Dear Diary – Page 42 (Early 1960’s – Teachers)

I had some teachers who were clearly worth remembering:

Mr. Lamb (1st year French) aka “Charlie” – His “claim to fame” was his habit of giving us an exercise to do and, while we were working away, he would be reading some other book. We knew something was odd and it did not take us long to discover that he had a Playboy magazine inside his book! His son started King’s School the following year and so it was with great delight that we told him about his dad!

Mr. McCarthy (1st & 2nd year History) aka “Mac” – He was “all business”, and liked lots of drawings with the exercises that he gave us so I did really well with him.

Mr. Wheeler (3rd year History) aka “Spoke” – Another “all business” teacher, but one who wanted text and not drawings! It took me some time to adjust.

Mr. Hackett (Art) aka “Sid” – He was a man that I was never comfortable with even though I had some artistic abilities and was consistently receiving very high marks. My discomfort was never resolved. His “claim to fame” was that if class was getting boring (often), he could be sidetracked very easily with a simple question about his war years!

Mr. Dexter (Latin) aka “Nobby” – His approach to teaching Latin was to insist that while nobody spoke it anymore, it was necessary in order to understand the roots of numerous other languages. Latin was also a pre-requisite for University and for all branches of the medical profession. My plans to become an engine driver with British Railways clearly made both University and the medical profession redundant so my enthusiasm about Latin was noticeable by its absence. “Nobby” recognized that and tried to coax me through the 5 year program.

Mr. Unwin (French) aka “Jim” – He was a young teacher who took great pleasure in telling us about his “girl experiences”. He had a good sense of humour and at the end of one class, he noted that one boy was clearly asleep! He let us all know and asked that we leave for our break very quietly so as not to disturb him! Who knows when he eventually woke up!

Mr. Larrett (Math) aka “Boots” – He was a very elderly teacher and apparently quite a brilliant man with a number of books published on the subject of Mathematics. His “claim to fame” was a couple of common phrases. “You silly little boy!” was the response to an obvious misunderstanding of what he was trying to teach. Then there was “Would you like me to show you my big stick?” which was a simple disciplinary comment however, one can imagine what a class of adolescent boys could do with it!

Mr. Harrison (Religious Instruction) aka “Joe” and “Holy Joe” – He was also the Principal of the school and marched everywhere at high speed with black cloak flowing behind him, and making all sorts of labored breathing sounds. He appeared to have absolutely no sense of humour. His “claim to fame” was during my final days at the school when he called us into his office, 4 or 5 at a time. He explained that we were about to leave the school and enter the outside world. He wanted us to carry the good name of The King’s School, Peterborough with us wherever we go…….. and to keep away from loose women! That was it! We had some idea what loose women were, but he chose not to elaborate, and so we left his office with smiles on our faces.

Mr. Bamford (Chemistry) – A very different individual who had an incredible knack of having experiments that went very wrong! He managed to launch a glass thistle funnel vertically and at high speed. It totally shattered on impact with the ceiling. A very memorable event was intended to show us that sulphur reacted violently with water. He had a large glass tank of water on his desk into which he dropped a piece of sulphur. What he had not allowed for however was that while the sulphur did dart around the tank due to it reacting with the water, it eventually wedged itself into a corner. The glass tank split and all the water washed over his desk and onto the floor!

Mr George (Music) – We got off to bad start. He asked for a show of hands to see who played a musical instrument so I put my hand up. A gramophone was not the answer he wanted. He used to play classical pieces to us (none that I was familiar with) and, without any explanations, seemed to be expecting some kind of revelation from us when in fact, we did not understand what we had just listened to!

Mr. Canard & Mr. Laxton (Sports) – Given my not too enthusiastic attitude towards sports, my relationship with them was polite indifference, and that went both ways. I tolerated sports and participated as necessary, and they tolerated me and involved me as necessary!

15 thoughts on “Dear Diary – Page 42 (Early 1960’s – Teachers)

  1. Colin, we are amazed you still remember all those teachers’ names. Mom only remembers two or three. She was in advanced classes, and one of the math teachers actually threw a text book at the genius in the class who kept proving the text book answers wrong! She says the class stayed lively that way.

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  2. I wasn’t much of a student but there was one teacher in particular that I have always remembered. Her name was Cathy Brown and she taught politics. She was very engaging and passionate about teaching and her subject matter. It was during my senior year in high school she asked a question as she walked up and down the aisles between our desks, stops by my desk and slams her yard stick on my desk stating loudly, “For your grade Mr. Morales….” and proceeded to restate the question. I have no recollection of what the question was but I have always remembered Cathy Brown and how she could fire up the classroom in a very positive and productive manner.

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  3. I only had a few teachers that stuck out. Miss Pitchford (music) we called her ‘Pitchfork’. She would make you sing solo if you didn’t pay attention.
    Mr. Rosenberg (history) would bastardize my German name. Had to change teachers, obviously had holocaust/German issues.
    My fav teacher was my 8th grade science teacher, Mr. Brahman. He knew I loved science and gave me my own projects to work on. Regular class stuff was too easy.
    Thanks for the memories!

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  4. Email received from ex-train spotter friend:
    Hi Colin
    Thanks for the memories – I remember the ‘Masters’ exactly as you describe them. I spoke to Sid Hackett by chance a few years ago and he actually remembered me! I passed the school yesterday and the Park Road frontage is still the same as in the 1960’s apart from a disabled access ramp to the front door to ‘Joe’s flat’ and an extension to the Dining Hall kitchen.
    Regards. Roy

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    • Hi Di. Best days? No not really. It was all work and no play. I was (still am!) very independent so had no interest in group socializing. There were a few laughs, and I got into a few isolated issues but, in general, it was 5 years of stopping me from spending my time with trains! My Dad made it quite clear that I had to pass at least 5 “O Levels” which had to include Math and English so it was a pretty pressured time for me.


      • Following my sister to grammar school ( we overlapped by a year, her final and my first) I was always in her shadow and it was assumed by the teaching staff that I would have then same interests and be as good as she was, especially sports and domestic science WHICH I HATED so I had black marks from day 2 really! (I’ve been the shadow all my life, so moving away when I did helped me find my identity, albeit later in life.)
        I was down to take 12 Os (!!), ended up taking 5 and getting 3, Music being my third with those all important 2. Sadly the home life at the time was a mess and I did the best I could.

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