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LOOKING FORWARD LOOKING BACK – STEVEN’S STORY

In this the 50th year of the Bundoora Campus’ existence, many Old Paradians such as Steven Monteath (1965) have felt compelled to contemplate those formative years and place on record their precious recollections.

Steven, pictured here at a recent memorial service, and second in line behind the beret-wearing officer, has reflected on his East Melbourne days with Parade.

The following is his story, in his own words;

 

I well remember my father taking me down to St Pius X Church before we went to Alphington and the Flowerdale Christian Brothers College for the entrance exam. I also remember Sister Brigid of the MSC at St Pius X telling me she would say a prayer for me on that day. Oh, so long ago and with so very many memories.

Brother Monagle was the Principal at the College and he was one of the kindest persons I have met. Yes, I did pass and I did begin in 1962/3 [memory tested here, guess the year books would define the proper date] and was amazed at the amount of homework to be done and the French lessons that began and ended in French, aahhhh.

Flowerdale was a great place for a student, it had the football, cricket fields, the running track and the two-storey building just off the road. The Brothers house was an old circa 1900 Victorian Federation style building with a magnificent verandah. The houses over the road were used for singing practice as I remember and the other students, well, that’s to come.

Parade, Tenete Traditiones, Purple Green and Blue, Yarrangabee, Yarrangabee Yunga, Parade, Parade, you taught me so much that still haunts my being [haunts in a favourable way, most certainly].

The ‘boys’ Price, Jones, Mifsud, Boyne, Stella and all those others whom I recall only as ‘boys’, they were part of the memory, part of the life progression. I was not the brightest light in the globe factory, nor the most able athlete, yet in my own way I persevered and made it to the Bluestone Pile two years later.

I joined the cadets and a lad by name Wilson played the cornet and enjoined me to same. I was never meant to be a musician, my patience never allowed me the honour.

Studies at the ‘Pile’ for me were hard and yet enjoyable. Brother Cummins and Mr Hickey the science teacher were persons I grew to admire. Brother Nash on the other hand, well he was the Principal and he was the number one person of the College. Yet it was Brother Nash who wanted me to push on with studies, even going so far as to have Saturday catch-up time with maths and algebra. [You know after all these years I have never been able to figure out why we studied this].

The older ‘boys’ were generally of good humour in guiding us newbies along and when it was library day we would push off across the Fitzroy Gardens to the council library. ‘The Pile’ had the usual CBC handball courts and the massive walls of bluestone projecting all corners of the main road, yet my class rooms were not of The Pile, they were of the Presbyterian Ladies College and the Australian Ballet over the road in a place which later housed the Dallas Brooks Hall, a Masonic Temple of repute.

The PLC, Presbyterian Ladies College housed us junior ‘boys’ and one half of the building the ballet company. If you were game enough, you would go up the stairs to where the balcony joined the other half of the building and peering through the palings you could see Sir Robert Helpmann and a female dancer or two. Hmmm how many would remember doing this?

Sport as per the CBC grounding was paramount, it was next to going to church, it was virtually of Holy Orders. Martin Kyne, Michael Boyne were the heroes of the day as was VFL. Parade sports days defeating St Kevin’s were my most remembered. The cycling, the cricket, the handball, the tennis, pervading sport, sport, sport. Days of wonder.

Church was part of the regimen and St Patrick’s altar boys was where I was headed for along with of course several others whose attention was drawn to church. The older ‘boys’ from Parade and the Cathedral College were the chosen ones who once taken under the wing of Father Penn Jones were guided military style in the order of attention, style, poise and no smiles. I remember going on a camp down to Apollo Bay with this group and having the eagle eyes of Penn Jones ensuring ears, nose and other regions were clean. Fuss and bother, fuss and bother, yet the escape from West Heidelberg enjoyable.

I only had three years at Parade and these for me were formative beyond my imagination. To this day I still can call out the War Cry, sing the Parade song and wear purple, green and blue tie with some pride.

When I left, I began an apprenticeship in cabinet making and three years into this I left to become a Redemptorist Brother at Galong NSW. Here I learnt to milk cows, feed pigs, cut hay, drive tractors, drink, pray, cook and endeavour to realise my mother’s dreams. Yes, my mother’s dreams. [How many of us have done exactly what our parent wanted of us?]

I stayed here for three years before realising that there were other things for me. Once back in Melbourne, I began an apprenticeship again this time in furniture making wood machining. FW Fallshaws in Heidelberg were my employers and very good ones to boot. After three years I left and with my new fiancée left for Canberra where she was stationed as a WROTEW WRAN. [Navy talk for WRAN radio teleprinter operator electronic warfare. Hmm Navy eh].

I worked with the Department of Housing and Construction for three years and left to joining the Navy, where upon I was told that I could not as one of us would have to leave as ‘the Navy does not have junior sailors married the WRANS Officers’. [It would not happen today what with all the equality and alphabet society rejigging the standards]. So after three months of Navy life I left and joined the Army. I was with 3 Batt and later assigned to Ares as staff, stayed my three and bit years and left this to take up a teaching position at of all places, Collingwood Tech.

After gaining my Cert in teaching I went to Prahran CAE, Footscray Tech and left there after three years for an offered position at Ithaca TAFE in Brisbane where I stayed until 1993 when I was asked after the Fitzgerald Enquiry to attend the Police College at Oxley as a trainer. This was a wonderful experience and rewarding one at that. During this period I gained my BA in Sociology and my Masters studies in Distance Education, thanks Parade, I made it up the academic ladder after all these years.

The grounding one gets as a youth prepares one for life and thanks to my time at Parade, I used the ethics and standards taught to me to engage this then new and rewarding career change. I ended up being the OIC Staff Training, OIC Manger Succession Planning and for a period before I left as the Professional Development Program OIC.

I retired at 52 years of age, young eh, yet depression and the ever present Black Dog made life very tiresome and ugly. You see things in the Army, in Policing that torment and harangue you. You see and do things, out up with things that impress upon you the importance of life. I now enjoy being in the RSL as Senior Vice President at my local Sub, Branch where the camaraderie of Service life comes to the fore through retired members. I have been married three times, my first wife was killed in a motor accident and my second wife decided I was not worth the effort. Yet having a son from that marriage was the biggest life bonus I could ever wish for. He by the way went into the Navy and after six years has just left and joined Boeing Defence Systems. I have been married to my third wife now for thirteen very happy years and have three beautiful step daughters I would not trade for gold.

So, Parade taught me many things and quite possibly I have let Her down at times, yet I do believe the grounding I received as a young person from my father, mother and the Brothers and of course Mr Hickey, I made it. I made it because I held onto traditions, standards and the Old Bluestone Pile.

-Steven Robert Edward Monteath, formerly of 16 Marks Avenue, West Heidelberg