Rosemary Lakshman nee Hart (’52) believes that it is important to follow your dreams and passions and find an interest in what you love. For her, this has been writing, a passion ignited early in childhood that she has nurtured to present day.
Rosemary began at St Margaret’s in Kindergarten and had a love for writing and telling stories in these early years of her life. Although she thought she did not have the strength for writing, her first piece was published, a short story, in “The Link” in 1941, when Rosemary was in grade one.
When in her later years of schooling at St Margaret’s, English and History were her most favoured subjects. This passion for writing has been something that she has continued to pursue and enjoy.
After school, Rosemary went on to study social work, which resulted in a fulfilling role which took her across Queensland where she worked with many children with special needs and their families. Her interest in people and day to day life became an inspiration to her when she joined the Ashgrove Writers’ Group and became a valued member from 1988 to the present day. Rosemary treasured this group of avid writers who met a couple of times a month to discuss their writings, techniques and encourage and critique each other’s work.
It was here that she began to have some of her writings published. The group would produce and publish anthologies of short stories, poetry and other pieces of work written by its members. Rosemary’s fictional writing inspirations included the many people whom she encountered, as well as her own experiences in her life. These were often adapted to create her heart-warming stories.
However, it has been Rosemary’s family, and her own memories and tales of her life thus far, that has resulted in her recent publication, “The Old House at Wilston”. It is in this book where she has documented and described a colourful history of her home, its inhabitants, as well as some neighbours. Rosemary has lived in this house for most of her life; there were only two short periods where she has not resided there – her time in England and a few years in the country.
This book illustrates the importance of memory, experience, and the record of historical events. It is an insight into parts of our past and how many things, including historical events, relationships we have with others and the simple pleasures of daily life, we take for granted and often don’t stop to appreciate. It is sometimes in these memories that we hold when discussed and written down help us all to extract meaning and importance and to evolve, and to carry on traditions to future generations. It is our link to the past as well as our link to each other …….
Below are some memories of Rosemary’s time at St Margaret’s and extracts from her book, “The Old House at Wilston”.
“I have such fond memories of St Margaret’s when I was very young. My first time at St Margaret’s began in August 1938, when I was three, a few months shy of my fourth birthday. There was another little girl, Jan Ash (nee Docker), who was four who started at the same time as I did.
The kindergarten was set in a very dusty old house near the school gates in Lapraik St. The younger children in prep and year one used a large open space in the middle area of the house. The year one students had a designated space partitioned off in the corner for their classes and to the side were two separate rooms that the grade two and three students would have their classes. The prep or kindergarten area was never clearly defined, we were always so busy playing having a delightful time. We had a lovely kindergarten teacher, Miss Wetheral. We had such a very happy time with a couple of exceptions, and it always seems the most vivid memories are sometimes the ones when you are in trouble.
One day I threw some mud at some of the other children, which resulted in, what seemed like hours, standing in a corner so I could think about my behaviour, and of course the older girls, who were probably in grade three, were curious as to what I had done that resulted in my punishment, and, just as any child, replied, “I don’t know and I don’t care!” I was so mortified and felt so terrible.
The other catastrophe I remember was when I started to learn to play the piano. Sister Hope would come down to collect me for my lesson. She taught in one of the little rooms that sat in a row in an old wooden building which was located near where the school chapel now stands. If I saw Sister Hope approaching the playground, I would run down and hide under the house which was low on the ground at the back where she couldn't find me. It was not surprising that I was not a star at the music recitals at the end of the year!
During the time I was at school the new music building, Darnell, was constructed. It was a lovely new building then. Several music teachers taught in that little row. The large end room of Darnell was where we would have our music recitals at the end of the year. Individually, we played “Good King Wenceslas”; however, as I was only quite young, remembering I was only in kindergarten, I was only able to play one line with one hand, whereas all the other girls could play the whole piece of music with both hands which was much more professional. I was obviously entertaining due to the audience’s response. I asked my mother why they were all laughing, and my mother replied that they thought I was a nice little girl. Although thinking back, I was very young, and I think it was inclusive that all piano students performed with different skill levels and were able to participate.
I did start school at a very young age, as I was the youngest in my family, with a large age gap. Mother sent me to school so young as she thought I was lonely at home. I was 10 years younger than my nearest sibling, Jim. Jim’s best friend Bobby Park lived down our street and his mother drove his sister Noela to St Margaret’s every day and kindly agreed to take me as well. After a couple of years, Noela had finished at St Margaret's, and I had to travel by tram and train to the Valley and then onto Clayfield on a connecting tram with a friend and neighbour, Judith Bridgford, who was four years older than me. The trams were always packed, as students from Clayfield College and St Rita’s and St Columban’s all used the same transport.
I remember hearing all the students talking about this thing called “the war” that had been declared. I still remembered some girls discussing that the father of one girl had put his age up for the last war and was now putting his age down for the new war. In 1941, the next thing was we all went down to Hamilton Wharves to see and welcome the American fleet coming up the river that was apparently sent to save us: fifty thousand troops they say arrived.
In 1942, we were told there was a Brisbane line running through the north of Brisbane below which the country would be vigorously defended and above people would be left to their own devices.
This was all talk amongst the girls, so we never really knew whether this was true or not on at such a young age. Nevertheless, my family decided that some of us would move up into the Brisbane Valleys to a tiny town called Collington, which actually was located north of the Brisbane Line, but far away from Brisbane itself. We stayed in Collington House, where a kind property owner Mrs Moore had offered to share her home with some of our family, who were wanting to get away from Brisbane.
It was at this point that I left St Margaret’s for a time before I returned and was schooled at the local one teacher school where I was one of fifteen students spanning from prep to year seven.”
Rosemary’s mother’s uncles, William and Fredrick Willes, who lived at “Canaipa House” on Russell Island were sent to Eton High School at Nundah. Rosemary’s mother, Winifred Hart (nee Stevens), born in 1896, went to Eton High School at Toorak House as a weekly boarder.
Rosemary recalls some memories; “I recall mother retelling me about the day that all the pupils were taken for a walk to see the property to which the school was moving to in Lapraik Street. I also recall that the large house, now called Durack, after the move took place, housed everything. This included the boarding accommodation for the Sister, the pupils who boarded, classrooms, kitchen, dining rooms and was commonly known as The Community House. After my mother’s mother died, my mother, at 17 years old, was sent to St Catherine’s in Stanthorpe until she was 19 years old. St Catherine’s was also run by the Society of the Sisters of the Sacred Advent, many of whom she knew from St Margaret’s. In fact, some were also known to me throughout my time at St Margaret’s. They were always so kind and caring to mother.”
Rosemary’s two sisters, Barbara and Maryan Hart, attended St Margaret’s and then Rosemary followed in 1938-1941 before being evacuated from Brisbane and then returned to St Margaret’s in 1949-1951. Rosemary’s eldest daughter, Anna Cameron, attended in 1971-1975.
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