Saturday, July 30, 2016

Don't know much (Sam Cooke)

The footsteps of dawn (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 3, part 1)

Don't know much about history
Don't know much biology
Don't know much about a science book
Don't know much about the French I took
But I do know that I love you
And I do know that if you love me too
What a wonderful, wonderful world it would be
(Sam Cooke)

The gates to Royal Oak Primary are still there.

Royal Oak Primary, Manukau Intermediate, Mount Albert Grammar School. They all tried hard with Warren Purdy.

Front row, stripped shirt, 1963.

Inextricably, the Royal Oak area of Auckland and Royal Oak Primary are intertwined with my happy childhood memories. They were safe and warm places to grow up and they never let me down. 

When I was growing up, Royal Oak was pretty much my entire self contained universe. When I visited the Penny Lane roundabout in Liverpool I understood what Paul McCartney was on about in his famous song. 

Penny Lane contains Paul's memories of the banker, the barber, the firemen and so on. I get it (Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes. There beneath the blue suburban skies)

Royal Oak was my Penny Lane.

The shops at the Royal Oak roundabout included Walls and Roche (chemists), a butchers, a menswear, three stationers where I'd buy my comics, and a dairy (ice creams, lollies, cokes). I took tennis lessons at the Royal Oak grass courts and joined the Fernleigh Road tennis  club (off Pah Road). I'd return glass coke bottles to the Pah Road dairy. Close by was the cubs/scouts hall that Ross and I went to. Seymour Park was where I played football for Eden FC. Ross and I went to St John's Church for Sunday school. Our doctor and dentist (Nelson and Bridgeman) were in the area, too. 

Everything was in walking distance. When I got my bike in 1967 it was even closer!

In terms of schooling, everything was accessible from Oak Street or Korma Road: Mrs Rogers kindy; Royal Oak Primary and Manukau Intermediate.

Middle row, proudly wearing my patrol badge
(love of my young life Adrienne is middle row, second left)
After School Patrol duty, I'd walk home along Pah Road towards my happy home at 18 Korma Ave. The tins were full of good stuff. I could swim in summer or kick a football around our empty pool in winter. I could ride my bike and play games with Ross. We could go on holiday and I never wanted for anything. It was a sweet ride!

I loved primary school.

But then, after my last term in Standard Four (1968), a transition had to happen. I had to leave Royal Oak Primary and head to a new school. I had to trade in the scouts uniform and put on the intermediate one. 

Dib dib dib - me and Ross with cool uniforms, but not for long
Manukau Intermediate (now rebranded as Royal Oak Intermediate) was just down the road, in Trafalgar Street. I'd been there for choir performances (that will be a shock to my students and colleagues). At that time, I remember being slightly overwhelmed by its size.

Luckily, a lot of my friends also made the move. John Dawson and his brother walked me to school that first morning in January 1969. Interestingly, I am no longer in any kind of contact with anyone from primary or intermediate school. Funny how that happens.

I enjoyed a lot of things about Manukau, but Mrs Kay was not one of them. A chain-smoking, nicotine stained, obese woman was to be my teacher for both my form one and form two years. Yikes.

For the only time in my entire school career I felt the injustice of corporal punishment when she gave me the strap, on the hand, for talking during one of her abysmal French lessons. The shame and the injustice has stayed with me. 

It was such a shock.

One minute I'm sitting at my desk, next the two of us are called up in front of the class. I have to hold my hand out while she uses a large leather strap to whack my hand. It stings like hell and when I return to my seat I'm crying with embarrassment and pain.

It continues to sting!

On the plus side, I spent two years learning new things. Woodwork and metalwork were the only two practical subjects I ever took and I enjoyed them, even though I was an absolute clutz in them most of the time. 

Mr Lindsay with his team (I'm
second from left in the front row)
Intermediate was a valuable time in transitioning from childhood to teenager.
In 1970 I caught a glimpse of my future. An inspirational teacher took us for maths, Mr Lindsay. He was young, competent, and my soccer coach. Suddenly, these new thoughts about being a teacher seemed to make sense.

As a Manukau Intermediate pupil I was zoned for the local Onehunga High School, also within walking distance from Korma Ave. At the time though, the local word wasn't favourable about OHS.

Instead, mum and dad sought the more difficult option - to bus me over to Mount Albert Grammar, where dad had been a student. 

As I was out of zone, I had to attend an interview with the Headmaster, Maurice Hall.  It must have gone well, or else he was impressed by my stated desire to become a maths teacher, or else dad being an old boy swung the deal. 

Whatever - I was in! I was going to be a MAGS boy!

Love and peace - Wozza

No comments: