NannyGranny’s Olden Days’ Beginnings 40

I re-started my College schooling at Wellington East Girls College, perched up on the hill above the Haitaitai tunnel, at the Basin reserve. On my very first day, I was only a few paces inside the gate when I was shocked to be attacked by a mob of girls screaming, excitedly ‘get the new turd’. My brand new beret was snatched off my head and they proceeded to rip off the little knob on its top. I had no idea how I was going to explain to mum why my beret now had a hole in its middle.

Intermediate days seemed far behind us when I had a happy catching up with my friend, Judith, again. Our classroom was one of a group of prefabs overlooking Wellington Boys College and during our breaks, we girls lined up along the fenced off cliff edge to wave out to them on their playing fields down below us.

This time when my new class-mates quizzed me about my family and father, I just killed him off once and for all. Declaring him to be dead turned out to be much simpler and easier.

Assembly days at college were a very serious affair, and pity help anyone daring to arrive late. Row upon row of girls seated on forms filled the big auditorium, and the teachers seated up on the stage, stared down, giving everyone the evil eye, aggressively enforcing total silence.

On the rare occasion some girl dared to break the rules, caught out whispering to a neighbor or some other misdemeanor, a flurry of activity on the stage brought the meeting to a halt to name and shame the miscreant. The offending party would be called upon to stand up in front of the whole school for a dressing down, and after the assembly accept the invitation for a visit with the Headmistress, Miss Campbell.

We sang, Christian hymns from a little blue song-book, like, ‘We Plow the fields and scatter the good seed on the ground’, ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’, which I could not understand, and another I remember was ‘Guide me O Thou great Jehovah’ who I guessed was God. The Headmistress, read out a bible passage containing a moral to the tale, that fell on deaf ears with bored students. One of the lesser teachers finished up, reading out the announcements, then dismissed us, to file silently out.

The Government, trying to make sure the country’s children were getting the right nourishment, delivered full crates of free half sized bottles of milk to our school each day. On cold mornings it tasted delicious, and always hungry, I not only scoffed mine but any left-overs. On warmer days, it was a different story, if the milk was left sitting around on the doorstep in the sun too long, before the girls dragged it in, it turned sour and tasted yucky.

Judith and I were grouped with other girls doing what the school called a ‘General’ course based on ‘Home Economics’. Basically just a flash name for house-keeping. The College had a full scale, furnished flat, set up, for teaching us how to cook and do house-work the right way.

We did baking, learned how to prepare family meals, dissected various types of meat into the proper cuts, set a table with a cloth the correct way, laid out all the cutlery and glasses in the right spots and polished the silver cutlery. We did washing, and the thing I hated most, ironing, for the flat, and planned and prepared a three course meal for invited guests.