JOAN HOUSTON (NE O’BRIEN)

Joan’s father and his siblings used to ride their horses to school at Our Lady of Mt Carmel and the horses were stabled in the stables at the bottom of the schoolyard.  They lived out of Sunbury on a farm and had to help with the chores and be up early each day to milk the cows.
Their father, Joan’s grandfather, complained about them staying up late each night.  They were not getting their homework done and were getting into trouble at school.  Joan’s father, in particular, did not get along with the teacher who was at Our Lady of Mt Carmel at the time and they did not want to go to school so their mother let them go to the State School, unbeknown to their father.
While they were attending the State school their horses were stabled at the Rupertswood Hotel.
The Rupertswood Hotel sent their father a bill for stabling the horses and he wanted to know what was going on.  They all returned to Our Lady of Mt Carmel School when the Sisters arrived.
The family moved from the farm into Sunbury in 1943 and lived opposite the Dillon family.  Joan was confirmed at Our Lady of Mt Carmel in 1952.
Joan also remembers many of the Salesians would come to help with the parish Masses.  In particular Father Jennings and Father Carroll.  After she left school Joan sometimes attended Mass
at Rupertswood on a Sunday morning.  This was at the time that Johnny Famechon was at Rupertswood and he would be late for Mass because he had to milk the cows for Brother Reg Hamilton.  The Rupertswood Mass was held at a different time to the parish Masses and many families found this convenient.
Joan was a flower strewer in the Eucharistic Festival held at Rupertswood.  Students of Our Lady of Mt Carmel were flower strewers after they made their First Communion.  They wore their First Communion dresses and veils and had a basket filled with rose petals which were strewn in front of the Bishop in the procession.  The baskets were decorated with fern around the handles.
The Eucharistic Festival was a big event and six or seven trains would come from Melbourne.  They would let the people off at the Rupertswood station and then go on to Clarkefield where they had a turntable.   There would be trains one behind the other all the way from Clarkefield to Rupertswood station waiting to take the people home.  There were also buses that came up packed with people.
As a child she would help Sister Matthew prepare the church for Easter.  She remembers one very hot day and Sister took her to the Convent and gave her a drink of lemonade and a piece of cake.  Joan sat on the verandah of the Convent as in those days children were not allowed inside.  The only time children went inside was if they were having music lessons in the music room.  She also recalled that the nuns never went into the town on their own.  There was always two together.
Sunbury was a very different place in those days.  You could go to Melbourne and never worried about locking your door.

Taken from interview recorded in 2007.  Used with permission.

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