As my theme for this collage festival was my first 28 years, I had to include a very important influence: my all girls secondary school. I’ve talked about it previously here, here and here in quite a bit of detail so what more is there to say? Heading laterally today’s topic is about an event of some importance to all Brisbane schools in my era.
When I was at school in Brisbane, there was a big Youth March each year. As far as I recall all schools could choose to be part of this event and would turn out and march through the streets and pass a dais of VIPs on the steps of the GPO (General Post Office). I have no idea what the point of all this was, unless it was to display the wonders of the upcoming generation, which seems a bit odd.
Mr Cassmob says that was pretty much it, plus a hangover of Imperial hoo haa…remembering that in those days God Save the Queen was still played at the movies. Actually a quick search of Trove suggests himself might be right (unusual….not!). Marches in much earlier years seem to have been associated with Empire Day celebrations. No wonder the whole event has died out.
At our school this event was bigger than Ben Hur! The school “imported” a consultant to make sure our standards were high enough. Each year we’d be sorted into progressive heights from tallest to smallest. This took little enough time for me ….I went straight to the top 10 and we juggled ourselves around marginally from year to year. One of my friends did the same at the shallow end of the marching group. It was those pesky girls in the average height range that took hours to sort out, and trust me, every millimetre or quarter inch counted!
Then the fun began as we were drilled to a standard worthy of (if not in excess of) the military! Heads up, chins in, chests out, stomachs in, bums in….try doing all that at once! The only excitement came in the form of a few dragooned teenage boys from St Laurence’s College across the river, who provided us with the necessary march music. I tell you those poor boys must have been due for a bravery medal having to arrive before the eyes of hundreds of young teenage girls.
On the day we would assemble (at the Gardens?) and then set forth. The march must have been in the winter because we always wore our winter uniform with blazers and beret-type hats. Every hem had to be at the precise height, no girl’s hair could be below her collar, gloves and stockings in perfect order, every step in time. Did I mention the similarity to the military?
Inevitably there’d be photos in the newspaper and recalcitrant hair or hem lines would be circled and the offenders spoken to. And then there was the year when those of us in the front line got into severe strife because we had done our “eyes right” before the official order…even though we were by then past the dais. Who to offend? The Visiting Dignitaries or the school’s uniformity? Oops, wrong guess!
It’s moments like these I wish Trove went forward just another decade to reveal more about some of these memories.
Do you think schools used to have a bigger profile in the city’s life than they do today?
I’m also including some photos of Brisbane’s changed skyline. The school had a great view over the city and the river and those who know Brisbane now will see significant differences in the outlook, high-rises and apartment blocks among others.