"I don't want to go in mom ! "
"You go in and I'll wait here for you. there's nothing to be scared of, I'll be here waiting for you"
"I don't want to go in though "
" Look........ just go into school, you will have lots of new friends"
"If you wait here, I will have a look and then come back out, OK?"
"Alright Rod. I will just be here waiting"
It's 1959 and so begins my first day at Burlington Street Primary and Infant School Aston. Up two or three stone steps, the ones that had little sparkling bits in, up the steps and turn to the right, in through the classroom door. Miss Rock stood waiting for us new little ones, she was very nice, but a little strict. I remember craning my neck to see outside, through the still open door, I could not see mom, she must be just out of sight? Just a bit later on the feeling of betrayal was overwhelming, I went to the toilet and had a clear view outside, mom was no-where to be seen, she had left me. Why had mom left me with all these other kids? By the end of the morning, mom reappeared and took me home, I questioned her all the way home about leaving me, but she still took me back after dinner. I think though that this time I trusted her to come back at home time. This was the start, of a happy, first few years at school.
One of the things, which stick out in my mind is the little pouches, which hung on the wall, where we put our lunch, to be retrieved and eaten at break time. Washed down with a little bottle of free school milk, sucked through a soggy paper straw, those straws were hell, thank goodness they're now made of plastic.
There were many things to keep us occupied, games, PE, listening to stories told expertly by Miss Rock, and of course painting. Art was from the very beginning a closed book, I remember painting a picture, and making a complete pigs ear of it. Once painted, we had to go into the hall and hold them aloft, to be judged by the headmaster, Mr Burgess. I remember clearly being very embarrassed by my effort, and hiding behind all the other children at the very back of the hall, so that my picture was obscured by everyone who stood in front.
That first year passed quickly, and soon Christmas came bringing with it a magic, which no longer manifests itself to me at Christmas time. I remember helping to make paper chains from coloured crepe paper, and learning new songs from Miss Rock who played the piano in the hall, while we sang. On a special day armed with a bowl of Blancmange, a bowl and spoon with my name firmly attached with sellotape, I marched to school freshly washed, neck and all, with my boots blacked ready to eat my fill and pull home made crackers at the Christmas party. Always before eating we said a little prayer, and so it was on the occasions we had parties.
"Thank you for the world so sweet
Thank for the food we eat
Thank you for the birds that sing
Thank you God for everything"
All the other boys and girls in my class were also crisp and cleanly turned out, everyone had made the effort, although if I was anything to go by, a fair bit of effort had been put in by many mum's that morning!! This tradition was to be practised right through school, at least till I started secondary school ! But there lies another story