|SISTER FRANCES MUIRHEAD's Personal Reflection|
Sister Frances Muirhead, a Presentation nun, was at St Michael’s School in 1950.
In those days St Michael’s was a primary school. Sister Marie Celine was the Principal and Sister Dorothea and myself. There were just the three of us and Mrs. Kelleher, a lay teacher. There was also a student teacher, Marie Egan who later joined our congregation.
Numbers were fairly big for a primary. One thing I remember there were no inside toilets. They were all outside. We had a lunchroom---a very small room where we had our lunch. Back in those days for some strange reason we didn’t eat with lay people. It was one of those very strange rules we had. I can remember we lived at Glen Iris and we used to come to Ashburton on the bus. We used to walk down to the corner of High Street and Malvern Road and caught the bus near the railway gates. After school we used to have to wait for ages for a bus to come sometimes. I can remember Dorothea always praying to St Joseph to send somebody nice with a car to give us a ride. Some time later the nuns got a car and went to school in it but I don’t remember what year that was. I was not there then. We used to share it with the nuns going to Avila.
In this area there were mostly families with young children. They maybe were in their first home. It was an expanding area then—post war. I can remember one thing about the lunchroom. This was a very small room. I don’t think we had much in the way of cupboards because we seemed to always leave everything out on the table. We used to come in the morning and everything used to be all over the place. There would be bread and jam and things spread everywhere. We wondered who was getting in. Marie-Celine interviewed several ‘suspects’ in the school—some of the kids—but no, we just could not work out what was happening. It used to happen on Mondays—after the weekend. Eventually we found out it was a possum getting in and upsetting everything.
It was like being on the edge of the bush. I went to Pakenham the next year and it wasn’t very different. It must have been a rainy year in 1950 because we always seemed to be walking in mud. There also seemed to have been trenches. What they were digging trenches for I don’t know. We used to be jumping over holes in the ground.
People were very kind when the Presentations first came. When we first arrived we had very little money. When we came there were these huge hampers of food and they stocked the pantry for just a year. We hardly had to buy any non-perishable stuff—anything in bottles or tins. It just about lasted us for the whole year. That was the Ashburton people. They had evidently organised this and they gathered as much as they could in the way of food. They were not the sort of people who would have a lot of money to be spending on food either. I will never forget that kindness.
I also remember that the pupils were a nice group of children. They were not hard to teach. They were really lovely little kids. I cannot pick out names and I can say that nobody stands out as being extra troublesome because if there were a troublesome one I would remember. Nobody stands out as being extra bright or having great leadership qualities or anything like that because I would remember that. From all that I would say they were an average group of very nice children and very easy to teach.