We came from many parts of Eastern Australia, Papua New Guinea and Nauru to answer our first ASOPA roll call. Vic Parkinson called it in the classroom; roadside end, adjacent to the Army Intelligence barracks. Twenty-two eager beavers had arrived ready to do their bit. A few made an impression even at that first gathering. Bob Turner cracked at least two, unsolicited jokes: he would prove to be the Class’s irrepressible personality, good natured and quick witted. Jack Busby dazzled with his stories, smiling his slow smile and tweaking an RAAF moustache. Brian Davis, a younger starter, felt compelled to ask, “Are there prizes at the end of the course?” All were pretty much in awe and anticipation of what we had signed up to do - worth £9 pounds a week, an enormous wage to most of us.
ASOPA wasn't all work and no play! The other way around would be closer to the truth. For a small sum, the Class bought a 1924 Dodge with four days registration. Driving around the Mosman streets late one afternoon (no lights, no radiator cap, a windscreen that required the front left passenger to hold it in place), a policeman asked to inspect the vehicle. He chose to open the front right door to let the driver out, and the door came away in his hand to the delight of all passengers. The good copper told us all to go home and “get that thing off the road”. I am sad to say that's what we did: that thing went over the edge of the road leading to the Clifton Gardens pub. Young people! What was wrong with them in those days?
It appears that those of us still living have gone forth, done their bit, done their best and are still at it. Some have experienced significant public success; some have had to overcome disappointing moments. However all harbour the fondest memories of their cadet years at ASOPA.
Photo: For relatively well paid ASOPA students, second hand cars (usually with two wheels in the grave) were de rigeur. Here Howard Ralph [Class of 1962-63] disports himself atop of John Toms' Austin.