1945, this was the year Mum must have decided to start having our Milestone photos taken every two years so there isn’t one this year!
Surprisingly, I do have a very clear memory of my first day at school although not exactly sure if it was in November on my birthday or the start of the new school year in February. Mum left me at the door with the teacher and fled, she was probably having a little cry outside, or maybe a yahoo or two. I was quite overwhelmed and scared but I didn’t cry and was soon accepted into the fold and started looking forward to going each day. In those days the first two years were called The Primers (Primer 1-4) and the next four years were called The Standards (Standard 1-4).
Westmere Primary School (originally named Richmond West School) was a brick building built in 1914 and renamed in 1930, the primers were in a separate building which I think from memory was one of those prefabricated classrooms.
The old school buildings were demolished in 1978 (the school hall still remains) and the current school was built to comply with the earthquake building code. This is the front of the old main building in the 1930s, I was later to move into the room front left with Mr Jennings as my teacher in the Standards.
Westmere School was in the next street parallel to where we lived and although in this map it shows there’s a Reserve with walkways between our two streets in those days that wasn’t there, it was just an overgrown mess we used to call ‘The Gully’, sometimes if we were running late for school we’d take a short cut but it wasn’t such a good idea, there was lots of cutty grass and all sorts of horrible insects & animals we thought were about to attack us!
* 42 Wellpark Ave
* Westmere Primary School
* Pasadena Intermediate School
* Western Springs Stadium/Speedway
This next photo was taken sometime in the 1950s, the shop is next door to the school, you can see the school gates and where the milk bottle crates sat all morning curdling in the hot sun, and the building in the far corner on the right was the ‘murder house’, I guess it was built the farthest away from the main building as they could get it because they didn’t want the pupils being upset by the screams! Believe me, going to the dental nurse in those days was a whole lot worse than it is today. For our first break, called ‘play time’, every child in the school was given half a pint (that was before metric) of milk that came in a glass bottle with a round cardboard lid that had a hole in it for the straw, usually by that time the cream on the top of the milk (only full cream milk back then) had gone hard in the sun and tasted horrid! I remember using the cardboard discs to make many a pom-pom for my dolls’ clothes. We were also given an apple each from a box where every apple was wrapped in it’s own tissue paper.
'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 580-946'
(New Zealand's First Labour Government introduced free milk for children at school in 1937 to improve the health and welfare of young Kiwis. In the midst of the Great Depression, it didn't hurt to find a steady demand for surplus milk either. For a time during the Second War War, school children even received an apple a day.
School milk meant better bone & teeth development, as well as a "meal" in the stomach at time when widespread economic deprivation caused by the Depression meant many kids did not get full nutrition at home.
Between 1937-67, school children received a half pint bottle of milk during their morning class sessions. In an era before widespread refrigeration, crates of milk boats were often stored in a small slatted shed raised off the ground in some shaded spot close to the school gates. At least that was the case at the primary school I attended in the last years of the programme. Boys in standard 6 would pile crates on a hand cart and deliver the milk to each classroom, later collecting crates of empties to be returned to the shed for later pick-up by the milkman.
School milk was not to everyone's taste, especially on warm, sunny days when unrefrigerated milk would warm and start to turn. The crown of cream on top of the bottle's contents could also be a bit off-putting as it clogged one's way into the liquid below. Website Reference: )
I’m fairly sure the apple a day continued on for a few years after the war because I didn’t start school until the end of the war and I remember getting the apples for quite a while.
'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, awns-19420513-23-3'
I became an avid reader and a recent memory flash back is of my favourite books at a young age, they were Mary Mouse by Enid Blyton, I loved those books and couldn’t get enough of them.
Events of 1946:-
Family benefit of £1 per week becomes universal.
Bank of New Zealand nationalised.
24 Nov: general election, won by Labour, Peter Fraser becomes Prime Minister.
20 Aug: Railway disaster in Manawatu Gorge.
Best Picture: The Best Years of Our Lives.
Top Song: Prisoner of Love by Perry Como.