Grand Lifestyle

First Day of School in the 1950s

Children of all ages are going back to school around now. Some have already started and some are to begin within the next week. And for many five year olds, their first day at school.

Do you remember your first day at school?

For me it wasn’t frightening as slightly older sister was already there. Mum had organised my uniform in advance – second hand of course, a home knitted cardie and all very sensible. Mum walked sister and me to the school which was probably about a kilometre around the corner from our home. Older sister bounced away to join her friends and Mum, holding my hand took me into the ‘littlies’ classroom.

It was a Catholic school on the West Coast and a nun, dressed in a black habit and a thick leather belt from which rosary beads dangled, came forward to greet me. She showed me the hook on the wall in the corridor where I was to hang my bag and then I waved goodbye to mum and went into the classroom.

What did I do that day?

It’s all rather vague but I do remember that there was plasticine to play with and heaps and heaps of sitting on the mat on the floor. There was a big gathering of all the kids in the school which I later discovered was ‘assembly’. Naturally there were heaps of prayers which were boring but being a ‘good’ girl and wanting to do the right thing, I bowed my head and tried to look holy. The exciting happening was a raffle to raise money for the ‘Missions’ (people in other countries, whatever countries were, I didn’t know at the time!).

The prize was an embroidered duchess set. As I was the youngest pupil in the school, I was allowed to draw out the name of the winner from the hat. Guess who’s name I drew?  Slightly older sister’s. The kids laughed and the nuns were very surprised but as they were in control of the raffle, they knew I hadn’t cheated (and I didn’t.  True – Cross my heart and hope to die).

When sister and I went home at the end of the school day, Mum was surprised about the raffle too. She thought it was great. She asked me how my day was. I said it was okay but I didn’t like the ‘horror-door’ much. I thought it was the place for the naughty kids – the horrors. After a bit of questioning, mum realised I was talking about the corridor. At dinner time, Mum told Dad and my three teenage siblings about my first day at school and everyone laughed raucously.

No surprise. As the youngest, I was used to that.

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