Lord Selkirk

I don’t think Mr. Negrich liked us. One of the first things I remember him saying to us, his new grade seven class, was, “This is a list of Corporal Punishments I am allowed to use,” he held up a blue sheet of paper. “It tells me what punishment I can give you if you misbehave in my class.” Other than that, he seemed okay.

We didn’t get to read the paper ourselves, so I wasn’t sure what kind of punishment ‘Corporal’ was. I recalled that my father had been a corporal during his brief time in the army. He had a pair of chevron stripes on the arm of his soldier uniform, though he had to give them back because of some misdemeanor he had committed. I had no stripes to give back, except the pair I had earned as a Wolf Cub.

Lord Selkirk had two school buildings. One for the little kids, the grade sixers and younger and this one for the Junior High kids, of which I was now one. Graduated to the big school. I felt as though it was now incumbent upon me to be a responsible kid, on my way to being grown up. I did not want Mr. Negrich to have to take away my stripes. After all, if you want to be treated like a big kid, you should act like a big kid. Norbert and Raymond were big kids, bigger than me. I think they had both been held back a grade. Norbert told me that he was already growing pubic hair. Mr. Negrich didn’t seem too fond of them.

Mr. Negrich did not teach us PT. Mr. Armstrong had that duty. He did not wear a suit and tie like Mr. Negrich. He wore polo shirts and sweatpants. His class was much more fun than Mr. Negrich’s class. The girls and boys did not take PT class together. One time we went into the gym to learn how to do basketball layups and the girls PT class had just finished. They were in the gym changing from their PT clothes to their regular clothes. We got to see some of the girls in their underpants.

Sometimes we got to play PT outside. Soccer or rugby (which was like football). We got to put on shin pads and make teams, like real sports. One time Mr. Armstrong brought the newspaper and showed us his famous wife, who was a newspaper model. She was modeling lingerie, which was like ladies underwear. He didn’t let us look at the picture very long.

We still lived on McIntosh then. The big school was at the far end of the school yard so it took a bit longer to walk there, than the grade six school. But once a week, for half a day, I went to a different school even farther away. Lord Selkirk didn’t have a Shop Class and when you got to grade seven, junior high school, you got to learn how to do real things, like use tools. It wasn’t bad going to shop at the other school. It was newer and had cool stuff that Lord Selkirk didn’t have. Elmwood High School on Chalmers. It was a very long walk, both ways, especially in the winter when it was 75 below zero. We got to make stuff out of wrought iron.

I did very well at Lord Selkirk. Especially in math, which was arithmetic but more grown up. For math we got to leave Mr. Negrich’s classroom in the basement and go upstairs to a different classroom on the first floor. The math teacher was a lady. I got good marks in math, even though it was hard. One girl in our class could barely see and when we did math she had to put her face so close to the book that her head was almost flat on the desk. Even though she was nearly blind, she was still able to do the math. I liked that class because you could see the school yard from the window and watch other classes having their PT outside.

But we didn’t stay on McIntosh. We had to move away again. This time it was to a new province. Father’s search for greener grass was on again. We were off to Chilliwack, BC. It meant having to make new friends again, start a new school and what I soon was to learn was that meant a demotion.

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