Tuesday, July 31, 2012

More Tales From the...


These ones are not so horrifying, just hilarious. And actually, these are tales about school - mostly.

One is from the one room school with the little brown shack out back.  Actually there were two little brown shacks, one for girls and the other for boys.

One day I had to go during class hours so, as any good little girl would do, I put up my hand and asked to be excused. After doing my business in the little brown shack, I got it into my head that I had been out there too long and if I went back into the school I would probably catch heck from the teacher, so I decided to stay outside. Before long, the whole school and the teacher were outside looking for me. I was so embarrassed.

Another one from the family: My parents went on a holiday out to British Columbia, to visit my Dad's brother, who lived in Kamloops.  I was sixteen.

I believe that's the first holiday they had taken since their honeymoon in the great metropolis of Winnipeg, so it would have been something like twenty years without a break. Because I was sixteen and my older sister had already flown to coop to attend university, I was left in charge of the younger siblings. My youngest sibling had never experienced any time without mom and dad around. She must have been feeling very vulnerable, because while they were away, she had nightmares - vivid, frightening and oh, so weird. She dreamed she was being chased by giant string beans carrying knives. To this day we still tease her about it and she still gets mad at us when we do. But what an image!!

On another occasion, my younger sister (who for some reason had a hate on for me -  sweet, innocent me???!!!) threw an orange at me. The only trouble is, she was outside, peering in through a window and I was inside, peering back at her.  The orange went through the window.

Another window smashing event occurred when my older sister and I were in our bedroom horsing around on one of the beds, which just happened to be right beside a window. I put my foot through the window. Oops.

I have many fond memories of events at the school, which was less than a minute or two away from our house (still managed to be late a few times.)

The school went from grade one to grade nine, and the social structure amongst the students was big kids (grades 6 or so, to 9) versus little kids (grades 1 to 5), and boys versus girls.

On one occasion the "big kids", of which I was a member, built a hut in the bush behind the school, out of twigs and straw. This was a private clubhouse for big kids only. We wouldn't let the little ones in, but one day they got their revenge. They climbed up on top of it, jumping up and down until the thing collapsed. Served us right, I suppose.

In the girls versus boys war, every winter, behind the bush that was behind the school, some massively large snowdrifts accumulated on the river banks. (The Qu'Appelle River ran right beside the school.) Building tunnels and caves in these snowdrifts was an annual rite for the big kids.

One winter the boys built a massive tunnel, a bunker really, into which only boys were allowed. One day, my cousin, Fred, poked his head up through the roof of the boys-only bunker, and as he pulled his head back in, the whole shebang collapsed on their heads. Har. Har. Justice!!

This same cousin and his sisters lived a short distance down the road from where we lived. They used to ride horses to school. The school had a barn and the horses were kept in the barn during school hours. One day, he sauntered into the school yard in the morning, with a big, goofy grin on his face.

"My horse died", he told us. We didn't believe him, but sure enough. Apparently the horse just dropped dead, as he was riding it to school.

Other memories from the one room school - cleaning the blackboard and the brushes after school. Cleaning the brushes involved taking them outside and banging them together until most of the chalk-dust had been knocked out of them. It was a job every kid coveted.

Then there was the time my brother feigned sickness so he could go home and watch dad butchering a pig or a steer.  As soon as he got home, he told mom he wanted to go out to the barn to witness the slaughter. My mother knew then that he wasn't sick and sent him right back to school. LOL!!  It was through incidents like this that we learned the value of education.

And then there were all the country school games that only country school kids would have learned: Anti-I-Over, Harbours Down, Flag, Red Rover-Red Rover, Prisoner's Base, Blind Man's Bluff.  I couldn't tell you how to play them now, but they were fun, and it didn't matter whether you were a "big" kid or a "little" kid, 'cause all got to play.  In the winter, or at special school parties there were indoor games like Mother, May I or What Time is It, Mr. Wolf.  And, outside, Fox and Goose.

We also had games days (mostly baseball) with other nearby schools. One of the schools close by was populated with big boys. The one-sidedness of the outcomes got so bad that we eventually amalgamated the pupils and picked sides so that the big boys were more evenly distributed.  It was during one of these matches that the same cousin - Fred - had a wild pitch land on the roof of the school. Much laughing ensued.

We had one teacher who let us listen to the World Series on the radio each year. He had one pupil posted guard in the girls cloak-room to watch, to make sure the Superintendent wasn't coming. On the blackboard he'd put a big chart where the progress of the game was tracked.

I also remember picking gooseberries in the bushes behind the school and taking them inside to fling around at each other during class hours.  And the little wood burning stove that provided heat for the classroom and on which some kids used to fry potatoes for lunch during the winter. I can't imagine that being allowed today. Fire hazard and all.

Later on a furnace was installed in the basement and a large hot air vent fed the warmth into the classroom. Occasionally, some kid's wet mittens, which had been hung on the vent to dry, would fall through the vent and burn up. Sometimes smelly socks, too. Peeeeuuuuuu!!

And the special parties, at which parents put in an appearance - Christmas, Easter, Halloween, etc., etc. One year my mother grew a massively large pumpkin which she gave to the school for Halloween.

Dodge Ball and Tag could be played indoors (in the basement) or outdoors. Spelling and Geography matches (where each person had to name a place on the globe that started with a particular letter) were a favourite indoor activity. Awe. Memories. (How can you tell I'm an old fart now?)

Oh. And did I tell you about the X rated chalk drawings in the school attic?  Only the big kids got to see that, and I'm betting most of us had no idea what we were looking at.

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