Jim's Schooling

Our father, Jim, who died quite young, did not tell us much about his early life. We remember some of his stories, but we also rely on information about Jim's early life, as retold to us by our mother, Alice.

Jim school
Jim in his Xavier uniform.

Stories of Jim’s childhood in Koroit have largely been lost, but he went to the Catholic Primary School there, and spoke of the strict nuns, his teachers, walking up and down between the rows of desks, wielding a ruler.
We can picture him, rushing home after school, calling to the family's protective Airedale dog. Often he was pursued by the non-Catholic kids and would call to them from the safety of the gate, “Proddy dogs, jump like frogs, in and out the water.”

Sisters of the Good Samaritan of the Order of St Benedict.

Koroit Catholic School
St Patricks Primary School, Koroit, today.

Burke Hall, Xavier Jim's home from Aged 11
Burke Hall, Xavier Preparatory School, Kew.

In 1932, Jim was sent to boarding school in Kew. Initially he lived at Burke Hall, the junior school of Xavier College.
We have only snippets of information about these years. But it doesn’t take much imagination to picture his life.
Jim would have arrived at the big city school, aged just eleven, with the weight of family expectations to follow his father into a career in medicine. Jim had poor eyesight and his interests lay with practical skills.
To make matters worse, Jack, his older, more academically successful brother was already at the school, fulfilling parental expectations.
Alice used to say “Jim should have been sent to a tech school”. In his later years, Jim spoke with loathing of the Jesuit priests, known for their strict discipline and preference for academia. He must have hated the long hours of study in cold study halls.
Susan and Margaret remember a time during the annual camping holiday when, disgusted by the gluttony of toast eating competitions, Jim made them eat their toast as he had been taught to at Xavier, placing a lump of butter and a spoon of jam on the plate, and spreading each individual, carefully cut mouthful. His had been a very regulated life.

As an older student, he was particularly successful in the rowing team. His name is on an honour board at Xavier College, as “ the stroke” in the prestigious rowing eight. He participated in the “Head of the River” regatta, the oldest schoolboy rowing event in the world dating back to 1868.

1939-xavier rowing eight