Remember Free Milk at School

Back in the 1950s the Australian Government introduced a scheme for school children to receive free milk. I think the idea was that it would ensure that all Australian children would be getting fresh milk and a good dose of calcium each day.

The idea might have been fine but in practice there were a few problems. The truck delivering the crates of milk to our school would normally drop it off at about 9.30am and recess wasn’t until 10.45 (from memory). So on a hot Australian summer’s day, the milk would go off. No refrigeration was available and yet the teachers made you drink the milk, off or not. Put my wife off milk for years.

I’ve posted on this topic on the Australian Remember When Facebook page in the past and its created great debate with lots of comments from readers.

Primary school children drinking milk made available free by the school milk programme in the early 60s.

Darryl Barreau wrote “After being spotted by a milk monitor tipping out the “off” milk in the drain, a teacher paraded me before her class (not my own) each morning and whacked the back of my legs with a ruler. That went on for 4 or 5 days trying to get me to apologise, until I told my parents and Dad had a little chat with the Headmaster. Ahh, not so fond memories of milk in the late 50s/early 60s.”

Some of our posters recalled the scheme had also been introduced in England; “I recall the rich(ish) kids at our school bringing chocolate powder to mix with their milk. I was promoted to milk monitor but was sacked after one day for locking the other monitor in the milk shed. And Maggie Thatcher axed the milk scheme for the over 7 year olds in England in ’71 to save money. The press at the time labeled her ˜Maggie Thatcher the Milk Snatcher”

Another remembered; “lining up to accept the sunny boy type contained milk!! I often still remember that smell, I would run to the back of the line continuously until they were all gone!!!”

One poster had happy memories; “I remember this, but our milk was frozen and was always fresh and we had to supply our own cups. On a hot day our milk thawed out and was still fresh. During winter our milk was put in a fridge that some parents donated to the school so our milk was just right for drinking. In the end we used the fridge during summer time as well and didn’t have frozen milk anymore”!

And to prove it wasn’t all bad, yet another person remembered; “I have some very fond memories of the free milk for me at Cairns in the early 70s. Couldn’t wait till little lunch. Always participated in risky

Not everyone hated free milk at school.

sports and never broken a bone in my life. They should reintroduce this at schools. Might help the dairy farmers as well. Win-win”.

I must admit I was never a big fan during those school years but fortunately it never put me off milk as an adult. My wife gags at the sight of me skulling a big glass of milk, she was put off milk forever by the “Free Milk for Schools Program”

The free school milk scheme lasted until the early 70’s and was scrapped.

Interesting thought by our last poster suggesting it should be re-introduced today. It would certainly be a big help to the local dairy farmers and I believe there are a lot of kids who don’t t get much of a breakfast, might be a way of improving school kids general health.

What are your memories of school milk?

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If you love nostalgia join me on a trip down memory lane with a copy of my best-selling book Australia Remember When. Almost 250 pages, crammed with photos, memories and stories of growing up in the baby boomer years from the 40s to the 80s and beyond. Join me as we celebrate growing up in what was a very different era, when kids roamed free, parents and teachers were obeyed, discipline was an accepted part of life and the world seemed a simpler place. RRP of the book is $34.99 (plus postage) and can be purchased from Shopify, just to the right of this story.

Sweet Memories of my Childhood

I’m sitting here remembering some of the lollies we used to have as kids back in the 50s to the 70s.

There were Fags of course, the cigarette lollies that we used to buy in little packets and walk around pretending to smoke, like dad. Fags were renamed Fads back in the 90s and the little red tip was abolished so they were just a long white stick. I think you can still buy them today

Haven’t had a Polly Waffle for years and Violet Crumble is definitely not the same anymore

I remember Columbines that came in a long blue packet and each lolly was individually wrapped in a blue silver paper. Jaffas were made by a company called Sweetacres and came in a cardboard box. They were ideal for rolling down the aisle of the local picture theatre during the Saturday afternoon matinee.

There was gob-stoppers and conversation lollies, all-day suckers and fruit tingles. We used to buy licorice blocks (they were called something else back then), four in a square and from memory they use to cost 1d. There was Hoadley’s Polly Waffle and the original Violet Crumble bars, Minties and Fantales came in boxes not plastic or cellophane bags. There was Wrigleys Juicy Fruit and PK chewing gum in little packs of four pellets and from memory they were tuppence each.

Tex Bars was another favorite of mine and although I’ve searched for Tex Bars online, I don’t think they’re made anymore.

There was sherberts that came in a white packet that had a licorice straw and MacRobertsons made the original Freddo frog, barley sugars, Cherry

Remember conversation lollies, a great favourte from the school tuck shop.

