I have rarely returned to my old school since finishing year 12 there in 1961. However, on the suggestion of my good friend, Ron Oudolf, we recently returned there for a morning tea and lunch as Vintage Vikings (Old Boys of 70 years or older). I have often wondered what had become of my old classmates, so here was a chance to find out. In my final year at “Churchie” (Brisbane’s Church of England Grammar School and now renamed the Anglican Church Grammas School), I was one of 89 year 12 boys.
At this reunion, I was wondering how many of them I would recognise, because, after 58 years, the ravages of time are beginning to show. Sadly, I was only one of two attendees from my year. The fate of most of my other classmates still remains a mystery.
Between morning tea and lunch, we were taken on a brief tour of the school (the bits that were not occupied by students still in class.) Since my day, “Churchie” has become a truly international school and this status is reflected in the quality of the buildings and facilities available: the homely old wooden buildings we used for our classrooms have all been replaced with sturdy brick structures; the magnificent Research Centre (on the site of one of my old classrooms); the sports centre; and Morris Hall.
Some things hadn’t changed: the Chapel still felt familiar as did the School House where Harry Roberts, our then headmaster, used to conduct school assemblies every Friday while we boys sat around on the cement paths and listened. We were also taken into the boarders’ dining room (a new experience for us former day boys (or ‘greasers’ as the boarders called us). The polished woodwork and varnished timber walls reminded me of a Harry Potter movie set – especially the Master’s seating. I was told by a former boarder that in his day, there was linoleum on the floor, unvarnished walls, and the boys were rostered to serve out the meals.
Then it was back to Morris Hall for lunch. In 1961 the hall was under construction and our classroom was overwhelmed with noise from the pneumatic drills digging out the foundations. Morris Hall was named in honour of Rev Canon Morris, the founder of the school. It is sad that no building bears the name of Harry Roberts, the headmaster in my time and one of Churchie’s most dedicated champions.
After the dinner, the Headmaster Dr Alan Campbell presented the oldest Vintage Viking in attendance with a leather Viking helmet. ‘Gee’ I thought, ‘I wouldn’t mind one of those myself as a family heirloom to pass on to my descendants.’ I didn’t find out ‘til later that this year’s recipient, Tony Osborne, was 95 years old. I don’t think I’ll be able to hang on for that long!