Toronto, NSW (1968)

Brighton Avenue, Toronto. We lived at No. 15
Brighton Avenue was lovely. It was really a series of holiday cabins spaced out along the water front of Lake Macquarie. It was not meant as long term accomodation.

Aidan remembers though, that it was an unhealthy place to live, because there was no proper sewage system. It was discharged into the lake. All of our family were sick, from time to time, especially Bride.

We had a mooring for a boat and our own swimming pool around it. One day a woman came along and warned Aidan about the blue ringed octopus. Aidan discovered that there were several in our pool. He came to think of Australia as a very dangerous place for new-comers.

Toronto was where Gerald was nearly run over by his father. Gilbert was coming over the crest of a hill and Gerald was walking in the middle of the road, carrying his violin, as he had started lessons. Gilbert just managed to avoid him. There was a lot of shouting that evening - even more than usual. Gilbert was shattered. Gerald was nine now and should have more sense. (There had been several near misses previously that involved cars). Gerald though, had no real awareness of danger. He probably wondered what all the fuss was about. "Gerald the Greatest" is what he called himself. Nothing could touch Gerald.

Gilbert had decided that he wanted to be a sociologist. He had become very anti-psychology and thought that he could understand himself better through sociology. He had been talking a lot about this lately.

Sometimes he said that the norms of the society in which he had been brought up were wrong for him; sometimes he said his mother was to blame for not socialising him properly; sometimes he said he was atypical from birth.

The upshot of all this new thinking was that he had enrolled at Sydney University to do a degree in sociology.

I was dismayed by this news. Newcastle and Sydney are about a hundred miles apart and travelling betwen them must take at least two hours. Gilbert had a full time job. How was he going to fit his studies around his job? I thought he lacked all common sense.

I was annoyed also, because I thought we might at least have had some discussion about this new project, which after all involved us all. Gilbert, however, didn't discuss things. When he had made up his mind that was it. The irony of it all was that he did become a sociologist, but our marriage was on the rocks.

Toronto School Infants. 1968. Rona is in the middle row, far left.

Rona started school for the first time and Bride was transferred from Wagga. Bride remembers no problems.

It was different for the boys. Neither of them fitted in, either socially or academically. All the changes of school, that they had gone through, were very bad for them. They were both new boys and Pommies. Aidan says he did make one friend at Toronto school and he went to his house most days after school.

Academically, Aidan he was seen by his teachers as backward.

Aidan's class were coming up to secondary school age. As it was a selective system they had to take an I.Q. test. It helped to determine which school they were best suited to. There were about a hundred pupils in his year (three classes) and Aidan was in the top three pupils with an I.Q. of between 155/160.

His teachers were astonished. They thought there must be some mistake. He was re-tested three times. They confirmed his very high I.Q., but insisted that he retake Year 6. He repeated Year 6 at New Lambton.

We planned to leave Toronto as soon as we sold our house in Wagga. This took about a year. We lost a lot of money on it. Still we had to move on. Our next stop was 82 Queen's Road, New Lambton, Newcastle.

Marian Foster. December 2016.