Ripes and Old Gold chocolate. Allens had Tootie Frooty and Steam Rollers in those little cylinder packs and they also made packets of Coconut Quivers

There were Choo Choo Bars and Red Skins, White Knights and Milko, Life Savers came in all sorts of flavours including Musk.

And remember going to the corner shop to buy 6d worth of assorted lollies in a bag? You’d get a big bag, enough to keep you going all afternoon and one massive sugar hit!

Then there were home made lollies too including toffee apples. stickjaw toffees, toffee in patty pans, Russian toffee and coconut ice.

They’re just a few that I can remember, I’m sure there was a lot more. How on earth did we escape with any teeth left in our head?

What was your favourite lollies when growing up?

Share the memories of your own childhood with our other readers by recording your comments in the “Comments” area below. Comments may take up to 24 hours to appear.

If you love nostalgia join me on a trip down memory lane with a copy of my best-selling book Australia Remember When. Almost 250 pages, crammed with photos, memories and stories of growing up in the baby boomer years from the 40s to the 80s and beyond. Join me as we celebrate growing up in what was a very different era, when kids roamed free, parents and teachers were obeyed, discipline was an accepted part of life and the world seemed a simpler place. RRP of the book is $34.99 (plus postage) and can be purchased from Shopify, just to the right of this story.

Remember ‘Tuck’ Day at School?

Remember the brown paper bags for school lunch orders?

When I was at school we never had anything quite as fancy as the printed paper bags, back in the 50s and 60s if we ordered from the school canteen, we wrote on the plain brown paper bag.
When my children went to school in the 70’s and 80’s they would fill out one of these brown paper bags for lunch orders and then the lunch monitor would take them off to the school canteen so they could get it back to the classroom for lunch.

The mum’s all helped out on tuck shop duties and the money raised went to the school. Photo from the book Australia Remember When

 

The canteen would be staffed by volunteer parents (my wife did that quite often as our children grew up) and they’d make sure the kids got their lunch bags filled with whatever they wanted. The children who were the lunch monitors would come in just before lunch to pick them up and they’d all be happily chatting away while they waited for the lunch ladies to get their class’s lunch box for them.

Most of the school canteens actually made money for the school and the profits were used to purchase extra equipment like movie and slide projectors, tape recorders and other teaching aids that helped in the education process. There would also be regular fund raising days when parents would make big batches of toffees, coconut ice, Russian toffees, toffee apples etc, and kids were encouraged to buy the home made treats to raise extra funds for special events.
These days of course its all about healthy eating and there are now strict Government guidelines as to what kids should and shouldn’t be having for lunch. I don’t disagree with that, especially considering that many kids now buy their lunch at school almost every day and are far more exposed to heavily processed foods and soft drink than we were when we were growing up during the baby boomer era.
Remember when sandwiches were wrapped in greaseproof paper and that paper was used over and over again

When we went to school  (we’re talking 50s and 60s here) buying lunch at the tuck shop was a rare exception rather than the rule. At that time in Australia most families survived on one income and buying lunch at school was considered a rare treat, maybe once or twice a month. Most times we took lunch to school, maybe Vegemite sandwiches or jam. On a Monday we would probably have had cold meat and tomato sauce sandwiches, leftovers from the Sunday roast. My mother used to do a great silverside and I can still taste her silverside sandwiches, wrapped in grease-proof paper, placed in a paper bag with a banana or apple for afters.

And we had to bring the paper bag and grease-proof paper home which would be re-used next day and the day after that! On the rare occasions we were able to buy lunch I would have a pasty with sauce and a berliner bun (which were renamed Kitchener buns in South Australia).
What are some of your own memories of ‘tuck shop’ day at school?

Share the memories of your own childhood with our other readers by recording your comments in the “Comments” area below. Comments may take up to 24 hours to appear.

If you love nostalgia join me on a trip down memory lane with a copy of my best-selling book Australia Remember When. Almost 250 pages, crammed with photos, memories and stories of growing up in the baby boomer years from the 40s to the 80s and beyond. Join me as we celebrate growing up in what was a very different era, when kids roamed free, parents and teachers were obeyed, discipline was an accepted part of life and the world seemed a simpler place. RRP of the book is $34.99 (plus postage) and can be purchased from Shopify, just to the right of this story.

Remember Those Early Years At School?

Going to school in the 50s, 60s and 70s was a completely different experience from that which our children and grandchildren might have today.

In fact, from the very first day, for many, it was a traumatic event.

Unlike now, there was not a lot of preschool activity such as play group, kinder gym or day care, so it was pretty much, one day at home as normal with mum and the younger siblings, and the next, thrown in a room full of complete strangers and an adult, also a complete stranger, out in front of the class, telling everyone to be quiet, no talking, do as you’re told.

In a recent post on the Australia Remember When Facebook page, many followers of the page joined in with their own recollections of their first day.

“Teacher, teacher”…”If you know the answer, put up your hand! If you don’t know the answer, come out and get the cane”!

