you, were you allowed to speak to them?'
All I used to say was, 'Excuse me, do you know what you are saying?'
And 9 out of 10 times they would run, they wouldn’t say sorry, kiss my foot or anything, they would just go. I think they were petrified I would say something to the Masters. But other times they would come to me and say, 'could they have so and so'. I’d say, 'Yes, this time, but don’t ask me again because there are other children here.' I’d give it to them but I’d say, 'Don’t ask me again please,' if they asked for something special.

It was a very interesting job and it was a lovely job, but not a courting job because there was no time.

The children always respected me, the waitresses they didn’t. They (the students) always called me Miss Polack. They were quite good to the waitresses but they didn’t address them as Miss they just used their first names; they always addressed me as Miss. Some of them (the waitresses) were no older than the boys, they were quite young.

The majority were country girls but two were from Geelong. They were the first ones that I ever knew of because coming from the country was different to the city, these two were different, alcohol wasn’t heard of in my life time until I came to the college, but these two they were different.

'What did the boys like for dessert?'
They loved the steamed puddings. They used to have baked dishes, and they used to call them ‘Baked babies'. They had pastry then you put the jam over the top or the fruit over the top and then you rolled it up and put it in the baking dishes.
Some used to call it 'jam roly poly'. They had different names for different things but I can’t remember all the different things they used to call it. The sweets, that was an easy dish. They didn’t get a lot of baked rice and bread and butter puddings. We used to vary it quite a lot really. They had quite a variety of sweets. I used to think the sweets were the best part of their meals.
They always came back for seconds on that. There was never a lot left over. Mr Rumpff used to take what was left over, like any scraps he used to collect them every day as he had a pig farm at Fyansford. He used to collect it all.

We didn’t have any worries about getting rid of what was left over or the scraps or anything like that.
The bread that was over I’d make into breadcrumbs for when we’d make crumb cutlets or something like that. You can utilise a lot of what’s left over. The junior school lot, Mr Davey’s children, they were in a separate room off the main dining room and I used to make something up just for them. There was never a lot wasted.

'Do you remember who was in charge of the senior boys?'
I can’t think who was in charge of the other boys.
I suppose I knew Mr Davey’s as he was always at my doorstep (laughs). Always wanting something for the boys. He was a nice man; he always was very polite, very well mannered. If you saw some of those children when they started at College and when they left, you wouldn’t believe they are the same boys. I don’t know if they are the same now.
Some of them were a bit tumbled when they came. They soon learnt to say 'excuse me'. Before, they wouldn’t have known the word.
I suppose Mum and Dad were too highfaluting to teach them anything.
Probably many came from big families. They were big families in those days. The parents were flat out. Dad might have been on the farm all day and mum had a share too with a family of 6 or so.

We had a nurse who was with us for 17 years, because my mother used to help Dad, it was the Depression and Dad couldn’t afford a man but we got a nurse, a child nurse, and she was with us for 17 years. And mother had promised her she would have a roof over her head for the rest of her life. When we got older she would go out in the cow yard and help mum milk the cows. She helped dad chaff cut as you’ve got to have two when you're chaff cutting. She was just like one of the family. When we got older we didn’t like taking notice of her. We thought no, we had Mum that’s enough, we’ve got Dad, that’s enough and she left. I think it was uncomfortable when she left and Mum and Dad bought her one of those units in Essendon.
She was only getting a pound a week, her board and keep. And then she had car, when she wanted to go to the football, to a country place naturally, she got well treated she really did, she got her days off where she could go and see her brother in Ararat and things like that. Mum and Dad were very good to her when they bought her the unit. When she passed away she left it to my sister's daughter, who’s disabled and I thought, that was lovely. You can imagine how much you’d get for it in Essendon, because she hasn’t been dead for a real long time. Some made a noise about it. It wasn’t our money. If I give you a handkerchief it is yours.
I don’t think they realised what she had been to mum and dad. She was marvellous to Mum and Dad. It was cheaper to have a governess than to have a man because Mum used to help Dad. There are some things a man can’t do on his own, a dogs good but you’ve still got to have two.

I went to school at Tatyoon first. We had 9 miles to go to school in a horse and jigger. 'Dick', the horse's name was. We never ever had to hold the reins because he knew where to go. When the last bell went the horse would go back to the gig, ready, Never tied up just waited for us and then home we’d come. We did have a couple of accidents.

'Were any of the boys coming to school by horse?'
From Mortlake- yes, at Tatyoon- yes, but at College- no, not that I know of.
In the early days, there were stables for the boys’ horses but not by then.

I remember the boy Weatherly’s telling the headmaster that so and so was going home with them.
I remember they lived in the country and they had to get permission from both parents that this was legal. There was always a master went to the car with those children. They never went out the gate without them. But that seems a lot to you probably, but I think it was really good.
The school was much more like a de facto mother and father. There was a very high level of pastoral care but it is more of a professional relationship than a family relationship.
They were like that to me. When the littlies would get homesick I would do little things for them, even out of my own pocket I’d do things for them you know. It was so sad.

'How much were you being paid?'
I was getting 8 pounds 15 and when I got married my husband was getting 7 pounds ten, but I didn’t work after I was married. It wouldn’t have worked out at all.

'Which was your room?' ''
You had your bed and your dressing table, and then you had another little side table and you had a wardrobe.
There was no en suite or anything like that. My room was a little bit bigger than the others as I had night work to do.
My room looked into Talbot Street. It was at the end of the building right up the end. My room was the last room on the end. Outside my window I looked into the boiler house from my window but I wasn’t right above it. From there the hall wall to about here…
The toilet was upstairs but you would need a road runner to get to it. On the top floor, at the head of the stair well. The bathroom was there too. You didn’t have your own bathroom or anything like that.
I was above the kitchen next to the dining room. The bathroom was in the middle of the corridor. The sitting room was next to it. There was one shared bathroom. Turn left, went up the staircase. My room was the biggest of all of the rooms upstairs. I just had one window. There My room was on the opposite side to the bathroom.
I had a phone in my room; my courting involved a lot of phone calls.

We lived at Centenary Park for 30 years.
I had a big house, but I wanted to move to a little house 20 years ago. I got a new kitchen put in and the wallpaper we had it all taken off. I’m very happy here. You couldn’t get anything easier. I have been here twenty years now. I had to think of my age. A girl comes in once a fortnight to clean the house but it doesn’t get very dirty.
I used to get home to Mortlake for 3-4 days in the holidays. I went to a Deb. Ball in Beeac one weekend and rang my mother to ask her permission even though I was living away from home. I was one of 4 daughters, then a brother, and my Mum adopted boy. He was to be married the same day as me but he died in the paddock. It put a mark over my wedding day but I happily married for 65 years and we had a wonderful life. We did a lot of caravanning and I used to drive.

When I got married I left all the photos with my sister. Her son Lindsay might know where some photos are if there still are any. I have got a girlfriend that worked with me at the College, Pat Brady. She might have some photos.

I had a simple life. It was a wonderful life.'
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