Thursday, June 23, 2016

Always, no sometimes, think it's me (John Lennon)

Get Back (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 1, part 9)

October the first, 1962, was huge! 

The Beatles signed a contract with Brian Epstein on that day in England and I started my education at Royal Oak Primary after a stint at Mrs Rogers Greenwoods Corner kindy. The year was also memorable in other ways - down in Dunedin, a few months earlier on April 14th Jacqueline Frances Smith was the first child born to Patricia and Brian Smith.

Like millions of people I can identify with John Lennon's lyric to Strawberry Fields Forever when he says, 'No one I think is in my tree'. From the start I knew I was different. I loved words and reading right from the start. Probably totally pretentious, but I'd love to try out new vocabulary on my parents, and peers at school. I was experimenting and I read A LOT!

Nose in a book - typical!
Grandma bought me Look and Learn magazines each week, I loved the reading boxes at school, I borrowed books from the library and I would have books bought for me to read. And there were always the adult books in the bookcase at home that I'd gaze at when bored. 

My imagination was stirred AND shaken. Look and Learn had some great comic strips, The Trigan Empire series and others. There were informative articles and my books were adventure oriented but not of the usual Enid Blyton kind.

The year 1962 was also tinged with sadness for my father and grandfather. William, my great grandfather, our solid link to Rochdale origins, passed away.

I can't say I ever really knew him, I was 5, but I definitely remember him. He was a kind of shadowy figure but he was a definite presence. The house called Roch-dene in Reimers Avenue, opposite Eden Park, belonged to him, not Deedoo as I always believed. My father and his parents lived with William rather than the other way around.

I feel a real connection to him, I share his initials, I proudly wear his gold wedding band and his roots in Rochdale feel deeply ingrained in me as well. Without William I wouldn't be here, so I owe him a great debt.

On the first day of school I arrived with my mum and immediately found a friend, or more accurately, he found me. I seem to have a knack for making strong relationships with people and Billy was the first. My first day of Primary and this little boy befriends me, a total stranger one second then we're mates! Just like that. Billy's open invitation to be a friend has stayed with me, long after the event.

Wherever you are, Billy, you did good to a funny little guy.

Royal Oak primary was a magic school and a wonderful start. I can still picture teachers and students and even individual lessons like they were part of my recent past: plays I performed in; getting cards from reading boxes; playing goalie and diving around like a maniac; being catcher for the softball team; playing four square; getting a kiss from Adrienne - my first love; drinking warm milk from cream sized glass bottles; being on school patrol at the Pah Road crossing; doing a speech about a family holiday to Australia; singing in Mrs Alexander's choir; protecting Ross from bullies; getting on the bus to the murder house (dentist traumas that linger still) and playing rugby at Te Papa Primary.

These things are all as vivid in my memory as if I'd read about them in a book. Yes - Royal Oak primary was magic, as was my childhood in the otherwise turbulent sixties.

Love and peace - Wozza

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