Spell Dictatorial!

Que Que Junior School Teachers
Que Que Junior School Teachers

Que Que Junior School Teachers 1968.  Back Row: Margaret McGrady; Jean Ullyett; Queenie Gilby; John Dillane; Nan Young; Barbara Sinclair; Mrs Bath; “Henry” Engelbrecht.
Front row: ??; Nigel Roberts; ??; Paddy Bradley; Brian McGrady; Molly Wood;  Mrs Armstrong; Garth Watson, groundsman; Rose Grant, seceretary.

Spell Dictatorial

Mrs. Bradley is a teacher I haven’t forgotten.  She taught me in Standard 4A.  She was strictly in control one hundred percent of the time. She was ancient, thin all over except for her oedematous legs.  Her feet were squashed into tiny shoes that I often found myself looking down at.

Spell Dictatorial

We had our spelling list for homework as well as sums.  In the morning we started with the spelling list.  She inhaled deeply from her cigarette, ever dangling from her thin lips, before she exhaled and barked out the first word of the day amid clouds of smoke.  I couldn’t think.  I had sung the words, letter by letter, over and over again with my Dad in the car the afternoon before, as he did rounds to the various outlying clinics and then house calls, before we slid into the driveway for supper.  Was it ‘i’ before ‘e’ or was this the exception to the exception?  There was not a moment to dwell on it.  She had inhaled again and the next word was going to fill my universe.

Demerits and raps on the knuckles followed if you did not get at least five out of ten.  My best friend Wendy Allen saved me many a day as she exposed her notebook to me.  I could count on her.  She was effortlessly always right, top of the class.

Next was dictation.  I could not think and write at the same time, as she raced on from phrase to phrase, pacing the rows of desks armed with her cigarette in the one hand and a cane in the other.  I tried to get the gist of it as I dipped my nib in the inkwell and blobbed on the page.

But Mrs. Bradley  had a daughter, Jean Ullyett, who also taught at the school.  She had twins.  One day one of the twins brought his teacher, Miss Sinclair, a present of a lemon.  “What shall I do with this?” she asked.

“Put it in your gin,” he said.

Mrs. Gilby, the post master’s wife, taught Std 4B.  Big bosomed and soft spoken, I longed to be in her class.

Thanks to Barbara Goss (nee Sinclair) for the photo and many vignettes.