Triabunna School, South East Tasmania – December 1910

Triabunna 1930 my grandparents

Three more hours to go. Albert Castle felt he could barely last three more minutes let alone three hours. Today’s lesson was about magnetic fields. The teacher, Mr Basset continued in his usual monotone using flowery words that Albert never understood. “The earth is comparable to an immense magnet. It has magnetic fields that protect us from the sun’s radiation”. As usual Albert’s mind drifted to thoughts of Eleanor.

The pranks

Albert really liked Eleanor. She sat in front of him in the Grade 5 class. Eleanor was so pretty with her long dark hair and big brown eyes.  Albert spent a lot of time devising pranks to play on Eleanor to get her to notice him. And she did. He loved the suspicious look in her eyes when she glanced his way and poked her tongue out at him.  None of his pranks were too uncouth. Or so he thought.

The cane

Unfortunately, Mr Basset didn’t see it the same way and relished every possible opportunity to give Albert a good caning. The visible crusty stripes on his legs and cuts on the palms of his hands were evidence of the brutality inflicted by Mr Basset. As Albert contemplated his wounds, his thoughts turned to yesterday’s attack. That was the result of grabbing hold of Eleanor’s waist length plait and dipping the end of it into the inkwell on his desk.

No mercy

Thwack, thwack, thwack. The sound of the cane coming down hard against Albert’s legs could be heard above his wailing and pleas for leniency. Perhaps Mr Bassett’s patience had been tested to the limit this time. He delighted in carrying out the penalty in front of the class threatening those who diverted their eyes would be next.  For most, this acted as a deterrent against misconduct. Not for Master Albert though.

The full force of the cane

Albert’s thoughts returned to the present as he noticed an opportunity to sieze the moment.  Eleanor had bent over to pick up her slate from the pile on the floor. Detecting her raised skirt revealing the garters holding up her stockings, Albert leant forward, tugged firmly on a garter before releasing it causing it to snap onto her leg. Eleanor squealed. Some children laughed. Others looked terrified. Mr Bassett immediately fixed his gaze on Albert. Albert knew exactly what he had to do. Walking slowly up to the front of the class, with eyes unwavering from Mr Bassett’s glare, he stepped up onto the platform and took the full force of the cane without flinching.

Footnote: The featured image is of Albert and Eleanor on their wedding day in 1930.



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