Interview with: Winifred Steggall
Date of Interview: 23 April 1985
Interviewed by: Caroline Foxon
Transcribed by: Valerie Poole
Place of Interview: Yandina
Winifred Steggall grew up in Yandina and became a teacher in the area. She did pupil-teacher training at Yandina school. Once she completed her training she taught at Haigslea (near Ipswich), Maroochy River School, Buderim State School and Nambour State School.
Images and documents about Winifred Steggall in Sunshine Coast Libraries Catalogue.
Image: Yandina State School pupils and teachers, 1915.
CF: Winifred, you told me about your parents Julius and Alice Steggall. They came to Yandina before the First World War. Tell me something about your parents' background and what made them come to Australia?
STEGGALL: Well, my father was born in London where he was a journalist. He also was a teacher at Prior Park College in Bath before he married. He married Alice Hill. She was born in Bath in the County of Somerset. They had a family. My father was never the strong one in the family and decided to come to Australia where many opportunities were offering us we thought, as we heard that the streets were paved with gold.
CF: Didn’t everyone! Did they come straight to Yandina?
STEGGALL: Well, really I suppose they did, except for a short stay in Brisbane, while my father was looking around for a place. He found this place in Yandina which is a mile away from the Highway.
CF: Was the land all cleared?
STEGGALL: Not all. Some of it was cleared. There was a house on the place and a nice garden, palm trees. Up at the top of the place, which I’d say was a few hundred yards away, there were a few fruit trees growing. My father carried a mango tree down from the top of the property and planted it. It’s still standing and bearing at times. Sometimes it’s been the home of mother and father possum and their families.
CF: And is this the house that was originally here?
STEGGALL: No, no. After my father was here for some time, he decided that the place wasn’t big enough for the family, so he built another house much bigger. It was on high blocks and we lived there for several years until my father died.
STEGGALL: My mother had a heart complaint, so we decided to have the house put on low blocks as a help for her.
Yandina in 1912
CF: Tell me, in those years when you’d first come to Yandina, say till about 1920, do you remember what sort of businesses were in the town?
STEGGALL: Yes, there were two grocer shops, a butcher and a baker. There was a hotel, a dressmaker and also a boarding house which is still standing.
CF: Where would that be?
STEGGALL: That is near one of the service stations.
CF: Right in the middle of town?
STEGGALL: The Shell Service Station. It’s on the corner there. That was where the boarding house was. I think railway men might have stayed there. Perhaps other people who were in business. Also there was a solicitor in the place. There were no doctors at the time.
CF: Do you remember the names of any of the people that ran the businesses?
STEGGALL: Mr Rutherford was the baker. Mr Malyon was one of the shopkeepers and Mr McNab was the other. The dressmaker was a Miss Sommer, who had her own residence at Yandina. The butcher shop was owned by Mr Best.
CF: Were there many halls and public places in the town then?
STEGGALL: There was a small hall connected with the hotel. It was there. I believe the hotel was originally built out by the cemetery in Yandina, but was brought into Yandina before we came. And opposite was a hall where functions were held.
CF: Were there many churches in the area?
STEGGALL: I can’t remember the number of churches in the area at the time. I really don’t know.
CF: Where would your family have gone to church here in those days?
STEGGALL: Well, they used to hold Mass in the hall near the hotel. The Priest originally came from Caboolture.
CF: So there was no actual Catholic Church here at the time?
STEGGALL: No, not here at that time.
CF: And how often would the Priest come to the area?
STEGGALL: About once a month, I think.
CF: And would people have to come from very far away?
STEGGALL: Yes, they used to walk, many of them.
CF: What sort of area would they come from? How far away?
STEGGALL: North Arm, Maroochy River and I suppose along there where Kulangoor is, if there were any Catholics there, and the ones from Yandina. I can’t remember really who they were. Of course, I wasn’t very old but I know we used to walk to Mass. And later on, the priest used to come sometimes and stay with us overnight.
CF: And he always came from Caboolture?
STEGGALL: Only at the beginning. Only when we first came here. After some time there was a presbytery where the convent is. Then the nuns came to Nambour. The priests gave up their presbytery and boarded somewhere, until they built the present one.
CF: So the new Church was built in about 1925?
STEGGALL: The one in Yandina, yes.
CF: I understood your sister Paula was instrumental in a lot of the fundraising. Perhaps you could tell me about it.
STEGGALL: Yes she was. She used to run functions for the Church; organise balls.
CF: What other things?
STEGGALL: Street stalls and raffles.
CF: Really, you mean in the town itself?
STEGGALL: Yes, they used to have the stall in one of the streets. You had to get a permit, of course, to run a stall. And she did that for many years. She rather enjoyed it I assume.
CF: So in this time then you’d started school, presumably at the Yandina Provisional School. Is that right?
CF: Yes, was it called provisional in those days?
STEGGALL: No, this was not. There was a provisional school, I believe, somewhere around North Arm but this was an ordinary school.
CF: So this was the Yandina State School?
CF: Do you remember much about it?
STEGGALL: Well I do. Mr Broe taught us for a long time. He was a very clever man and taught us quite a number of things that were very useful afterwards - for my teacher’s examinations. He had a very nice family. As a matter of fact some of them still live around this part. Mr Lane followed Mr Broe while I was still training at the school.
CF: Was it a very large school when you went to it? How many teachers were there?
STEGGALL: Well, when we first went there, there were two teachers. But it wasn’t very long before there were three.
CF: Do you remember your lessons and that sort of thing, ones that you were particularly keen on? Were there any particular subjects that you really enjoyed?
STEGGALL: I enjoyed them all, especially maths and English and music theory. I enjoyed them very much. Other subjects I liked too. I liked all the subjects. I used to enjoy learning.
CF: You mentioned then that you went on to begin training as a pupil teacher. What actually made you decide to go into teaching?
STEGGALL: Well, the opportunity came. In those days you really took what opportunity you could. I’ve never regretted it, although I was shy and nervous about it.
CF: And yet you went into it?
STEGGALL: I went through with it and I think the experience has helped a lot.
CF: Were you actually selected? At the end of the year, would you say that you wanted to go into teaching or would the headmaster say?
STEGGALL: The headmaster sent the names into the Education Department without consulting us. He must have been asked to choose ones he thought would be able to do the work.
CF: So you would have been about fourteen or fifteen when you started?
STEGGALL: Yes, round about that.
CF: Was it very difficult - suddenly making the transition?
STEGGALL: Not really, because you were really still at school although you were teaching too. And you were learning how to keep all the records.
CF: Tell me about the typical day, combining being pupil and a teacher.
