DANDENONG, through the eyes of a schoolboy. That’s what the Dandenong and District Historical Society was treated to when Bill Carson was invited to speak at a meeting on April 21.
Well, the Glen Waverley resident is blessed with a keen memory, sprinkled with an endearing sense of humour.
Belonging to a family with links to Dandenong since 1867, Bill is a repository of district lore.
His great-grandfather John came from County Tyrone in Ireland and settled on a farming allotment in Keysborough.
Bill and his brothers Jim and Rob went to the Narre Warren North Primary School, six kilometres from their home. So they either walked, rode pushbikes or cantered up on horseback.
In 1954, when Bill was aged 11, he enrolled at the Dandenong Technical College. The school was to officially open that year but records show the students actually started their courses in 1953 and were located in the Dandenong Scout Hall, the then Methodist Church (now Trinity Uniting) and, later, the shire hall.
“The school uniform was as you see me today, but there was an option of a gold braid around the blazer and school cap,” he told his audience.
“I was taunted by others who managed to keep my cap away from my head by using its aerodynamic qualities between one another. This didn’t concern me as much as the treatment I’d get from mum if it was lost.”
In 1954, the school had 266 students, some from Tooradin, Pakenham, Cranbourne and Kooweerup.
“My mid-year results show I came first out of 172 students. I eventually became a teacher and can’t imagine how you can possibly rank students 1 to 172.”
The school evolved — in 1961 it had a junior and senior component, in 1973 was renamed Dandenong Technical College and a decade later it went co-ed.
In 1981 Bill gained a position at the tech, this time returning as a teacher who mostly taught in year 11.
“At this time TAFE separated from the secondary school and I stayed with the young kids.”
In ’89, Bill left the school to take a consulting role with the education department but stayed in touch. The tech closed at the end of the ’91 school year and premises were demolished to make way for TAFE extensions.
Bill still feels a tinge of sadness. But school days remain the best days of his life.
Do you have a milestone, memory or question for Marg? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or post submissions to A Moment with Marg, c/o The Dandenong Journal, PO Box 318, Dandenong 3175.
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