Growing up in the Fifties - 5

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Growing up in the Fifties - 5' page

Other Classes

By Margaret Foster

Addiewell Public School: 1950-1956

Other lessons we 'enjoyed' in our years of Primary Education included things like: singing, handiwork, drawing and 'drill.' In other words: music, arts and craft and exercises in the gym hall.
Music was taken by a Mr Wood from Blackburn who came a couple of times a week and tried to teach us scales and how to read music. I enjoyed the singing, but I had a hard time with the other stuff. The old piano was pushed from room to room- another job tackled by the older boys. One or two children had piano lessons outside school and so they were streets ahead of the rest of us. I may be wrong, but I think it was Mrs Wilson from Meadowhead Terrace who held these lessons. She was, for many years, the organist at the church. 


The craft lessons included making things like raffia mats using cardboard shapes and coloured raffia. Pom poms were made by placing two cardboard milk bottle tops together and threading wool through the hole that was meant for the straw. You kept going round and round until it was too tight to do any more. When the wool was cut between the bottle tops a loose piece was tied round the middle before the cardboard was removed and hey presto! A perfect pom pom. I remember my brother making a little woven purse in blue and white. My mother had it for years, she kept her single shillings for the metre in it. Who remembers the shilling metre...For the girls knitting and sewing were considered essential.  Scarves, pockies (mittens), pull on hats and even socks were knitted in a multitude of colours with many a dropped stitch. Sewing started with simple stitching and progressed to: a knitting bag (to keep our knitting in), a lap bag (for our sewing stuff) and, in our last year, an apron and cap which would be required for cooking classes when we went up to High School. All this was in checked gingham which helped to keep our stitches in straight lines. I don't know what the boys did while the girls toiled at turning a heel or some other complicated endeavour.


Gym days were a joy to me because it was like extra playtime. I can't remember the gym master's name, but Mr Marr comes to mind. The (drill) hall had a beautiful wooden floor and we were required to wear gym shoes. Some children were lucky enough to have their own, but for the others, there was a big box of various sizes from which you had to try and find a pair to fit. Back then no one thought about the hygiene aspect: no one wanted to miss gym. We did not have the ropes and beams and wall bars that we later found in the high school gym but we had: 'the horse' 'the box mats, wooden (hula) hoops and beanbags. Not, I might add, the big kind you sit on but small squares we could throw to each other. We did energetic aerobics but we called them exercises or drill. Sometimes we were taken outside to run around the building. Great fun, what did they think we did at playtime? Well that's another story...

This page was added by Margaret Foster on 24/10/2012.
Comments about this page

We too had Mr Wood as our music teacher. When he was not at your school, he was down the road trying to put some appreciation for music into our heads. The piano was again pushed from room to room and the knitting of socks was a mystery to me at first as I thought the heel turned itself. Using four little knitting needles without ends was strange at first and the knitting bags we made were handy for carrying the masterpieces! My mother had many scarves in various colours, the pockies we knitted were ok and thank God we never graduated to gloves! Our gym was a replica of yours and Billy O'Byrne was the best in the class at gym and is still fit to this day. Your comment about hygiene is spot on and we never gave it a thought- the same with dropping a sweety on the ground we just picked it up, brushed it slightly and in it went. There were very few cases of allergies then as we built up a resistance to germs. These days we are smothered by hygiene and to little avail. Once again enjoyed your memories and look forward to the next episode.

By Catherine Alleyne
On 25/10/2012

Have loved reading your personal memories and these have spurned me to write down a few of my own from the mid 1960s. I also have fond memories of gym time in St Thomas's school. We had to skip to music from a square shaped, flat wooden radio with the amplifier in the middle. During the run up to Christmas we had to practice our dancing skills. These would include, the Canadian Barn Dance, The Gay Gordons and Strip the Willow all of which were performed at our Christmas party. We all had to bring a cup and saucer for the party for our tea and cake.

By anna martin (Nee Di Biasio)
On 27/10/2013

Just came across this site, makes wonderful reading. I used to live at 33 Meadowhead Crescent back in the 50's and 60's.

By Ronald Mejka
On 11/03/2016

Hi Ronald, I used to live at 14 Meadowhead Crescent. I remember you and your family well. I was always at your house with Joan. I was married to Gordon Kilgour who lived at 18 Meadowhead. Hope you are all well.

By Lily Kigour (fairley)
On 21/05/2016

Hi Lily. I am one of Ronald's younger brothers. People used my middle name - Paul - because it was easier to pronounce.

Glad to read your note. Do you by any chance have photos of you and Joan ?

I am sure I remember the Kilgours - Mary the oldest and their father Rab.

Have you both moved far from Addiebrownhill ?

By Wladyslaw Mejka
On 11/03/2017

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.