STEGGALL: Well, I lived about a mile from the school. I used to walk to get there before quarter to eight in the mornings and study until it was time for the children to come into school. Then we would stay and do some study. Then we would have assignments, as they call them these days, to take home and we did those at night. Often staying up very late at night doing them.
CF: So it was a very long day?
STEGGALL: It was a long day, but you were always ready for it. My father was a great help because he brought many books out here and he was able to help me a great deal.
CF: In what sort of way would he help you?
STEGGALL: He used to read to us a lot, even when we were little children, he used to read classics to us.
CF: Do you remember what sort of authors?
STEGGALL: Dickens, Shakespeare, Thackeray, Scott, Tennyson.
CF: So it was the headmaster who would be actually training you?
STEGGALL: He was training us, yes.
CF: And would he have some sort of direction from somewhere else?
STEGGALL: He would have his direction from Brisbane, of what he was to teach us for examinations. But when I was first appointed - I was appointed in the August - and we had until the end of the year to do the examination, to see whether we were fit to carry on. It wasn’t very long, but still we did it. Then each year you had your examination at the end of the year.
CF: What sort of subjects were you having to learn as a teacher then.
STEGGALL: Subjects that you teach now in school: maths, geography, history, reading, poetry, parsing, analysis, Latin roots, prefixes and affixes and phonetics.
CF: And how about writing?
STEGGALL: Writing. Oh, there was a great emphasis on writing and printing. As a matter of fact, for our examinations - university examinations - there was a subject called penmanship and you had to pass in this subject. You had a certain passage to write. Then you had todo printing - it might have been old English or German or Italics or something like that - but you had to do it as that was part of your training.
CF: That was a very important part?
STEGGALL: Yes. You also had to pass needlework examinations. The wife of the headmaster used to take us for needlework. There’s a book called " Amy Kay Smith", a very old book. For one of my examinations, I know we had to be able to make a man’s shirt by hand.
CF: Oh, so it wasn’t just embroidery?
STEGGALL: Oh no, no. We had to learn all the stitches also. Herringbone, featherstitch, gathering, grafting, patching, mending table linen and flannel. Had to do them so neatly too. In those days it was called part of the domestic science, now Home Economics.
CF: So this was a big part of it. There was the penmanship and needlework. What about art? Did you have to do art?
STEGGALL: Yes, we had to do scale drawing, and model drawing. We didn’t have to do painting, strangely enough. We had to do shading on our drawings though.
CF: How about music?
STEGGALL: Yes, theory music and physiology. Mr Bruce taught us a lot of physiology and astronomy.
CF: Was physiology actually taught in the schools?
STEGGALL: Not really, he taught it though. We learnt all about the parts of the ear, the eye, face and nose, the bones of the legs, the arms, and fingers and toes, the heart, and the circulatory system and other organs and their functions.
CF: Would that have been fairly advanced in those days?
STEGGALL: I think so, as far as I know. I don’t really know if it was a subject for the schools, because I can’t speak from experience. I only know what I was taught at school. Mr Broe’s family was a very clever family.
CF: Tell me something about Mr Broe, as a teacher?
STEGGALL: Very encouraging man he was. He could play any musical instrument you could put before him. He could look at a piece of music and whistle it off. He could play the tin whistle or recorder for us to march into school. He also taught us how to write music, to be able to do the tonic solfa of different tunes and to write the music on the staff.
CF: Was he a strict man?
STEGGALL: He was strict, but he was kind. I never saw him cane a child in my life. Never.
CF: And when you were learning the various subjects, such as English and maths and so on, were you also learning things like how to handle children, discipline and so on?
STEGGALL: I don't think so. I think it came naturally to you by the way you were taught yourself. You knew what was expected.
CF: So it was more of an example?
STEGGALL: Yes. What was expected of you, you expected of the children. The way you were handled, you tried to handle the children. I think you learnt a lot by example.
CF: And you didn’t find any difficulty in the fact that you would have not have been very much older than some of the children you were teaching.
STEGGALL: No, that’s true. I taught mostly the younger children when I started.
CF: You’d take them for a lesson. Would Mr Broe sit in on the lesson and supervise?
STEGGALL: Yes, sometimes, but very often you had to teach for an inspector, which I found always very hard to do.
CF: How often would an inspector come?
STEGGALL: Once a year normally.
CF: And that was a big moment?
STEGGALL: It was a big strain on a young teacher but I think the inspectors - some people used to say they were rather harsh - but I always found them kind and helpful, although I was in awe of them always. I think it’s a natural thing, yes.
CF: While you were studying then, while you were a pupil-teacher, were you living at home during that time.
STEGGALL: Yes, I was.
CF: Tell me something about how it was at home. You were a big family. Eight children, was it then?
CF: What sort of thing would the family do to entertain. Was it very musical?
STEGGALL: We had a gramophone. We used to read a lot. We used to play bridge and cribbage. I think mostly we read.
CF: Did you have a very broad taste in reading?
STEGGALL: Yes, we did really.
CF: What sort of books would you have been reading in those days, do you remember?
STEGGALL: Well, we had a few comic papers too. (laughs)
CF: Oh right. Very broad.
CF: And you would have been reading the Classics?
STEGGALL: Classics mainly, yes.
CF: Would there have been many magazines in the home? Would you have got magazines?
STEGGALL: We used to get the Overseas Magazine, it came into our house from England, and Chambers’ Magazine, I think it’s called, very old one Dad used to get. Also overseas papers, "The Times" and the "Daily Mirror" and a few others used to come in.
CF: So your father was keeping very abreast of things.
CF: You mentioned that he was a journalist in England. Did he continue as a journalist when he came out here?
STEGGALL: Yes he did, but not wholly. He used to write for the paper "The Daily Mail" which was a forerunner of the "Brisbane Courier", and sometimes for the "Chronicle".
CF: Do you remember what sort of articles he would have written for the "Nambour Chronicle"?
STEGGALL: Well not really, because I was busy with my own affairs. I didn’t really have much time to worry about my fathers’.
CF: What other sorts of things would he have done, apart from writing? Was he growing crops here?
STEGGALL: Although he called the place ‘Orchard Rise’, he never grew anything for commercial purposes. He used to grow more for experimental. He grew coffee, tea and various little plants and many different kinds of passionfruit, peach trees, orange trees, mandarins, pears. He grew an apple tree from a seed. I don’t know if it ever bore any apples.
CF: So he grew them out of interest?
STEGGALL: Yes, out of interest.
CF: Did he used to use his findings? Did he record his results?
