My recent time in New Zealand was spent in the area I went to primary school. So much has changed, older houses being pulled down and flash new ones being built. All those years ago when I attended the old school, not too many families had large incomes - we were pretty much on the same economic level - mostly low! A few kids from the wealthy areas did start off at the local school but often were removed as they got to age about 10 and put to a 'private school' where fees were high and special uniforms and even hats were worn. In some cases, gloves were an essential part of the uniform for the girls.
Well it so happens that my Mum's new unit is right behind the old school. I either drove past or walked through it a fair few times in the 6 weeks I was there. I was rather surprised and yet pleased that it really hadn't changed much at all. Even the old stone wall which curves around one side of the playing area was still there. It was a popular spot for us to play marbles and we would either line up our (very) new plastic 'allies' along the wall - 3 in a row and 3 feet back the kids had to stand to take a shot at them - or 5 in a row and 5 feet back and so on. Or the boys would draw chalk circles and place a marble in the centre and from the outside ring, others would flick a marble between their thumb and first finger and try to make a strike.
Mum always gave us kids sandwiches for our lunch, invariably filled with squashed bananas. You know how they brown over after a few hours? My leather school bag really smelled of bananas most of the time and for many years now I've not been able to eat the blessed things because of the memory of that school bag. How silly is that?
The small building at the gate was always known as the 'murder house' and we kids lived in fear and trembling when our names were called for us to go visit the dental nurse. I hated sitting in that chair with all its contraptions hanging off the sides but the thing I dreaded more was the old drill which was operated by a pedal on the floor which drove a kind of belt around a couple of little wheels which in turn made the drill whizz around at a fast pace. I hated the feeling of the warmth of the drill on my tooth enamel and the intense pain when it hit a nerve. Oh I feel shudders just thinking about it now. If you were very lucky indeed, as an older pupil you might just be chosen to be the nurse helper for a day - I'm so pleased I never was chosen for that.
I did get to be morning tea monitor though. At age 12 our last year of primary school the girls always felt they were something special to be chosen to make morning tea for the teachers in the staff room. It was the only two storied part of the school and we monitors were always looked up to by the other kids. Not quite sure why when I think of it now, but perhaps it was because we got to miss class for 15 minutes or so before the recess bell went.
At recess we would file out of class and get to take a 1/2 pint bottle of milk out of the crate which would have been left at the door. Another thing I really didn't like - having been delivered quite early in the morning, the milk by this time was quite warm with a thick layer of cream which had risen to the top of the bottle. When I look back on it now, we were fairly fortunate to have it provided for us.
A walk down memory lane is a good thing to do and many times when I think back on those times I wonder how today's kids would fare, given the same kind of conditions we had growing up. So many gadgets and gidgets available to us today make living so much easier but I'm grateful for memories of those times - and grateful for that simple way of life.
I'd better bring myself back to the present!
|Boat sheds still survive not far from where I lived as a child 60 years ago - Orakei, Auckland New Zealand|