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School

 

One day at the Merrylands Public School when I was in 5th class primary,  just after the lunch break we were all lined up in our separate class rows, the same as a regiment of soldiers.  It was stinking hot at 105 degrees Fahrenheit.  You could have fried an egg on the black asphalt parade ground.  Nearly all the girls wore shoes but 90% of the boys did not and of course I was one of those unfortunates, all the teachers in front of their respective classes; the hot asphalt was burning the soles of our feet and we were moving them trying our best to relieve the pain. 

The ex-military headmaster not having a brain his head, bellowed an order “you are standing at attention, the next boy who moves his feet gets six on both hands”.  I could not bear the pain any longer and moved my feet.  I was told to report at the headmaster’s office first thing after school which I did and copped a good six on both hands. The pain was almost unbearable and I cried all the way home.  If such a thing happened today they would have crucified the bastard.  I might tell you from my own experience he was a real sadist. 

I was never dux of the class; about midway was about the best I could do, though one day I came first in the class writing a composition about a bushfire.  It was so good the teacher read it out to the whole class. 

In those days there were no laws preventing people from chastising their children.  A father had the right, even in public, to bash the living daylights out of his son even with a cane or a strap until the kid was red raw and mothers to beat their daughters until they cried.

When anybody misbehaved in class we were sometimes told by our teacher to report to the headmaster’s office at lunchtime.  I will now tell you about one such incident which befell me.  When the dinner-bell rang all the classes bundled out to the dinner-shed to consume their lunch all except me; I was standing outside the headmaster’s office. 

When he arrived with his hot meal he walked straight past me pretending not to see me, into his office and leaving his door open so I could see his every move.  He consumed his meal very slowly sipping his hot tea and reading the days’ paper all the while.  After our meal break had come to an end he suddenly noticed me standing there and said “why are you here?” as if he didn’t know.  When I told him he went to a cupboard and opened the two doors to display the greatest collection of medieval canes that I have ever seen.  After selecting the one that he thought would inflict the most pain he said “put your hand out” and gave me six almighty whacks across the palm of my hand.  The pain was excruciating.  I tried not to cry but after I copped six on the other hand I really bawled and as I walked away he gave me one across the arse for good measure.

One other day a kid came to school with long hair; the mob singled him out, he was soon encircled by about 100 kids as though he was some sort of a freak, which he was in those days.  An unsavoury element of the crowd started throwing insults, I forget now what they were but I do remember he didn’t show the next day.

Almost every day after school there was a fight up the street just behind the school tuck shop.  There would be about 50 or 60 kids gathered around in a circle in the centre of which was the two combatants.  After a bloodied encounter the winner would walk away triumphant and the loser would cry. 

I was hardly ever involved in a fight because of my size, nobody ever picked on me or I on them.  I was quite content with that arrangement.  I was head and shoulders over my teacher even at a young age, I must have sprouted pretty quickly and I soon learned to live with my nicknames ‘giant’ and ‘king of the little kids’.

I find it very hard to understand that nearly all the kids at my school around my age were only weeds compared to me but now almost every boy is very tall, it beats me.  You know, there must have been a lot of stupid, ignorant, unintelligent people around in my day.  Everywhere I went I used to cop “what’s the weather like up there mate” or “if you’re not long I’ll wait”.  You never hear any of those silly remarks these days.

 

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