Palmyra Pioneers – The Thorne Family
Henry (Harry) and Lillian Thorne had eight children, Marjorie, Norman, Jessie, Mamie, Jean, Colin, Rose and Valerie.
Harry, a builder originally from Kent, England built a lovely Federation style home in Forrest Street, Palmyra around 1920. He also built many of the stately brick homes in East Fremantle, and was contracted to work on building the Hoyts Theatre in Fremantle.
Valerie the youngest born was struck down with infantile paralysis and was confined to a wheelchair. For the term of her short life, she required home schooling. The other seven children all attended Palmyra Primary School. My dear Mum (Mamie) always boasted that she was a “rounders” champion at school. (We now know the game as softball)
Up until shortly before she passed away in 2011, Mamie lived her entire life in Palmyra. Siblings Norman, Colin & Jean also raised their families in Palmyra. In 1944 Mamie married Les Batty, a young soldier from York. Our family home was built in Aurelian Street, directly opposite the school. My brother Rodney (dec) and I both attended the school during the 1950’s-early 1960’s. The Palmyra P & C has always been very strong with support and fundraising. I remember the regular “tuck shops”, and my father running the “Bridge” nights for parents at the school.
Some of my treasured memories of my time at the school are as follows.
Year one was known as “Bubs”, and for many years Mrs Moss taught the little ones. She was a delightful lady who had such a kind and gentle manner with very young children.
Mr Tom Ward was the Headmaster, and Mr Jack Lacey was Deputy Principal. Other teachers who stand out in my memory are Miss Tupper, Mrs Thomas, Mr Ray Mawson and Mr Kangannis. Norm Baker was the school gardener at that time and for many years after. He took great pride in the school.
The corner store was run by George and Madge Harrison. Lunch orders would be taken at the shop before school, and Mr Harrison would deliver lunches into the school ground in his van. Living opposite the school it was very rare for me to buy lunch, and a real treat. A typical lunch consisting of a pie with sauce, a cream bun (or meringue) and a drink would set you back 2/- (decimal equivalent 20c)
The student population was increasing rapidly and the school was bulging at the seams. When In grade five (1961) my class travelled each day to a tiny wooden church at the bottom of McKimmie Rd for our schooling. From memory we spent the best part of the year there, making regular treks up the hill to the main school for sports days and special occasions. Mr Kangannis was our teacher during that time. At the rear of the church was all natural bushland. We had the time of our lives there, building cubbies ,clubhouses etc during recess times.
Back at the main school – The school bell was situated at the top of the ramp on the edge of the verandah, and if you were a grade 6 or 7 student you may be selected to be the official bell ringer for the week, a role taken very seriously by the chosen few.
Many friendships made during my school days still exist today.
I am very proud to have been part of the school’s history, and will continue my association as my youngest grandson Lucas Dobber has just commenced his journey at the school.
I look forward to the exciting activities in this the centenary year.