Old boy reminisces on the gift

Publication Date24 November 2021
AuthorComment By a Queens Park School old boy
Publication titleWhanganui Midweek
I know now but the question I now ask myself: what became of my classmates from the first school I attended?

From my perspective, an obvious answer is that they vanished.

Wherever they are, the epithet Baby Boomers is used as a pejorative term to describe them but generational generalisations are meaningless. We were simply a diverse group of individuals blessed by the social mechanisms established by earlier historical factors and by the whim of economic caprice. Later, we also had the good fortune to have the gift of the 60s.

In 1953, on my first day at school, I became part of a school classroom cohort that was to transition from the 1950s into the 1960s.

My recollection of that day is still quite vivid. With my mother’s determined urging I entered through the school’s memorial gates, walked across the tarmac, was led down a long passage and entered Miss Bell’s primer one classroom where I was required to read a section of a Janet and John book. I was then placed in primer 2. My classmates and I were part of what many would claim as the most privileged generation in the history of the world, but our individual circumstances varied and our experiences, even in the classroom, would differ.

By individual choice or social apprehension, I had only limited association with my classmates at school and now, nearly 70 years later, the fate of most is not known to me.

Circumstances after we left Queens Park school led us on different paths and a high percentage would have left Whanganui in the 1960s, yet I remember their names and hold a collective affection for those who were part of my formative years.

My teachers too I remember, not with any great affection, but with no animosity (with just one exception). Their names are worth remembering because during their working life they ushered hundreds of individuals through an educational system that would inevitably impact their lives.

My first teacher’s name I can’t remember but it was probably Ms Noble. There were 18 in our class and if my memory serves me well our classroom had no desks. There were individual blackboards on the room wall to which we were each assigned. Morning classes started with stretching and breathing exercises and from time to time we were required to sit cross-legged on the floor.

Notwithstanding my belief that there was a lack of desks, we had exercise books in which we performed work duties that enabled us to earn one, two or three gold stars. There were silver stars too, which, if...

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