Wednesday, March 25, 2009

School Days

We have a snow day today: hazardous driving conditions from about six inches of Spring snow. With extra time available I looked through a series of pictures from one of my facebook groups: Hamilton High School. I attended Hamilton from January 1963 to April 1965 -- two years and one school term.

I remember the school, although not nearly as well as some in the facebook group. I wore a grey uniform with a blue and maroon striped tie, grey knee high socks, maroon cap, and black shoes.

I was in Form Three (Grade 10) when we left, and entered Grade 11 in Pennsylvania that September. But Hamilton is the place where I really began to grow up, and the facebook pictures called back many memories. Pictures of the school fields recalled hours spent during school walking over the ground that would one day be a rugby field, picking up stones to clear the field for planting grass. Not a particular punishment: just an activity by which all students participated in upgrading the school. Today the rugby field has virtually returned to the bush from which it came.

Other pictures showed the way that an all boys school puts on musicals. The girls chorus was populated by boys wearing dresses and singing the girls' parts -- which we could do because our voices had not yet broken. I was Ellen in Oklahoma, a minor part with three lines. I still know the women's music in Oklahoma better than the men's.

The pictures recalled a day when girls from nearby Montrose school studied with the boys of Hamilton, until they had enough students in the upper forms to fill their own classes. We were an all-boys school, and the sight of girls on our grounds filled us with fear. Some of the comments under the pictures (posted both by girls from Montrose and boys from Hamilton) recalled how strange and desired the experience was for both. Little wonder that my Grade 11 in Pennsylvania was a bit frightening: too many girls in the classroom!

Most of all the pictures recalled a day when the vast majority of the country's education was directed towards the White minority. I benefited with a superior education unavailable to most Rhodesians of the day. Now the school grounds and buildings are in disrepair. The Thistle on the school gate (Hamilton is a Scottish clan; the Thistle is the Scottish emblem) is faded and pockmarked. Pictures from an old boy who had visited Hamilton recently showed the decay.

I know that Zimbabwe is necessary, and that Rhodesia was an unjust monstrosity. But I mourn the passing of what was good in the old, and its death in the new. They say you can't go back. Except I suppose in our memories. Pictures of a time past, in a country that no longer exists, of people that I haven't seen for over 30 years and don't expect to see again. Even on facebook.


KGMom said...

I will have to wander over and check out the Hamilton group.
I wonder if there is one for Eveline? Hmmm.

Miriam said...

Aha! I found it. (the blog...amazing what you can find if you look in the info section of facebook). Anyway, I love had to come see.

What a beautiful writing. Lovely and bittersweet. I always loved hearing stories from my dad of Rhodesia. It's interesting to hear some of yours, as you were much older...and it was a different time.