Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Memories of King Road School



It amazes me that my son has such a keen memory of teacher names, grades and episodes that occurred during his time in Junior Public School.  I consider myself fortunate enough to recall only a few teachers' names from any of the schools I attended!  A few days ago he sent the following:

A little inspiration yesterday afternoon, I looked up King Road School on the Halton District School Board. I thought I might write this little note to Michelle Newlands...the current Principal.

Currently, I live in Hamilton, but work as a contractor with a bank in the Financial District in NYC ~ yes, across from the World Trade Center!

My local  Church Pastor in New Jersey, visiting Washington, DC with his 9-year-old son, mentioned that he sat on the House Chamber floor with his son.  “Imagine all the great men who have spoken here,” he writes.  And I responded, “There are school children today who sit on the floor of the kindergarten room where I once sat in 1969.  They should realize the greatness of where they are sitting.”  (and places a 'smiley face' icon at end of his sentence)
Well, I did attend King Road School for six years 1969-1975.
The Principal was Mr. Atchison...and later Mr. Lloyd.

For Kindergarten-Primary (KP), I had Mrs. Young.  There was even a separate 'cloakroom' where you hung your coat.  Back then, as part of the opening exercises, we said 'The Pledge of Allegiance'.  That's been long gone since the 1970's...I suppose the schools don't think children should have any allegiance to their country anymore.  The 'Lord's Prayer' was also part of opening exercises up to grade two or three as I recall.  But that seems to have offended those who follow the atheist religion...and so it was deemed better to offend the Christians by removing it!

In Grade One I had Miss Hew-Wing who was from Jamaica, and she had the accent to match.  I was later transferred to Mrs. Angela Curry's class, which was a bit enriched.  Mrs. Curry played a guitar and taught a number of songs.  Back then, school pictures were done only of the whole class and were taken in the spring.  My Grade One class picture has Mrs. Curry...not Miss Hew-Wing.

In Grade Two I had an accelerated class with Miss Allen, who married and became Mrs. Howe...and is remembered for being the meanest teacher I ever had!  A girlfriend I knew in second grade, Kathryn, found a book in the school library called, “Nobody Listens to Andrew.”  She thought the title was funny because of the name reference to me.  I recently bought a copy of that book from Amazon to keep at work...since my recommendations often go ignored...until they discover much later, that I was right.  My local Pastor ordered a desk sign with my name that says under it...“No One Listens to Andrew!”

One time in Grade Two, we came in from afternoon recess in the winter...myself and another boy were the last to get out of our coats and boots.  Mrs. Howe scolded us and said, “Do you want to go back outside?!!!  Do you???”  The question was silly and illogical in the mind of a 7-year-old boy, and I answered,“Yes!”  And Mrs. Howe shook her wrist at me and said,“Well, go!  Go on!” The other boy cowardly said, “No.”  I went back outside alone...but had no one to play with.  A few minutes later, Mrs. Howe leaned out of the second floor window facing the field and called to me,
“Are you ready to come back in now?”

My mother used to be a school teacher of Grades 5 and 8...at Hampton Heights in Hamilton back in the early 60's.  She told me of a time one boy had shot an elastic band into another boy's eye and had to be taken to the hospital.  Well, I had an elastic...and my friend Eddie asked if he could borrow it which he promptly shot at another boy, but it flew out through the open window.  I got up and told Mrs. Howe that Eddie had just shot my elastic out  the window, meaning to explain the danger of what Eddie had just done.  But Mrs. Howe responded, “Go sit down or I'll throw YOU out the window.”  My best friend, Jimmy thought that was the funniest thing...and for most of the summer of '72, he would sing,
“Throw You Out the Window!”

In Grade Three I had Mrs. Amy Richardson, a senior English lady who was somewhat overweight and I used to watch the floor tiles buckle under her feet.  But she was really a nice lady.

My assigned teacher for Grade Four was Mrs. Ferguson, but, having a major illness early in the year, she was off work most of the year.  Two supply teachers filled in:  Mrs. Schultz, who later became permanent staff.  She did some bee-keeping and taught a science class  on honeybees.  And Mrs. Barbara Owen from Australia, a very beautiful blonde lady...I remember her for being the prettiest teacher I ever had.  I also got to sit next to my girlfriend Michelle for two months that year in 1974. One day, when we had indoor recess in the afternoon, some boys in my class thought it would be a good idea to make little balls of plasticine with pins in them to throw.  They got in much trouble and apparently had to receive 'the strap'.  Mrs. Owen was tear-stricken because she had to watch such injustice.  School discipline was a bit different back then.  One time I saw some boys playing on a dirt mound outside on the black-top, being told to stay off.  The teacher actually spanked one of these boys!

And in Grade Five I  had Mrs. Fawcett and my Science teacher was Mr. Shepherd. I usually befriended newcomers.  Kevin had just immigrated from Scotland, so he became my best friend. He had another friend, Dale who was English.  (Dale's father later became my State Farm Insurance Agent.)  To give you an idea of what three ten-year-old boys found exciting back in the summer of '75, we heard that some lady had committed suicide by jumping off the roof of one of the new apartment buildings in Warwick Court. We walked  around the building looking for the splatter.  We were excited to find some residual stains on the ground a few feet from the building.

In the summer of '75 I happened to meet my girlfriend, Michelle at Kiwanis Park (I'd had a crush on her since 2nd grade.)  Because she lived on Nora Drive, she'd gone to Maplehurst for Grade 5.  Michelle gave me some good advice:  “Make sure, you don't get Mrs. Plant for Grade 6 because she's a crabby teacher.”  I got Mrs. Plant for Grade Six...and she was just that, coming second to Mrs. Howe for overall meanness.  Having no classes together, I saw Michelle only casually  at Maplehurst. Mr. Kearns, the Principal, busted for growing marijuana in his back yard, was replaced as Principal. 

In the summer of 1978, we moved to North Burlington. I attended Grades 9-13 at M.M. Robinson;  then earned a Computer degree at University of Windsor...working as a Computer Analyst since 1987.

Surprising Circumstances:  Del Taylor, a friend in Grade Seven had resurfaced as my son's Physics teacher at Westdale; and is now head of the Science Department at Ancaster High School. When my younger daughter (now in Grade 10) was in Grade One, I had an interview with a senior-aged teacher...being a Mrs. Howe.  And I thought to myself, “I wonder if...?I just have to ask.”  So I said, “I used to have a Mrs. Howe back when I was in Grade 2 in Burlington.”  But this was not she.
Now if it had been the real Mrs. Howe, I would have been nice to her...
even if she did make me detest school!

Elementary School is not forgotten...it gave me many experiences.
I thought this might brighten your day.

Merle Baird-Kerr...March 29, 2015
Comments appreciated...email to:

4 comments:

  1. FROM JEANNE: "Loved that one, Merle!
    Took me back down 'memory lane' as well."

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  2. Thank you, Jeanne...short written episodes really do 'take us back to memories of our own' in school days.

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  3. SHERRIE WRITES: "I really liked your son's take on grade school. It goes to show you...that there are bad times,
    but more often, good times to remember as well."

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  4. That is LIFE, isn't it? LIfe gives us a mix...learning experiences...as well as recognition for our accomplishments. Thanks, Sherrie, always, for your input.

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