Morning Town Ride

Scene: The Junior Black’s (year 10) classroom, upstairs main block. 1959. Summer.

This classroom was situated with the year 12s room on the right, and around a left corridor was situated the room of the young grade 4s. They are under the control of the late Brother Denis Hernon.

On this particular afternoon, the Junior Blacks had been shunted from their usual class room to a temporary position immediately outside the windows of the Grade 4 room. Why? That was not clear, but given the composition and makeup of the Junior Blacks, “fumigation” was and is a popular speculation. 

The class subject was history, and to be given by Headmaster Brother Bernie Crawford. He was called away, and for the duration of the class set a text for reading and absorption.   

All was well for a while. Then Br. Hernon commenced a story telling session. He gave a detailed dissertation centered on a long train ride.  It was an amusing and riveting story for his class, and certainly for the Junior Blacks, in that his delivery was punctuated by (a) laughter from the grade 4s, and (b) muffled guffaws from a large percentage of the Junior Blacks. 

When we thought the story had reached a completion we were surprised when Br. Hernon played a recording of the Seekers’ “Morning Town Ride”. Pleasant though that was, we were perplexed as to its direct relevance to the story except for the train commonality.

This signalled (no pun) the end of both lessons. Needless to say, an absolute minimum of Junior Black history was learnt that day, and if Br. Crawford had instigated one of his oral exams, there would have been none finishing in credit – especially in the light of his scoring process: one mark for a correct answer, two off for incorrect or no answer. (The only way anyone would have avoided a major minus result was if coincidentally a question about national train travel or systems was posed.

That is most unlikely even though neither I nor any peers can recall what we were supposed to be studying that day.

The next day we were sequestered back in our usual abode, and sadly denied any opportunity of a further Br. Hernon performance.