by Esther Cooper, Arcare Carnegie
I was born in 1918 in Myrtleford, Victoria. My father was a teacher at Gapsted with more children across five grades than they have in one grade now. Times were hard: swagmen coming every day looking for work on the hop and tobacco farms, and the roads were dirt tracks. We had a horse and gig.
In 1927 we moved to an old gold town – Stanley, near Beechworth – where gold was still being mined. In 1934 we moved to Stawell so my big sister and I could attended high school. This was during the worst depression. Men would often pass through travelling on the train tracks and jump off near the station. Seldom did a day pass when we didn’t have a call for a billy of tea and something to eat in exchange for any chore you could give them.
I attended the high school for one and a half years after I got my leaving certificate as I wanted to be a teacher and there were no vacancies. Finally, in 1936, I was appointed as a junior teacher at Kingsville before entering the Teacher’s College (with no pay).
It was there I met my husband, Adrian. I went to the country and he went to the city.
My first school was in the Mallee during one of the worst droughts with terrible dust storms. Then, after three months of sick leave, I went to Horsham; then Diamond Creek and finally Terip Terip (near Euroa).
From there I was married and had to leave teaching. We moved and lived in Hughesdale for the next 67 years. By the time my two children were off to school, I returned to Hughesdale School. I taught there for 18 years then moved to Coatesville – there I retired.
After retiring we joined the Camera Club and enjoyed many trips in Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales. Adrian took up oil painting, woodwork, watercolours and cartooning.
Finally we decided in 2008 to move into Arcare Carnegie. Sadly Adrian passed away in 2009. I still attend the art classes here at Carnegie and am still enjoying it. I turned 100 in January – not a bad innings!