Thursday, 25 August 2011

The Result

This is the last of a series of posts about Owatonna State School Museum (starting here), within a series of posts about our three week holiday in the US in June, which starts here.


I'm thinking after about two weeks here in the State School you're ready to leave.  I wouldn't want to stay much longer myself, perhaps.

On the plus side the buildings were capacious, even if they were filled with beds.

The grounds began with a few plantings that eventually grew into lush trees. 

I just stopped myself from taking photos of all the views from the bare windows.

There was mention of gardens and rock gardens.   I've no idea if the children would notice whether they lived in pretty surroundings.

Though closets, etc., look primitive now, that is the style of closets in the 1920s and 30s when most people didn't more clothes than they could wear.

Every Wednesday was movie night.

The children had toys and they had each other. 

They were clothed warmly - long underwear was prominent in the displays.  If one got a kind and loving matron, it would make life much easier, but institutions aren't always noted for finding such people. 

Perhaps they just don't make as sensational stories for the press.

Bill kept remarking how during this same time in England middle and upper class families spent huge sums of money to send their sons to boarding schools no more luxurious than this.

They won't have done the manual labour, but the rules will have been just as stiff and peer pressure was enormous.  Children bullied each other to a criminal extent.

Beatings were also common, though perhaps not always administered by staff and perhaps using a different implement than the radiator brush used at Owatonna.

The emotional deprivation will have been much the same, particularly for young men boarded from the age of 6 or 8 as was common in Britain in upper class families.  Great way to raise the people who would later run the country...

Bill has also remarked how these rooms compare with the officers' quarters aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia, senior staff on a prestige posting.  Interesting idea, but of course the men on the Britannia were there by choice.

Some of the children weren't adopted, but were actually indentured, which I found shocking.  The range of experiences those children later related are predictably diverse:  some found good homes with kind people, other found the abuse and neglect from which they were supposed to have been saved.

The result of growing up in an orphanage was that one didn't speak much about it to family members.  It was mentioned that joining the military was dead easy!  Hardly any noticable change in lifestyle.  Those who were able to form relationships sometimes found family attachment stifling and others' expression of emotions excessive and uncomfortable.

So, what we knew at the start, not a great place to grow up.  I came away dizzy with impressions about the scale of this place and the life led by the people involved with it.  Also about how much better a life my Dad had with my Grandparents, who spoiled him with so much love - and me as well - and we never even knew he was adopted. 

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