DOCUMENTS released by Mt Hawthorn primary school provide a quaint insight into the earliest years of Hazel Hawke’s life.
The former wife of Labor prime minister Bob Hawke died last Thursday at the age of 83, following a prolonged battle with Alzheimer’s.
She was born Hazel Masterson in Perth in 1929 and was of the first students to attend the Mt Hawthorn Infants’ School in 1938.
“I attended the school before it was officially opened…the school was then just two rooms, that wonderful wide verandah, and a gravel square, all surrounded by a sea of heavy dark Mt Hawthorn sand,” she wrote in 1988 for its 50th anniversary. “Regarding Miss Heaney, the headmistress, with some curiosity and awe as she was quite different from anyone I had known in my short life (it was crucial to her that we had clean fingernails and a clean hanky each morning!).”
Ms Hawke also recalled dancing the polka in pairs round the verandah, and hopping on haunches with hands held for ears like rabbits, singing “Hey, who comes here, Punchinello little fellow.”
Despite not remembering “any of the lessons”, she received a glowing report card in 1938: getting an A for writing, spelling and arithmetic and nothing lower than a B.
“Over the years others of my family have attended here and there has been a continuing association,” Ms Hawke wrote.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK