At age 13, Judy Watson (nee Cripps) walked through the gates of the gleaming new Indooroopilly State School for the first time on February 1, 1954.
She was one of 167 students starting what was then known as sub junior at the newly founded school.
“Everything was all new … it was a very nice double-storey building,” says Mrs Watson, who met Executive Principal Lois O’Reilly (pictured above) on a visit to the school last week.
“My whole time at Indooroopilly High School was good. The teachers were lovely. I have no bad memories whatsoever.”
Members of Indro’s Class of 1954 will gather at the Broncos Club this weekend for their 65-year reunion, sharing stories and cementing the lifelong friendships made at high school. The highest-profile member of the Class of 1954, Nobel Prize winner and former Australian of the Year Professor Peter Doherty, is travelling overseas and unable to attend this weekend’s reunion.
The school’s first principal was Mr Tom White and there were six teachers in 1954: Mr Stan Brown, Mr Reg Tickle, Mr Bob Greaves, George Lochran, Miss Sydney Cran, Miss Joan Gallagher and Miss Pat Black.
Mrs Watson, 79, has fond memories of that first small teaching crew at the school, particularly the French-speaking Miss Black, whom she described as ‘cute and officious’.
“Reg Tickle and Stan Brown were the most influential teachers that I had. They were terrific, really good with young people. They related to the students very well,” she says.
Another teacher who made an impression on the young Judy as an Indro student was feminist Ruth Don, OAM, who fought for equal pay for female teachers. Ms Don was the first female president of the Queensland Teachers Union.
“She was gorgeous, a forthright woman. She became the first senior mistress at a Queensland high school (Commercial), then months later became principal of the Domestic Science High School.”
As is the case today, students initially did not wear a uniform. They were asked to choose the design of a school uniform introduced later in the first year: a navy blue V-neck, sleeveless, flared pinafore with a white blouse and a tie for the girls, and a grey uniform for the boys.
As a child, Mrs Watson had always wanted to be a nurse: “My father was in the funeral business, so you’d think it’d be quite the opposite. But I remember friends of the family would say, ‘Oh, there’s no money in it, don’t do that.’ So I thought I’d just keep going in the high school and see if anything comes along that I’d like to do.”
It was the Commonwealth Bank that came along. Mrs Watson had been elected as a prefect ahead of what was to be her final year of school but never got to take up the position, instead being seconded by the bank.
She met drummer Bob Watson at a dance at Greenslopes Hospital, and they married in 1960. Mrs Watson was just 20 when her career in the bank came to an abrupt end, as was the archaic social custom of the time.
“In those days, you had to leave your job once you got married,” she says.
The Watsons’ first child, Helen, was born in 1962. A son, Mark, arrived 15 months later. Nine years later, Trudy was born.
Mrs Watson always looks forward to reuniting with the Class of 1954. Their last reunion was five years ago. “I hope I live long enough to attend a celebration for ISHS’s 70th year,” she says.
The Indooroopilly State High School Class of 1954 reunion will be held at the Broncos Club at 11am on Saturday.
An earlier reunion of Indooroopilly State High School’s Class of 1954.