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|"Bessie" Lockheart was a sweet old woman who
had been a missionary in Africa for many years. She had a rather high cracked
voice and she could not control the boisterous grade eight class
I was in.
She liked memory training. Every morning she began with the multiplication tables and two pieces of verse I will not forget until I die.
Never let it rest
Til your Good is Better
And your Better, Best."
"Breathes there a man with soul so dead
Who never to himself has said
This is my home,
My native land."
|"Honky" was a Hungarian man who had a room
on Third main. He didn't understand English very well. Some boys would
enjoy tricking him by saying with a smile: "Fuck you, Sir". And he would
smile back and answer: "Oh, thank you, boys".
He seldom bathed, preferring to disguise the odor with the liberal use of cheap cologne. He had a portable record player in his room upon which he played his one 45, over and over again. It was the Shirelles singing "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?". But we all liked him for one reason. Every Sunday after lunch there was a "walk" up the Grande Ligne road toward the quarry. We were allowed to walk double file, girl beside boy. No physical contact was tolerated. To make sure this was the case a teacher chaperoned the walk. When it came to be Honky's turn, the walk was packed. When we got to the quarry one of us (pre chosen) would engage him in conversation while everyone else disappeared into the bushes, obeying only the omnipotent laws of nature.
This wonderful laissez faire attitute he had towards fraternization was especially prized on bus trips. I can remember the frantic jockeying for position that would go on as the school choir boarded for the hour and a half drive to The Westmount Baptist Church each Christmas. On Mrs Brouillet's bus the air would be icy, the lights would be on and everyone would be sitting upright with their hands where you could see them. On Honky's bus, the lights would be off and the air would be moist and warm and heavy with passion.
|"FHR" was so named because his real moniker
was Francis Howard-Rose. We would taunt him at christmas by singing "Lo
Howard-Rose 'Ere Blooming". He chain-smoked Players, non filter. In class!
One year he grew a beard. It came in grey. He let it grow around his mouth,
goatee style. But, because of the chain smoking, all around his mouth it
had gone brownish yellow. Because of this discolored circle around his
mouth we also called him "Toilet Brush".
Because Feller teachers weren't paid very much, he only owned one jacket. It was a blue blazer. Because of the daily demands of the dress code, it never got washed. It had round rings of salt under the arms. He was the teacher on Fourth main. One of my classmates had an epileptic seizure in the hall. FHR held the boy while the Head Boy grabbed a bucket of water to douse the boy. He missed the boy and hit FHR squarely on the blazer. This was just before Sunday dinner. So FHR had to change his jacket. His only other one he had grown out of years ago. So when FHR walked into the dining room in a jacket so small for him that he looked like one of the Munsters. Even other members of the staff couldn't help but laugh.
He actually taught us about the missing continent of Atlantis. The one that explained all the seeming contradictions of history.
I think he was a bit of a manic-depressive. Sometimes he would come in the classroom positively buzzed. I remember one time he noticed one of the girls wearing lipstick.
"Get that muck of your face, girl. Get that muck off your face!" he yelled.
Then he saw she was wearing high heels with her regulation tunic. He exploded.
"Look what that does to your leg, girl. It's unnatural. Unnatural!
He actually climbed up on top of his teachers desk so we could all see his legs. Then he rolled up his pants and stood on his toes so we could see the effects on his calves.
"Look what it does to your legs, girl!"
The phrase I most remember him for was: "We're going
to break you down (his hands motion downwards), and then build you up!(his
hands rise dramatically in the air)".
|"Mouldy" was the nickname for Mr. Meldrum,
our vice principal. I heard that the nickname came about because of his
diabetic condition and the green hue of his complexion when he needed insulin.
He taught us bookkeeping. Rumor was that he said the same things on exactly
the same days every year. His consistency was legendary. His favorite joke,
which he told every February 16th, was that to remember which side of the
ledger was debit and which side was credit was easy, because: "the
debit side is the side nearest the window!". He would deliver the punch
line, wait for the laugh, and not receiving any from the grade nine class
who probably thought he was serious, those who were listening, and then
he would laugh himself silly at the whole situation. One February 16th,
as he delivered the punch line: "the debit side is ...." he slowed to a
stop. Yes, he stopped completely with his finger in the air. Some sort
of diabetic attack. Someone ran out of the room and fetched the nurse.
She arrived and gave him a shot and he magically came back to life. As
he did he finished the sentence as if nothing had happened: "the side nearest
The phrase I most remember him for was: "If you don't like it you can just pack your bags and get out!"
And: "Art is one-tenth inspiration and nine tenths perspiration."
|The Reverend Spencer Ostrum was called "Spence".
He was very old.
All the boys used to go up the road, past the church, into the woods on the north side of the street. There we would sit in various clearings and smoke cigarettes. They were usually Export "A" because this showed how tough we were. We were hidden from view and our only problem would be sneaking back onto the road without being detected.
Now Spence was a very healthy Swedish kind of guy. He would walk miles at a very fast pace, taking long strides. We laughed at his unusual gate, often mocking it as he walked past the rustling brush full of smoking boys each day.
One day he caught a boy scrambling back onto the road and threatened him with disciplinary action. "Follow me", he ordered. So, suddenly and in solidarity with the guy who was caught (I can't remember his name but he was popular), the woods emptied its contents of boys and we all lined up behind Spence following him back to the school, mimicking his long strides and swinging arms.
Apparently it was a hilarious sight to see.
I believe we were all strapped.
In our grade nine class there was a John Baxter. John was the kind of guy who could belch or fart on demand. This was especially useful during chapel when a set up line from the pulpit like: "and then the Lord said.." could cue him. It could pretty much stop a sermon in mid moral. He would work the same magic during class, especially Spences' classes which sometimes turned into free for alls. I the middle of one of Spence's lessons (He taught sacred history), a well timed fart had brought proceeding to a stand still. Spence said: "I had better go get my persuader". His "persuader" was what he called his strap. Baxter said: "I wish to talk to the principal". He knew the principal did not really like the tradition of strapping.
I heard this from my position in the hallway where I was standing. I had already been sent out of the class to face the wall in the hall. I saw Spence swish past, cape flying behind him like dracula as he mounted the stairs to the second floor where his apartment was to retrieve the dreaded "Persuader". Baxter passed me on the other side and knocked on the principal's door which was not far from where I was standing. The principal, "Butch", was not in. Soon, Spence returned. "Hold out your hand" he demanded. "No" Baxter said. "Hold out your hand" he said again. "No" was the reply. Spence grabbed Baxter by the arm and started to swing wildly with his strap, his master's cape spreading out around him. Baxter ducked and twisted, trying to get away. At just that minute I heard Butch enter from the side entrance. He was with a perspective client, a little boy and his mother. "And this is the main hallway.." I heard his voice trail off. I will always remember the look of horror on the faces of that little boy and his mother as they stood, frozen staring at the struggle which was ensuing in front of them. The little boy never did come to Feller.
The phrase I most remember Spence for was: "It looks like I'm going to need my persuader!"
HMCS "Fort Lennox", our Sea Cadet
Corps. We were sea cadets, nowhere near
the sea. He once said: "Society is like a
ship, every ship has its discontents, its
gripers. If they aren't taken care of
quickly. they can sink the ship!"