Going to school in Georgetown at the height of the baby boom

"The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there. " -- L.P. Hartley, in The Go-Between (1953)

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Going to school in Georgetown at the height of the baby boom

Postby Mark Llew » Wed Aug 19, 2020 6:19 pm

I showed up at Wrigglesworth Public School at the end of March in 1955. Since I had never gone to school regularly before I came to Canada, I had no academic track record, and they didn’t know what to do with me. So they put me in Grade 2, one grade below my age. As it happened, the class was having tests that day, and I aced them. So when I showed up on the second day of school, the teacher took me to Mrs Cleave’s Grade 3 next door, where the kids were all my age.

But that Fall, I and a bunch of other kids were put in an accelerated program (I guess they were trying to get rid of us as quickly as they could, because of the number of younger kids coming up behind us ! After all, we were all born in 1945 or 1946 and were the leading edge of the Boom).

Our teacher was Mr Allison. Half the class were Grade 5 and the other half (including me) were Grade 4. The left three columns of desks were the Grade 5-ers and the right -hand columns were the grade 4s. At the beginning of the day, Mr Allison would give us Grade 4s something to do, and then he would teach the Grade 5s for a while. Then he would give them some work and teach us. It alternated like that all day. In January, the Grade 5s went into Grade 6 and we went into Grade 5 – still taught by Mr Allison, poor guy!

Mr A was an interesting fellow. One day someone told him that their dad had shot a fox. So Mr Allison said that if he could have the fox, he would dissect it in class ( ! ). So the next day, there he was, with the fox all strung up, ready to make the first incision along the belly line, when Mr Kinrade the principal came in. “Mr Allison, could I have a word with you?” Discussion out in the hallway, then Mr A came back into the classroom. “Apparently it’s against board of education policy to do dissections in public school”. Later, after lunch, Mr A invited any of us who were interested to come to Dr Sayers’ Veterinary office, next door to the school, where he and Dr Sayers would do the autopsy on the fox. But I couldn’t go, because I had a paper route, much to my regret. However, apparently a good time was had by all -- including by the few girls who went, much to our surprise!

Grade 6 came that Fall of 1956. Miss Hall was our teacher. She was renowned for putting kids over her knee and spanking them, although I only saw that once. The weird thing about Grade 6 was that because of shortages of school space, we attended school in shifts. For the first month, we went to school from 8:00 am till 1:00 pm. Then in the second moth we went from 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Another class alternated with us, going in the afternoon when it was our turn to be in the morning, and vice versa.

In Grade 7, a whole bunch of us, according to our address, were transferred to Harrison School, which had just been built. And we had to get used to (1) blue windows, and (2) a whole bunch of new kids no-one had ever heard of who had moved into Delrex. In Grade 7, things started to look a little more normal – no more acceleration, no more shift school – except for our teacher, Logan Macdonald, who was a superb teacher. But a little eccentric at times.
For Grade 8 we had Harold Henry, who was also the principal (in those days, principals were teachers, first and foremost, as well as being principal). He too was a good teacher. But he did have a temper, boy. When he came into the class in the morning, we could always tell – if his neck was red, watch out (he had ginger hair, so I guess he came by his temper legitimately!) :amen:
Mark Llew
 
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