Lucy Tipani remembered: “It was traumatic. Thrown into the unknown. I can still see myself running after my mother crying, as she was leaving. But there was a lovely old teacher, Miss Fox, who tried to make it all easier for me, bless her.”

Terina Edwards told this story: “My teacher said at lunchtime ‘you can all go now’. So I did, I went home. I walked the three miles (5km) home and I remember it like yesterday. It was so hot and no one was home, so I had to sit on the veranda until someone came. Mum came running up to me and said ‘where have you been?’ She told me the police had been looking for me all afternoon. When I told her the teacher said that we could go, I thought she meant home, she didn’t actually say to lunch. Mum started to laugh.”

One of the other most enduring memories of those early years at school is the obligatory bottle of milk which was normally drunk at recess time. There was obviously little consideration in those early years of how the milk might be kept for hours without refrigeration.

Each morning at about 9am, steel crates full of these small bottles of milk would arrive and then be left sitting outside, sometimes in the blazing hot Adelaide sun, until recess time at 10.15am. By then the milk would be well and truly off, but that didn’t seem to bother the teachers, who proceeded to make sure that we all drank our one-third pint, every last drop of it!

At recess times and during lunch everybody was out in the playground playing chasey, skipping, marbles and other schoolyard games. Photo from Museum Victoria

And school discipline at that time was very different from what passes as discipline today. During those years, teachers had to be treated with the utmost respect, were always addressed as “sir” or “miss”, or by their full title, and generally ruled their classroom with a fist of iron.

In my Catholic school, the nuns simply terrified the kids with the constant promise of eternal damnation in hell and a regular caning, whether you deserved it or not, just to keep discipline. At high school I got the “cuts” at least once a day (as did most of the boys), while the girls got the ruler around the legs, or across the knuckles, mostly for talking in class.

In some government schools the headmaster usually administered the cane but at Catholic schools, every nun could beat you and your parents would not say a word.

From my own observation, school nowadays appears a much kinder and certainly a more gentle place. Children and their parents now would never accept the kind of treatment that we copped as kids growing up in post-war Australia.

What are your memories of going to school?

Simple Fun and Games At School.

Before iPads, iPhones, tablets and Wii, kids could make up a game with almost anything, including knuckle bones collected from the Sunday roast!

Growing up in the 50s and 60s, the games we played and the toys that we played with were not as expensive or as sophisticated as those of today.

Four young girls sitting in a circle on an asphalt surface, playing with sheep knucklebones in a government school playground in 1954. Photo from Museum Victoria

When I see the games and toys that my grandchildren have at their disposal, I often think back to those years when we would make a game out of almost anything and quite often toys would be home-made or hand-me-downs.

We’d spend hours playing ‘bullys’ (some people called it clinkers), using the kernels or seeds from wild peaches. There were games like marbles, brandy or chasey, while the girls would either join in with us or play skippy, hop-scotch or knuklebones. Of course quite often we’d join in each other’s games and I can vividly recall playing knucklebones with my sisters, and I was thinking recently, how a set of 5 sheep’s knucklebones, saved over a period of time from the Sunday roasts, could keep us all entertained for so many hours.

More popular with boys (but again not exclusive to boys) was marbles (also called alleys), which were also quite valuable for trading with other kids.

Cats eyes from memory were the most common, trombolas were the big ones, the white marbles with the red splash were called blood trackers and ball bearings were also used and were known as ‘steelies’. There were also ‘bottlers’, clear glass marbles that were used to seal the old cool drink bottles.

There were several different games of marbles, one where you drew a circle and another game had the shape of an eye with 3 marbles placed in it. You could also play ‘keeps’, which meant the winner kept the loser’s marble (disaster if it was one of your favourites), or not keeps, just a friendly game.

Wow! I’m surprised I can remember so much about marbles seeing I probably haven’t played for more than 50 years!! (Hope I’m not losing mine)!

There were several different games of marbles, you could play ‘keeps’, which meant the winner kept the loser’s marble, or not keeps, just a friendly game. Photo from Museum Victoria and is from 1954.

Some of the other games that come to mind include elastics, hopscotch, ‘piggy in the middle’, squares, red rover all over, what’s the time Mr Wolf? There was brandy, chasey, hide and seek and not to mention all the board games, card games, draughts, snakes and ladders…..so many simple fun games and not an iPhone or iPad in sight.

Somebody also mentioned recently how we would make a kite with some brown paper, a few sticks, a ball of string and flour and water to make the glue to hold it together.

All that was required for kid’s games back then was a huge amount of energy, heaps of imagination, a length of rope, some chalk, an old tennis ball, fresh air, sunshine and lots of other kids,

What games did you play back then and what did you need for the game? Probably a fair bit of imagination but not much else.