STEGGALL: I don’t know. I don’t think so. We didn’t have any water supply then. You had to carry a can of water down if you wanted to water your plants. You dug them all with just a spade, hoe, fork.
CF: Did you all have to go out and help to do this?
STEGGALL: Oh no.
CF: Oh this was his hobby?
STEGGALL: Yes. At one time he had bees, a few hives of bees. It was very interesting too. He used to get the honey.
CF: So really the family didn’t have to buy fruit or honey or that sort of thing, would you?
STEGGALL: Oh, we didn’t have very much honey.
CF: Oh, right.
STEGGALL: Yes, we had to buy everything but the grocer used to come to the door and take your order. He used to come by horseback. Take your order.
CF: He came from Yandina did he?
STEGGALL: Yes. Then he’d come back the next day or the day after and bring back what you ordered and carry it into the house for you.
CF: What sort of things would they be? Groceries?
STEGGALL: Yes, and we used to get a bag of flour at a time because we made our own bread; a bag of sugar, because we used to make jam, preserves.
CF: And did you use the fruits from here to make your jams?
STEGGALL: Yes, some of them.
CF: Was this something that the girls would help your mother with?
STEGGALL: Well, my older sister did.
CF: Did you ever get very involved in it?
STEGGALL: No, I never did really. I learnt to cook by watching. I can cook because I lived with my sister here for a long time and we used to look after ourselves all right.
CF: Was it very hard work in those days for your mother, with washing, say?
STEGGALL: I think it must have been. I think it must have been. Of course she never complained. People had their coppers outside and boiled the washing in them and rinsed in the big washing tubs. You had to wring by hand. In England we had a mangle, they call it, like a wringer, but we didn’t have one here. You had to wring the things by hand and hang them on the lines. Until later on when washing machines came in. We got a washing machine.
CF: Do you think your mother found it difficult to adjust when she came here?
STEGGALL: She must have found it so, but she didn’t complain, and she used to look after us very well. She even used to make some of our clothes for us. She never seemed to be worrying. She always seemed to be more or less happy. She could sing beautifully, my mother. Some of the things we hear on the television these days, songs my mother used to sing, my father used to sing, especially in that program " The Good Old Days".
CF: Do you remember any of the names of those songs they used to sing. They’re like music hall songs, were they?
STEGGALL: Yes, coster songs occasionally. Some others were: "Come into the Garden Maude", and "Last Rose of Summer", "The Floral Dance", "Pack up Your Troubles", songs from Gilbert and Sullivan Operas, "Lakes of Killarney" and many others.
CF: Would you all sing these together?
STEGGALL: Yes, nearly every night. We used to sing hymns too, and each child sang a verse.
CF: Were you a very strongly religious family?
STEGGALL: Yes, I suppose we were religious but not fanatics.
STEGGALL: Yes. We tried to live by the Ten Commandments.
CF: And two of your sisters became nuns as well?
STEGGALL: Yes, one of my brothers became a teacher too in Manual Arts. He also did ordinary teaching as well.
CF: You mentioned in those days, with the big family your mother made some of the clothes. Did your parents find it difficult to manage with a big family?
STEGGALL: They never said. They probably did. They probably did find it difficult because we weren’t well off. We were better off when we came here than we were many years afterwards. As we started earning, we all contributed to the support of the family. We did that all our lives.
CF: The transport around the area was difficult in those days. How would you have got from one place to another?
STEGGALL: Well, if the distance wasn’t too great you walked. I could ride a horse but I never did much. But some people used to ride, others had vehicles with a horse; sulkies they called them. Other people, the farmers, had spring carts.
CF: What was a spring cart?
STEGGALL: Similar to what a utility is to a car these days. It was the sort of thing you could load your stuff into. The sugar cane farmers used to have to take their sugar cane into Yandina to be loaded onto cane trucks, as they called them, and transported to Nambour by train. There was one man who, I believe, built a German wagon for transporting his cane. As far as I know that German wagon is still in Yandina.
CF: And did your family have a car at all?
STEGGALL: Well, my father bought a car, I can’t exactly remember when, but it was a small car, a Reo. It was the first car in Yandina. In 1929 he bought a Pontiac and, of course, we could go anywhere then, but the roads weren’t very good so you couldn’t go very far.
CF: Very rutted?
STEGGALL: Very rough, potholes, and if you went out sometimes you would have to put chains on the wheels because you couldn’t get through the mud. You had to get out of the car to put the taillight on.
CF: How fast could you actually go in the car?
STEGGALL: I don’t think you could really extend the car because the roads were too bad. If you did sixty miles an hour you would think that was something great.
CF: So you father was a bit adventurous was he, having the first car in Yandina?
STEGGALL: He was really. Yes, he really was.
CF: Was he like this in other things?
STEGGALL: He was interested in everything. He was interested in everything there was, didn’t matter what.
CF: Was he involved in a lot of the organisations around the town?
STEGGALL: The only one I can remember was the North Coast Farmers’ League. Used to have meetings at our house and people used to come in there and have their meetings at night. I think they did much for the progress of Yandina. But not so very long after that, I was away so I don’t know too much about it, they tried to do what they could to help the town on.
CF: So your family, your father and your older sister were very involved in the community and you mentioned your mother was a midwife for the area. How did she get her training to do this?
STEGGALL: My grandfather was a doctor in London and he trained her quite a lot. Then she came here. She belonged to the Nurses Association and got her badge. She used to work with the doctors in Nambour, Dr Malahar and Dr Penny. I think they used to ride horses, I’m not sure on that point but they would go to a person any hour of the day or night.
CF: Presumably you were on the telephone then, were you?
STEGGALL: Yes, my mother was ill at one time and my father realised how important it was to get a telephone. As soon as possible we got the telephone connected to the house, in the 1920s.
CF: What was it like before that, before the phone came on? Did you ever have any difficulties?
STEGGALL: I think you just had to go to the doctor.
CF: That was a bit of a trip wasn’t it?
STEGGALL: Yes it was.
CF: So how was it then, say when your mother would be called out. She’d be called out at any time of the night?
STEGGALL: She might have been sometimes. If it was very far away, she’d ride on horseback, with the father-to-be. He would be on a second horse.
CF: Was she the only midwife?
STEGGALL: Around this part she was, but there were some in Nambour.
CF: Would she be called out quite regularly? Would she be called out once or twice a week?
STEGGALL: Oh no, no. Sometimes wouldn’t be called out for weeks. Just depended. Quite a number of the people around here would remember her. She was very popular. In fact one of her patients died the other day, Mrs Evans at Maroochydore. My mother attended her several times and she thought the world of Mother.
CF: Would she often have to do the full delivery herself?
