School days readily remembered at reunion

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Glory days... Former Waikoikoi School pupils Alex Stark (left) and John Crawford chat about the days they swam with eels in the creek before the school had a swimming pool during the schoolÂ’s 140th jubilee at the weekend. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

Talk to the three of the oldest former pupils at a school reunion and stories soon flow about what it was like when they were at school.

Dulcie Stark, Alex Stark and John Crawford all attended Waikoikoi School in the 1930s and early 1940s.

They were also at the school’s 140th reunion at the weekend.

The school had 30 pupils and one teacher in their day.

“It was a family school,” Mrs Stark said

“The big schools, I don’t think they get to know one and other the same,” Mr Crawford said.

Miss Mitchell was the name of their teacher.

“She wasn’t an old dragon,” Mrs Stark said.

However, she did use the strap.

One day Charlie Bruce, who was a tall boy, was taken to the door way to be punished.

“She got up on a chair so she could get a bit more pressure on it,” Mr Stark said

Just as she was about to bring the strap down on his hand he moved it and she hit herself on the leg.

Charlie was then strapped around the legs, Mr Stark said.

There was no swimming pool at the school and a nearby creek was where the teacher took the children to swim.

“We used to cross the paddock and I think the boys got undressed in one gully and the girls in another,” Mr Crawford said.

“I swam with the girls and the eels,” Mr Stark said.

“I think the eels were probably as scared of us as we were of them, Mr Crawford said.

“Alex remembers Ernest McCall went first to chase away the eels,” Mrs Stark said.

The children were not taught to swim.

“We just did our own thing in the water,” Mr Crawford said.

Mr Crawford was a member of the West Otago athletics team and went to Dunedin to take part in a meeting.

However, the highlight of the trip was going on the milk run with the son of the family he was billeted with.