Max Ricks Recollections

Going to Primary School

The Cherry Gardens School is situated at the bottom end of Orchard Road on the Southern side of the district. Max Ricks started Primary School at Cherry Gardens in February 1936 at the age of five. Our School taught from grades 1 to 7 altogether in the one room. Numbers were small, and at the time when I finished grade 7 there was a total of 15 students over the full 7 grades. There was only one teacher for the school and he and his family lived in an attached house at the school. Mr. Ralph Basham was my teacher for the first 6 years and the next resident teacher during my 7th year was Mr. Robert Ward. The school teachers formed a real part of the social structure of the district and would invariably take part in the sporting activities and the fund raising which was a big part of the social activities at that time. The wood work room was a popular part of the school, and the girls would have sewing instruction usually from a local person.

If a student did some work which pleased the headmaster, we would be told to take it around to the house and show it to the teacher’s wife as a reward. But on the other hand, if we made a number of errors or misbehaved, we would be given the cane. 2 or 3 strokes across the back of the legs or buttocks with a metre long bamboo stick about 1 centimetre thick. This was normal practice at my time at school. Mr. Basham used a rubber stamp with the words very satisfactory inserted on it. To get this stamp on your work was reward indeed. All children walked to school at all times of the year whether it was hot or cold, because hardly any local residents owned a car at that time. When it was wet, quite a few children would walk barefoot to school, so that their shoes and socks could be kept dry in their school bag for when they reached school.

From our place, at 365 Cherry Gardens Road Cherry Gardens, we would mainly walk across paddocks then owned by Ken Edwards which is the paddock below the hall and then the Harry Lewis and Ken Lewis families. Walking across neighbour’s fields was quite accepted in those days, with mutual respect given and expected from everyone. I remember that when the weather was very hot, my brother Charles Ricks and I would sometimes bring a bottle of homemade Ginger beer which our Mum Ethel Ricks would make during summer. We attached it to a good length of string and leave it in a deep water hole in the creek to keep it cool. Then we would have something cold to drink on the way home. Mr. Ward was very keen on nature, and during the holidays we would have all day walking trips in the scrub to study nature with him. The school leaving age was variable in those days. Our mum did her full term at primary school as did Charles, our dad Don Ricks only went for 4 years but was very good at reading and mathematics. At my time at primary school we had a final examination at the end of grade 7 to test our marks for what was called The Qualifying Certificate ( QC) my score was 638 out of 700 which entitled me to a Scholarship which paid for the books of 1st year at high school.

Regular school concerts with all students participating, and frequent sports days were all designed to help us young people to fit in our future adult lives.