Age of Aquarius: Living in the ‘70s

When the moon is in the Seventh House

And Jupiter aligns with Mars

Then peace will guide the planets

And love will steer the stars

The Fifth Dimension 1969

April Fool’s Day 1970

A sunny Autumn morning.  Three girls dashing about an old weatherboard house looking for last minute items.  Contact lenses, shoes, stockings without ladders. Clambering aboard buses, two heading north and the other south.  Staring out the window at chimneys, billowing smoke and islands in a blue sea.

Wollongong buses 1976 Illawarra Mercury

It was the first day of Practice Teaching.  Last Friday the Teachers’ College students had eagerly scanned the lists posted on the admin block notice board.  Joanne contemplated her posting for the next three weeks.  Sandwiched between a lake and a steelworks the school would be filled with children of parents from over twenty countries. She leapt off the bus when the driver pointed the way.

There were other college students there as well.  They waited nervously in the staffroom until the principal brought some teachers over to meet them.  She glanced at the man who would be her mentor.  He was cheerful, chatty and seemed kind.  This will be all right, she thought.  I can do this.

She was assigned to a sixth class. The children were attentive and well behaved.  At first all she had to do was observe.  She sat and watched as the teacher talked to his class and tried to model herself on him when he left the room.  Of course the children knew she was a student and some behaved badly. Still, the teacher assured her she was doing quite well.  She loved the afternoons when they worked together, choosing the lessons she would teach the following day.  One afternoon he offered her a lift home as he didn’t live far from her house.  She found he was twenty five and had just returned from London, having taught there for three years.

‘I want to go to London,’ she said.  ‘In three years I will have worked out my bond.  I’ll resign and go by ship via the Suez Canal.  I’ve been planning it for the past seven years.’

‘You won’t regret it,’ he said.  ‘The voyage on the Fairsea was heaps of fun.  I taught at a school in London, and every school break we were off exploring Britain and Europe. I’m thinking of heading off to Canada in the next year or so.’

Most afternoons the teacher would drop her off at her share house before going on to his home cooked meal.  He lived in a flat under his parents’ home until he could get enough money together to find his own place.  Joanne confided to her flatmates that she was totally infatuated with the teacher but of course he didn’t think of her as anything more than a student.

‘What sort of car has he got?’ asked Shauna.

‘I don’t know.  It’s…. beige.’

The last day of Prac she was running very, very late.  The Steelworks boys next door had partied all night so she’d had little sleep.  In the morning her contact lens went missing which had her crawling around the floor searching in vain.  Finally she looked in the mirror and found it in the corner of her eye.  Her usual bus had gone so she stormed in next door and knocked loudly on the front door.

‘You kept me awake so the least you can do is drive me to school.’  The bleary-eyed boy did as he was told.  Even so she was half an hour late.  The children gave a cheer.

‘We thought you weren’t coming,’ said one. ‘We were sad we wouldn’t see you again.’

The supervisor watched her teach and wrote a favourable report. Only one more Prac and then final exams before she would be qualified to teach Primary School at the age of 19.

The teacher offered to drive her home, as she had hoped.   She discovered his car was a Mazda 1500 .  She only knew about Holdens because her mother had a Holden utility. They were travelling along Five Islands Road when the teacher spoke.

‘How about a drink at the Leagues Club? Just to celebrate the end of Prac.’

Later that evening he said. ‘We’d better eat.  The Charcoal Tavern does a good steak.’

The Charcoal Tavern

The food was good.  Joanne ordered Gypsy Steak and washed it down with a glass of red wine.

The teacher’s name was Leo. He promised to see her again soon.

Of course she wouldn’t get too serious.  She was going to London to teach and see the world. She didn’t intend to settle down until she was at least 26.  However, it wouldn’t hurt to see him again. Would it?

24 thoughts on “Age of Aquarius: Living in the ‘70s

  1. Had to google gypsy steak 😉 Writing about food in the 70s would be an interesting challenge – I am looking forward to reliving the decade with you.
    I was still at school and I do not think in 6th class (it wasn’t called year 6 in my day – I was in 6th class in 1971) we would not have dared to be cheeky even to a student teacher.


  2. I had no idea contact lenses were around in the 70s. I remember one of my aunts getting them in the early 80s and being excited about them being so new; I think I interpreted that in my kid-mind as “new technology” new at that time, when she probably just meant “new to her.”

    And I’ve been to Wollongong! I visited Australia in 1999 and stayed with a friend who was studying there. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In the late ‘60s I think only the hard contacts existed. The soft ones came in later and were easier to wear so I’m told. Wollongong in 1970 was a bit different to ‘99 but more recently the number of new high rise apartments has really changed the skyline.


  3. This series is starting off on a real high note. My mother and her siblings spent their teenage years at Wollongong High School in the 1960’s. My uncle mentioned there was one cinema in Wollongong at the time so going there on a Saturday night was how you found out who was with whom.
    Best wishes,

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Here again on the Road Trip – I actually read quite a few of your posts having been to Australia in 1968 and I know we at least drove through Wollongong though I can’t remember it. I loved your recounting of the 70’s and whether it was fact or fiction doesn’t really matter. (I do often find myself looking up drama series based on true events to see to what extent they were true…)


    1. I did start writing this with the intention of making it fiction but it really is memoir with names changed. Thanks for the comment. I agree about drama series and movies based on fact. I find it annoying when the story is changed for no apparent reason.

      Liked by 1 person

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