What stands out in my mind about Stoke School is that for our homework once, we had to reply by letter declining an invitation. I so wanted to do well that I asked my father George to write it for me, this is what he wrote:
DEAR SIR, I THANK YOU EXCEEDINGLY FOR YOUR KIND AND GENEROUS INVITATION, BUT I REGRET I MUST FORGO THE PLEASURE OF ATTENDING AS I HAVE A PREVIOUS ENGAGEMENT etc.
This letter I will always remember as I was marked really low because the teacher knew I did not write it. Hence the expression “cheats never prosper”.
I was the flower monitress and to this day I love gardening. I still have my recorder but drive my partner Graham mad with the tune “Little Bird”, the only tune I remember.
I remember how, after a Science lesson with Mr Milest, I climbed on a bench and tied my cardigan to the Bunsen burner pipe! Mr Griffiths caught me and, with a smile, made me climb up and untie it I think he was amused why I would do such a stupid thing!
I also remember a group of us being thoroughly told off for making a long icy slide at the side of the Domestic Science block.
One of my proudest moments was when in a biology lesson with Mrs Myers, I was the only one in the class with a comb (not sure if I got a star for that!).
Gym took place in the hall and was dreaded by many of the non-sporty girls. The required dress was an Aertex blouse and (most hated) navy knickers. It was with horror that I changed for gym only to find that I’d forgotten to change the bottom half of my baby doll pyjamas that morning and had to prance about the hall in pink, lace edged pants. Mrs Myers‘ (P.E. teacher) response is not recorded!
Domestic science was taught to all girls and some of us opted to take it at GCSE O’ Level. We had to prepare a menu for approval and then cook it on the day of the exam. This turned out to be the hottest day imaginable and the piped cream on my cherry tart melted into shapeless blobs. With five minutes left I prepared gravy. Adding gravy browning for colour, someone knocked my arm and half the bottle tipped into the gravy spoiling it completely. I poured it away before the examiner could see and told her I’d run out of time.
Three people have since confessed to being the person who knocked my arm. It could only have been one of you but I forgive you completely as I passed with a good mark!
I had forgotten my sandwiches for lunch. I was horrified when my father interrupted Miss Parncutt in assembly presenting her with my lunch. As he left, he called back to her “and see she gets it”!
I clearly remember an incident as a ‘fuzzer’ based at the second annexe in Mrs Phillips’ class. We were reading a poem which, If my memory serves me correctly, was about a young girl called Rebecca. The details of the poem escape me but I seem to remember it involving a fireman or fire engine. There was a funny piece in the poem which set us off laughing and whoever it was sitting behind me started to laugh and at the same time burped. This made a really funny sound and I was almost hysterical with laughter. Unfortunately I was sat at one of the front desks and was in full vision of Mrs Phillips. Tears rolled down my face and I couldn’t stop laughing. Mrs Phillips asked why I was laughing so hard but I was unable to tell her. She decided I should have a ‘fault’ and said “perhaps that will wipe the smile off your face”. My claim to fame was being the first in the class to get a fault. I gathered quite a few more over the years, though I also gained ‘achievements’ and signed the Achievement Book on a couple of occasions. Does anyone remember this book?
Back in the early 1950s the school put on a production of the light opera, 'The Bohemian Girl'. Miss Joan Foulks was the producer. It must have been a major undertaking with no spare cash available and costumes produced out of thin air. No parent teacher association in those days to help out, no parents were encouraged to set foot inside the building! I had a good voice so got the leading role and it was a very good show.
During the Festival of Britain, myself and another girl were allowed to audition for a Coventry schools choir which was to take part in a Festival concert at the Albert Hall. We were both accepted and from then on attended rehearsals every week, learning a great many songs and a new, specially written 25 minute piece by Ralph Vaughan Williams entitled, 'Sons of Light'. Half way through the rehearsal schedule, we had a major get together with all the Midland choirs in Birmingham town hall with Sir Adrian Boult conducting then in May the same year 1,111 children all met up in London for the actual concert. Playing was the London Philharmonic orchestra and also featured was the National Youth orchestra. The previous evening we had all been billeted with local children and looked after very well. The concert was the most wonderful experience, R. V. Williams was there to hear the performance and gave us all a cheery wave.
