Debbie Kruger
Homebody SYDNEY STYLE YOUNGER YEARS Killara High days
Masada days
Killara High days
From being one of six children in my year at Masada College to being one of 200 in First Form of Killara High was something of a change for me. But I never regretted choosing the state school approach. I enjoyed the interaction with kids from different religious and educational backgrounds, and quickly made lots of friends.

There was much to learn! I spoke fluent Hebrew at that stage, but Latin classes were a whole other thing! If the science labs were daunting, trying to thread a sewing machine was way too scary for me. Spin the Bottle games during free periods were also an eye-opener for a young kid of my sheltered upbringing. Some experienced 11-year olds seemed to be able to carry on without breathing for hours on end!

Deb at Killara High
I had the distinction of being in the infamous 1A2 roll class in 1974, which headmistress Betty Bowen (RIP) threatened to "wipe from the face of the earth" after one too many episodes of mayhem under the tutelage of English teacher Christopher Naylor.
12th birthday party
My 12th birthday party with all my new high school friends. Presents included my first 45 single – The Rubettes' "Sugar Baby Love" – and some Yardley Pot o' Gloss eye shadows!
I also found myself embroiled in the porno book episode of 1975 when two of my friends, Shari and Derani, bought a book from the White Elephant in Chatswood entitled Daddy Liked You Best, which did the rounds of all our group until a teacher discovered it and we all found ourselves called into the headmistress' office for a sex education lecture.

Other cherished memories from those junior years included singing Jesus Christ Superstar in its entirety for friends during a science class in 2nd Form and singing "I like to eat green apples and bananas" in German classes with our groovy teacher Doug Rand.

These were the decidedly lo-tech '70s when even calculators were forbidden. Logarithm books were all the go, as were exercise books, compasses for drawing circles, and voluminous green bloomers and badly fitted tunics for Physical Education classes.

It seemed important to excel at something. Either sport or public speaking or music or art. It didn't take me long to find my niche - writing stories about my school friends.

Certificates, exercise books, year books
The first book series penned by yours truly received readings in the school yard and marked me, at the age of 12, as an author of considerable (or was that questionable) merit. My classmates got a kick out of reading about themselves in dramatised novellas, and I felt compelled to embark on another series of more lengthy volumes inspired by the same theme. Today in 2009 I'm up to Volume 42 and still going, albeit more slowly...
Alison and Debbie My best buddy and partner in crime through the junior years of high school was Alison. She loved my semi-fictitious books so much she wrote satirical versions of them that, many years later, had us crying tears of laughter. Alison was responsible for my first pop concert – the Bay City Rollers – as she was a huge Rollers fan. Alison was incredibly funny and an extremely decent human being. She still is both of those things.
Alison and I drove everyone crazy with our fixation on "our seat." We decided to claim a bench that sat along the busy walkway between the canteen and B Block, and sit on it every recess and lunch-time during much of 1976. We even painted our names on it. Other students would carry our seat away and throw it behind the volleyball courts, and many a lunch-time we could be seen carrying our seat back up to that busy walkway.
Al and Deb on the seat
No uniform day
No Uniform Day, 1977.
That's me with the black felt hat.
I mostly hung out in a group of six, with Alison, Shari, Derani and another couple of characters named Marina and Debra. In the junior years we were fairly inseparable, and judging from these pictures, it's no wonder I couldn't tear myself away from such inspiring elegance and poise.

Friends on tennis court
PE on the tennis court. Amazingly, I must have
been there as I took the picture.

But there were boys on the scene, of course. That was the whole purpose of being at a co-ed school. I became friends with Marcus in 2nd Form and with Peter in 4th Form, and over time they became my best friends at school and are still great friends to this day. It was important early on, though, to teach them who was boss...
Peter in stocks
Peter on the left and Marcus at right –
taking stock of the situation on school
excursions to Port Macquarie and
Old Sydney Town
Marcus in stocks
Peter and Marcus joined me in getting involved with the school radio station, 2KH.
Peter and Marcus at 2KH The station only broadcast at recess and lunch time through the fairly crude school PA system. But we had a pretty groovy library of LPs thanks to some 5th Form guys who had built the "studio" in a B Block cupboard and got permission in the first place to get the "station" on air.

