Archive for March, 2012

Monday morning, school assemblies.

Boy School Captain traditionally recites:

The Lord’s Prayer.

My religious education thusfar:

Single visit to Sunday School
– Inattentive attendance at school scripture.

Nervous admission:

“Ahem, aagh. Mr Smith. Ummm!
I don’t know this prayer.” 

Horrified! (him)

“Learn it!”

Horrified! (me), then,

Prayer answered:

“Until you do, … read it!


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Cover of the July 1966 Penrith Rugby League Club Journal … says it all.

My reformation year – 1967.

The year when elite Rugby League

Came to Penrith.

Five influential men* pushed for

NSWRL promotion decision.

Announced on July 4th – American Independence Day – 1966.

Pivotal event for Penrith region, community, residents,

And us, personally.


One of the five “drivers” – Roger – overslept on July 5th.

Wasn’t his usual self!!


* Popular culture has the promotion coming as a result of the super-human effort of one man – Merv Cartwright. His efforts have been rightly acclaimed and honoured.

There were many who made important contributions to the effort and who have not receive appropriate attention.

Four others, in particular, who were equally strident, passionate, energetic, and resolute in the drive to have the Penrith Panthers promoted. They were:

Bill Chapman – who was the Penrith City Mayor at the time. A highly regarded local businessman. His son Greg Chapman later joined the Panthers Board.

– Harold Corr – the Penrith City Town Clerk. I was lucky enough to count his son James as one of my schoolmates up until I left Penrith Primary at the end of 1966.

Jack Argent – the Parramatta delegate to the NSWRL. If Penrith was not promoted it would be Wentworthville (on Parramatta’s doorstep) and Parramatta lobbied heavily against Wentworthville’s promotion.

and … Roger – who was, sorry, is … well, Roge.

Of course there were others who were heavily involved in this effort. Right in the mix there was our coach Leo Trevena. Here he is on the front of the club magazine in 1966, with Tony Brown (captain) and Merv.

brown cartwright trevena

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Social centre,

Penrith Rugby League Club –

Broke, players unpaid.

Single room clubhouse with multiple functions –

Single room multi-function club - transforms, mutates.

Roger takes over,

Green, driven,

Enthusiastic, open,

Ambitious, visionary.

Results in …

* Financial recovery
* New multi-story club built,
* Elevated RL team – now elite.

Elevated Roger  – locally notable (or notorious?).

Blood of the Panthers mutates family DNA.


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Conveniently located –

Directly behind the thriving, expanding RL Club –

Our new home was behind this 1967 version of the Club.

Our new home.

Weatherboard, dark interiors, dark fittings – Edwardian?

Hardwood picture & ornament rails lapped the lounge room.

Musty dark carpets, antiquated kitchen, long narrow yard … and


The final blow to failing focus.

Knockout for distraction.

Schoolwork is the winner!!

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I wore my badge with pride.

To do and serve.

To do and serve - it was clear to me who I had to serve.

An early test.

Hidden in school’s S-W corner, cricket nets.

Lunchtime game.

Tension between two players*,

A scuffle, punches thrown.

Blood spilled.

Headmaster Smith: “What happened, Max?”

“Hit by the ball, Sir.”**

My duty was to do and serve …




* This event probably has no place in anyone else’s memory … but I cannot remember who the combatants were, I would love somoene to remind me.

** To this day I don’t know whether this was a “good lie” or a “bad lie”. Was it the right or wrong thing to do?  I was in a position of being squeezed by differing guilts, no escaping – which is why it has been captured by my sieve-like memory.

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Election time for school prefects.

Nomination in –

Changed environment, changed character?

No! But mischievousness & rebelliousness curtailed, contained.

Election results.

Girl School Captain – Ione Salter

Boy School Captain –






Near expulsion, change schools, then student leadership.

The tables have turned … AGAIN!!

On whom?

Yet to be seen.

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New class, new school.

Class discussion.

How would you improve the zoo?

Hands up!

Stand up.

“Mr Bruce, I think the animals should be allowed to roam.”

In my mind was a move from this ...

to this!!

“Hahaha!! Great, lions & tigers wandering around with people. Hahaha!!”

Class cracks.

Standing. Silently.

Embarrassed. Anger seething.

Tables are turned.

At this school, teachers ridicule students.

A Spooky Extra:

As I was writing Short Memory #85 – Tables turned … a lesson in Karma!!, I was listening to my iTunes on shuffle. And this song shuffled on at the very moment I put a title on the story:

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Out of the frying pan and …

Into a school now hosting all 4 Cowan boys – PLUS.

Max, Stephen, Peter, & Phillip - 4 Cowan boys at the one school - great potential for bedlam! Except for the alert and influential eyes of another Cowan, Mum!

Penrith South Primary School.

PLUS Mum – teacher there.

A singular occurrence, and important PLUS.

1967 –  only year I had a brother at the same school.

Potential problems?



Not with Mum’s eagle eyes & spies watching.

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Class 5A - Academically Top, Behaviourally ??? For class list see 365 Short Memories #70

Class 5A – Penrith Primary

Academically – top.

Behaviourally – bottom.

Class notoriety emanating from notorious minority.

The old tree-house gang … mainly.

Mr Spence – nice man, whose vulnerabilities, idiosyncrancies

Leave openings for juvenile antics.

The future shifts.

Mr Spence takes extended leave.

Max tagged to leave Penrith Primary.

1967 looks like a big year.

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Class sing along.

ABC radio – folk-tunes.

We start, hand raised.

“Put your hand down Bruce.”

|| :   New song. Hand. “Bruuuce!”   : ||

Repeat until …

Program concludes.

Hand hits air.

“WHAT IS IT, BRUCE!” fortissimo (ff), annoyed.

"What is it, Bruce." That's Bruce in the middle. Bruce "The Goose" Turner.

Bruce, meekly:

“Mr Spence, your fly’s undone, sir.”

Songbook lowers, covers gap,

Mr Spence exits classroom.



* Thanks to Ian Elliott for helping me with this Short Memory. While I have vivid memories of the main elements of this Ian filled in some forgotten detail.

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