Catholic Sister Joan Manson has a special relationship with 80-year-old Monkey.
He was there when she and the late Sister de Sales founded St James’ Catholic School 60 years ago in 1958, and the magic of the little cloth monkey with lots of his hair now loved off, is still alive.
Joan keeps him wrapped in a cloth and she’ll bring him out at the school’s 60th anniversary extravaganza on October 28.
“We had no equipment when the school started, but I had Monkey who helped me teach the children.”
Plans for the big gala have been underway for some time now and there will be plenty to eat, see and do for everyone between 11am and 2pm on the day.
Joan holds fond memories of her teaching days at St James when she was known as Sister Pius.
“I have lovely memories of my first students.
“St James is a very lovely place.
“It has a special spirit.”
Sister de Sales, as with all Catholic sisters of the different religious orders, reverted to her birth name, Ruth Oakley.
The two Sisters who wore the habit of the Sisters of Mercy designed St James’ logo, under which are the Latin words for “to live the truth in love” — veritatem vivere.
Joan recalls the early days of the school.
“The city and school was all paddocks and I drove a 1928 Chrysler we called Jalopy.
“It leaked and we had to wear a shawl over our heads to keep dry.”
Jalopy did not have a petrol gauge and the sisters had to put a stick into the tank to see how much petrol there was.
‘I have lovely memories of my first students. St James is a very lovely place. It has a special ’ spirit.
“The accelerator got very hot.” Jalopy was used to collect newspapers and bottles and the school collected postage stamps and tea coupons as there was no government funding to run the school.
These collections and coupons bought the school’s first gramophone.
The students’ families were very supportive, Joan said, and it was not long before the school had a committee which helped run the school
There were 50 students in the school in the first year but the numbers soon multiplied.
Joan said the class numbers were big and in her second year there were 60 students in her class. “Teaching was different in my day.” She remembers some students started to draw television aerials on houses in their pictures.
“We knew then that they were the families that had televisions.”
Sr Joan Manson with 80-year old Monkey.