2KH, quite by coincidence, was located directly behind the seat upon which Alison and I spent our free time seated. Which, when I think back, is probably how my entire radio career got started.

Neither Peter nor Marcus embarked on careers in broadcasting, alas, but Marcus still fancies himself the purveyor of good music and has occasionally contributed to my playlists by bestowing CDs on me that he feels I cannot live without. I thank Marcus, particularly, for introducing me to the Cranberries' first album, but do not hold him in any way responsible for their subsequent releases.
There were so many great friends at school and I could post hundreds of photos here (and the page would never finish downloading!) but I'll just select a handful of good ones from 1977, the final year of the junior component of high school.

Fortunately many of these people are still in my life, whether I see them every five years or so at a school reunion, or hang out with them regularly in Sydney these days.

David, Mark, Emanuel
David, Mark and Emanuel.
Friends, Christmas 1977
Back: Marcus (recovering from a bad bout of glandular fever), Andrea, Janine, Jenny
Middle: Lisette, Michael (aka Shorty), Kris,
Andrew (aka Stutch)
Front: Norm and Simon
Boys at beach
Michael (aka Benny), James (aka Owly), Simon and Roan. Scuba diving at Shelley Beach, 1977.

Debra and Debbie
Deb and Deb in the junior and senior school uniforms, 1978
In 1978 we became seniors. We were in 5th Form, which was now called Year 11, and we had new summer uniforms, the ugliest mustard yellow tunic, which a few girls defiantly refused to buy, let alone wear. We were growing up and making choices. My circle of friends was ever widening, too, and I became close to Meredith and Clare — the kind of girls who, if we'd been an American high school, would have both made Prom Queen. Smart, pretty and great company, I was and still am quite enamoured of them both.
Debbie 1978
Me trying to be cool, 1978
Clare and Meredith
Clare and Meredith being effortlessly cool, 1978

History folder We all worked very hard, of course. How could we not when GG O'Brien, our stern pun-pushing history teacher, threw 3-Unit Modern History essay questions at us such as:

"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?"

It's amazing I developed a keen interest in all things American in spite of such obstacles!

I still remember a great deal from my HSC English studies. Great slabs of quotes from Shakespeare, John Donne, Robert Browning and Jane Austen. To this day I am still prone to start reciting my favourite Othello speech:

Oh that the slave had forty thousand lives!
One is too poor, too weak for my revenge:
Now do I see 'tis true; look here, Iago,
All my fond love thus do I blow to heaven...
'Tis gone.
Arise, black vengeance, from thy hollow cell,
Yield up, O love, thy crown, and hearted throne,
To tyrannous hate, swell, bosom, with thy fraught,
For 'tis of aspics' tongues!

Ahh... such passion. I thank my English teachers Lynne Matthews and Julian Holden, in particular, for inspiring the passion in me that twenty-something years later really has me reciting this stuff on call.

Peter, Mark, Jeff, Marcus
Peter, Thommo, Willy and Marcus looking quite unaffected by the passion of Othello.
Study notes

Every year in April there was a Killara High School barbecue held as a fundraiser. The musical entertainment in 1978 and 1979 featured a band made up of some of my good friends. In 1978 they were known as Counterfeet and in 1979 they metamorphosed into Bob Bong & the Heads.
Bob Bong and the Heads
Bob Bong & The Heads, 28 April 1979
L-R: Shaun, Ted the Head, Bob the Bong, Emanuel the Mull (behind on drums) and Clement the Clone
aka David, Ted, Robert, Emanuel and Marcus the Guitar God

Of course, music was always my favourite thing to study, even though I didn't actually take music as a subject at school. To find out all about my extra-curricular activites see my 2SM page and my Music and Mayhem page.
School folders

The HSC year was stressful at the best of times, but we always took advantage of opportunities to have some fun, especially if it was on school time. No-Uniform Day each year was something to look forward to; in our final year it had a twist. Bad Taste Dress Day on 22 August 1979 certainly got everyone in the mood to be daggy - or ultra cool in certain cases.
Bad taste friends
Debra, Philip (aka Phillipa), Jan, Fiona and Shari. The photographer chose not to participate in bad taste dress.
Girls dressed bad
Girls dressed badly.
If you knew Merryn (wearing orange pill-box hat) you'd know just how preposterous this was.
Emanuel, Meredith, Clare, Willy
Too cool for school, and certainly too cool to dress in bad taste.
The Gangsters: Emanuel, Meredith, Clare and Willy

