nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘school days

early schooling – what to do at recess

with 8 comments

When I was young, recess was a big deal. You had to take a treat to eat and something for play. In Grade Three, tops were all the rage. My Dad made me a top from a wooden spool and we painted it in a rainbow of colours. I can still see it spinning on the concrete step. We also played hop-scotch, ball games like Ordinary Secretary, marbles, skipping and tag.

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April 30, 2016 'top made from a wooden spool' Jane Tims

April 30, 2016 ‘top made from a wooden spool’ Jane Tims

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I am lucky to have some of my Dad’s writing about his early years and his experiences in a one room school. He went to the Weaver Settlement School in Digby County in Nova Scotia in the late 1920s and early 1930s. He tells about some of the activities at the school, especially at recess. Fishing was popular, as well as playing ball and trading jack knives.

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… There was a well out beside the school and it was a good appointment to take care of the water-cooler for a day of a week … Gave a student time off from books…

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… There was a brook nearby … In fall we usually built a dam so the brook became a pond for winter … A place to skate or just play on the ice …every moment of recess and noon was spent there …

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… The big contest was ‘who comes to school first in bare feet ’ … Our parents had control, not full control as there were hiding places for shoes and stockings along the way to school …

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Dad as a boy holding horse

Dad with the family horse Goldie in about 1930

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I am certain recess is still a favorite time for school kids – time to talk with friends, play games and get a little break from the classroom. I think we could all build a little ‘recess’ into our busy lives!

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Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

 

 

remembering place – Grade Three

with 4 comments

Grade Three, for me, is 52 years ago.  Therefore, I am not surprised how little I remember of that year.   I can only name two other students in the Grade Three class photo!

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I do remember my teacher, Miss Heather Johnson, a kind gentle teacher, always smiling.  I also remember her because as a high school student she was taught by my father who was also a teacher.

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Miss Johnson's Grade Three class, Crescent Heights Elementary School (I am in the back row, seventh from the left)

Miss Johnson’s Grade Three class, Crescent Heights Elementary School (I am in the back row, seventh from the left)

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My only real memory of Grade Three is of my Dad.  I remember him joking with me as he studied my Report Card.  I always had good reports, and this time I had a whole row of ‘H’s (H was the best grade possible).  I can hear him booming in his deep voice ‘I thought ‘H’ stood for Horrible!’

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Crescent Heights High School - once Crescent Heights Elementary School (the school is barely recognisable, there have been so many additions; when I went there, the school was a long low brick building)

Crescent Heights High School – once Crescent Heights Elementary School (the school is barely recognisable, there have been so many additions; when I went there, the school was a long low brick building)

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

August 6, 2014 at 7:35 am

remembering place – Grade One

with 6 comments

On a ‘mind map’ of my life, what places are clearly marked as important, with bright yellow stickpins of internal memory?

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home

home (map from Google Earth)

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Since I spent most of my younger days in school, it isn’t very surprising that many of those stickpins mark the schools I attended.  One of these is Vincent Massey Elementary School in Medicine Hat, Alberta.

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Vincent Massey Elementary School in 2006 - looks just the same as in the early 1960s

Vincent Massey Elementary School in 2012 – looks just the same as in the early 1960s (image from Street View)

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In the early 1960s there were three elementary schools within a reasonable distance of our house. The story of how I came to attend Vincent Massey was probably one of the first dramatic events in my life to that date.

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The school I was assigned to attend was determined by the School Board.   The summer just before I was to attend school for the first time, a delegate of the School Board came around the neighborhood to let the parents know which school their children would attend.  Mom and Dad were not at home when the representative came to call.  My Mom got the information second-hand, from the mother of my best friend, just across the street.

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from home to school in Grade One

from home to school in Grade One (map from Google Earth)

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Mom and Dad were quite alarmed to discover I was to go to Vincent Massey Elementary School, seven blocks away.  This may not seem far today – my son attended Grade One in a community 13 kilometers away.  But in those days, there was no school bus and my Mom had my eighteen-month-old brother to care for.  I would have to get to school on my own two feet.

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My brother and I in 1960 - I had been in Grade One for three months when the picture was taken - I look like I could easily make those seven blocks to school!

My brother and I in 1960 – I had been in Grade One for three months when the picture was taken – I look like I could easily make those seven blocks to school!

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I remember the discussions well – about the best route for me to take, about what we would do about dinner time, about the dangers of taking to strangers.  We did a couple of dry runs.  I can still remember my Mom showing me how to cross the busy four-lane Division Avenue.  Up to this point, I had not been allowed to go beyond our own block by myself.

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Division Avenue

Division Avenue in 2012 (image from Street View) – I remember standing on the curb looking at the traffic whizzing back and forth … no crosswalk!!!!

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The first day at school, the drama expanded.  Mom had told me to be very careful to listen for my first name – Alexandra.  I was usually called by my second name – Jane – so this was a major worry for me.  On that first morning, all the students were assembled in the gymn.  We sat on the floor and our names were called, one by one.  I listened for that long, strange first name as each name was called.  And, at the very end, I was all alone in the gymn … no one had called the name Alexandra.

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The teachers were very nice, of course.  I was told not to worry, and Mrs. MacDonald, a teacher of one of the Grade One classes, came to get me.

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As it turned out, the neighbor had given my Mom the wrong information.  Today, knowing urban planning as I do, I think ‘Division Avenue’ might have provided the first clue!!!!

