Br John George

Br John George

Many of our  older Alumni will no doubt remember Br John George who went on to become Fr John George. Sadly he passed away last week aged just 73. He had been ill for some time suffering from bowel cancer (requiring a colostomy bag) as well as a severe stroke some 10 years ago.

Br George came to Dara in 1966 leaving for Chev in 1970. He was just 22 years old when he arrived here after completing his Leaving Certificate at Douglas Park Seminary in 1962.

Despite his afflictions, he was a great communicator with me over the 12 years I have been running the Alumni. He had many great memories of his time here and in celebration of his life  and a rare insight of a teachers perspective – I would like to share some of his his Dara observations with you.

On his early days at Daramalan College: I began teaching at Dara in 1966. I was a scholastic living at the seminary on Federal Highway.  Every Saturday a team of us was sent to Dara to clean 500,000 windows and 20,000 toilets – it saved the school thousands of dollars (pounds in pre decimal days) and we got to have as many Monte Carlo biscuits as we wanted at morning tea with Brother Lysaught, who was instructed to keep us happy with boxes of choc bickies. Sure, we left streaks of Bon-Ami cleaner on windows, but they were pioneering days after all. Many a Philosophy student cut his teeth on Lysaughts biscuits and gleaming windows.

Fr Northey: I remember Fr Northey (aka thunder guts) give a crowd of 3rd form stair ascenders a strap each as they reached the staircase. In the thick of the melee was Miss McGuiness who arrived atop just as Fr Northy inadvertently grabbed her hand for a regulation strap. The exercise stopped abruptly as she let out a huge shriek; enough to frighten Fr noisy.

On teacher Brendon ODwyer: He must by now be sporting a whitened Beatle haircut. While on the subject of hair, he felt that Fr Sharpe was one of the big below-the-collar stars of Daramalan in the 60s

Ross Clarke: Yep I remember Ross Clarke in our cramped staff room. I shared a table with Helen Robinson with a barbed wire border between her spotless half table and my tsunami of books n chalkdust. In those days she dressed in chic sixties style.

Mrs Chapman: She caused a fracas when she turned up in v mini skirt. Me? I kept to strictest clerical decorum with consummate clerical reserve. My only concession to worldliness was to wear shorts for Dara cross-country. The shorts were nuffin.  Big deal for me but the whole school playground burst into cheers and guffawed when I walked past the crowd while some goons sang the Sixties hit Hey there Georgy Girl

Fr McCowage: I was supervising playground of 700 kids enjoying a beautiful sunny Canberra day when Fr McCowage (headmaster) in reprimanding tone said, Hey Georgie, are you supervising? I can see three fights going on!! I replied Father I can see twenty, but what a fab sunny day!!!! He was tempted no doubt to give me six of the best, but in those days lay teachers didnt supervise, so Fr Mc had to make do with what few supervisors he had.

On student Greg Turnbull: I recall a young Greg Turnbull on the baseball pitch upset by the opposition crowd yelling, you swing like a rusty gate Greg. I called a teary Greg aside and commanded him to forget the cat-calls and just slam that bloody ball. It worked! No doubt that counsel stood by him over the coming years. (Greg went on to become Prime Minister Paul Keatings Press Secretary).

His memories of the Six Forms last day at school pranksters:

Who could forget the For Sale sign (nicked from a local real estate agent) over Dara or the Funeral Director who was notified by a Six Form student that a priest had died in the Residence. Knocking on the Residence door said Director was greeted by a Priest with the Director saying, in best Boris Karloff tone, I have come to collect the deceased. Father responded, I will just check the rooms and get back to you. Meanwhile, on the western front, the Six Formers had covered the staff toilet bowls with Glad Wrap causing horrific havoc.

On the Javelin incident: Ill never forget my supervision of lunch break playground the day some Dara Grecian athlete projected a javelin through the air which landed in the leg of a young Mr Burke. He was attended to by Fr Franzmann, our version of Doctor in the House. They managed to saw off both sides so they could put him in car and speed to hospital. I could merely stand by and weep why always on my Supervision?

In the end he summarised his time at Dara with, I am writing in my post stroke-crippled state just to say thanks.  I want to say how much I thoroughly enjoyed my mid last century time at Dara and the memories of students now mature citizens, who look in goodly shape of varying quantity who have morphed from taxing teenagers of varying promise including those tigers Tozer, McAppion, W Gregory and Pollard along with Turnbull, Roos, and even John Anderson who attempted to describe me in script, chiseled under the lid of his desk.

Enough said.

Vale Fr John George.

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