Thursday, February 11, 2016

Keating School

September 1944 arrived, and with it another new school, my third in three years.   This time the children from Cordova Bay were sent to Keating School, closer to home so we no longer had the long bus ride to Craigflower School.  One of my memories of Keating was the long hill up to the school from the road where the bus stopped.  I have alway tended to run faster than I should without considering the terrain underfoot, and as a result, trip over my own feet when I hit unexpected bumps along the way.  This hill contributed to many of my skinned  knees and running on Walema Drive to catch the school bus contributed to more.  I am sure I spent my childhood with bandaged  knees, and even as an adult, I can see the scars remaining from those days.

My father with soldiers at Pat Bay during WW2
I was too young to understand the progress of the war, but there was a lot of concern for our  safety.  We had our gas masks, and now there were excavations,  ditches, or  foxholes as we called them, around part of the perimeter of Keating School.  During air raid drills, we ran out of the school and down into the ditches, nervously waiting for the "All clear."   I have never seen anything written about them, but I distinctly remember our fear during these drills.  They were conducted in the same way that a fire drill might be conducted today.  Of course, at home blackouts were still strictly enforced and had just become a way of life.

Grandpa and  Lyle just before Lyle headed
overseas.  He had a sad last visit
 with his mother before her death.

My mother started teaching me to knit after my terrible attempt at knitting in grade one at Royal Oak School.  On that occasion, the teacher sent home a ball of wool with each student, with instructions for a knitted washcloth for the soldiers.  My mother finally had to make the washcloth for me, but now she was teaching me to do some simple knitting on my own.  Women all knitted and always had their knitting project close at hand, ready to pick up whenever they had a free moment. 

In 1943 my father's mother passed away in Saskatoon  and in 1944 his two younger siblings moved to Victoria. Don joined the navy and Pat trained to be a hairdresser. Dad's  brother Lyle was with the RCAF in Italy and had left Saskatoon knowing his mother was ill and he would probably never see her again.

After she graduated, Pat and my mother discussed getting rid of my pigtails and wondered if I would like to have a perm.  Of course I was excited about the idea of curly hair (think Shirley Temple) so eagerly agreed.  A few days later with great anticipation,  I was off on my first trip to a  beauty parlour.   The procedure began with a wash and  haircut, then my hair was wound onto very heavy metal rollers which were attached to long cords hanging down from a big stand, looking like something out of a horror movie.  It probably looked more like I was being tortured than having a beauty treatment.   All this was plugged into electricity which heated the rollers.  It was so heavy, hot and uncomfortable,  I felt like my neck would break.  

When I look back on it, I think, "What price beauty?"  I can't believe what I agreed to go through to have curls.  Finally, it was complete and I thought I looked great, (I repeat, think Shirley Temple) but a year later it had grown out and I was back to pigtails. 

A life lesson:  a perm isn't permanent.