Where are they now – Terry Gastin (SPC 1966-70)
November 28, 2022
We recently reconnected with Old Collegian and former boarder Terry Gastin (SPC 1966-70), who has kindly permitted the College to share his story, which was published in a reunion book produced by the Class of 1970 in readiness for their 50-Year Reunion, which was rescheduled repeatedly over the past two years due to COVID, however was finally held in late October 2022. Terry is now retired after a career in education and shares many memories of his time at SPC!
Post Secondary Education:
After I left school, I went to Bendigo Teacher’s College. I have many fond memories of the social life over the next three years. Then it was down to hard work.
My first appointment was at Reservoir East in Melbourne. That was an eye opener. There were 700 students, many migrants and high unemployment. I married in the first year to Jenny, a Bendigo girl who was finishing her training at the Royal Children’s Hospital. Two years later we left Melbourne for Sebastian, a rural school some 20 kilometres from Bendigo. I then taught at Kerang for two years.
When we were at Kerang and had been told by doctors that our chances of having children were remote. We decided that we would take the opportunity to apply for a posting with Australian Volunteers Abroad. Ten days before our posting to the Highlands on New Guinea, my wife, who had not been feeling well, went to see a doctor. I thought that she was suffering from a little bit of anxiety about leaving friends and family for two years. We met for lunch, and she asked me what I wanted to eat. I said “curried prawns”. Her reply was, “I don’t think the baby would like that”. Hurriedly I had to get my job back in Kerang, get the furniture back that we had given to my sister in-law and buy a new. We went on to have a lovely daughter, Shona. Seventeen years later we had our second child Dorien. They are both 2 beautiful daughters.
After a year we moved on to a two-teacher rural school at Redbank near Avoca. Our parents were still alive and it was decided after that we would move back to Bendigo to be with family and friends. I took a demotion, but it was one of the best decisions I have made. I spent the next 23 years at Spring Gully P.S. I retired at 55 and did the next 10 years emergency teaching. Of the schools that I taught in, they have now closed two of them. Sebastian and Redbank.
When I retired and we have all heard someone say, “We must catch up and have a beer etc” and it doesn’t happen. I decided that the only way to get around this was to organise a regular BBQ for retired teachers. It started out with five or six and has built to around 18 or 19. It has been a great success. Some of the teachers that have come are Old Boys of St Pat’s. Gerald Hogan who was my Principal at Spring Gully and came from the Mallee, Shaun and Tim O’Shannessy, Bernie and Shane Colbert.
I also get to see a couple of Old Boys as in Andy Jakubans and Danny O’Brien at the Bendigo Golf Club and Alan Boadle at the bowls club.
Some seven years ago my wife thought it was time to leave. After 2 years on my own, apart from my daughter, I met my new wife Sherril. I’ve got a good one this time. We have so much in common. We are both members of Essendon FC, love fishing and caravanning, enjoy a wine and a beer, enjoy travelling and playing golf and bowls. We have a fantastic group of friends and enjoy having them around for drinks or a BBQ. We’ve travelled around Australia a couple of years ago and loved every minute of it. Every day was a new adventure. I would recommend it to anyone.
We’ve also had a couple of trips overseas. We have just built a new house, which suits us down to the ground. At present we are enjoying landscaping the backyard. As soon as the borders are open, we will be on our way again. We will take the little tinnie, the caravan and the Ranger on another adventure.
Best Memory of St Pat’s:
How did I get to St Pat’s in the first place?
It all started after coming home from midnight Mass in 1965 and was asked by mother if I had I seen my brother Mick at Mass. By this time, it was about 1.30 in the morning. I told her that the church was packed and that I hadn’t seen him. At 2 clock she started to panic and so we got in the car to see if he was at any of his friend’s places, where we eventually found him.
When we got up for breakfast (by this time I was shining my halo because I was the good boy who had gone to midnight Mass and had arrived home at an appropriate hour, and Mick was the bad boy) mum and dad sat us down and told us that we were both going to boarding school.
Why was I going to boarding school for my brother’s misdemeanours? He went on to serve a 2 ½ years sentence and I served four years.
Did I fit the mould as a St Pat’s boy:
Was I an academic? – No
Was I good at football? -No
Was I good at cricket? – No
Was I good at rowing? -No
Was I an orator? -No
I did enjoy tennis and made the school’s first tennis team in 1970. Apart from that, there were no significant achievements.