STEGGALL: Very often.
END SIDE A/BEGIN SIDE B
CF: Did you or your sisters go with your mother when she went out on these trips?
STEGGALL: No, although occasionally one of my sisters would go to see how she was getting on, help a little bit but they never went out with her.
CF: Did she have to be away for a long period at all?
STEGGALL: About a week or ten days, depending on the mother. But if she wasn’t far away, she used to come home and then go out to them the next day.
CF: She didn’t just go and deliver the baby and come home, sort of thing?
STEGGALL: Oh no, she would attend the woman for a while. Go to her place, say in the morning, perhaps again at night and look after her for a time.
CF: And did she have to look after the families at all?
STEGGALL: Occasionally she did and she used to try to cook for them and look after them and if they were very poor, I don’t think she would charge them anything or very little, if anything. But they were always kind to her. Sometimes they would give her a treasure or two. As a matter of fact I’ll show you something later on that one of her patients gave her. She didn’t really want to take it, but the patient wanted to give it to her.
CF: So she was very respected by the people?
STEGGALL: Oh, everybody loved her. Didn’t matter what they were or what their situation was or what their houses were like. She loved them more than they loved her I think. To her they were all people. Babies she could always comfort. She could take the screaming baby from the mother and quieten it in no time. She was absolutely marvellous.
CF: Very good with children?
STEGGALL: Yes. She was a good mother to us too. She was very strict. My father was very strict too.
CF: Oh, in what sort of ways?
STEGGALL: Well, have to behave always.
CF: Were there certain rules that were laid down in the house?
STEGGALL: Not really but you did as you were told without question. Worst punishment was being sent to your room, for a couple of hours perhaps.
CF: Did you have rules about things like how you had to behave at the dinner table, things like that?
STEGGALL: Well, I don’t ever remember having any lessons in it, but we had to behave properly. You had to eat what was given to you, but if it didn’t agree with you, of course, you weren’t forced to eat it. But most children those days would eat what was given to them. There wasn’t such a variety. There were no ice creams like there are today. A lot of packet foods weren’t on the shelves either.
CF: It was all home-prepared food?
STEGGALL: Yes, home-prepared.
CF: A lot of things you obviously did together as a family. Would you have gone out on outings around the area?
STEGGALL: Not really. We used to go for walks up Ninderry Mountain a few times. We have a pine tree growing here that came from Ninderry Mountain. My brothers planted it. It’s very high now.
CF: Did you ever used to go down to the beach, say down to Coolum?
STEGGALL: Not as a family.
CF: What, individually?
STEGGALL: One or two of us occasionally.
CF: Was it difficult to get down to in those days?
STEGGALL: Down to Coolum? You could drive down. The road was very bad, but Dad used to drive us down. You had to be very careful sometimes because you could get bogged in the sand in those days too. [Laughs]
CF: So it was a real expedition.
STEGGALL: Yes, yes it was. I shouldn’t say "never" because when we had the car we used to go down to the beach. I’d forgotten that.
CF: Were you swimmers? Did you go swimming?
STEGGALL: We learnt to swim at Yandina School, most of us.
CF: Mr Broe would have taught you?
STEGGALL: Yes, Mr Broe.
CF: Where would he have taught you? Where did you learn to swim?
STEGGALL: There was a natural swimming pool at the bottom of the school grounds in the Maroochy River. It had a sandy bottom. He taught us to swim there. He was a man of many parts - very clever man and a very lovable man.
CF: So when you went down to Coolum, you’d go swimming there in the sea, would you?
STEGGALL: Well yes, we used to bathe, not swim much, just go in the water.
CF: What sort of thing did you wear? What were the costumes like?
STEGGALL: I think one of my sisters made the one I had. I had a green one and I appliquéd a fish on it. [Laughs]
CF: Very creative. Were they very much the neck-to-knee costumes?
STEGGALL: Yes they were.
CF: So you had to be very covered up?
STEGGALL: Not extremely. Some of the costumes you see now are somewhat like the ones we’d wear, but ours were made of material sometimes, until you were able to buy the trade ones.
CF: So you would actually make your own?
STEGGALL: Yes. The boys used to wear their costumes. I think they had one-piece costumes. I can’t remember what the boys used to wear. I didn’t take any notice of them. I don’t think children do notice those things very much.
CF: What other sort of things would you do? Were there films shown in town?
STEGGALL: Yes, there were.
CF: Did your family go to those at all?
STEGGALL: Occasionally we’d go. Of course you had to walk there, you had to walk back. In later years, we could go in the car.
CF: Where would the films have been shown in Yandina?
STEGGALL: Oh, there was a hall there by this time. The School of Arts. It’s still there. That would have been there then. Or they had them in the old hall near the hotel.
CF: Do you remember any films at all? Were there Australian films?
STEGGALL: Oh I remember "Going My Way".
CF: Any others?
STEGGALL: I can’t remember the names of them.
CF: Were there any other sorts of entertainment? Would there be dances?
STEGGALL: Yes there would and there used to be concerts too. Sometimes the concert group would come from other places.
CF: You were probably still studying at that time. Would you have had much opportunity to go out really?
STEGGALL: Not really. I think I saw more when I went away from home. Of course I still studied for a while after I went away from home to pass higher examinations, but it’s very hard when you are on your own and you’re out in a bush school. You had to get your assignments from Brisbane. It was rather difficult on your own.
CF: So, once you’d completed your training, that’s what about five years, you were moved?
STEGGALL: Yes, you were transferred.
CF: Where did you go to for your first posting?
STEGGALL: I went to Haigslea.
CF: Where’s that?
STEGGALL: That’s outside Ipswich, a long way out that way. Haigslea was just a nice little place. The people were very kind. I believe that before the War it was called Kirkheim which meant that it was the "home of many churches". But it was changed to Haigslea when I was sent there (because of the War). Most of the people who were there were Germans. They were people who liked the land.
CF: They were all farmers?
STEGGALL: Yes, all farmers.
CF: How would you have travelled there?
STEGGALL: From the railway station out to the school, I think we went in a cab.
CF: A horse-drawn vehicle?
CF: You come from a big family. You were obviously a very close family. Did you find it very difficult leaving home then?
STEGGALL: No, not really. I think you were too busy. We used to write letters a lot. Always letters to family and friends.
CF: You didn’t get time to be homesick?
STEGGALL: Not really, no.
CF: Before you were under the supervision of Mr Broe and now you were a teacher in your own right, was that a bit of a shock or was it what you expected?
STEGGALL: Well I didn’t know what to expect. I mean, I didn't think of anything.
CF: Were you nervous?
