Patracat's Memories

This blog is my story. I have created it for posterity, as some of my early memories are of a way of life that many of my peers have forgotten, and the younger generations will never experience. I hope the reader enjoys it, and will be encouraged to write their own story. Once you have gone, your memories go with you and can never be recaptured unless you write them down.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Chapter 6: Primary School days.

When I was at primary school in the early fifties, most of my friends were from a similar background – not wealthy, but comfortable and secure. But there were a few exceptions. I remember Mum warning me not to associate with one girl whose name was Marlene. I liked Marlene – she was cheeky and fun to be with, and I asked Mum why I wasn’t allowed to go to her house to play. Mum replied “Because her mother is an alcoholic and her sister is a prostitute”. How on earth Mum knew that I don’t know – Mothers’ Club gossip I suppose. But it meant nothing to me at the tender age of six years, so I asked could I bring Marlene home to our place, if I couldn’t go to hers. Mum consented reluctantly. She was polite to Marlene, but managed to avoid her while she was there, so I didn’t bring her home very often. I never met Marlene’s family, and I didn’t see her again after we finished primary school.

Another girl I remember was Greek, and couldn’t speak English when she was brought into our third grade class. She was very pretty, with long dark curly hair and big dark eyes. She wore a cream coloured coat which she didn’t take off for the first six months or so at school. In retrospect, I now realise her family must have been refugees from Europe after WW2 at that time, and she probably didn’t have any other clothes. Our teacher put the child next to me and asked me to look after her. I tried to make conversation, but she was of course extremely shy – probably petrified with fright! So after a while I gave up trying to talk to her, and we simply used sign language. I invited her to copy my lessons into her exercise book, and she was very grateful, even though she didn’t understand the writing for a long time. Normally copying from another pupil was forbidden, but the teacher didn’t mind me giving my work to her, for obvious reasons. It didn’t take very long for her to learn our ways and language, and we were good friends for a few years until she left the school.

I was good at spelling and reading right from my first days at school, but not so good at arithmetic. Dad spent countless hours with me at night after tea, going over the times table, showing me how to multiply and divide. Long division sums were the bane of my life for a while. I could not get the hang of it, and would end up in tears, crying “I hate school, I hate (teacher’s name)” and Dad would calm me down and start all over again. Another thing that frustrated me no end was that I couldn’t knit. Nearly all the other girls could knit quite expertly, as their Mums and grandmas had obviously taught them. But Mum couldn’t show me because she was handicapped, and I didn’t know either of my grandmothers. So when the teacher tried to show me, I was all thumbs with the needles, and to this day I have never got the hang of it. I was better with embroidery for some reason, and I still have the bank book cover we made in first or second grade. It is like a sampler of simply cross stitches on canvas, sewn up the sides to make a book cover.

2 Comments:

Blogger Isabelle said...

Goodness me, I've only just got around to reading this blog and it's really interesting. You do write awfully well. Did you use to have a job involving writing, I wonder, or are you just naturally fluent? I look forward to reading the rest of your life story.

Sunday, April 23, 2006  
Blogger Sunny said...

This is wonderful! Now maybe I should get motivated and finish the book I started writing a long time ago.

Monday, May 01, 2006  

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