Class of ’61 reunion: 2011

Back in June this year I received a phone call out of the blue from Beverly Nelson (nee Harrison) whom I’d not spoken to for about 45 years. Bev was the girl Head Prefect of 1961. She told me she’d been speaking to some of her old classmates, Joy Gray (nee Morton) in particular, and they wanted to know whether I, as former Head Prefect, was doing anything about celebrating the 50th anniversary of our leaving CHS.

I reflected for a few moments and swiftly came to the conclusion that this was really something special to be celebrated. So I committed to test the level of enthusiasm among some ex-classmates that I had stayed in contact with over the years, and if the response was positive to do something about it. Fortuitously I’d already managed to get some of those lads to organise a luncheon to coincide with a visit to the mainland of an old classmate, Kim Webster, who now lives in Tasmania. Their reaction to the idea of a Reunion was positive and it was decided at that luncheon that the venue should be the Kooyong Tennis Club and that the date should be 26th November. Gerry Paulusz and Peter Quinn offered to assist set it up along with Geoff James who lives up in North Queensland, and who had had to skip the luncheon because of the airline disruption caused by ash from the volcano eruption in Chile. Bev Nelson (Harrison) enveigled Carol Hunt (van Twest), Glenys McIntyre (McKenry) and Joy Gray (Morton) to assist – so we had an organising committee for the function.

CHESS kindly provided a copy of their database of ex-students from the Class of ’61, to help us locate long lost ex-classmates. Many hours were spent on the computer and phone, checking and updating the contact details in this database until it was current as far as we could make it, and the invitations went out in late August.

The rest is now history. On Saturday, 26th November, the 50th Jubilee Reunion of the Class of ’61 was celebrated at the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club. It took the form of a cocktail party, rather than a sit-down meal, with drinks and finger food being served by wait-staff to facilitate people circulating and mixing. Nearly 80 ex-students attended including some partners, and two special guests, namely the ex-CHS teachers Robert Ewins and Don Gibb.

In traditional CHS fashion for those days (although CHS was a co-educational school, the school then went to a lot of trouble to keep the boys and girls segregated), Bev welcomed the girls and Bruce the boys. The guests were separated into ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ for ‘The Final Assembly’ and Bruce led them in the ‘Oath’ and then reminisced with a few anecdotes about the teachers of that era, to set the atmosphere for the evening. The names of deceased classmates were read out and a moment’s silence observed. Bob Ewins then gave an erudite speech on the topic of aging, most appropriate for those gathered and something he admitted he thinks about more and more as time passes. This was followed by the gathering lustily singing the School Song led by Frances Monsbourgh (Watt) on the keyboard.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the occasion immensely with much gaiety and laughter as old friendships were rekindled and reminiscences exchanged about those good old days. Many commented that the evening seemed to pass too quickly, so it is hoped that people will continue to arrange to meet privately to keep the momentum up.

A booklet containing personal information sheets returned with invitation acceptances, was provided to each attendee at the conclusion of the evening as a memento, and to enable continuing contact.

The event organising committee is most grateful for the support offered by CHS for the loan of the school banner and the electric keyboard. It especially acknowledges and thanks the many guests who came from far and wide at great expense, and is humbled by the effort that those who were in poor health made to attend.

Thank you to the organising committee, Gerry Paulusz, Bev Harrison, Geoff James, Joy Morton, Carol van Twest and Glenys McKenry who worked so hard to make the function such a success and also to Peter Quinn for his support in securing the venue.

Finally thank you to all those who attended and for entering into the spirit of the evening so enthusiastically. Photos taken during the evening are posted on the CHESS website – please enjoy!!

Bruce Robb – 1961