‘Tuck shop, prefects and uniforms: Remember the days of the old school yard’

Sep 09, 2020
Julie takes a walk down memory lane. Source: Getty

Ah, do you recall the days in the old school yard, the high school academy for adolescents? At morning recess, and at lunchtimes, the school tuck shop was open, staffed by mums in the Mothers Club.

Cold, frosty mornings would see us line up, desperate for hot tomato soup and tasty sausage rolls smeared with tomato sauce. Did we have enough pocket money left for a cake? This was a life-changing decision, to choose an egg custard pie sprinkled with nutmeg or an apple turnover filled with artificial cream. The interchange for choices was a cream bun with cream and a dab of jam or the genuine Wagon Wheels, about three times the size of later versions. Quite satisfying all this. The tuck shop existed so the teenagers we once were would not starve to death in the classroom.

Yes, the tuck shop was the highlight of the old school yard. We were all patrolled by scary God-like beings, the prefects, who despised us low-life juniors who were not in their cliques. Some boys searched through their pockets, too poor to afford two sausage rolls.

“Can I have a discount?” they pleaded.

“No!” said the cross prefect on line duty. “You’re holding up the line. Go away!”

So they did.

I used to stand there and tell silly jokes, especially if I had no money. The aroma was so tempting. “Why did the sausage roll? Because it saw the apple turnover.” Sort of funny at the time.

On hotter days, girls would buy Jubblies, which later became Sunnyboys. These were slushy orange-flavoured frozen drinks encased in a cardboard pyramid. We would sit slurping on school wooden seats, hoisting up those dreadful gingham dresses, sunbaking our legs. We were all white Australian gals of varied European ancestry, but we were determined to be brown. There were no sun hats, shade cloths or sunscreens for anyone. These days, we all head off to have our skin blotches checked annually for skin cancer. Our ignorance was bliss.

A few boys would kick a football. The prefects would prowl past and we would try to dodge them if we’d been brave enough to sneak a cigarette in the girls’ toilet block. The boys did much the same in their loos. All hoping not to be sprung bad.

There was nothing much to do for any of us.

Can you recall the days of your old school yard?

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