I’ve dabbled in writing from a tender age. The first story I had published was entitled ‘nurses are important’. A catholic newspaper was seeking contributions from children ten years and under. As a Catholic farmer’s daughter, I had lived a sheltered life until then. But here was my first big opportunity to become famous. A published author no less. It was hard to keep a lid on my excitement. The inspiration for my topic came from the desire to be a nurse of the future. And a writer as well. So I set about writing my story on a piece of lined paper in my best handwriting, put it in an envelope and addressed it to ‘the Standard’. Dad drove it under duress twenty miles in his old Chevy ute to the Post Office to post it.
How times have changed
How appropriate would that topic have been today during the pandemic? Nurses have never been more important. And how things have changed? Handwriting an article for a newspaper and then having to post it? Handwriting is used for little more than signatures these days. And a newspaper? As we witness the steady demise of newspapers and magazines it won’t be long before they become part of our history. How sad. What will children of the near future use for papier mache, pirate hats and newspaper wigs? What will we use to clean barbecues, windows and put in the cat’s evacuation tray?
It was published!
And the prize was a Fry’s Five Centre chocolate cream bar, a Nestles Milky Bar and a pen. The kind that used ink. Up until then, I had been doing all my writing in pencil. It was great to see my story on the second page of ‘The Standard’. The big headline in capital letters, the story in smaller text and my name in print. The typist must have been tired because the ‘tte’ was missing from my first name. But I was happy with ‘NURSES ARE IMPORTANT’ by Anne Leishman of Forcett. Even with my name shortened to Anne, I could still be identified as the great author of that story. There was only one Leishman family at Forcett and not many Catholics. I was happy with that.
Image: Deputy Matron Porter with nursing prize winners, 14 December 1956. This image was scanned from a photograph in the papers of Matron Agnes Hilda Porter from the archives of the Royal Newcastle Hospital held by Cultural Collections at the University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia.