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Childhood memories

A group of matric students, 1950

As the end of my schooling approached I had to make serious decisions about what I did next. I was still very interested in botany, and would have liked to have studied it at University, but I knew the conditions under which Jim Willis worked, and knew there was no money in botany. I was also very interested in electrical engineering as a result of Tom Bice's teaching, and so I decided to study this.

However one of the prerequisites for Electrical Engineering was Calculus and Applied Maths, which was not taught at the school. After some enquiries it was arranged for me to do this subject by correspondence from Taylor's College in Melbourne. This worked quite well for me, and I got quite good marks in the subject. (And when I got to University, I was exceedingly disgusted to discover that although it had been a prerequisite, every time the lecturer introduced some new concept he would spend five minutes deriving it using calculus, and then half an hour proving it by long hand maths for the benefit of the students who had not done calculus.)

At the end of the year I was Dux of the School. Normally the final school assembly would have been held in the Cameo picture theatre in the nearby village of Belgrave, but there was a bad polio epidemic at the time, and so was decided to hold the ceremony in the open in front of the main school building. My father had always been on at me about deportment, so when I was called on to receive my certificate, I walked out with my best military deportment, to the amusement of the other students.

I just made it into university, as my 17th birthday was on March 24th, and the cutoff was the 31st. I got a Commonwealth scholarship, and also a scholarship to Trinity College, where I came up against the top students from Melbourne Grammar and Geelong Grammar.

The students in the photo are, L-R: Margaret Jenkin, Selwyn Jakel, Paul Ramage, Judy Jenkins, John Penwill, ? and Linda Vague. The babies are Linda's sister and niece. Her mother and sister were in adjacent beds in the maternity hospital at Ferntree Gully, and the babies arrived within a day or two of each other.
 © Roger Riordan 2004-2019