(Kindergarten student at San Clemente in 1931)
Reg Coghlan was born in 1925. His father served in World War One, and survived the Somme. After the war he returned to Mayfield to work on the railways, and was tragically killed by a falling container. Because of this workplace accident his widow was given a house, so during the depression years the family had a home when so many lost their houses. Reg had a sister Eileen (two years older than him) who suffered from lung problems and also attended San Clemente.
He started kindergarten in 1931 at San Clemente, when he was six. At that time the kindergarten was in the basement rooms.
He went to St Columbanus after that, progressing to 6th Class in 1938. Then he went to Star of the Sea for 2 or 3 years, but couldn’t continue at school any longer because he needed to work to help support his family. He worked at Lindstrom Grocery in Mayfield for ten years, first in delivery then collection.
In 1943 when he turned 18 he was called up to the army, with one week’s notice to report for duty. When he told his mother she took the train to the Manpower Office in Newcastle, and cited Reg as her carer saying that he was too necessary to the family to leave home. He was instead conscripted to work at Lysaght’s doing heavy duty manufacturing of war supplies – he still has scars from burns and wounds from the work there. Then the war in the Pacific improved, and after three months he was able to move back to work at the Grocer.
His friendships with the pupils of St Columbanus, and then San Clemente remained very strong, and he was very involved in the social life and sports clubs in Mayfield, as well as the schools.
He has very fond memories of the Social evenings and dances for young Catholic adults at St Columbanus’ Hall, and teaching girls to dance there.
San Clemente's field was very uneven, which made playing sports difficult. Reg was one of the volunteers who levelled the field with slag and dirt, so the pupils would be able to play on an even field.
In 1950 he left the Grocer to work at the Co-op Store in Newcastle, where he worked for thirty years. He married an immigrant who transitioned through the Greta Migrant Camp and has two children. The family moved from Mayfield to Lake Macquarie in 1953.
Reg Coghlan at St Columbanus