Smoke, steam, nostalgia: Steamrail Open Day 2014

The Steamrail Open Day a couple of weeks ago was good fun, though in some ways very similar to the previous one in 2012… But I’ll post some pics anyway.

This is a Tait train (“Red rattler”) — dating back to the 1910s, and very common when I was growing up, but phased-out in the 1980s.
Tait train (Steamrail Open Day 2014)

If you’ve ever wondered what the destination signs looked like from the inside, here it is. I was fascinated by these as a kid. Note the mirror allowing the operator to verify what was on the sign. These old painted canvas rolls are, of course, way more legible than most of the modern LED dot matrix varieties… and representations of them are now very common in home decorating. (You know, those big signs with white writing on a black background, and lots of words, not necessarily place names, all in a row.)
Tait destination roll (Steamrail Open Day 2014)

Sometimes it’s only by seeing things in the flesh that little details come back to you. In this case, I’d completely forgotten that the old red train manual doors had a catch, so it was easy to fix them in a position that let the air in, but wasn’t big enough for someone to fall out of.

Inside the old carriages you’ll find notices about the railway bylaws… in principle not so different from today’s.
Railway bylaws (Steamrail Open Day 2014)

Also of note, and in use until the 70s, are the Smoking and No Smoking sections. (This was from a diesel rail car.)
Smoking/No Smoking sections (Steamrail Open Day 2014)

Old and new (1)
Old and new (Steamrail Open Day 2014)

Old and new (2)
Old and new (Steamrail Open Day 2014)

I’m all for nostalgia, but it’s not hard to see that air pollution may have been one factor in phasing-out coal out of regular use on the railways (though I’m sure economics was the main driver). Well, kind of phased-out… it still powers our electric trains of course.
Smoke and steam (Steamrail Open Day 2014)

On the way home, the platform mirror at Footscray was in just the right position to catch this scene.
Platform mirror, Footscray station

Your guide to meat

M+J were clearing out some old cook books, and found this gem. It’s not dated, but it does have a decimal price, so it must be post-February 1966. Perhaps not far after though, judging from the style.

Much of it is in black and white, but here are a few choice colour pages…

Cover from a 60s meat industry cookbook

Food groups - From a 60s meat industry cookbook

Cheese! From a 60s meat industry cookbook

Onions! From a 60s meat industry cookbook

Meat! - From a 60s meat industry cookbook

Wiltshire knives ad - From a 60s meat industry cookbook

Golden Circle pineapple ad - From a 60s meat industry cookbook

And one mouth-watering recipe for you, from the “Economising with meat” section: Open wholemeal brain sandwiches. Yum!

Brain sandwich recipe - From a 60s meat industry cookbook

VCE exams – good luck everybody

I was 25 when I first had kids. One outcome of this is that my eldest son’s education is running 25 years after mine.

The dates don’t match up completely — the main event, the English exam, for me was on 7th November 1988. For this year’s VCE, it’s today.

Daniel's VCE, 1988

Good luck Isaac, and all of the other 43,000 students sitting the VCE English exam today.

(Though if any of you are reading this before the exam, I’d question your priorities!)

25 years on – school reunion

The weather on Friday night wasn’t favourable, but I think we all had a good time at the 25th school reunion in any case.

Amusingly, it clashed with the year 9+10 social in the main building. When I first arrived (wearing a black suit) I was asked if I was with Security.

Melbourne High School in the rain

It was a mixed group of 25 years/1988 and 20 years/1993. I assume the Old Boys Association reckoned that was the best way to make it viable to run it. About fifty of each group showed up.

Things I learnt on the night:

Melbourne High SchoolI seem to have forgotten the words of the second verses of the school song Honour The Work, as well as Forty Years On and Gaudeamus Igitur

Apparently of the staff at the school in 1988, a staggering 15 are still teaching there 25 years later, including my year 12 maths teacher Mr Ganella, who was there for the reunion. He doesn’t look a day older, except his hair’s a bit greyer.

Likewise, as on previous occasions, many of my classmates looked the same… some a little greyer, rounder.

At least one hadn’t put his boys up for Melbourne High, in part because of the travel distance involved from Eltham (fair enough — when I was there, some students travelled from as far away as Mount Eliza, Launching Place and Gisborne) and because his friends had been scattered around Melbourne (perhaps I was lucky, as many of my friends were in the inner-southeast).

Some have been through some big challenges in their lives, but all those who came seem to have got through it okay with an optimistic viewpoint, and many seem to be living the dream — with things exactly how they want them.

I don’t recall looking at the 1988 honour board before, but I note a high proportion of people from my original year 9 (1985) class, which is kind of nice.

The most well-known last day prank in 1988 was a (lewd in parts) spoof of the school newsletter which was distributed to all year 12 classes. I finally discovered the anonymous students behind it.

A higher-profile incident was this one at Box Hill station, which other students volunteered to clean up — the description of the incident from the stationmaster is particularly amusing — and you can see from the uniform why we called them gumbies:

Finally, pranks obviously still take place… in one of the hallways of a newer building, I found this picture, supposedly of distinguished old boy Michael Gudinski:

Distinguished Old Boy: Michael Gudinski?

Before Facebook and Twitter, we did analogue social networking with paper and pen

Tonight I’m going to a school reunion. Almost unbelievably, it’s 25 years since year 12 in 1988.

To mark this occasion I’ve dug out something even older than that.

Once upon a time, before Facebook and Twitter, we couldn’t write on each others’ Walls or send a Tweet. On occasion in class, we’d pass a piece of paper around instead and write notes on it.

Here is one that survived, from July 1986.

Analogue Facebook wall, from a class in July 1986

As you can see, the chatter amongst myself and my friends at aged 15 was pretty moronic — a mix of tech talk (if you think the Mac/PC/Linux debate is heated, that was nothing on Commodore/Spectrum/Amstrad), Monty Python quotes and personal insults.

I don’t know if any of the other participants in this page of silliness are around and reading my blog… Most are referred to by initials only, so if they wish they can out themselves if they do happen to see this.