I think the highlight of my years at school was in Grade 6 at Albuera Street when I was selected to spend one day each week at the Hobart woodworking school on the corner of Hampden road and Sandy Bay Road. I would go to classes there each Thursday, spend the morning leaning to draw the models that we were to make, and the afternoon making them in the workshop. Each boy had his own bench and rack of tools on the wall and it was so exciting to start with the simplest of designs and progress towards the end of the year to a foot stool. I still have the stool, saved by Mum over the years, surviving several layers of lino on the top and a few coats of paint covering the more recent saw cuts. When all this was stripped, the pencilled words W. FOSTER THURSDAY were still quite clear and it is still in our bathroom, having survived dozens of kids standing on it to reach the toilet and hand basin. The woodwork teacher was Mr Snook. Tall, thin and without a great deal of humour, but he was a good teacher and stood no nonsense. If you made a mistake with your model he would take your arm in his big bony hand, squeeze and say, ‘Silly boy.’ All models were made using the now relatively rare Huon pine, harvested only on Tasmania’s West Coast. Grade 6 finished my association with Albuera Street (until our kids started attending) and I moved on to ‘Tech’, Hobart Junior Technical School, between Bathurst and Liverpool Streets in the city. Tech was not as exciting as grade 6 woodwork, probably because we had to do other subjects and woodwork was just a part of the course.
While we were still at Albuera Street School, Mick (Alan) Purdon and I decided to go on our own ‘expedition’ to the top of Mount Wellington (I think with our parent’s permission). We caught the bus (or was it a tram) to the Cascade Brewery and started walking up the wonderfully mysterious tracks that abound on the mountain. We got to the road just above the Springs Hotel and as cloud started to come down, walked the road. We asked all the people we met how far it was to the top. They all said, ‘Just around a few more bends.’ I guess it was somewhere around 3.30 or 4.00 o’clock when we reached the top, could only see a few yards in front of us and I started to get a migraine headache. We started to run down the road to get home as quickly as possible, somehow found the track down to the Cascade Brewery, ran all the way down to the brewery and found the public transport had stopped for the day. No option but to run from there to home. The Purdons and Fosters were starting to get worried by this time and all I remember is collapsing into bed after taking some painkillers for my headache.
This was probably the first of many migraines I was to have over the next forty years.