Do you remember...?
Debbie Kruger
Homebody SYDNEY STYLE YOUNGER YEARS Killara High days Reunions

Do you remember...?

Written by Debbie Kruger
Introduction to "The Greying Years", KHS 20 Year Reunion book

We came together in January 1974, hailing from primary schools like Killara Public, East Lindfield, Lindfield Demonstration, Beaumont Road and the odd religious private school.  Many of the young first-formers had known each other from kindergarten, some boys and girls had already exchanged saliva before reaching the age of 10.  For both the experienced and the innocent, Killara High School was an adventure from the onset.  Class A2 spent most of its time in Room 16 enraging Betty Bowen with its antics – games of spin-the-bottle in which Erin Miller and Brook Paviour would pash for what seemed like hours on end, cruel en masse taunting of the hopelessly inept first-time English teacher Chris Naylor – and no doubt similar incidents were being enacted in other first-form rooms throughout D-block.

The memories of those halcyon years are both vivid and vague... the summer aromas of mulberry bushes, chocolate pals, sounds of splashing in the water hole (or the Clements’ swimming pool)... the winter aromas of meat pies and sausage rolls in the canteen, the recollection of sitting on those ineffectual metal block heaters and holding down tartan kilts when they blew in the cold wind...  the sounds of 2KH emanating from the makeshift studio in B-block... and the fascinating cast of characters who came and went.

I personally was in awe of many of the girls in our year.  In second and third form it was usually Louisa Hume and any other girl who had the good fortune to go around with Peter Walker (and sometimes carve his initials in her arm).  In senior years it was the stylish Meredith Stewart and Clare Sneddon – who could forget Clare’s star turn in Bye Bye Birdie or Meredith’s prowess in the art room (alongside Jane Plowman, Jan Llewelyn et al)?  I admired sporting heroes like Wendy Rothwell, whose photos adorned the pages of each edition of The Green Years.  And anyone who could thread a sewing machine, let alone make garments, such as Melinda Flannigan or Andrea Giebler.  And those who got into school musicals, from Gillian Marsh doing her “whip crack away” thing in Calamity Jane to Lynette Cleworth, Michelle Williams et al in Oh What A Lovely War!

New arrivals were always noteworthy.  Simon Fox arrived from England some time in third form with tight-fitting black flared pants... Philip Retter sat in Mr R. Smith’s English classes (a sequel to Chris Naylor) shouting out with Marina Osmo an endless tirade of “Hey Woa!  Hey Woa!”... Richard “Rocky” Rasdall had more than a few girls swooning with his impressive tales of after-school hijinx at radio station Double J. Departures also had an impact.  Karin Neilson went off to live in Pasadena, California for a couple of years, Louisa spent a year in Edmonton in Canada, and the fall-out after fourth form meant we lost several familiar faces, including Gabrielle Hall and Sally Guy to Barker College, Peter Walker to the International School, Mark O’Leary and Michael Scott (aka “Shorty”) to Melbourne, and the seemingly inseparable Shari and Derani were separated when Derani opted for an early working life.

Rigid school uniform inspections were relaxed after the death of Betty Bowen, and summer tunics were complemented with footwear such as JCs and clunkies, but non-uniform days were always the most fun.  As were those long excursions – Geography students to Macksville and Jindabyne, History students to Hill End and Port Macquarie.  The likes of Jill Dunkley or Vivian Barrett always had a guitar and there was always a rendition of “Stairway To Heaven” or “Horse With No Name” resounding. Alison Landor and I spent our after-school hours watching David Levy, Mark O’Leary and others practising Status Quo songs in their band Mitosis, which won the 1976 Entertainers talent quest, thoroughly beating our own act SADD (Shari, Alison, Debbie, Derani), an Abba tribute with a finely choreographed “Ring Ring.”

The advent of senior years meant more than changing the terms “fifth form” and “sixth form” to “Years 11 and 12.”  It meant more than mustard-coloured senior tunics, a senior area to eat lunch in, access to the coffee machine and E-block toilets, and the race to get drivers’ licences and borrow the parents’ car to drive to school.  It meant more than the metamorphosis of Mitosis into Counter-Feet and then Bob Bong & The Heads (featuring Robert “Bob the Bong” Murray, Ted “The Head” Jones, Emanuel “The Mull” Szumer, Marcus “The Cone” Clement, and “Shaun” aka David Levy).  It meant taking a new approach to classes, finding a new respect for teachers.  Discovering, for instance, that Mr. Faehrmann (nick-named “Judy” because he talked a little like Cary Grant) was actually a nice guy.  Realising that when Lynne Matthews insisted that John Donne was “witty witty witty!!” she was absolutely right.  Appreciating Julian Holden’s readings of Robert Browning, and Connie Watson’s evenings out for 3U English to see films like The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (to which Robert Murray many times quipped, “Just passing, thought I’d chop in”).

Of course, there was no forgiving Gerry O’Brien’s 3U modern history essay questions, eg. “Calhoun’s demand for a perpetual constitutional guarantee to safeguard minority interests might commend itself to those who believed that the best government was that which governed least, but not to Northerners already restive under the obstructive and negative weight of southern political ideas.  Do you agree?”  Huh?  But Mr O’Brien was a great guy, and he could barely hold back the tears when we donned costumes and make-up to appear as a bunch of negro slaves and Ku Klux Klan members, presenting him with a huge cake iced as the American flag at our last class. 

Pre-HSC days were a mixture of studious tension and water-fight fun, but anyone who believed Marcus’s early abscondment from classes two weeks before Stuvac (he called it “Clemvac”) meant that he was gearing up for a high aggregate score was way off track.  It was on muck-up day that the true purpose of Clemvac came to light, with the emergence of the Mighty Erection.  Marcus had never studied needlework, yet a magnificently constructed (and perfectly circumcised) penis fashioned from pink fabric and several hoola hoops found its way from Saiala Road to the Killara High flagpole.  No-one ever knew for sure whether Marcus was the model for this work of art ; the rumours were strong that either Norman Koslowski or Michael Bendit had in fact posed for it.  Mr Bradford ordered it removed within hours (surely he was just peeved about all the “Bradford Be With You” t-shirts) but, 20 years on, the memory remains.

As do the many other memories of life at KHS.  There is no arguing that we were a closely-knit year.  How else can you explain our constant reunionisation (this is our fifth reunion!)?  The above is just one perspective of a possible 200 or so.  Hopefully this 20-year reunion will help bring back more for you.

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