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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Write in the HISTORICAL genre (05/03/07)

TITLE: Highfalutin Ideas
By Wendy Marshall


Dust flew in the air as the lid of an old cardboard box came open. Beneath its brittle protection I found a lot of useless papers saved from my school years in the city. The most fascinating was a diary I hadn’t seen in 30 years…

Saturday, 10th September, 1953. Brisbane, Australia. Yesterday I had a letter from my Father. It said what I expected it would say – that I couldn’t continue at school next year, into year 11. He said girls don’t need an education and I can just come home to the farm at the end of the year. He said he couldn’t afford to put me through 2 more years of boarding school... Just because I expected him to say this, doesn’t make it easier to accept. Jane says I should argue with him about it, but I’ve heard him argue with Mum so many times that I know how it would end, she never wins. It’s easier to leave it as it is…

Tuesday, 13th Someone said that John F Kennedy got married yesterday! The teachers were reading the papers, but we heard little of it.

Wednesday, 14th Today the music results came out, I’ve topped my class again!! I can only imagine what I could have done if I’d been able to study music before I came here from the bush 3 years ago. After dinner I stumbled upon Louise and Mags talking about what subjects they are going to choose for next year – they stopped as soon as they see me coming because they know.

Thursday 15th Last night I dreamed I had entered university – I was walking through the stone archways of the University of Queensland, when I saw some of my friends from school. We all gathered and talked excitedly about what courses we’d picked and then the bell rang and a voice shouted…I awoke to the cruel reality that I was still in boarding school and that my academic future was as substantial as the mist drifting outside the dorm window.

Sunday 18th Today we went to church as usual. As we walked home in the crisp spring air, I talked to Jane about things (I shouldn’t write ‘things’, Mrs Johnson says I could find better words, but this is my diary and I’ll write what I want). Jane says she heard that there was some kind of scholarship going for senior, but she didn’t know what. I don’t know whether to hope or not. Just thinking about Dad’s letter makes me mad, but what can I do?

Tuesday 20th Today Jane asked the Head about scholarships, she said I could apply, but not to get my hopes up too high. Hopes??? They are soaring…I keep dreaming about being a teacher, teaching music in a school like this.

Friday 23rd I got the papers to apply, and even started to write the essay that was required, it was about my future hopes and dreams. But then I saw it – the dotted line where my father would have to sign saying he approved of my application. They might as well have dotted off the page, all the hope that I had of him approving of such “highfalutin ideas” as he would say.

Mum and Dad are moving to a retirement home and we are cleaning out the farmhouse where I grew up. It is hard to believe that thirty years have passed since I wrote all that stuff about dreams and whatnot! I never did get to complete high school and instead became a secretary until I got married. Now I have 4 grown children who are leading their own lives. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had defied my Father and gone for a scholarship. Would I have gone on to university? Who would I have married? How would my life have been different?

Somehow those dreams of a teenager have slipped away. But occasionally I let myself wonder…if I had been a teenager in the 80s, what would I have become?

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Member Comments
Member Date
Donna Powers 05/10/07
Interesting and very absorbing. I think we all wonder what may have happened if we hadn't made our past choices. This was really interesting.
Patty Wysong05/12/07
This is good! You pulled me in and I could feel the disappointment. You tied the story together nicely by returning to the present, too. Sometimes I wonder, too. Good job! :-)
Sheri Gordon05/15/07
Nicely done. I loved your comment about using the word "things" -- it made me chuckle out loud. That's something most of us remember hearing from at least one English teacher. Funny how that one sticks in our minds. :)
Joy Faire Stewart05/16/07
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Your writing made it very interesting and the last paragraph brought it all together.