Chatting with Lesley

Lesley Clapperton is the girl who grew up in Frankston during the Second World War with fond memories of bike riding, bonfire nights and marching bands. It is hard to believe there was a time when this bustling city was a sleepy town but in the 1940s this was the case.


Lesley in 2012.

Lesley recalls a time when people walked everywhere and when Frankston was so small that everyone knew everyone.

“There weren’t very many people that lived in the district. The main shopping strip was along the station, and up on the Nepean Highway we used to call Bay Street,” she says.

“Wells Street was practically nothing I think there was a couple of bakers, where the picture theatre is and a big paddock. On the right hand side there was several houses not so many businesses, that was in the 1940s. In the 1950s things got a little busy, a lot more people moved to the area after the Second World War.”

Always a happy student Lesley attended Davey Street Primary School and then Frankston High School.

“The Frankston High school is now the TAFE, we had lots of friends. When I was at primary school my brother and I used to come home for lunch,” she says.”

“In primary school just after the war a lot of the teachers were either ladies who took over teaching when all the men took off for the war, or they were returned service men, when they came home from the

“There was a mixture some of them were ladies that had become teachers, I don’t know whether they had been trained, I think in those days training wasn’t as rigorous as it is today, “The men were strict, they had to be, because the class sizes in those days had 40-50 children. It must have been very hard for the teachers to keep discipline.”

Lesley in her school days

Lesley grins as she recalls one of her cheeky pranks.

“I remember doing things with a group of other girls we had cooking class the big thing was to do things like put in salt in the sugar,” she says.

There was no TV until 1956 and Lesley used to love relaxing at home by listening to the radio. “They had children’s shows after school around dinner time, In 1956 when TV started my parents decided they were not going to buy a TV, we didn’t have one in our house our next door neighbours did. I used to pop in and watch occasionally,” she says.

“We didn’t have a telephone, when I was very little all my mother had was an ice chest, there was no fridge, in fact we did not have hot water till I was nine, my father fixed up a hot water service out the back which was a coke fired container made out of hot water.”

If Lesley could turn back time and speak to her younger self she would say to stay in school and finish year 12 in order to have more choices to do further study.

“Work hard and finish school so that you can make choices about your future. Be self motivated in everything you do whether it be work, sport, art or further study,” she says.