I had barely opened the library when the Assistant Principal walked through the doors.
“Mrs FD, I am need of urgent support and assistance and I thought of you.”
“You are in trouble then!”
An hour later I was on a bus with 40 students heading out for a day’s field trip.
The History Class was visiting the Maritime Museum and the MacArthur Museum, and one of the teachers had called in sick. Who better to have on a museum field trip than a librarian!
The Maritime Museum had me, with my fear of heights and impaired depth perception, climbing up and down narrow ladders between the decks of the Diamantina, following groups of students as they in turn followed a tour leader. We were climbing backwards, but the sailors would descend the stairs, front facing and often carrying their meal on a plate as well – there was no dining room for them!
It was very hot below decks, and the ship is riddled with asbestos as was the fashion of the day, but the students appeared to find it very interesting.
It was interesting to see the hierarchy that was in place, with the captain’s room all beautiful crafted built in furniture including his own dining table, while the ordinary men had just a hammock to sling wherever there was a couple of free hooks. He had his own bathroom as well.
It was sad to see the condition of many of the displays, as they receive no government backing except for the occasional grant for specific tasks. It is staffed by volunteers, as is the MacArthur Museum.
We walked through the old botanical gardens to the second venue, one teacher at the front of the group and I was rear guard to make sure no one decided to blend away into the shadows. We took the roll four times throughout the day, and delivered the same number back to the school as left in the morning.
The MacArthur Museum is interesting, because it is on the eight floor of what is now a hotel and apartment building. The floor that Douglas MacArthur used during the second world war is filled with replicas of his meeting tables, office furniture etc. They even have a replica of his corn cob pipe, the craziest thing I have seen in a long time. I couldn’t get a full view of it, but if it is hollowed out through the entire length and then packed with tobacco, I can only guess he would have only needed to light it once a month and it would keep on puffing. How he ever thought it was “cool” surprises me!
A museum filled with replicas is a little odd, and led to a couple of odd exchanges between staff and students.
“This is the table that MacArthur and his staff sat at for meetings,” the tour guide declared.
“The actual, real table?” asked the girl.
“Well, not the actual table, but it was exactly like this…”
MacArthur’s Brisbane Headquarters during World War II.
Because I had not had time to prepare a travel lunch, the other teacher covered the exit door, while I popped out and got a quick bite to eat. One benefit of being in the inner city meant that there were plenty to choose from! I had to ask the hotel receptionist to swipe me back into the elevator up to the museum, and just as the elevator doors swished shut, I glimpsed one of our recently retired famous football players, Darren Lockyer, walk into the lobby. He missed out on sharing the elevator with me, poor man.