As the final HSC exams approached and regular classes came to an end, there was a mixture of tension and pure madcap frenzy with muck-up day just around the corner. Having done 3-Unit English and 3-Unit Modern History, I had had many an early morning and after-school class to get through all the curriculum, and the students and teachers in these classes had bonded beyond the usual call. We farewelled Modern American History and our teacher Gerry O'Brien with a 19th Century American party – slaves, Ku Klux Klan, Abe Lincoln, the lot. The photos are yellow, by the way, because someone threw water on my camera and the film got wet.
Slaves, Lincoln and the Klan
Bet you didn't know Lincoln had a white beard!
American History class
Notice the cake iced with the American flag.

Cake The last day of school before the HSC exams was traditionally known as "Muck Up Day," and was celebrated with a pre-dawn champagne breakfast on the beach on Friday 19 October 1979. The night before was spent at Meredith's house, pondering the huge changes that were before us, and baking a cake to give to the English Department at Killara High. The words on the cake, beautifully iced by Gwen, are from Othello. Ten points if you can figure out what is wrong with the quote.
Beach breakfast
David, Clare, Richard, Meredith, Jane, Gwen and Mark at Shelley Beach
Deb and Peter
Deb and Peter do the champagne brekky thing pre-dawn on the last day of school

While most of us had been attending classes studiously to cram in every bit of knowledge available to us before the Stuvac period – a week and a half of class-free time to study at home for the exams – our dear friend Marcus had already been on his own study leave, barely seen at school during the last two weeks. We thought he was gearing up for a high HSC aggregate score, but when we all returned from the beach breakfast to the school grounds for our morning of egg-throwing mayhem, the true purpose of Marcus's absenteeism came to light.
Marcus had never studied needlework, yet a magnificenty constructed (and perfectly circumsized) penis fashioned from pink fabric and several hoola hoops found its way from nearby Saiala Road (where Marcus lived) to the Killara High School flagpole. It was jointly created by Benny (some say he did most of the work, which could explain why nobody has seen nor heard from him for over 20 years), Marcus, Peter and James aka Owly. Mighty Erection of 1979
There was much speculation as to whether Marcus himself had been the model for this fine work of art. Headmaster G.J. Bradford (RIP) ordered it removed within hours. At the Year 12 Farewell Lunch that day, our friend Jane, never backward in coming forward, announced to Bradford that he was clearly just jealous.

It would be fair to assert, nevertheless, that the Mighty Erection of 1979 has gone down in Killara High folk lore as one of the most impressive major works ever created.

(For the true and complete story of the Bigus Dickus, entitled "Whose dick was it anyway?", click here.)

The HSC exams seemed at the time to be the most stressful experience one could live through, but twenty-something years on they seem like a breeze compared to what followed in life. After the exams, I joined my friends Meredith, Clare, Vivian, Jane and Gwen, for an outrageous holiday up the coast at Shoal Bay to get a suntan before the Year 12 Formal. You can find out all about that in the Beach Baby section.
Formal ticket And then, back in Sydney, we all got dressed up and let our hair down for the last time together, at our elegant Formal.
Jane, Viv, Clare, Deb, Meredith
Jane, Vivian, Clare, Debbie and Meredith, all suntanned and glowing before the Year 12 Formal
Marcus and Deb
Marcus and Debbie at the Formal
Debbie and Peter
With Peter, my best high school friend and date for the Formal. Cool shirt and tie, Pete.
Debbie and Willy
With Jeffrey aka Willy at the Formal

I have stayed in touch with all of my school friends since we graduated at the end of 1979. My friendships with Killara High people are of immeasurable value to me. I just adore them. We definitely had a closeness in our year that, from what I can gauge from other people my age, was and still is unique. We have, for instance, held five official school reunions, and you can check out photos from some of those reunions on the Reunions page.

There are a lot more pictures of my school friends in other sections of this site, particularly through the Sydney Style section.

Of course I'd love to hear from you if you went to Killara High and haven't been in touch for a while. Just send me an email!

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