Elizabeth Martin

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        Elizabeth Martin

Most, or perhaps all of us, have had 'sliding doors' incidents/events in our lives (those incredibly life-changing moments determined by someone or something other than ourselves), and I have to say that my most significant one was leaving Telopea Park High School.

Leaving Telopea at the end of 1964 meant leaving a school with traditions (and lovely leafy old trees) and all the kids I'd grown up with in Yarralumla along with the new friends I'd made. It also meant leaving a brand new house in Deakin, leaving a Dad who was a doctor (but had a new wife), and leaving the south side of Canberra (and if you think back, there were two sides of Canberra in those days). There was a happy moment about leaving Telopea though. Barbara McGann and I were very close friends, and to this day I remember when she had to go up to the office one day, and then vividly recall seeing her racing down to where I was having lunch, calling out that she was leaving too! And that made it all right. It was the day Mr McGann had heard that he had been appointed headmaster at Young High School. As it happens Barbara and I spent many school holidays together after that and I found out what growing up in a country town was like (party line phones for instance!)

What I left Telopea to go to, at Dickson High School, was a very new school where the traditions were yet to be formed, and kids who had almost all come from somewhere else outside of Canberra. What we also had to adapt to was a mother struggling to bring up four children on her own, a house too small for five people (very interesting discriminatory rules the Dept of the Interior had about housing in those times) but, in time, I made some very good friends including one who is now my wonderful sister-in-law. How different my life may have been. I met my future husband at that time, although we didn't marry until much much later, and so those 'sliding doors' gave me my two lovely children (a daughter and a son) as well as a fantastic mother-in-law, Myrna. She is another of our group with a connection to Parliament House (Brett alluded to the many associations among our group). Her father, Harry (Henry) Dodd was the second Serjeant-at-Arms, and was present at the 1927 opening of Parliament House, while his wife stayed in Melbourne with first her daughter and waited for her second baby, Myrna, to be born in a 'proper' hospital in December that year.

I have had a varied career incorporating libraries, computers and training which began with a number of fun and stimulating years at the National Library, followed by eight years in Melbourne in a variety of roles. Then an exciting few years with the Australian Bicentennial Authority, although by the time 1988 came along I wasn't able to be quite as involved as I had originally planned, because I was busy having my second child - the Bicentennial baby. We were living, very fortunately, with extraordinary views of Sydney Harbour at the time, so all the harbour festivities came to me and we had a perfect venue for all our friends to enjoy them too.

Back to Canberra. When my sister Caroline (3 years older - left Telopea 1962) and I attended a Yarralumla primary school reunion a few years ago, many of the 'kids' (ex-students) told us stories of going to see our dad, Dr Martin, at the original surgery which was two extra rooms added to the side of our house in Weston Street, before the shops and new surgery were built. In the 1960s he started up a second practice at 33 Giles Street, Kingston, an old house on a massive block on the corner of Tench Street. I wonder if any Telopea students may have been patients of his then. It was a time when we had very little contact with him, so any (non-personal/medical) anecdotes would be wonderful. He was also one of the founding members of the Canberra Wine and Food Club, still there in Fitzroy Street, Forrest. Any connections there?

As I am sitting writing this hearing Normie Rowe being interviewed by Richard Fidler in the background, I am inspired to add that Dickson High School's major contribution to Canberra life in the 60s was our fantastic school band, the Limit Five which went on to much bigger things, and for those who followed 'pop' music, Alan Britton, who became a member of the Dynamic Hepnotics (now apparently with a group the Bondi Cigars) also went to the school.

Enormous gratitude to Jan, Brett and Barry (and Terry for her delightful schoolgirls) for all the time and effort they have put in to create such an amazing website, and enabling us all to be transported back to our schooldays. Also to the committee for having given up their time. I am really looking forward to the October weekend, and enjoying the activities with Caroline. She has never heard of a reunion of her year, so she can be part of ours instead!

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