CF: Do you remember your first day when you went in?
STEGGALL: Yes, I saw all these faces and didn’t know any of them.
CF: What did you do? How did you cope?
STEGGALL: Well, you really knew the class work and you set to work to find out how the children were. You could soon find out the ones who needed a lot of attention and the ones who could carry on, not by themselves but who didn’t need so much attention. They had to learn a lot of tables and spelling, that sort of thing.
Maroochy River School
CF: You were there for about a year and then you were transferred to Maroochy River School, which of course, was closer to home. Do you remember much of that school?
STEGGALL: I travelled in a boat and I stayed with some farming people there while I was on Maroochy River. I found people wherever I went were very kind. Everyone did for the teacher what they could.
CF: A teacher was a very respected person?
STEGGALL: Well I think so. I always found them kind and the children were very nice in those little country places, very happy children.
CF: Do you remember any of your pupils, say from that school? Do you recall any outstanding ones.
STEGGALL: Can’t remember any of them very much. You see so many as you’re passing along, you forget quite a lot of them. I remember a family I stayed with called Youngman.
CF: And they had several children at the school?
STEGGALL: Oh they were grown up. Some of them had been to the War. Two were at school, I think.
CF: You mentioned you went up there by boat.
STEGGALL: Yes, Mr Coulson drove the boat.
CF: And that was the school boat?
STEGGALL: No, that wasn’t the school boat. That was the boayt that used to go to Coolum - the Coolum Boat they used to call it or the Maroochydore Boat. But then down the Maroochy River, a boat was driven by a returned soldier, or one of the Youngman boys. He used to stop at all the different wharves. If it was high tide it was hard to get in and hard to get out. [Laughs]
CF: Oh, you had to jump into it?
Buderim State School
CF: And you were there about two years and then you moved on to Buderim where you stayed for quite a long time, twelve or thirteen years.
STEGGALL: Yes I was quite a long time at Buderim and got to know people there.
CF: Do you remember very much about Buderim. That obviously was your longest stay. How big was the school?
STEGGALL: I forget how many teachers were there. I think there were only three. And the infants had a place on the back verandah. Of course they used slates and pencils then and inkwells. Yes. It’s not such a long time ago since biros were allowed in the schools. They used to do some paper work but they usually had slates and pencils. They used to sharpen their pencils on the concrete. They used to all bring a little tin or little jar with a wet sponge in it and a dry cloth in something to wipe their slates. They used to take a great pride in doing good work. Had to rule all the slates, rule lines on them with a ruler and a scratchy thing.
CF: Which classes were you taking then?
STEGGALL: I was taking the middle of the school.
CF: About what age?
STEGGALL: About eight to eleven, I suppose. Then later on, when one of the teachers was transferred, I was sent to the infants' school. They built a new infants' wing then and I was in that. It was very nice. It was quite a big place and I taught a lot of children. A girl every year writes to me from there - Joyce Nelson - she still writes to me from Buderim every year and tells me all about her family.
CF: You mentioned that when you were training as a teacher you’d learnt a lot of needlework and that sort of thing. Did you teach that in the school?
STEGGALL: Yes. You had to teach needlework. A lady teacher had to teach needlework to all the children in the school at the same time. It was very difficult because some were starting. The men didn’t have to do it. [Laughs]
CF: Did they do something else, instead?
STEGGALL: They had to mind the boys in the class. But if you were the only lady in the school, you had to take all the needlework at the same time. So you had from the lowest grade to the highest.
CF: And it was just the girls you took?
CF: Would the boys be doing something else at the same time?
STEGGALL: One place that I was at, at Eumundi, Mr Sidney used to teach them woodwork and concreting and how to make millet brooms. That’s not such a long time ago. It would be late 1947. We used to teach them all kinds of things. You learnt many things when you were at school in those days - things that help you all your life.
CF: More diverse?
CF: What were your impressions of Buderim during that period. Was it a very big town in those days.
STEGGALL: Yes. There were two or three places, boarding houses, where people could stay. I stayed at one, the central one. There were some nice shops, a post office and sawmill and some nice people.
CF: Did you always have to find your own accommodation?
STEGGALL: Yes. Yes you did. You always had to find your own accommodation. You put up with a lot of things that perhaps nowadays they wouldn’t.
CF: What sort of things?
STEGGALL: Because when I was down on Maroochy River - I know I’m going back - but one time the people I was staying with went away and I couldn’t get accommodation. I walked from my home in Yandina down to the Wharf, caught Mr Coulson’s boat down, came back in the afternoon on the boat and walked home every night. It used to be dark sometimes when I got back home. And I did that without thinking, just because you felt, well, you were teaching and you taught.
CF: Did you have any places you stayed at that were unpleasant?
STEGGALL: Not really. No, I couldn’t say I did. I think people were marvellous, anywhere I stayed, anyway.
CF: Did you get home much? Would you be able to go home on holidays?
CF: And how would you get home?
STEGGALL: By train, mostly.
CF: After you had left Buderim then - this was round about the Second World War - you went on to Woombye. Was that right?
World War II
STEGGALL: Yes. The Second World War was on when I was at Woombye.
CF: Did that make a difference then to teaching? Did you feel the impact?
STEGGALL: We had to have an air-raid shelter built for the children. Had to teach them how to use it everyday. Later on they staggered the hours and you took half the school in the morning, early, start about seven or half-past. Then they’d go home and the other half would come to the school and you taught those.
CF: What was the reason for separating them?
STEGGALL: I don’t know whether it was for safety reasons. Might have been that. But it was just the directions we had from the Department.
CF: Do you remember other things about it then?
STEGGALL: Yes. Later on they were thinking about evacuation. Yes, the headmaster had a car and he took us around to farms to have evacuation forms filled. It was rather difficult because sometimes there were dogs and sometimes there were people who didn’t really like you asking them the questions which had to be asked.
CF: So the teachers had to actually go around?
STEGGALL: We had to - the teachers had to. I don’t know if that was every place but we had to. And had to walk quite a bit too. That’s when they were thinking of bringing the people from the North down and you had to find out if any people round about would be willing to take people and how many they could take. We had rather a varied life.
CF: Do you remember, did you have to have rations?
STEGGALL: Yes, yes, we had to do the ration cards too. I don’t know whether all teachers did, but I did.
CF: What sort of thing did you have to do?
STEGGALL: You had to do any correspondence connected with it. It had to be sent to the authorities and then you filled the card as best as you could. Some people weren’t willing to tell you all you were supposed to ask them.
CF: Oh so really you organised the sort of ration cards that people would have as well?
STEGGALL: Yes, we did that.
