THE easy camaraderie was obvious around a table in the Bathurst City Centre on Wednesday morning.
A group of school mates gather there weekly for a coffee and a yarn and, occasionally, to "cure the ills of the world".
It was no ordinary gathering on Wednesday, though, as one of the mates, Robert Rooke, was about to turn 80.
Mr Rooke is one of five - with Terry O'Connor, John Muldoon, Noel Smith and Selwyn Coles - who started school together in 1946 at the old St Mary's Primary in William Street.
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John Seaman and Colin White joined the class later, when it progressed to the old De La Salle St Patrick's School on the corner of George and Keppel, and they have all been mates ever since.
"Though we went different directions as we got older, the friendship sort of remained there," Mr Coles said.
"If we met down the street and hadn't seen one another for some years, it would be just like we saw one another yesterday."
A coffee on a Wednesday is a standing arrangement.
"There are five of us regularly, six of us fairly regularly and seven of us on occasions," Mr Coles said.
"The whole class has been friends. We have a fellow who lives in the Blue Mountains and if he's coming to Bathurst, he'll make it a Wednesday, so he comes and has coffee with us."
Mr Coles said sport features prominently in his memories of Mr Rooke at school.
"When we started school at St Pat's, we were all taken up to where they play Australian rules today [George Park]," he said.
"Rugby league was the sport in St Pat's School.
"We were taken up there to see who was going to be in the junior side, which was four stone, 10 or something. And Rookie broke his leg that day, at practice, so he never played rugby league all through school."
Mr Rooke did play hockey, though - including for a state under 16s side.
"He and I spent a lot of time together," Mr Coles said. "We used to play tennis and table tennis. We were fairly competitive with one another.
"He was by far the better table tennis player, although at one stage he helped me learn to play table tennis left-handed.
"I'm right-handed, but, because of an industrial accident, I couldn't use my right hand."
Mr Coles said the coffee crew have always been comfortable in the company of each other.
And what do they talk about each week?
"Nothing in particular," he said. "Just chit-chat. Sometimes we cure the ills of the world, as you do."