Reading this lovely contribution the memories came flooding back along with a few details I didn't know or had forgotten. Miss Stevens, wasn't her father the school caretaker? My memory of her was that she sometimes wore a green raincoat with a hood on it, strange how these little details come to mind!The reception class had a sandpit just outside the big door at the end of the class. It had its own toilets with low sides to the cubicles so that the teacher could see in. My teacher was Miss Stevens, young and round-faced. Some time in the next two years she was replaced by Mrs Cadman, who I always thought of as old, because of her grey hair. Many years later we lived across the road from her and I realised that she was similar in age to my mum! We would get out mats to sit on while we listened to stories such as Thomas The Tank Engine, which came in small landscape-format books.
Then we crossed over the corridor to Miss Green's class. There were toys like a rubber brick version of Lego, wooden coloured pieces that were nailed to fibre board with a wooden hammer and a real tool box with real tools. Our neighbour gave me a hammer that was donated to the box. Mrs Cornforth was the last teacher in the infants. While there we were visited by Malaysian student teachers. (Research suggests that they came from Wolverhampton and were training to go back to new schools in Malaya). We made a model village with straw and they showed us a real cocoa pod that almost looked like rubber. Behind this class was a 'secret' playground with a climbing net. I only remember going there once as a class. Normally infants weren't allowed to go up the path at the end of the classrooms so no-one saw this area.
At dinner time we were marshalled into pairs and warned to be quiet as we passed into the dark corridor that passed the Junior's assembly hall and Mr Barlow's office with the ultimate penalty, his cane!
My first Junior class was with Miss Hay, who came from Kingston-upon-Hull, not Hull! She was very nice. The next class was with Mrs Best, who had been Miss Alexander the year before. Her class had a display about Alexander the Great. She took an instant dislike to me and my marks floored. My sister had her two years later and when about to be 'rulered' Mrs Best's pearl necklace got caught and the pearls went everywhere. Mrs Best had a small Austin car and smoked Du Maurier cigarettes. I think Mr Barlow was the only other car driver. Next up was Mr Bates who I think was South African. As others have noted he was keen on speaking clearly. "..by Vachel Lindsay." was all that I recall, (perhaps "The Congo"?).
Finally there was Mr Wimpory with his tweed jacket and folk dance badge. I never remember him being called 'Elsie', his initials were 'LCC' - London County Council he said. Such an enthusiastic teacher!
Other memories include the visits by 'the shoddy man' with his old Bedford van and the final year coach trip to Bristol Zoo and Weston-super-mare with a little pot of jam at the Winter Gardens.
Mr Whiting and Mr Cullen took the boys for craft work. The reason Mr Whiting 'squeaked' was because he had a 'tin' leg. He was 'firm but fair'. Mr Cullen was nice.
Mention has been made of milk monitors and bell ringers, (at the 50th anniversary the teacher that we spoke to didn't know what the hand bell was for!). At one time I was attendance monitor, collecting up the forms, that eventually led to a visit by the 'attendance man'. I also was a guillotine monitor. Each floor had a stockroom at the end where a guillotine was kept. You had to put up the class number on a hook when it was borrowed. Some lucky(?) boys got to dress up in aprons and to carry a tin bath to collect up all the ink wells at the end of the year. Were there any girl monitors? Perhaps not. Teachers then knew that boys respond to and perhaps need to have responsibilities. Somehow the staff of those days managed classes of 42 with no 'TAs'.
Mapledene was very rural, a school in a field. Every class seemed to have a nature table. Sometimes we had the smell of cows! Aircraft noise was a lot worse then I'm sure, the Douglas DC-3 was very noisy and very slow so it took ages for them to pass by.
Another secret! The room under the Junior's stage was used for a special art class taken by a Miss Jenner, possibly?
What a wonderful picture! I am there sitting in the front on the floor but can hardly recognise myself. Most of the other names you mentioned I recall but there's quite a few I don't recollect. Margaret's twin brother was named Keith I think and I think he went on to Sheldon Heath Comp after his 11 plus. I carried on my secondary education with David Hughes, we were the only two to go to our grammar school with most of the other boys going to either Central or Yardley Grammar. My wife went to Byng Kenrick and knew Elizabeth Day there.Miss Green's class of 1954:
Back Row L-R: ?, James Shaw, Molly Parkin, ?, Rosamund, Sylvia, ?, Peggy Mole, Margaret Thornborough, ?, Edith Lowe, ?, Arthur Edwards.
Standing Row L-R: Susan Banks, Elizabeth Day, Brian Johnson, Vivian Haddock, ?, Paul Field, ?, ? Elizabeth White, ?, Eve Edwards, Stanley.
Sitting Row L-R: Howard Thomas, David Hughes, ?, 'Twiny 1', 'Twiny 2', ?, Miss Green, ?, ?, Jill Burrows, ?, Christine Blake, Pauline Evans.
Floor Row L-R: ?, ?, Ivor James, James Madden, ?, ?,?, Donald Cornock.
Margaret Thornborough had a twin brother so he must be there too. Pauline Evans went around with the twins and she called them Twiny 1 & 2. Vivian Haddock had an older sister Pearl and they were children of the Haddock family that had a business on Old Lode Lane, just before where Mahoney's is now, (behind them, on Coventry Road was Parson's timber yard). Elizabeth White was a butcher's daughter (Aston's(?)) on Arden Oak Road.