CF: Oh, that’s quite unusual.
STEGGALL: It was too.
CF: Would people be unpleasant about it?
STEGGALL: Perhaps. You couldn’t blame them though because probably they didn’t want to tell you things that were supposed to be told. I might feel the same myself.
CF: Was it difficult to get supplies and things you needed for the school? Were you ever short of things?
STEGGALL: I didn’t think so but you never wasted things.
CF: Oh, what sort of things would you save? What sort of things say in the old days would you have thrown out, that you might then have saved?
STEGGALL: I don’t remember throwing things out at all. The reading books were kept. Every child used to cover his book, with paper mainly; used to cover his exercise books and put pretty pictures on them, like they do now, I think.
CF: Did the children have to buy their own books in those days?
STEGGALL: I think they had to buy their note books and pencils but not the reading books at the school - you left them at the school - they were free; copy books were free, School Papers, I think were free. They were lovely, the School Papers.
CF: What were the School Papers like?
STEGGALL: It was a little issue that used to come out monthly, used to have a short story, nature study and poems. I think they had one set for juniors and one for seniors and there was quite a lot of information in them.
CF: Would you use these as part of the lesson?
STEGGALL: Well you used to read them and discuss them. Yes, and then the children could take them home.
CF: Did you do much in the way of activities outside the classroom itself?
CF: Wouldn’t go on excursions?
STEGGALL: They used to go on nature excursions.
CF: Did you ever used to take them?
STEGGALL: No, I didn’t.
CF: But they wouldn’t have the sort of trips they have now?
STEGGALL: No, they wouldn’t.
CF: Was that because it was very difficult to travel?
STEGGALL: It may have been but they could do plenty of excursions around here too. Walking. There’s the river. There are nature walks. There weren’t many industries or anything like that they could go to see. Perhaps they could go to see a sawmill, but you’d have to have some transport for them.
CF: Obviously in your time as a teacher you made a lot of moves. You mentioned after Woombye you went out Biloela. That was quite a trip out. Do you remember much about getting out there?
STEGGALL: Yes, I do. I know I had a lot of trouble finding accommodation in Rockhampton the night I arrived. Eventually one of the hotelkeepers let me a room that would not be occupied by the railwayman who usually occupied it. It was a little place. He said, "Don’t be frightened if you hear anybody walking around. They’re all decent blokes." [Laughs] I had to get up very early in the morning to catch the train from Rockhampton to Biloela and I didn’t know anything about the place. Couldn’t get any breakfast. I got on the train and off we went. When we arrived at Mount Morgan, people got out - well there weren’t many people on the train - but the staff got out and were having a meal and I didn’t think any more about it. But the little train took eleven hours to do ninety-nine miles. I didn’t arrive there until about half-past five. I was met at the station in great jubilation.
CF: Were you the only teacher out there at Biloela?
STEGGALL: No, no. There was a headteacher out there, a relieving headteacher out there. The permanent one was on leave. He was very nice. Then there was a young man teaching too. He was a local boy, very musical fellow. Like a professor, he always had his head in the clouds, but he was a lovable boy.
CF: How long were you out at Biloela for?
STEGGALL: Just over a year I think.
CF: And where did you go to after that?
STEGGALL: To Eumundi.
CF: So this would have been into the 40s.
STEGGALL: The late 40s. Yes.
CF: How long were you at Eumundi State School for?
STEGGALL: Not very long. Not really very long.
CF: Just a year or so, was it?
CF: So where did you go on to then?
STEGGALL: To Nambour.
Nambour State School
CF: Would that have been Nambour State School, Primary School?
STEGGALL: That was Nambour State School. The High School was there too.
CF: Was that a bit of a change. That was probably the first time you’d been in a school in a big town?
STEGGALL: First time I’d been in a school where I didn’t have to take half the school or a third of the school. I took two classes all the rest of my life. Even in Nambour, sometimes the men would have to go away for these…something to do with the War. Anyway, you’d be left. And at one time I had over eighty children, my sister had over eighty and another sister had over sixty.
CF: How would you cope when you had eighty children?
STEGGALL: Well, you just coped. Then later on they had a preparatory grade, that meant it was like the kindergarten. That was a lovely grade to take, but later they discontinued that and the preparatory grade went into Grade 1, and the Grade 1 children who were ready for school came, and I had over eighty then for a whole year. We had some visitors from the college and they said, "Do you know them all?’ [Laughs]
CF: And did you? [Miss Steggall nods]
CF: Did you ever have any problems with discipline, particularly in a group that large? Page 20 of 28
STEGGALL: Not really, no. They always seemed to be nice children.
CF: Did you have a way with dealing with them?
STEGGALL: I really don’t know. They used to work hard. The children worked hard for me. I can’t remember having any trouble with discipline.
CF: And tell me, after Nambour - Nambour would have been say in the early 50s - did you have any more postings after that?
STEGGALL: Not really. I was there until late 60s, into the 70s. No, I did teach at St Josephs for a while. That was the convent school at Nambour.
CF: That was in the 50s was it?
STEGGALL: No, in the 60s towards ’73.
CF: You really had a variety of postings in all that time, didn’t you?
CF: Was it normal to move around so much?
STEGGALL: Yes. Some people moved around more than I did and some people didn’t. Some of my moves were really forced upon me by other people wanting that position because they lived in the place.
CF: Would they get preference for that reason?
STEGGALL: They must have because at Biloela there were five others sent there before I went. Another school I went to, the girl who took my place had her home there. You couldn’t blame her wanting to get near her home really.
CF: But you didn’t mind?
STEGGALL: No, no I didn’t mind. I felt a bit resentful sometimes, at first, until I got used to things. But then you just accepted it.
CF: Did you regret it? Say with Buderim. You’d been at Buderim for a long time, about twelve years. Were you very sad to leave there?
STEGGALL: I was. I was very sad in a way.
CF: Because you must have formed quite an attachment.
STEGGALL: Yes, one of the girls I taught still writes to me and tells me about her children and her grandchildren.
CF: Did you regret when you’d only have the children for a few years and then move on?
STEGGALL: Yes, you often wonder what happens to them.
CF: But did you feel that even so there was a feeling of fulfilment in just being with them for a while.
STEGGALL: Yes, but it wasn’t long enough. I think these days when teachers have a class for a year, it’s not enough and children now move from one to another for different subjects. So you never really get to know them properly. But I can’t speak from that experience, but from what I’ve heard and what I’ve read there’s none of that fulfilment, I’d say. Like the children would come sometimes and give you a kiss before they left in the afternoon, quite unexpectedly and come and call you Mummy sometimes and tell you a lot of their little secrets.
