The cat sat on the mat
Miss Young was the teacher in the ‘Babies’ class and I remember the sand tray where you could play with various cups and make castles. The alphabet was round the walls, and I learned to read “The cat sat on the mat”. Miss Wigmore was a formidable lady in her green costume which is how I always remember her. She taught me how to knit a tea cosy. I can only remember being scared stiff of one teacher. I remember she made one boy, Tony Lyons, stand up on the tip-seat of his desk for the whole lesson. He cried because he was so scared and she sneered at him and pinned a notice on his chest which said “BABY” in large letters.
Humiliated by a teacher
This particular teacher always humiliated me at the beginning of term when we had to fill in the form about our parents, and what our father did for a living. I left it blank because I didn’t have a father, and she pointed me out to the class as having a mother who wasn’t married when she had me. It was true so what could I do about it? She told us about her holidays in Germany and she did think Hitler was wonderful but we have to remember that so did millions of Germans at that time, in the middle of a recession. Then war broke out and foreign travel was banned so I guess she had to make do with Margate.
A school romance?
I adored the excitement of Mr Urquhart’s lessons. He was always entertaining and had us enthralled. He told us they had some white long haired dogs and they’d had some sweaters made from the combings of their coats. Miss Cowtan was adorable and so was Mr Webb. I think they were in love but he had to go into the RAF I heard, so I’d love to know if their romance ended there. I was in his class in my last year and on the last day we went into the classroom only to find the room had been transformed. He had made his autograph by festooning the whole room as a spider’s web, hanging down over out heads. What excitement – I adored him – but we were never to see him again. What a gift.
How Hitler missed me
In September 1939 war was declared and the government decided to pay the fares of any children who had relatives in Canada and the States to be evacuated there. The medical took place at the school and my mother went with me; I lived in a foster-home at the time. The woman doctor examined me and told my mother that I had a faulty heart and America wouldn’t take me – so that was the end of that. My mother shouted at her and told her it was rubbish. In the event I would have been on the City of Benares ship which was sunk by a U-boat not far from New York. Many children lost their lives and only about five survived. Here I am 81 years old and still with the bad heart. It now contains bits of a pigs heart which has served me well for 4 years. America, what a mistake you made!