Barbara Lee-Jones remembers her days as a young teacher at Wanganui Girls' College with fondness.

The 91year-old now lives at Jane Winstone Retirement Village in Whanganui but former student Megan Wallbutton remembers her as glamorous, young home science teacher Miss Palmer.

"She wore very high heels and lovely perfumes," said Mrs Wallbutton.

"You always knew she was coming because you could hear her heels clicking on the wooden floors and smell those nice scents she wore."


The college will celebrate its 125th anniversary next weekend and Mrs Wallbutton is disapponited that her former teacher will not be attending.

"I don't really like going places where there are big crowds these days," said Mrs Lee-Jones.

She was however, happy to visit the school where she used to teach and recalls there being a lot of prefabs during her time there in the 1950s.

"I taught at the old school site in Liverpool St first and then we moved here," she said.

"I was small but I was pretty tough and I didn't tolerate any nonsense from the girls."

Home science teaching involved cooking lessons and sewing, which was called clothing.

It was a time when trusty old treadle machines were being replaced by electric models and Mrs Lee Jones remembers teaching her students to sew on the treadle machines until they were good enough to use the new models.

"Girls could do the most ghastly things to the machines so I didn't let them loose on the electric ones until they were good and ready."

Miss Palmer was also required to teach human biology as part of the home science curriculum and Mrs Wallbutton remembers how she would blush when naming intimate body parts.

"We would move the vase of flowers on her desk so she couldn't hide behind them."

Miss Palmer gave up teaching when she married Marton farmer Brian Lee-Jones and the couple would have three children.

She would later go on to found the Marton Arts and Crafts Centre and said she thoroughly enjoyed life in the community there.

While Mrs Wallbutton and other members of the WGC Old Girls' Association got on with dressing the window display for the anniversary, Mrs Lee-Jones headed home.

She said she does not sew any longer but enjoys a lot of activities at the retirement village and was looking forward to an exercise class.