|26 Aug 2022
|From the Archives
An era of protest marches, mini-skirts, psychedelic colours and Beatle-mania, the 1960's have firmly cemented themselves as a monumental decade in modern history.
In Australia and around the world, major things were taking place. Australia moved away from the pound to the decimal currency system, US and UK pop culture was consumed to great delight, and the Cold War produced incredible, often terrifying, progress in technologies. Adjacent to the Civil Rights movement in the US, the Indigenous Rights movement in Australia was gaining momentum and national attention, with the right to vote in federal elections achieved in 1962 and the census referendum taking place in 1967. More and more homes had a television set, few passengers wore seatbelts, and teenage fashions and hairstyles continually shocked their conservative grandparents.
Although world news infrequently warranted a mention in the Convent Diaries, the Loreto Sisters were particularly pleased at the USA's newly elected president:
"Nov 9.. USA has elected the new President, beginning office 20 January 1961 - Mr John F. Kennedy - a Catholic. First Catholic President ever - a Democrat. Great excitement in Sydney - world wide interest. Efforts to stir up bigotry in USA recently have not succeeded in defeating Kennedy."1
Of course, the 1960's were also a decade of tension and tragedy. Harold Holt, Australian Prime Minister, assumedly drowned during his first term. Government policy still oversaw the forcible seizure of the Stolen Generations from their homes. Conscription was reintroduced, and Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War drew continued scrutiny. Some alumnae recall the monumental day JFK was killed, and the distress the news had on many of the Sisters.
Loreto Normanhurst continued to evolve and be shaped by its context. Equipped with the building projects of the last decade, the Junior School thrived with both boys and girls enjoyed beloved 'Barry Wing'. Memories of skipping, pinafores, maypole dancing and art-lessons are frequently shared by alumnae. Michael Beattie, a Loreto boy in 1964-1965, previously shared with us some beautiful home-footage of his junior years. You can find the video here - a gorgeous throwback to the mid-60's.
The Senior School would continue to expand with the beloved quad, science labs, hall and library. More and more 'lay teachers' joined the Loreto Sisters to teach and inspire with their sharp wit, good humour and talent. Productions like My Fair Lady and Pride and Prejudice were all-hands-on-deck occasions, with girls tasked with costume creation, programme design, directing and acting. The art program under Mother Evangeline's expert vision continued to expand, developing the tastes and talents of all involved. And trips to the beach with Mother Patrick were a special treat, especially for country boarders.
In a decade filled to the brim with memories, we've collected some of our favourite anecdotes and moments to share here. Let us know in the comments below what some of your special 1960's memories are.
A monumental event of the 1960's, and of modern world history, was the landing of man on the moon. As the USA and the Soviet Union raced to 'out-do' the other in technological feats, the Apollo 11 mission in 1969 saw an American crew carrying Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and 'Buzz' Aldrin successfully land on the moon's surface.
Such an extraordinary feat captivated the girls and boys of Loreto Normanhurst. We had some beautiful contributions from the Junior School as they learnt what was taking place far above them.
Step by Step - a poem by an anonymous Year 4 Student
"Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins will soon
Touch the soil and walk the crater
What adventure could be greater
How I wish I could be with them too
I could be a member of the crew
Once a dream has now become a fact
Because of these men's heroic act
Collecting specimens of soil and dust
From the surface of the moon's crust
Roaming the dry and tranquil seas
Oh what has happened to the mice and cheese?"2
In Space - by Carolyn Goodson (Connelly, 1978)
"When the first man got out I had an awful feeling and I had goose bumps and I felt cold, and I felt that I was walking on the moon."2
Many of the Senior girls remember crowding into the common room to watch the moon landing together in complete awe. The conversion of the novitiate to become the Mary Ward Wing took place at the end of the 1960's; with the declining number of those wishing to join the IBVM, the building was repurposed for the use of boarders and senior girls. The common room was one such space, and fondly remembered as a retreat for night-time bonding over music and cups of coffee and tea.
We recently posted this photo from the 1960's on our social media page, and loved seeing your comments flood in. Many of you correctly guessed it came from a guitar sing-a-long in 1967, and enjoyed identifying with each other who the faces were in the photograph.
"Hands clapping, feet tapping, the circle of girls, guitars and nuns gave a rousing renditions of 'He's Got the Whole World in His Hands'. Then another folk group sang two of their repertoire, and the circle broke into the current 'pop' song.
This was a gathering of the Guitar Association of the Loreto Normanhurst Boarder Division... Organised by a group of Form Fours, it was held in our school hall and resulted in a very enjoyable evening which continued far beyond the allotted time."3
- Jenny Robinson (1969) and Fran Hernon (1969).
We stumbled across this beautiful entry in the 1966 school magazine and would love to know if anyone remembers a stray dog called 'Scamp'? Maybe you remember a different convent dog when you attended? There have been plenty of furry-friends that have called Loreto home over the decades.
"Last year in our August holidays, a half kelpie dog arrived, looking for a place he could get plenty of love and companionship. He seemed to think Loreto Convent, Normanhurst, would suit him fine. So he stayed, and won the hearts of everybody...
He is very spoilt and goes to sleep during our Music Appreciation classes in the hall. He also comes to singing, and is never turned away."4
- Toni Daly (Brown, 1971)
Another memorable decade in LN's 125 year history. Next #FlashbackFriday we'll be sharing stories of Loreto Normanhurst in the 1970's - a decade of disco, bell-bottoms, Music Festival and country road-trips.
Share your LN memories with us! If you attended in the 1960's or 1970's, please comment below or find the 'Share News' button at the bottom of the page. We'd love to hear what stands out for your from your time at LN.
Ms Rachel Vaughan
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