School, a bicycle and Teddy

School - a place of mystery and excitement
where my sister and brothers disappeared to every morning... and at last I was ready to go there too. Even the disappointment when I realised I am not going with them on the big bus into town, could not dampen my excitement.

I must admit to a certain amount of doubt and awe as my sister and especially my brothers took it upon themselves to prepare me for this new adventure by telling me about all the dangers, horrors and dreadful, cane swinging teachers that awaited me in school.

On arrival at school with my parents, the doubt and awe quickly disappeared when I saw all the children I knew, and quite a few unknown ones, running around, shouting and laughing - later I came to appreciate the joy of seeing friends for the first time after the long Christmas holidays.

My first school was a farm school. There was an entrance lobby and two classrooms with a veranda on both sides running the length of the building. A little way from the main building, were three toilets for the girls and teacher (those hated bucket contraptions again) and three toilets for boys and the principal - whether their's had buckets I never found out because I never went into them... not even when the boys ran in there to hide when we played hide-and-seek.

Mr van Niekerk, the principal, taught the seniors in Grades 4 to 7 and my teacher, Miss Visser, taught the juniors in Grades 1 to 3. The juniors went home at 12 o'clock and then she taught the girls in the senior class needlework while he taught the boys woodwork.

During breaks, one long break of 30 minutes at 10 o'clock, and a shorter one of 15 minutes at 12 o'clock when the junior children went home, we played... hopscotch, "kennetjie", soccer, marbles, tops... whatever it was the season for. The few girls in school quickly turned into tomboys for our own survival. My primary school days were ones of "anything you can do, I can do better". It was only when I entered high school that I re-connected with my feminine persona.

Money was very scarce in those days and most of the children walked to school, sometimes over long distances. I had to walk about 3 kilometres to and from school every day. Only the very lucky ones had bicycles and I often looked at those with envy and wished-and wished-and wished, that I had a bicycle of my own.

My wish-wish-wishing paid off. At the end of my first year at school, my parents bought me a brand new BSA bicycle. I became so absorbed in learning to ride it that one night my mother, checking up on me before she went to sleep, found me missing from my bed. My father eventually, after quite a bit of a panic, found me in the garage, fast asleep, sitting on my bicycle. After that the outside doors were locked at night and thus my career in sleepwalking came to a sudden end. By the time the new school year started, I could ride well enough to give the boys a run for their money.

Another item that entered my life at the end of that year, and that stayed a part of my life to this very day, is Teddy. My spinster aunt brought him home for me and he effortlessly slipped into the role of best friend. Not only did he move into my life but also into my bed; he was only ousted many years later when my husband replaced him. I still have him today, but now he is retired to an old suitcase filled with other special soft creatures of my children that I hope to one-day pass on to my grandchildren.


jfrancis said...

Beauty come
beneath soft blonde hair
or in words
of painted pictures___
and in grandmothers's eyes,
if you have neither
blonde hair nor special words.

Argent said...

What a lovely post! I really enjoyed reading it. Happy days!

Arley said...

What a sweet story! I wish I still had a stuffed something from my childhood, but they are all long gone. However my memories of elementry school are not so fond. You are lucky!

Tim Bouwer said...

This is a lovely post, thank you!

Anonymous said...

to anne lovely stories your wasted maureen

PhilipH said...

Another superb post, painting the scene so vibrantly.

Schooldays were not, in my case, the 'happiest days of my life'. I know they are supposed to be, according to the old adage, but as I was the oldest of five boys it meant I was often being dragged into fights caused by one or more of my younger brothers.

"I'll get my big brother onto you.." was their usual threat when they were in some sort of scrape with other lads.

I've got some happy memories of school of course but, all in all, I was much happier when I left (at age 14) and helped bring a little bit of money into the family.