Did I enjoy my life at St Pat’s:
Looking back, I must admit that there was something special about the four years I was there. If you meet someone today that was at St Pat’s, there is always a feeling of comraderie or of being very proud that you had attended that school. What I didn’t enjoy was the three-minute showers after playing football in the black dirt that stuck to you like glue. You couldn’t get it off in three minutes under a freezing shower.
Also, Ballarat would have to be the coldest hole on earth. We would leave Bendigo on a Sunday afternoon and by the time we got to Daylesford it would be overcast. When we arrived at the school, the wind would be howling, the rain would be pissing down and the heaters at school would be at plus 1 degree. Since I have left St Pat’s, I have never felt guilty about having a long hot shower or turning the heater up full blast.
One of my earliest recollections of boarding was when we were having lunch on a Saturday. It was decided by some of the boarders that they would make a protest about the poor standard of meals. On most Saturdays there was not a full complement of boarders eating meals, as some boarders went home for the weekend and others had sporting commitments, such as football, cricket etc. This meant that you didn’t sit at your usual table.
As I was sitting at the end of the table, it was my job to get the meals from the servery. The boys on my table must have been in Year 11 or 12 and they told me that if I went to get the meals, they would punch me. The Brother on duty asked that the servers to get the meals. Not one of the servers moved. He asked again for the servers to get the meals and once again no one moved. He was not happy. He then asked that all the servers go out of the dining room and he dressed us down. As a consequence, we had to stay back a day at the end of term. The meals didn’t improve.
I did enjoy the cadets. I remember a camp at Pucka. We slept on palliasses and drank tea with bromide in it. The tea was undrinkable. I wonder if any of the brothers had to drink it? One of the activities was that Company A set off on a march. Company B set out in the opposite direction. Their orders were to set a trap for Company A and to use camouflage, dig in, and wait for Company A. We had been issued with 5 rounds of blank ammunition. As Company A approached, we were given the order to “FIRE”. There was such a commotion. Many of the boys fell to the ground in tears as they thought they had walked into an actual war zone. After all we were at the Puckapunyal Army Base.
In the four years I was at St Pat’s I was caught smoking at least four times.
O Breath On Me O Breath Of God:
One of the boarders had the nickname ‘Soss’. At Mass when the hymn “O Breathe On Me O Breath of God” was sung, the boarders would sing, in full voice, O Breathe on Me O Breath of Soss. We all had a laugh, but the Brothers were not impressed.
My brother Mick:
Mick has not been a great lover of computers. In fact, the last time he used a computer he had so much whiteout on the screen that you couldn’t read what was on it. He disliked school so much that just before he left, he tells me that he wagged school for most of the last term he was there. He would only return to the school for roll call, for meals and to sleep. How he wasn’t discovered I don’t know.
One of the stories he tells is when during intermission of the Saturday night films, he and a number of other boys went down to the grandstand for their usual smoke. One of the Brothers caught them and told them to go and stand outside of his room whilst he continued on his patrol to catch any other boys doing the wrong thing. On his way back to the Br’s room, Mick counted the boys. 1,2,3-7. Mick said I’m number 7 and I’m not going to his room. All six of the boys were given the strap and missed out of the films for the rest of the term.
Mick was and still is a gambler and so he became the SP bookmaker along with a number of other boys. He says that a number of boys who were his customers were “Day Rats”. He recalls that it must have been somewhat of a problem as the “Gaming Squad” was brought in to investigate the situation. He has many other stories and I’m sure he is quite happy to share them with you when we all next meet.
The following year after he left, he went to St Vincent’s. There was only a handful of students there. I asked my mum how Mick was going at school and she told me that he was a changed boy and would lock himself in the top lounge room of the hotel, light a fire and set about doing a couple of hours of study.
When his term results came out, my mother was surprised that his results had not improved. What really happening was that he was studying, not the textbooks, but the Sporting Globe to work out the odds he would set for next day at school. Not a scholar, but he has gone on to make more money than I have in business.
I’ve probably written enough about my time at St Pat’s and my life in general. I’m looking forward to reading about many of your memories at St Pat’s and about your lives after leaving school.
I do have many fond memories of my school days even though I was sent there because of my brother’s misdemeanors.