THEY are names synonymous with the Great Lakes: Elliott, Amato, Cheers, Wright, Fazio, Bonventi, all tight knit families who made up much of Tuncurry Public School classes between 1930 and 1955, and still do today.
It is this family connection that will make October’s Tuncurry Public School reunion as much a family affair as a community affair. “Tuncurry was a such a small and tight-knit community then and all the families remember each other so it’s almost like a family reunion,” organiser Angie Amato says.
Tuncurry Public School was established in 1881 with 30 students under headmaster, whose name is sure to tweak the ears of Harry Potter fans, Mr C Snape.
Recollections of Tuncurry Public, then located on the corner of Bent and Taree Streets, vary but in company have the effect of flicking a switch that sends other memories flooding back.
“There’s things you don’t remember, but when you get together someone will remember something and all of a sudden all of your own memories start to come back,” Angie says.
Angie’s husband Peter, for instance, remembers the kindly Mrs Wright: “She took all us Italian kids who couldn’t speak English and taught us how, there were a fair few of us then,” Peter recalls.
He also remembers sneaking away to indulge in his family’s favourite pastime: “I remember jumping the fence and running down to the lake to go fishing.”
School photos from the time show the students with conspicuously bare feet.
“We never wore shoes,” Jim ‘Stumpy’ Elliott recalls.
“We went everywhere in bare feet, and we’d run home for lunch, wouldn’t always come back either,” he says with the same grin he sports in the black and white class photos.
The Elliott name is prominent in local rugby league circles and Stumpy, along with brother Oopy, turned out in Tuncurry Public colours on various occasions.
“We played football barefoot as well, against Nabiac, Forster whoever.”
The ladies have some different recollections: “I was in the flute lineup,” Julieanne Cheers recalls, “and I remember Ms O’Hara who taught us sewing.”
“I remember dancing around the maypole,” Angie Amato says, “we’d all get dressed up in our prettiest dresses and dance around it for hours, it was the most fun.”
These and many more memories are sure to be shared on October 27 with all students who attended Tuncurry Public School between 1930 and 1955 invited to attend.
Tickets are $25 per person with people asked to RSVP by September 30 to allow for catering arrangements.
For more information contact: Angie Amato on 6554 8300 or 0419 858 468; Julianne Cheers on 6554 8619; John Bonventi on 6555 5305; Stumpy (Jim) Elliott on 6554 7491; or Margaret McBride on 9983 9194 or 0409 982 348.