The night before the Easter vacation, 1964 was the most thrilling night I had at Feller.
The Prefects and Head boys of grade eleven, the seniors, had been all moved to one floor, second main, to allow the next generation, grade ten, to take over the Prefect rooms on each floor. The idea was to give them time to train for their duties next year and to give the boys in grade eleven the free time to study for their matriculation exams.
It was a Wednesday, Sea Cadet night. After the parade Uncle Stevie (Steve May) the Commanding Officer would take his favorites, the officers and petty officers and a few blessed first seamen, to his favorite hang out in St. Jean. He called it "Mothers" although it was probably really called "Chez Ginette". They would be there to consume a late night snack. If you can call ten o'clock late and if you can call a couple of beers a snack.
The boys on second main, charged up because they were the leaders of the school now stripped of their responsibilities, decided to take advantage of Steve's absence to have some fun. One boy's bed was carried down the tube and placed in the middle of the gymnasium. Another boy's bed was lifted up and placed across the top of the stalls in the Second wing bathroom.
I was one of those boys on Second Wing. My roommate Kenny Phelan was in charge of the "Ship's stores" which meant he had a precious key. The "Ships stores" was a storeroom off the gymnasium where we kept uniforms and other sea cadet paraphernalia. We both had girlfriends and we had arranged a tryst that night to take place after Steve had left. After lights out we snuck down to the Ships stores where we met our sweethearts.
While the four of us were groping in the dark on top various piles of itchy wool sea cadet uniforms, Uncle Stevie returned. As was his wont he walked down Second Main to do a room check before turning in. The first room was ours. It was empty. The second room was the guy who was asleep in the gymnasium. Only one person there. The third room belonged to the guy who was asleep over the toilet stalls. The fourth room contained, or should I say didn't contain, someone who had crossed the roof and was at that moment in one of the girls' rooms. Steve had had enough. Even though it was after midnight he strode to the main hall and rang the fire alarm. As everyone came out of their rooms he guided them to the chapel where he would call the roll.
The harsh sound of clanging alarm bells woke us out of our romantic
reverie with a brutal start. For a moment in the darkness we were uncertain
as to what was going on. Had we fallen through the crevasse of lust into
the pits of Hell like it said we would in Pilgrim's Progress?
We burst out of the Ships stores into the half light of the gymnasium. And there in the middle of the basketball court was an apparition. I think it was John Young under a sheet stumbling around in a daze trying to figure out where he was and why and what to do about it.
Our girlfriends took off up the girls' tube toward the safety of their side. Kenny and I crossed the gym floor just as John emerged from under his sheet. He was as startled to see us as we were to see him. We all scrambled up the tube to the boys side. As we passed the Second floor toilet we heard the shouting and cursing of the poor guy who had stepped out of bed only to drop six feet down into a wet toilet bowl.
The four of us were the last ones into the chapel. Everyone turned to look at us as we entered. We had Uncle Stevie's full attention.
"Elger, where were you?" the voice boomed.
I knew that as long as the girls were not involved I would be OK.
"I was in the gymnasium helping Young".
"Yes Sir. You see we had played a trick on him earlier and I wanted to check to see if he was all right."
"Is that true Young?"
There was one code at Feller which we adhered to above all others. A code that every prisoner in every Institution will know. You don't squeal!
"Yes, it's true Sir. Someone had moved my bed down into the gymnasium earlier so I had decided to sleep there."
"And You Phelan?"
"I was checking on Hoult, Sir."
"And where was Hoult?"
"He was above the stalls in the Second Wing bathroom."
A titter ran through the boys school assembled in the chapel.
"Is this true Hoult?"
"Yes Sir, some boys had played a trick on me and.."
By this time Steve had got the picture.
"All right Hoult. Enough."
Steve then took the roll and everyone said "Here" when they were called. Everyone that is except one. The boy who had climbed across the roof to the girls' side had been caught. He did not return after Easter. Our girlfriends had escaped by a hair, just running up the tube and deeking up the stairs to their fourth floor rooms seconds before the girl's prefects had done their own room check.
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