Doris Butcher

Doris Butcher now Mrs Brett has lived at the same address in Rathmines Street for over 70 years. She moved there with her parents when they bought the house in 1911.

They had lived in two addresses in Fairfield and Alphington (Grange Road) before that.  Doris was the eldest of three children. The township and school were already well established north of the railway, which had been running for over thirty years. There were houses rather than shops though, until the shopping center moved, gradually, from Heidelberg Rd. into Railway Place.  North and South then into Station St. north of where it is now.

For instance the first chemist, Mrs Jean Henry, owned a shop at the corner of Railway Pl. South and Station Street.   She was remarkable; too, for being the first women in Australia to graduate in pharmacy, it was said.

Doris still keeps contact with some of the old pupils of Fairfield school from that time. Some were relatives like the Burrows family of Station St. north and Eileen Adams of Station St south. There were other cousins and aunts settled around the developing “village ' or suburban sprawl, as it was at that time.

When shopping she likes to meet old friends like the 'Smith Girls' the daughters of Fred Smith, village blacksmith and city councillor who later started Smith's Motors' at his smithy in Heidelberg Rd. Johnny Gates is -another one of the old school who is a good friend to everyone who needs things done in neighbourly ways and lived nearby. Her biggest circle of friends though, was formed by the thousands of pupils she trained in the rigorous art of pianoforte, in the 50 years in which she taught the disciplines of the London College of Music.

These protégés came from all over Northcote road beyond, as her name for good teaching was “bespoke far and wide”. Many sat for the certificates, awards and prizes as they reached the required standards, but some preferred “art for arts sake’

About 3000 pupils passed grades of A.M. H. B, and A. I.M. C.- more than half completing and others who also completed L. L.C.M. and the Teachers' Diploma  and F.L.C.M. the advanced stage. Her best known graduates are Keith Humble and Val Lewis Young, cousins Rolfe and Leo Nicholson were good pianists and went on to play band music, Rolfe specializing in the xylophone.

The piano quartet is a little known development that Doris organized with advanced pupils on her two pianos. The remaining eight ladies who now play the various quartets still come to see her and play the various four - part arrangements in harmony.

In those earlier days, before music became mechanised, pianists were in great demand. Even the local cinema needed an expert musician to help the mood of the various silent films, in their endless variety.

When Era Butcher, her other, saw how his young daughter reveled in the music he asked her whether she would like to be a trained teacher of the piano. She jumped at the chance and went to learn from Miss Fitzgerald of Clifton Hill, the nearest available teacher at the time. Doris also likes to remember the good times she had playing basketball with the Fairfield team till she was 28 years of age.