Interview with John Lloyd

Morawa District High School Centenary

Celebrating the past, present and future.


John Lloyd

10th June 1940 came from Merkanooka Primary.

Two classrooms western end classroom were infants and first and second classes. Miss Wiliams (who later became Mrs Winterborne, Brian Winterbornes mother).  Mavis Granville was the monitor in the classroom at the time.

There were four 1000 gallon water tanks – its was our only water.

West Morawa school bus – Milton Granville was our bus driver. It was half an hour travel one way from our farm.

“We thought motor transport was great after the horse and cart. By horse and cart 2.5 to 3 hours into town.”

Bill Potts (Headmaster) used the cane liberally.

1942  3rd and 4th standard held their classes in the lesser hall.

Shortage of rooms due to evacuees using them that came from Perth and Geraldton.

These people were evacuated because of the fear of a Japanese invasion.1942 the Japanese had invaded New Guinea.

“February 1942 Bill Potts had senior boys dig air raid trenches out in from of the school near Prater Street.  It was in the warm weather.”

Part of the school wire fencing was removed so if there had to be an evacuation there was enough room for students could get to the trenches.

“Headmaster Potts gave a few instructions on what to do (in case of an airstrike).”

“In 1942 there was a Bofors anti-aircraft gun stationed at the school – near where Croot street leads off. There was another gun up at the hospital and another down at the fuel depots.”

Air raid siren was in place at the building that Peter, and Stella Thornton own on Winfield Street (supermarket and bottlemart).

My last year was post primary – 6th standard (year 7 now).  There were  limited high school then so you had to go somewhere else. I did I year in Morawa then  I went to Narrogin Ag College 1946 – 1947.  There was no highs school here.  My brother got a scholarship to Northam School. My sister got a scholarship to Northam highs school too, she ahd five years at northam. If you wanted to go to high school you had to go away.

Traditional classes reading, writing, maths, last hour of the days was for sport.  No after school activities.  Boys played football; girls did Volleyball.

We had winter hours 9 – 3.15 summer hours 9 – 3

We packed our own lunch no canteen, occasional a tuck shop to raise money for the school.  We had a ten minute break at morning teatime but no one usually had any food – we ate at lunchtime.

The green grocery in town ran a bit of shop and some of the kids would by fish and chips for lunch, but for us everything was homemade and bought from home. Mum made her own bread she had a grist and she would mill her own wheat.  Mum set bread three times a week.  We had sandwich lunches.  Mum had a vegetable and flower garden.

“School bus kids would go downtown at lunch time, Mum would give me a shopping list and go down and buy fruit and veggie and carry it in my 70 pound sugar tucker bag.”

School holidays were a week in May and one week in August then a Christmas break.

May break we were seeding some you did something to help out.  In August 1944 dad had me on the plough as he was doing extensions on the house.

Principle Dale Rimple commented that all the bigger boys (senior) use to all be helping out on the farm at the busy times, my brother and I did a lot of work on the farm.

July 1945 the red bricks turned up for the new classrooms.  Each brick had to be handled individually by Dick Hall.  The bricks came up from Perth on the railway and Dick Hall carted on a truck from the Railway to the school grounds.  The first load of bricks, I remember he (Dick) got his truck bogged. Bill Sorenson came up with the road board truck and pulled him out of it (the bog).  He travelled a bit fast I thought and hit a hole and there was a loud band and I thought he had broken is front left-hand spring.  But if his spring was broken, he kept on going.

The classrooms had black boards, and we had books and sat at dual desks.  We had the same teachers over years.

I went away to Narrogin (Ag College) for two years. I didn’t like it (Narrogin).  It was a boarding school, of course amongst a mob of boys is a bit of bullying went on at times.  I didn’t like it.  I was glad to get home.

I have mixed feelings about up here (Morawa School).  I didn’t mind too much as long as everything went alright.  If anything went wrong, we didn’t like that.  Bill Potts (headmaster) could be a bully of sorts; he was a strict disciplinarian.  If you made too many mistakes in your arithmetic, he’d be using the cane for that.  You got hit across the palm of your hands.

“We use to have singing class once a week at school.  I never sang in my life after the last year at school I was left out of the singing class.  I would go to singing class and not sing.”

The Headmaster Jim Dalrimple noticed we weren’t singing.  My brother didn’t sing either.  Mrs Potts (Headmasters wife) played the piano but Mr Potts went int to he armed forces in the end of May 1942, Mrs Potts stayed on.

When we moved down to the Lesser Hall Mrs Potts would take us for singing lessons down there, the piano was better tuned at the hall.

Bill Potts had a fall off an army truck and was seriously injured so Mrs Potts left to look after him

So, Mr Dalrimple was made headmaster and had to move into the headmaster house. He was an open minded man . Not so strict.

Once year awards (books) were given out, just in the classroom.

Merkanooka was the closest school it shut at the end of 1947. In 1940  Bill Potts organised an interschool sports day.  A local school bus took a mob of kids out to Merkanooka.  Mr Potts complained that some of Merkanooka come back into town for a sports day.  But they didn’t.

“A bus bought kids in from Koolanooka/Bowgada.  During the war years there was restrictions on travel and fuel rations, so we didn’t travel far. No school camps.”

It was about 2 ½ to 3 hours to Geraldton by road through Dongara.  Dongara was the nearest holiday beach.

I had fairly good friends at school.  A lot of them aren’t in the district anymore.

Mr Dalrimple got blinds put up on the North veranda so it was partially closed in.  No heating used, the classrooms had pot bellys but I don’t recollect them being uses.  It was very cold.  No school uniform.  Just a case of decent dress.

“One change of school clothes would last a week, Monday was washing day. We would have a bath once a week.”

Mr Gregger had a new bus. Probably had a game of football. It was that time of year.  Maybe a couple of foot races.  Those Merkanooka boys use to play football amongst themselves, they were good.  The school ground was gravel.

“Morawa school oval was gravel. No lawns. Town had no water to water lawns.  There were granite outcrops near the classrooms.  There was lots of Tee tree bushes growing around the ovals.  The kids would do a busy bee and cut down the t trees, instead of sports we would do a bit of a clean up.”

There was a parent’s association, school headmaster would have the students that could write reasonable to write to parents notifying them of meetings.

I can only remember one occasion when my parents were involved, there was a big meeting discussing school buses.  Our neighbours, the Gills, they went into the meeting, they started down the road then realised perhaps mum and dad wanted to go in so they turned around and picked up mum and dad.

War years new vehicles were not available and bus drivers picked up second hand trucks and making their own bodies on them.

“Milton Granvilles first bus was an old dodge truck about 1926 vintage, built his own body on it.  1941 Koolanooka/Bowgada bus started.  That was a delivery van on a car chassis, about 1936 vintage Chevy car.”

Someone past the comment once they it look like once it had been a hearse – no head room in it, they vehicle did five years’ service in the district.  He drove the west run for 18 months with that then he took up the east run.

“We had natural air-conditioning on the buses. No windows, all blinds in those days. The body was wider than the windscreen so the weather would blow into the body of the bus.  Come the wet weather, cold weather, he would put perspex’s curtains up opposite the drivers seats.”


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