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St Joseph’s Primary School - Memories of Bob Moore

The school opened in 1939 and classes were held within the St Joseph’s Church Hall that had been constructed for use as both Church and School. The Hall was provided with Partitioning so that three rooms could be formed to house Classes 1 & 2, 3 & 4, 5 & 6 with Kindergarten having use of the old timber framed Church that was built on the corner of Patrick & Joseph St’s, Careel Bay about 1875 and was moved to Narrabeen on 6 December 1917 by Fr Tom Farrell P.P. of St Kevin’s Dee Why and builder of St Joseph’s.

The teachers were Sisters of the Good Samaritan Order who were stationed in the Orders Convent in Dee Who opposite St Kevin’s Church. At first two nuns came to Narrabeen every day by public bus transport arriving about 8.30am and not leaving until sometime around 5.30pm. What a day! As the school numbers grew, as did the number of sisters and eventually in 1952 Fr Sobb was able to purchase a house opposite the Church in Lagoon St for the Sisters to use as a Convent.

Our early Sisters, not in order, were Sister Roberts, Sr Caltaldus (nick named cattle dust), Sr Calasangtues (nick named coloured sand shoes), St Geraldine, Thomas and St Barbara who taught me the piano.

St Joseph's at original Careel Bay site before being moved to Narrabeen in 1917

St Joseph’s Narrabeen built 1938 and opened in 1939 with new Presbytery built in 1952.
Note part of the old timber Church on left, behind which the new classrooms for 5th & 6th Classes were built for use from 1948. 
Also note the building on the right is where the current Church stands.

The church seating was specially constructed for adaption to School Desks, with folding table tops hinged to the back of the seating for use as Desks and these had a fold down shelf that was supported by folding brackets. The top rail of the seat back was some 75mm wide having a groove its full length to hold pencils and within each seat length of approximately 3-4 metres were 4 holes about 40mm diameter to hold ebony cups containing black ink. This ink was made with a black oxide powder mixed with water and the Ink Wells were topped up each day, but only 5th and 6th Classes were allowed to use Ink at School. - Little boys loved to dip the pigtails of the girl sitting in front into the ink.

Initially Kindergarten, 1st & 2nd classes were held in the rear section of the hall, with 5th & 6th classes in the front half and with 3rd & 4th classes on the verandah.

Each Friday after classes the partitions were folded back and the school desks had to be turned back into Church seats with kneelers and reconfigured for the Sunday masses, thus there was much pushing of the seats over the timber floor, with the last thing being the opening of the sliding doors that concealed the Sanctuary. Likewise every Monday morning the church configuration had to be reversed back to school rooms.

Kindergarten started in 1939 and two Sisters of the Good Samaritans travelled daily by Bus to and from the St Kevin’s Convent Dee Why. As the school grew one Sister taught two classed and at the start of the 1945 School Year there were 3 Sisters. Miss Molly Moore was employed to teach Kindergarten in 1948 and she remained for 30 years.

I commenced Kindergarten in 1943 after I had pestered my mother all of the year before so that I could be with my friends who had started. The Sisters of the Good Samaritan’s told my mother that I could start at the age of 4 years and 8 month. Little did she know that I would repeat 1st Class because I was too young!

St Joseph’s Narrabeen Floor Plan

The old Church Hall from Careel Bay was situated east of the new Church Hall and a little to the rear, this building was used by Molly Moore from 1948 for the Kindy’s Class, also in 1948 a new timber framed building was opened to house the 5th and 6th Classes, and in which I was taught during 1949 & 1950.

First Communion 1945 St Joseph’s Narrabeen in ‘The Shed’:-

Left to right - ? Mullins, Veronica Thompson, ? ?, Mavis Marshall, ? Camillerio, Denise Ryan, Annette Collins,

Maria Wall, ? ?, Fr Eugene Parker P.P., ? Camillerio, Jack McEwan, ? ?, Bill Worth, Ray Paten, ? ?,

Bruce Fraser & Bob Moore.

Maria Wall and Bob Moore 1945 taken before
leaving home to make their 1st Communion.

Mondays at St Joseph’s was Tuck Shop Day and mothers who lived close or with easy Bus travel provided fresh sandwiches, cream buns, custard tarts, match sticks (pastry filled with cream), bubbly soft drinks or cordial, jelly beans, jubes, all day suckers, toffee apples and other types of lollies, all for a small charge with all profits going towards the school funds. Monday was the selected day because there was no fresh bread available after the baking on Fridays until baking again on Mondays. Our mothers were all members of the ‘Mothers Club’ and they arranged all functions for the school and church. We children were well looked after. Another feature of the school day was having fresh milk delivered daily in glass bottles with silver paper lids, containing about 200ml provided by the State Government for all school children in the state.

In 1945 I was accepted as a Trainee Altarboy, this entailed learning the Latin responses to the Priest during Mass and also to attend the Stations of the Cross, Benediction and other special events. Our dress was red slippers, red soutane, white surplus and white starched stiff collar. We were trained by Fr Sobb and one of the Sisters who were available but mostly the older Alter boys. I continued as a regular Altarboy until around 1953, but still served masses whenever there were no others available until into my 30’s.

At St Joseph’s; I met many other pupils with who I become friendly and although a number have gone to God, many have remained and are in my circle of friends whom I still see on a regular basis.

I don’t believe that I would be the person I am today without these friends, together with the training of my parents, Fr Sobb and the Sisters of the Good Samaritan.