CF: Did you find that children were very confiding with you?
STEGGALL: Yes I did. Very. In fact I think often there were quite a lot of secrets I couldn’t divulge.
CF: That they would tell to a teacher?
STEGGALL: Yes, oh yes, innocence.
CF: In that long period you had, do you remember any particular incidents that stood out? There must have been some rather amusing incidents. Do you recall any of those, in your teaching experience?
STEGGALL: A few of the funny incidents I remember. One: I was helping a boy after school one day and instead of being attentive to his work, he was looking around the room. To attract my attention he said, "We got a picture like that in our house." I said "Oh yes, which one?" And he pointed to one and said, "That one up there, the King and his Missus." [Laughs]
And another time, the same child - he was a very hard boy to teach - I was taking him again after school and I was telling him the names of the letters and he got as far as "L" and he persisted in calling it "AL", so after many, many times I said, "No, not "AL". "L!". So he took a deep breath and said, "Hell!".
Another amusing incident was told to me by an itinerant teacher. This itinerant teacher had three different groups to attend to and she used to ride from one to another on horseback. She would set the lessons, gather the ones she had given the week before, pick them up and bring them back to her base and correct them. She told me she was at school where she had to cross creeks. Many times the creeks were so high it was impossible to get across, so she always used to take a change of clothing and some provisions and leave them in the press at school. One night the inevitable happened and she was stranded. It was a very, very cold night. I don’t know whether she was able to make a hot meal or not, but she had to sleep somewhere, so she slept on the form with the flag over her.
CF: What about some of the funny sort of notes you’d get from parents?
STEGGALL: Yes. One I remember was a little girl who was adopted by some people. She wasn’t a very clever little girl and the people - they were nice people - but they hadn’t had a lot of education - and the mother wrote a note one day, because she didn’t think her little girl was getting on well enough. She said, "If you can’t learn her, I’ll keep her at home and learn her myself." The Headmaster asked me for that note.
Another one was when two families who lived close together - but didn’t always go home from school together - I had a note from one of the families that said, "Will you please allow" - I’ll just say Smiths and Jones - "Will you please allow the Smiths to go home with the Joneses, because there’s a bull in Mr Mead’s paddock and we want them all to be together".
CF: Do you remember any other incidents? There obviously must have been times that were very difficult when you were out teaching, particularly in country areas.
STEGGALL: Oh yes, a little girl said to me once - when they used to have religious instructions in the school - "Miss Steggall, what’s a charton?". I said, "A charton?". She said, "Yes." I said, "Where did you hear that?" She said, "I heard it the other day at school when we were learning religion. It says, " ‘Our Father whi charton Heaven’." That was true.
CF: When you were out in isolated areas, did you ever have any problems with floods or bushfires?
STEGGALL: Often I’d be wet all day at school because I used to go in the rain. You’d have to walk through creeks. Even here, going to Nambour school, I sometimes had to walk through water to catch the bus.
CF: Just because the creeks were up, you couldn’t stay home?
STEGGALL: No. We didn’t. We used not to stay. We used to go if we could, if at all possible. But I can say that I was lucky wherever I went and stayed with people; they always did the best they could for the teacher. They used to respect the teacher and so did the children, I think, mainly. I sometimes see my pupils around the street. Occasionally yes. In fact some of them working in Nambour now are probably known to a lot of the people about.
CF: Does that give you a good feeling when you meet them again now?
Reflections on teaching
CF: Tell me then, after your fifty years of teaching with a lot of experiences, did you ever regret any of your times?
STEGGALL: No, I don’t think so. I only wished it had been longer.
CF: When you started off, you were a very shy person, and you were probably nervous about going teaching. Did you overcome this sort of shyness?
STEGGALL: I did with children, but not with grown-up people. It’s still here.
CF: Did you have to have a lot of contact, say with parents, when you were teaching?
STEGGALL: Well you used to see parents mainly on breaking-up days or any special days like that, Arbor Day, but not like they have now. There wasn’t so much contact, no.
CF: Was that because they weren’t interested?
STEGGALL: I think they were interested. I think they really were interested. I think probably the children were learning the same kind of things as they were learning and so they would not expect… Now education is a different matter altogether. The parents, I think, relied on the teacher to teach their children. They probably followed their progress, because you had to send reports home periodically, and they must have been satisfactory.
CF: Did you ever get any bad reactions when you sent home reports?
STEGGALL: Not really.
CF: You were mentioning that the parents would be involved in something like Arbor Day. What would actually happen on Arbor Day?
STEGGALL: Well you didn’t have a school holiday, but you didn’t do any school work very much. You went out and planted trees and learnt about trees and plants. We had a man who used to come from Brisbane. He even taught us grafting - tree grafting.
CF: Where would the trees come from for Arbor Day planting?
STEGGALL: I don’t know where they came from. Probably from Brisbane, I think. The teachers used to send for them, the Headmaster used to send for them, I think. Along the front of Yandina School, on the road, was a big avenue of camphor laurel trees. Those were planted on Arbor Days by different people, but many of them have been cut down since the roads have been reformed. It seems sad really. But there are many beautiful trees in some of the school grounds that must have been planted many, many years ago.
CF: So it was a very big day?
STEGGALL: It was a big day. I think it was a nice day too because I remember the man who used to come to talk about flowers and he used to say they were very, very important, "because", he said, "a lot of your character depends on plants and flowers." He said,
"If you see pretty things, you think pretty things, then you say pretty things, and you do pretty things."
He used to recite that to us.
CF: Were there any other special days at the school where you celebrate different things? Was Empire Day a special day?
STEGGALL: No, I don’t think they had any special…[Bird calls in background]. We used to talk a lot about birds.
CF: Did you actually have a lot of bird study and that sort of thing?
STEGGALL: [Bird calls continue]. They answered the question themselves. [Laughs]. We used to have to study birds and insects and get little butterfly eggs and hatch them.
CF: So, that was all part of nature study?
STEGGALL: Yes a part of nature study. Whether it’s done now I don’t know, but nature study is a great study, I think. You’re never finished. You’re never finished any study really, are you?
CF: No. Did you find the children really enjoyed that?
STEGGALL: Yes, very much. They did.
CF: I suppose that was something that you would have learnt as part of your training. After you were qualified, did you have to do any further studies?
STEGGALL: Well I think you studied all the time. I think so. You didn’t have any set books, but you could read the books. You could send away for them and then different subjects were being revised and that sort of thing, and how much was expected of you and the children. I think the children were very happy. They used to make a lot of their own games. Make up their games.
CF: Do you remember the sort of games they would have played?
