I was thirteen by Judy Hardie
In 1952 Judy was happily living in Adelaide, South Australia, when at the age of fourteen, her father, because of his job, relocated the family to another country. She writes about the anxieties of leaving friends in one country and making new ones in another. Now, at the age of eighty three, she still corresponds, visits, but more importantly, keeps in touch with the many friends she has made throughout her life.
I was thirteen when I got my first period. I remember feeling that I had joined some sort of society and freely talking about it with some of my girlfriends. I’d known that it would come one day so it was not a surprise. I was in the third form at a girls only school in Adelaide and although I can’t remember talking about it with my mother, she supplied me with a bunch of soft material to wear ‘when I had my period’.
My special friends were Barbara, Jill and Elayne. We had fun together, going to the pictures Lassie Come Home and Bambi, lining up to get tickets to the Gilbert & Sullivan and ballet productions and going to parties.
I was just an average student. I hated maths, loved English, History, Art and even French. I fell in love with the music teacher from Wellington, recently married and very beautiful — a school girl crush, I suppose. She and my mother, who played the piano, instilled in me a love of classical music which I still enjoy.
However, in 1953, my father an insurance manager was transferred from Adelaide to Dunedin. Shock, horror, dismay. I had to leave my lovely friends. Overnight I turned from a rather quiet, obedient daughter, to a nasty, rebellious teenager.
At fourteen, I found myself in the fourth form at St. Hilda’s Collegiate School ‘For the Daughters of Gentlemen’ (I don’t think I made that up). It was a rundown looking place. I had a new uniform: a boring grey dress which had to be one inch above the knee kneeling; three pleats; white blouse; black lace up shoes a white panama hat and gloves. It was cold to me, those first few days in February at St. Hilda’s. I remember sitting alone eating my lunch in a warm jersey, the only girl wearing one. I hated it. I hated my parents for leaving Australia and cried myself to sleep for at least a week.
Of course this feeling didn’t last long. I made friends, one of them was a border at school. Sometimes she spent the weekend with us and I stayed at her family home in Roxburgh, Central Otago. They owned an orchard and grew peaches, apricots, nectarines. I remember her mother making a huge sponge cake with cream and kiwi fruit on top. It was magnificent (my mother was not a good cook. I fell violently ill, however and blamed it on the kiwi fruit. I hated kiwi fruit for many years after.
Looking back on my schooldays they were mostly enjoyable and fun. Firm friendships were formed that have continued to this day. I thank my parents for ensuring I had a good education, despite the fact that I didn’t appreciate it some of the time!
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