Graffiti rings a bell for former pupils

Former Gore High School pupils Dorothy Dodds, Ron Hargest, Wattie Gee and Barbara McRae took the...
Former Gore High School pupils Dorothy Dodds, Ron Hargest, Wattie Gee and Barbara McRae took the chance for a final look at the buildings in Richmond St where they spent their school days. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON
Canings, a drunk teacher frothing at the mouth and illicit smoking were among the memories which came flooding back as a group of Gore High School pupils visited  
their old school buildings one last time. Former pupils Wattie Gee, Ron Hargest, Dorothy Dodds and Barbara McRae shared memories with Sandy Eggleston during a visit to the two former school buildings after the Gore District Council made the decision to demolish them.

 

He cannot remember engraving his name on a building, but there it is: W. Gee.

Names of other former pupils, including T. Farry and C. P. Robertson, are also etched on the inside of weatherboards on one of the former Gore High School buildings due to be demolished.

The names became obvious after vandals damaged the inside lining of the building.

The Gore District Council last week approved demolition of the buildings, amid fears about ongoing vandalism and decay.

The boards will be given to the council’s heritage department.

Mr Gee said the names were on the inside of the building which was the sixth form lounge in his day.

"It is possible I may have done that but I can’t remember," Mr Gee said.

He was not in the habit of writing his name on buildings, although he did sign the wall of Argyle Station’s woolshed in 1940.

Whether the inside of the building was lined or not he could not remember, but if it was he was not sure how the boys gained access to the boards.

Before that, the building had been the metalwork room.

There were bars on the rafters, and the boys would pull themselves up and "try and chin the bar".

He recalled the time he and a friend, Brian Scobie, were punished with a length of laboratory tubing for making noises in class.

"We went out to the dunnies to compare our marks — it definitely left a red mark."

It was not the only time Mr Gee received punishment.

"I got caned five times by the rector for smoking."

Mr Gee started at Gore High School in 1940 and after completing sixth form went to Dunedin Teachers’ College to train as a primary teacher.

Ron Hargest, Dorothy Dodds and Barbara McRae started at the school in 1946.

Mr Hargest said the pupils had a good relationship with their teachers.

"We eventually all became good friends with our teachers.

"We loved our teachers."

At interval and lunchtime, the boys and girls had separate outside areas to gather in.

One Monday in assembly, one of the teachers, Maggie Durward, caught sight of Mrs McRae’s sister Shirley, who had put a rinse through her hair at the weekend.

"In front of the whole school Maggie Durward called my sister out and said ‘who’s that glorified gorse bush?’," Mrs McRae said.

In addition, there were strict uniform rules.

"You had to wear your gloves and your hat and your tie," Mrs McRae said.

"The girls had to kneel while Maggie Durward saw that their gym frocks were the correct distance off the ground," Mr Gee said.

The same gym frocks, along with long black stockings, had to be worn to the school social.

"It was amazing how glamorous some of them could look in a gym frock," Mr Gee said.

"No meeting boys at the gates after the socials either," Mrs Dodds added.

Boys were not allowed to have long hair, and girls could not wear earrings.

One teacher came from Invercargill to take the pupils for singing lessons in the other prefab which is now due for demolition.

"He used to arrive every week drunk as a skunk," Mrs Dodds said.

"He used to froth at the mouth, too," Mr Gee said.

"He was a good singing teacher — he used to get wild if you didn’t get it right," Mrs Dodds said.

Mr Hargest caught the train to school.

"When I got in there, there was a line of boys with gym shoes, so I had to walk the length of the carriage and they would give you a wallop as you walked along," he said.

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