STEGGALL: Well, then they used to play rounders and hopscotch and things they play now, but different kind of hopscotch I think. Skipping of course was always a great game. The songs they’d sing when they were skipping - I suppose they still do it at the school - they used to do a lot of those.
CF: You mentioned how you’d be taking the sewing classes and the boys would be doing industrial arts. Was it always very much a different sort of thing? Were you educated to teach the girls in a different way to the boys?
STEGGALL: No. They all did the same subjects, but generally they didn’t mix in their seating, though sometimes they did, but not always. In later years they did mix.
CF: Is that because they didn’t want to mix?
STEGGALL: No, no. When you are a little child, I don’t think it matters whether you are a boy or a girl, really. I don’t think it matters. I don’t think colour matters much either, nor ability.
CF: Did you find that very much in the schools you were at? Was there very often a mixture of black and white children at all?
STEGGALL: There weren’t very many black children. I have taught black children and found them very loveable children. Some of them could learn quite well, but they always seemed to have nice speaking voices, nice soft speaking voices. And as a rule they were very good mannered.
CF: Did you notice any hostility amongst the children?
STEGGALL: Never. No. I don’t think they see it. I often think they don’t notice it. I think they don’t notice those things unless they a pointed out to them. But I think a good idea when a new child comes to the school is to introduce the child to the class and explain that she doesn’t know anybody, not like the others who know everybody, and they must help the child. And then they all used to want to say, "Can I mind so-and so?" "Not mind her?" I said. "Well you want to show her where to get a drink, where she can play, and what sort of games she can play and tell her the names of all the children," I said. "I can’t do it but you can." They used to seem to get on very well together.
CF: Did you ever encounter any hostility in the school between different religious groups?
STEGGALL: At one time I think there was some of it, but in later years I think that’s died out. Yes, I think there was tolerance. But very often that would be the fault of the predecessors who didn’t know any better. After all, when you are a child, you only believe what you are taught, don’t you? And if you are taught to dislike someone, you dislike them.
CF: Did you ever have to step in a and explain to the children that they mustn’t be hostile or this sort of thing?
STEGGALL: I haven't noticed that they were hostile, but they could have been, you know when they got away from me, but in the classroom they seemed to be very good.
CF: So really looking back on it now, that was a long time with a lot of children, do you have a mixture of memories about it all?
STEGGALL: I suppose I’ve forgotten more than I have remembered though, because I did teach a lot of children and many different nationalities too, different races too, though that’s the same.
CF: Did you find your teaching changed over that time?
STEGGALL: Very much. The method of teaching changed several times while I was teaching.
CF: What would have been the big changes that you remember?
STEGGALL: I think open area schools. That was a big change. Children were more involved. The children were doing things more for themselves because they could have amplifiers and they could have television and things like that.
CF: That would have been at the end of your teaching experience?
STEGGALL: Yes. It made a big difference. The teacher was more or less a guide. You had extra material that the children who had finished their work first could go and collect, perhaps read a book, or do an assignment of some kind he wished to do. Just as long as they were kept busy, I think children were very good. I think when they are not busy, they are not happy.
CF: I suppose say in subjects like English, it may not have changed so much, but from the time you started teaching, something like maths would have changed?
STEGGALL: Maths has changed considerably, yes.
CF: How did you keep up with those changes?
STEGGALL: Seemed to accept them as they came along. There have been a few different methods. I don’t know exactly what the higher maths would be just at present, but children seemed to cope as they went along. Then they brought in the Montessori system, that was a big change. It was interesting though.
CF: Did you have to go away on courses and learn those sort of new approaches.
STEGGALL: Well, they used to have seminars like they do today. But I don’t think you learnt a great deal from seminars. You might have learnt something about the subject, but a lot of it has to come from experience.
CF: Where would you go for seminars?
STEGGALL: To Nambour mostly. Although it could be at another school in the district. There were several seminars. We had music seminars and English seminars, maths seminars, many different kinds.
CF: You say you didn’t necessarily learn so much at the seminar?
STEGGALL: Probably you learnt what you were supposed to do, but the only way you could really learn about it was to practise it.
CF: Actually when I was saying things didn’t change very much in English, I suppose that’s not really true, is it? English itself as a subject would have changed a lot in that time, wouldn’t it.
STEGGALL: We used to do a lot of subjects and parts of English that they don’t do now. I think we used to do Latin roots and some Greek roots and prefixes and affixes.
CF: Did you think that sort of thing was important for children to learn?
STEGGALL: To my mind it is. I think language is a very important subject. I really do, I think - where the words came from. When you are reading and you see a word you can generally have some idea of the meaning just from the root. Of course there is not a lot of reading done now. It’s mostly through the ear, isn’t it?
CF: Yes. So in those days, you certainly considered reading and language a very vital part of it?
STEGGALL: Yes, I think so. I think they were very important. Reading aloud. I don’t think they do that now, do they? Reading aloud is very good because that’s how you get expression.
CF: So you would have done a lot of that in the classroom?
CF: Did you find there were students that found that difficult, they were embarrassed to do that?
STEGGALL: I remember once my brother was at a school and he had a young teacher teaching him and he came to a word he didn’t know, and the teacher said, "Oh don’t worry about that word. Just call it ‘wheelbarrow’," he said, "and have a look afterwards." Later on, the inspector came to the school, and I think the same thing happened and he called it ‘wheelbarrow’. [Laughs] Called it ‘wheelbarrow’ for the inspector.
CF: How would you help children that were embarrassed to stand up and read?
STEGGALL: It was very hard, very difficult. You used to bring them in and, you know, coax them along: say "I’ll read it the way I think it should be read and then you read it to me the way you think." And encourage them. Of course some of them had difficulty. I think perhaps some of them might not have had the eye attention, although they used to have a school nurse coming around to the school, and a dentist. But I think sometimes perhaps the children couldn’t see the words as well, or perhaps they couldn’t hear as well, couldn’t put proper sound on them - all sorts of things.
CF: Were there ever any disappointments? Were there ever any children where you felt that you just didn’t get through to them?
STEGGALL: I can’t recall any at the moment, but probably there were.
CF: But overall it was a very satisfying experience?
STEGGALL: Yes, but it was very sad to leave it all the same, because one day you are at the top of it and the next day you are nothing.
CF: Was it a big shock? Was it very difficult to adjust?
STEGGALL: Of course, I think it is. Not really, because I had plenty of things I could read and plenty of things I could do. But I missed it all the same. I often wonder how I did it. How I did it, when I haven’t got anything to do and I haven’t got time to do the things that I want to do now. [Laughs]. I don’t do much writing.