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I had a great year.  I walked to school with friends.  We stuck to the planned route for a while, but ended up taking shortcuts through various yards.  By the end of the year, I was taking the city bus, dropping my quarter into the slot like a pro.  I stayed with Mrs. MacDonald for my first year of school and emerged from the grade convinced that rabbit was spelled ‘raddit’ (no fault of the teacher’s).

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Mrs. McDonald's Grade One class (I am first left in bottom row; Mrs. McDonald is at upper left)

Mrs. McDonald’s Grade One class (I am first left in bottom row; Mrs. McDonald is at upper left)

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The next year, properly directed by the School Board, I was sent to Crescent Heights Elementary School, two blocks away, and another stickpin on my ‘mind map’ …

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

June 27, 2014 at 7:27 am

remembering place: high school

with 8 comments

swing chair voyages.png

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In Grade 10, 11 and 12, I went to Sidney Stephen High in Bedford Nova Scotia .

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Sidney Stephen High

Sidney Stephen High (now a Middle School)

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I had good friends.  I loved all my teachers.  I took swimming and golf lessons.  I went to school dances and played piano at our various talent nights.  I was on our school’s Reach for the Top team and answered only one question during the television program … name Santa’s eight reindeer!  We lost to Halifax West, the school where my Dad was Vice-Principal.

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I walked the sidewalk above so many times.  Once I carried Myles Goodwyn’s guitar down that hill.  The guitar was borrowed for a weekend, something to do with a talent night.  Myles Goodwyn is producer, singer, guitarist and composer in one of Canada’s greatest rock groups, April Wine.

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Just outside the end door in the wing of the school visible in the image above, sitting on the grass, I helped my friends prepare for a test on William Golding’s Lord of the Flies.  Among my friends, I alone actually read the book, and I made the lowest test score of the four people I coached that day!!!

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English and History were my favorite subjects.  My English teachers were Mr. Burke and Mrs. Bussey.  I learned about Shakespeare, the Romantic poets and travel writing. I remember Mr. Burke’s class so clearly: ‘Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’ (Ozymandias, Shelley).  In Mrs. Bussey’s English class we went to live theatre and I fell in love with set design.  I remember the two-storey backdrop of the set for Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night at Neptune Theatre.  The house I live in today, which my husband and I built with the help of my Dad, has a loft inspired by that set.

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Our History teacher, Mr. Harvey, was a great inspiration, taking us to all the historical nooks and crannies in the area. Our History Club researched the first length of the old stagecoach route between Lower Sackville and Truro (surveyed in 1817-1818 by Woolford; for an old map of this road, see http://www.novascotia.ca/nsarm/virtual/woolford/archives.asp?ID=11).  For the project we actually walked the old road, even then almost obscured by the growth of the forest.  We could still see the path of the road by looking for the younger trees in the landscape, and we could find the old culverts.  Later, we made a 3-D model of the road and its path between lakes and hills.  Today, the old road begins at the Fultz Museum in Sackville (once Fultz’s Twelve-mile House, an inn along the way) and follows various local roads, including part of the Old Cobequid Road.  I once lived (my first apartment) just across the lake from the old road (the long lake in the upper part of the map below).

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old road scakville to truro

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If we ever had one, I did not go to my class reunion for Sidney Stephen.  I gradually lost touch with my friends, although I know where they live (not a threat!) and a little about their lives since High School.    And I still talk to Mr. Burke, my English teacher, occasionally.  Some friends I will never see again and that makes me very sad.

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

remembering place: a gift on a spring day

with 8 comments

swing chair voyages.png

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When I was a teenager, my family lived in Lower Sackville in Nova Scotia.  I went to Junior High and Senior High there and began my university days.

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I have many great memories of living in our house … of spending time with friends and family.  I remember painting the kitchen cupboards with my Dad, painting a huge seascape on the living room wall, decorating the Christmas tree with the ‘help’ of our dog Snoopy, and doing homework and learning to sew while watching Audie Murphy movies.  One of my earliest ‘projects’ was raising wild violets from seed along the back fence.  I can remember spending hours on the phone with my friend Donna, pulling the long telephone cord down the basement stairs so I could sit and giggle in privacy.

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On that same phone, my sister and I practiced for days how we would be the tenth caller to win tickets to see Elvis Presley in Halifax.  When the moment came, we counted the time just as we had carefully calculated.  Then I dialed in, at the precise moment.  They answered!  And, in my excitement, I HUNG UP.  My sister was so put out at me.  And we will never know if we were the lucky tenth caller!  We never did see Elvis in person.

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As an exercise for a writing class I am taking, I wrote a little about attending my best friend’s wedding after graduation in 1972.  I walked to the church which was just at the bottom of our street.  As I wrote the story, I thought how I would like to see that street, to better remember the walk I took.  So, I went to Street View (Google Earth).  I began at the top of the hill and virtually ‘walked ‘ along the street where I had lived.  At the first of the walk, I saw our house in July of 2012, when the Street View image was taken.  I was amazed to see how the trees we planted had grown …  the house is hard to see !

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Lower Scackville house 1

the house where we used to live, the trees all grown

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A few more ‘steps’ and Street View switched to an image taken in May of 2009.  I turned back to ‘see’ the house.  And this is what I saw …

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Lower Scackville house 2

Forsythia in bloom in front of the house where I used to live

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My Mom loved the big Forsythia that grew in our front yard.  She always said it reminded her of my grandmother (her mother).  And there it was, in full bloom and grown huge over the 40 years since we lived there.  What a lovely gift on a spring day!

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

May 21, 2014 at 7:06 am

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