Earlier I mentioned pictures in the Juniors' dining hall, perhaps one was one of van Gogh's pictures of the Langlois bridge at Arles?
Something that I never noticed in 1954 were the gas lights either side of the doors. At the 50th anniversary I noticed them then in various places, (without shades). Someone said that Mapledene was designed to be a refuge centre in times of emergency and had gas lighting in case the electricity supply failed.
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I seem to remember more from the junior school. A couple more names from then, Trevor Slater, David Gray, Paul Hart, Sheila Hurst, Jacqueline Godfrey, Vivien Long, Margaret Bennett. I can't recognise Christopher Rowan but I do remember he was House captain of St. George's with Robert Pallister as vice-captain. I only ever made weather monitor and was responsible for taking barometer readings every day!Yes Keith was the twin. I have a mental block with him! His mum in later years always spoke of him to the exclusion of Margaret but he wasn't in our junior classes and I often walked home with Margaret. They had an older brother, Roland, too. Robert Pallister and John Cole are familiar names but wasn't John Cole slightly younger? (The infant classes were 'streamed' by age so we oldies lost a lot of our infant pals and gained a lot of 'youngsters' when we went into the juniors. That is when Keith split from Margaret). John Cole's mum taught Biology and she gave him and me extra tuition to which I probably owe my 'O'-level! Around that time John made his own electric guitar. Might that be Christopher Rowan next to Elizabeth White? He wore glasses in junior school. There are a lot of names that I remember but were they in this class?
Spargone,Miss Hay's class 1/1 1956/7. I ought to remember a lot more!
Back Row L-R: ?, Reginald Partington, Christopher Rowan, Elizabeth Day, Margaret Thornborough, Peggy Mole, ?,Brian Johnson, ?.
Middle Row L-R: ?, Margaret Newton, ?, ?, ?, Valerie Johnson, ?, Jill Burrows, ?, Christine Blake, Ivor James.
Standing Row L-R: David Hughes, Elizabeth White, Howard Thomas, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, Eve Edwards, ?.
Sitting Row L-R: Pauline Evans,? , Jaqueline Godfrey, ?, ?, Miss Hay, ?, ?, James Shaw, ?, ?.
This photograph must have been taken in the 'secret' playground as that is the final year infants' class spur in the background.
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During out time in this class the Mayflower II made it trip across the Atlantic and we put in map pins each day. Margaret Newton's brother was a sailor and he bought her Japanese dolls in glass cases which she brought in for us to see. One boy's father was a fishmonger and they had found a baby shark, about a foot long, which he showed to us.
I do remember our Choral speaking with Mr Bates and this poem, standing on the stage in front of all the school and parents, reciting from memory but I'm sure it was a shortened version. I don't think we could have coped with the full length version.Memories of Mr Bates:
All togther now, "The Congo. By Vachel Lindsay"
FAT black bucks in a wine-barrel room,
Barrel-house kings, with feet unstable,
Sagged and reeled and pounded on the table,
[A deep rolling bass.]
Pounded on the table,
Beat an empty barrel with the handle of a broom,
Hard as they were able,
Boom, boom, BOOM,
With a silk umbrella and the handle of a broom,
Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, BOOM.
THEN I had religion, THEN I had a vision.
I could not turn from their revel in derision.
THEN I SAW THE CONGO, CREEPING THROUGH THE BLACK,
[More deliberate. Solemnly chanted.]
CUTTING THROUGH THE JUNGLE WITH A GOLDEN TRACK.
Then along that riverbank
A thousand miles Tattooed cannibals danced in files;
Then I heard the boom of the blood-lust song
And a thigh-bone beating on a tin-pan gong.
[A rapidly piling climax of speed and racket.]
And "BLOOD" screamed the whistles and the fifes of the warriors,
"BLOOD" screamed the skull-faced, lean witch-doctors,
"Whirl ye the deadly voo-doo rattle, Harry the uplands,
Steal all the cattle, Rattle-rattle, rattle-rattle, Bing!
Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, BOOM,"
A roaring, epic, rag-time tune
[ With a philosophic pause.]
From the mouth of the Congo To the Mountains of the Moon.
Death is an Elephant, Torch-eyed and horrible,
[ Shrilly and with a heavily accented meter.]
Foam-flanked and terrible.
BOOM, steal the pygmies,
BOOM, kill the Arabs,
BOOM, kill the white men,
[ Like the wind in the chimney.]
HOO, HOO, HOO.
Listen to the yell of Leopold's ghost
Burning in Hell for his hand-maimed host.
Hear how the demons chuckle and yell
Cutting his hands off, down in Hell.
Listen to the creepy proclamation,
Blown through the lairs of the forest-nation,
Blown past the white-ants' hill of clay,
Blown past the marsh where the butterflies play:—
"Be careful what you do,
Or Mumbo-Jumbo, God of the Congo,
[ All the o sounds very golden. Heavy accents very heavy. Light accents very light. Last line whispered.]
And all of the other Gods of the Congo,
Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you,
Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you,
Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you."