Second chapter of bits and pieces from my life's pattern, just the bits which float easily to the top of my memory pool. Chapter #1 can be found here.
I find few really stand-out memories of schooldays in England in the 1940s and 1950s. First school was in Grandparents' village, during the war, the same tiny one-room school my mother had attended, with probably the same headmistress (head of only two): Miss White. I mostly remember learning to write there, using pieces of chalk on a little black slate. Writing the figure 8 caused me much angst, the rest seemed easy. Next came a junior school in Hull, just after the war had ended. From that school the clearest memory I have is of being taught to knit, then of knitting a coat-hanger cover with added bobbles dangling on a braided string. The bobbles were made from cardboard circles with a hole in the middle - re-purposed milk-bottle tops in fact. It was at this school that I received, along with a couple of classmates, my one and only physical reprimand in school - a slap across the palm of my hand with a ruler by the teacher, don't recall what we'd done to deserve it.
When my parents moved to a market town, around 20 miles from Hull, to establish their own bakery and shop I changed school once again. In the Church of England junior school there I met a friend with whom I'm still in contact from time to time. Our birthdays are just a week apart. From this school, at age 11, I took the exam then nationally known as "The 11 Plus". This exam decided which of us would benefit most from academic-type further education, and which from a more practical based curriculum. From the exam results it was decided I fit the former group. The following September I began 5 years at The Bridlington High School for Girls, some 12 miles from our town.
High School/Grammar School in England back then was quite different from High School in the USA. I'd venture that it was a much more serious undertaking for pupils. We experienced no such entertainments as Prom Nights, ego boosting graduation ceremonies, or undue emphasis on sport - just solid work and a high degree of discipline much of the time.
I, and others from our town attending BHS, travelled by train each day - which entailed a longish walk or bike ride to the home railway station, and another longish walk from the Bridlington station to school, in designated groups. All school uniform hats had to be worn on these walks - or else! We had strict uniform requirements in those days. The uniforms were not cheap, but of good quality. Bottle green, white and black were the school's colours.
Our BHS school motto was Laetus Sorte Mea, which, translated = Happy In My Lot. We, pupils of the Bridlington High School for Girls, carried it on the pockets of our green/black/white striped blazers and a smaller version on our green, and hated, hats. Whether all of us were - happy in our lot - isn't known, for my part, I wasn't, not really, and certainly not all the time, though the experience did develop my self-discipline, I guess.
|1951, Bridlington beach|
|Mum and Me, School Sports Day, 1954-ish|
Shortly after GB's reign I remember going to a New Year's Eve dance at the Town Hall with a girlfriend. I wasn't much of a dancer, went mainly out of curiosity and to wear a nice new pink dress. A slightly older guy kept asking me to dance, I eventually accepted and did my best to shuffle around the floor with him. His name was Paul (how odd that I still remember his name!) He was probably in his mid-20s, horn-rimmed spectacles, not unattractive, but dark hair receding a wee bit. A gentle fellow, very nice. He was, he told me, a teacher. Oh dear - I was very silly back then, didn't want anything to do with that either! Paul tried to contact me via my parents several times afterwards but I didn't want to know. I often wonder how things might have turned out if I'd been a better friend to him, maybe even leading to...whatever.
Roads not taken! As Edith Piaf used to warble so prettily "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien"
(To be continued)