When Coral Bates met up with Bessie Smith back in 2018 close to 80 years had passed since the one-time Maitland Girls High School students had last seen one another.
And, then the pair had only known each other from a distance.
But, when Coral saw Bessie for the first time since those war-time years she recognised the former head prefect straight away.
There was no mistaking her; she was my prefect, 91-year-old Coral said.
The two women reconnected when Bessie moved into the aged care facility, Glacia House, Tuncurry two years ago.
"We were having lunch in the dining room when Bessie was brought in on a lounge wheelchair," Coral said.
"I swung around and I called out 'Oh Bessie', I remember you'," she said.
"She looked the same; age has not weathered her."
Today, the women say they are just like sisters, eating meals together, chatting, knitting and crocheting.
Both have a love for knitting, Coral knits squares, while 94-year-old Bessie's nimble fingers create babies clothes which are donated to the hospital for newborns.
Bessie, who was two years ahead of Coral at school, admitted she really didn't know her friend before meeting up at Glacia.
I swung around and I called out 'oh Bessie', I remember you'.Coral Bates
Although they did catch the same train to and from school, Bessie came from Singleton, while Coral travelled from Branxton.
"I was doing the commercial course of shorthand and typing and Coral was doing the intermediate," Bessie said.
But, most students knew Bessie, who was a popular school prefect.
"She was a good prefect; she was not hard on anyone," Coral said
"I don't think she ever reported anyone."
"They were all good kids on the train," Bessie said.
"I used to catch the train from Singleton at two minutes after seven every morning and I never missed a train."
After completing her education Bessie worked in a mixed business in Singleton before being 'head hunted' to work with stock and station agency, Elders-GM where she met future husband Roy, who was working as a penciller at the time.
Following a brief romance the couple married in Singleton Methodist Church in 1961, later raising three children.
For many years Coral worked as a sales-girl for well known local milliner, Nellie and Bonney.
"They were lovely hats, I used to get all my hats from them," Bessie piped in.
"My job was to sell hats and tell the women they looked good - no matter what," Coral said.
Coral met her future husband Ray on the train and was later officially introduced by her brother, married at St John's Branxton and settled in Singleton, raised two children, survived the devastating 1955 Hunter Valley floods and retired to Tuncurry after holidaying in the area for many years.
Roy and Bessie lived in Forster for more than a decade.
But, following Roy's death in 1993 Bessie relocated to Maitland before returning to the Great Lakes in 2018 and settling in Glacia.
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