By Lucille 1954-61
Starting school was not a happy day for me and I disliked it so much that I walked home alone up Hamilton Road to Matai Road, but was returned later by my Mother. I remember afternoon rests on the rough, sea grass mats while Miss Barnes read us stories. The Wendy house was a favourite place to play with dolls, kitchen utensils, and all the other paraphernalia to prepare us for marriage and mother-hood.
Sewing was an oven cloth stitched in wool on sacking with cross stitch designs. Sacking was used during and after the war when fabric was scarce. In form 1 & 2,( EBIS had not be built then), we went to cooking classes at Miramar South school on the bus, and we wore white aprons which we had sewn ourselves and chain-stitched around the edge in red cotton and on our hat, which was a strip of white fabric to match the apron, we embroidered our name in chain-stitch. Some of the recipes were stewed fruit, scones, stuffed kidneys, lemon pudding, and blanc mange. We ate what we cooked and I still have my Home Science Notebook, (1959). I have used it often over the years, and there were some appetizing things like, pin-wheel scones, kiwi crisps, Waldorf salad, and cheese muffins.
School concerts were always fun as we had Lyn Foster, (who later had her own ballet school in Wellington) a talented ballet dancer who choreographed dances for us to perform. Adele Wooller was a dancer too and performed at the Form 2 final concert, with a very raunchy tap-dance. Mrs Wooller had a dance studio at home and was a dancing teacher so we had plenty of talented dancers to inspire us all to be budding ballerinas.
School trips to the National Museum at Mt Cook were always popular and I loved the miniature Maori Village with all its detail. No Te Papa then, everything was displayed behind glass in giant cabinets, stuffed birds, Maori war weapons, carved gourds and the Egyptian Mummy was on display.
We had Broadcasts to Schools on the classroom radio speakers in the afternoon usually Social Studies topics and I remember Apathied was a word we heard frequently, not that I knew what it meant then.
Every morning we had assembly outside in the playground and band music would play on a loud-speaker as we marched inside to class.
The polio epidemic left a few Kilbirnie School pupils with permanent disabilities and by 1962 the oral vaccine was available at the school.
Mrs McElwee made sure that we learnt our multiplication tables thoroughly by chanting them off the blackboard every day. We had regular tests to check if we had learnt them. I still know them all by heart so it was an efficient method to learn them by rote. Long division was a big deal to learn but once mastered it was never forgotten. We were shown examples on the blackboard by the teacher and then pages from the Arithmetic Text book had to be completed in our exercise books.
Mrs McElwee initiated Esperanto lessons in the school and Adele and I did a play spoken in Esperanto for the class. I had a pen-friend in France, Richard, who I corresponded with in Esperanto. I still have those letters.
Playground games that were popular at the time were knuckle-bones and when the hula hoop craze hit we all had our bight coloured plastic hoops and competition was keen for the person who could twirl the longest. We twirled round our waists and from our wrists and around our necks which was
Knuckle bones was a favourite with the girls and boys had marbles.
We had Maori stick games and songs in form 1 and 2 and Mrs Quinn, Ian's Mum, came to teach us.