The whole episode was a fantastic contrast to our rather drab school lives and the memory vivid to this day.
I remember the very first day of school at Stoke. We were on our way, walking to the Annexe, when I realized I had somebody else’s mac on! If you recall, we all had new everything for school uniform. I had to run back to Stoke, find my coat, then catch up with the rest of the class.
The funny thing is that my whole life I have made stupid mistakes at the beginning of every new start. This includes every time I went onto a new ward when I was training, and we changed every three months! I then have to spend the rest of the time trying to undo the first impression!
I also remember doing GCE in Domestic Science: I forgot to cook the Savoy cabbage, so threw it into boiling water at the last minute. I was complimented on the lovely emerald colour!!
In another cooking class, we were supposed to be making a Victoria sponge cake. Mine didn’t rise at all and looked like a large biscuit. The teacher (can’t remember her name) was very sympathetic and said it would probably taste good.
Lastly: Do you remember how we used to cook a dish, then take it home with us? I clearly remember taking stewed apple and custard upstairs on the bus and having it spill all over me… duh!!
Ah me, those were the days!!
Notes from 1958 Diary - Forms 2P and 3M
While having a recent clear-out I came across a small 1958 page a day diary which I'd got no idea I'd still got. The writing isn't very clear but there were a few decipherable mentions of Stoke which I thought everyone might like to read. I would be interested to hear if anyone else had memories of that year at school, especially a different slant on the events I have mentioned.
In January we started our first Domestic Science lessons at Stoke. For the first month we were restricted to care of the skin and nails. Then shoe cleaning and washing handkerchiefs. The second month we made toast and coffee and then progressed to Welsh rarebit! If I can read my writing the teacher was Mrs Padden.
We had some mysterious tests in March. They were supposed to show if we were in the right forms and were marked by Miss Parncutt, Mrs Saunders and Miss Woodford. On 25th March we had a problem test and a comprehension test. Then, the following day, English and General Knowledge.
I think they must have been shuffling around as some girls had elected to go to Lyng Hall. I don’t think we sat the 13+ although some schools still did.
In September a girl in our class named Sandra Jenkins was found to have TB and sent to a sanatorium for several months. We were encouraged to write to her. I don’t know if she ever came back to Stoke. If she did she was no longer in our class.
Margaret Rose, who had been head girl the year before we started at Stoke, came back to teach after two years at teacher training college.
Most of the class went to Lilleshall for a week from 6th October.
The Bishop of Coventry attended our carol service at Stoke St Michael’s on 16th December. He was very complimentary.
On a trip to Lilleshall I am reminded of a Geography hike across a paddock with Mr Griffiths to look at a church.
He described all the interesting features and why things were in a certain position. As a joke, he told us that all the monks were left-handed! I believed him completely and the next day wrote this in my notebook. Mr Griffith’s reaction when he read this is not recorded!
I was in 4 General, Mrs Myers’ class. We were waiting for her to arrive to teach the next lesson. Out of boredom, and maybe curiosity on my part, I decided I would stand on the pipes around the edge of the classroom, so I would be tall enough to see out of the window into the boys’ (forbidden) classroom. The windows on both sides were open, so it didn’t take long before contact was made. I was yelling “yoo-hoo” and waving like crazy, completely unaware that my peers had been trying to warn me of the pending arrival of the stern faced Mrs Myers. I am not sure if she saw the embarrassment on my face as I quietly shrunk down into my seat. I really don’t remember if I was reprimanded for breaching the rules, but it has given me many chuckles over the years.
Last updated 14 July 2012