SCHOOL DAYS AT ST LUKES / HOMEMADE HAIR DOES

I went to St Lukes school in Ballater Street. I have very happy memories of my school days, I liked all my teachers except for one who shall remain nameless. We had a gem of a headmaster, his name was Mr. Courtney. He had white wavy hair and a small white moustache and very blue twinkling eyes. I thought he looked like Douglas Fairbanks, he wore tailored suits and a bowler hat-also little grey spats over his shoes. The spats were short gaiters with little buttons up the sides and were used to protect against splashes.
He carried a rolled umbrella, wore gloves and carried a briefcase. If he saw you in the street, he raised his hat and said “Good Morning” or “Good Afternoon”. I was always over the moon when this happened to me.
The lady teachers wore tailored costumes with nice tops and blouses. I always admired their hands as they were white and soft with shiny, well-manicured nails, not like our poor mothers work worn hands.
The teachers hair was mostly worn in sausage curls or perhaps page boy. The older teachers wore bun or earphone style. This was plaited hair worn in a bun round each ear.

Some winters the classrooms were be so cold and as a lot of us were poorly clad, the teacher would let us crowd round the hot pipes to get warm or sometimes the teacher would get us to do exercises to heat up.
In November we would be sent home early if it was foggy. There were no smoke-free zones in those days and sometimes the fog was so thick you could not see a yard in front of you.
There was no free milk until 1935 so mother would appear at playtime with a jug of tea and a roll, or if she could`nt afford it, a piece of bread and margarine.

My mother was most particular about our hair as it was a disgrace if the medical nurse who came to the school, found a dirty head.
Mother would rub oil of saffron on our heads and then our hair would be washed in a mixture of green soap and borax, and then bone combed to make sure there were no beasties.
Father would always cut our hair and I always finished up in tears. I wore my hair can-can fringe, a bit longer at the sides. He really did use a bowl to get the fringe straight, trouble was he could never get the sides right and I would finish up looking like one of the Three Stooges. He would console me by saying that it would soon “grow again”.
The ultimate disgrace for me was going into Mrs Reid`s shop for a penny worth of jam, and she called me “son”.

When I first went to school in 1928 parents had to buy our school books. This was very hard as most of our fathers were unemployed. There was just no work, however about 1930 the Education Authorities granted us free books. I loved getting a brand new book and I joined McNeil Street library where I read my  way through most of the children`s books, from fairy stories to even boys schools stories.
I read everything I could get my hands on, and I remember getting walloped when I was found reading my mother`s True Romance book.




(Chapter Index)