January 2007 Newsletter - Richard Bush YHS 1955

Richard Bush YHS 1955 wrote:-
Fathers and Head Masters My father, Jim Bush, had a connection with Yallourn High School in the 1950s beyond his three children attending (aside from me, there was Elisa 1950 and Susan 1953). He was a member of the Advisory Council.

Like many civic-minded men of this pre-TV era, Jim was busy on many committees, although I’m not sure his role on the Advisory Council was very demanding - George Ellis probably had the Council well and truly tamed...but it did mean that Jim was seated with other luminaries on the stage during speech nights at the Yallourn Theatre. One of Jim’s endearing qualities was to drop off to sleep at every opportunity. He had perfected the power nap before the term became part of the vernacular. True to form, I remember seeing him dozing while on the stage behind Ellis’ back. It was not a splayed leg and gaping mouth sort of doze, but rather a discreet nod of the head and a lowering of the lids behind the spectacles.

Ellis was a distant sort of a Head but then it would be surprising if he were otherwise. We had only brief encounters including of a disciplinary nature. Ellis didn’t administer corporal punishments himself - I guess he was happy to delegate. I remember “underpants” Ernie Herman being the deliverer of “six of the best” on a few occasions. I did have one kneetrembling encounter with Ellis during my matric year. I was summoned to the front office along with a few other cohorts for misbehaving one night after a school social at Kernot Hall. A watchful citizen had probably reported us. We were accused of defiling Sir John Monash’s memory by placing a rubbish bin over the bust of Monash that stood on a plinth in the middle of the town square. As innocent as this may seem, we had committed an offence against the great man and we had to be given a dressing down.

I had no idea of Monash’s achievements during WWI including his victories as Corps Commander of the AIF towards the end of the war and, after the war, as the first Chairman of the SEC. It would have helped us had the ANZAC day school broadcast featured Monash rather than Simpson and his donkey. In any event, there we were, in the Head’s office looking as remorseful as hell when one of us, responding to Ellis’ question on whether we had anything to say for ourselves, declared, “We were just having fun, Sir”. This served only to trigger a further dressing down.

The following year, when we had started at Melbourne Uni, Andrew Spaull and I walked across Royal Parade to pay our respects to Ellis at University High. I remember him being very cordial and pleased to see us. All was forgiven - in fact the Monash incident was not mentioned….but I am not so sure he would have forgiven the Advisory Council member who dozed behind his back during speech night