Saturday, January 23, 2016


The first summer at Cordova Bay was one of exploration.  The backyard was overgrown with raspberries and blackberries but they were difficult to pick because of the thorny brambles that surrounded them.  Wild morning glory was an aggressive weed which had overrun the wire fence around the house and made its way into much of the garden as well.  Trying to remove the morning glory would have been a daunting task so I suspect my parents decided growing a vegetable garden was not an option. There were a number of fruit trees as well as a woodshed and a  single car garage in the yard.  

We became beachcombers
Bringing home bark from the beach

My father spent a lot of time chopping wood to try and keep up with the demands of both the wood burning kitchen stove and the fireplace.  These were our only sources of heat in the winter and in the summer the wood stove continued to be fired up each day for cooking.

 Oil soaked bark from log booms made its way onto the beach and burned well in the fireplace so we were always on the lookout for good sized pieces of bark.  There was  a good natured competition to see who could find the largest pieces of bark and everyone, children and adults alike,  participated in the search.  This was an important activity as it not only provided much needed wood, it helped keep the beach surprisingly clean.

A few doors away there was an abandoned orchard which was  probably a casualty of the war as most of the trees were dead and only a few shrivelled Russet apples remained.

Fall was quickly approaching, and I was ready to start grade one.  There were no schools in Cordova Bay and I would have to take a bus to whichever school had enough room for me.  I had met two boys from one family and one boy from another who lived on my street and found they were already enrolled in Strawberry Vale, but when my mother inquired, she found there was no room there and was advised that I would be sent to Royal Oak which was four miles away.

 With the military base nearby, many families had moved to Victoria and the schools were overcrowded, in fact the class I was placed in had 35 students.  In discussing schooling, I should mention that there was a different attitude towards children in the wartime and prewar days than we now see.  Children  were given a great deal more independence and because of this, were also held responsible for their actions at quite an early age.  My mother had registered me for school by phone and on the first day of school I was handed my lunch pail and directed  to walk down to the corner of Cordova Bay Road and Walema Drive and catch the school bus.  She told me to make sure the driver knew that I was going to Royal Oak.   On no occasion during the school year did my parents meet my teacher, it just wasn't something that happened. 
My first school

I was wearing my new outfit that my mother had made from one of my father's old "civie" suits and thought I looked quite pretty as I headed out to face the world.  When I got off the bus I saw  two buildings at Royal Oak and as a first grader I was directed to the smaller building, it was for the grade ones.  The lady standing there was Miss Adamson and she would be my teacher.  She was trying to get the children to be quiet and line up but I believe I was being a little too exuberant with the excitement of the moment and suddenly felt a swat across my backside as I was told to be quiet.  I could not believe it, I couldn't believe that she would strike me when I looked so nice, but that was the first lesson I learned at school.