The Primary Years
Norquay was a Grade 1 to 8 school and in the lower years at that time they had
half years. I was skipped a half grade on two occasions so I finished in 1943
after 7 years. I don't recall beginning
school so this must have happened without too much trauma. My normal route to
school was walking to the foot of Mannering Ave. to Nanaimo St., then a jog to
the left to the lane running behind a field which then was on the corner of
Kingsway and Nanaimo. There is now a hotel on this property. [Editor's note: As
of 2013, the hotel to which Jim refers has been replaced by a high rise building
containing residential units and commercial businessess.] Then I'd travel up the
lane to the top and then either cut out to Kingsway and along Slocan or across
the field where the 2400 Court is now. There was a great frog pond there at the
time. Then out to the Slocan corner. Finally up Slocan to the school.
had Miss Smart for each of my first 3 grades, but which spanned just two years.
She was very consistent in manner, well dressed, smiling and encouraging. It is
hard to imagine a more stable and secure environment in which to begin school.
Only one incident from the primary years made me feel uncomfortable. It was a
practice that primary pupils all received a small bottle of milk either white or
chocolate. These were placed in each classroom every morning in a wooden box
with wire dividers. Miss Smart was out of the room and there was some horsing
around going on. I for some reason gave way to unusual behaviour and went to the
front corner where the milk was and tried to be amusing. At this minute Miss
Smart returned and I felt a complete collapse in spirit. I think she only asked
me what I was doing, but I felt completely ashamed of myself.
Frustration for me in those early days was overdoing
things with my hands. Anything I cut out or pasted seemed to be so much cruder
and messier than anyone else's. I have many recollections of many days spent
playing in the boys' basement. This seemed to be a combination of running around
the basement plus up and down stairs and climbing the pipe railing which was
around the entrance to the gym. School seemed to come easily and I think I got a
lot of encouragement which helped immensely.