Memories of Susan SMITH (now DRAPER)


Susan Draper nee Smith 1946 - 52.

Most reminiscenses of the Maypole School (apart from those of Stuart Grieve) come from people who lived in the Bexley area. (Hi Stuart, I remember you!) I lived in Crayford & a large group of pupils came from the Crayford, Chastilean Rd & Dartford areas. We either walked or cycled the one & three quarter miles across the heath in all weathers. This changed when the new Wentworth Drive School opened in about 1950.

I attended the Maypole School from1946 - 52.

I clearly remember the teachers - Miss Torrey & Miss Bean (of the tea cosy hat) in the infants & then Mrs Poole, Mrs Grout, Mr Davis & Miss Burr as we progressed up the school. There were staff changes while I was there - Miss Butler & Mr Rees arrived, but I was never taught by them. Miss Gaspar was a very strict headmistress who kept us all in order. We were smacked for bad behaviour. I clearly remember being in trouble with Mrs Grout for passing notes in class & also with Miss Gaspar when a group of us were sent to her for sliding in the playground during one icy winter....

Mrs Poole was in charge of the school choir - we used to enter an annual choir competition held at the girls grammar School. I can still remember the words of some of the songs we sang.... Not bad when I cant remember now what I did last week! I remember learning "running writing" with Mrs Grout & the scratchy pens & inkpots that needed refilling. Mr Davis was a favourite teacher & Miss Burr too was excellent. We had to chant our tables regularly, were given frequent spelling & mental arithmetic tests & in the top class had to write one composition a week. Results of these tests would be added up & periodically we would be given new places in class.
We also had time for art, needlework & knitting for the girls & craftwork for the boys. Lower down the school we knitted dishcloths & made embroidered pot holders, graduating to bedsocks (pink or blue) & embroidered tray cloths. In the upper school I remember each year making calendars using old Christmas cards which we stuck to marbled paper. We made this ourselves by mixing paste & two different colour paints on two separate pieces of paper, putting them together & then pulling apart - it was quite effective.
In the playground I remember watching the house martins flying from their nest at the end of the infant building - they built there every year. Also catching leaves & playing with the sycamore "helicopters" which fell from the big tree bounding the school wall & turning somersaults on the bars surrounding the old airaid shelter nearby.

We had the usual playground games but I remember one called "Sausage Machine" where you all lined up against the wall, the first person in the corner near the buttress. The aim was to push along towards the buttress until that first person popped out - great fun! We were banned from playing with a ball but I remember the boys making a ball with paper & rubber bands for a game of cricket - all was well until someone hit it over the wall!

We had poor PE facilities but students from Madame Osterbergs college came regularly & we had the use of bean bags, hoops, forms & mats. We also had the opportunity to learn swimming at their college pool on Saturday mornings.

I also recall dancing round the school maypole - not a favourite activity with the boys!
We occasionally went for nature walks on the heath & in to The Dell & we sometimes were taken to play rounders on the part of the heath nearest the school.

As far as I remember we all had school dinners though those living nearby may have gone home. We ate dinner in the classroom for a number of years & I have memories of the smell of cabbage & my disgust at tapioca pudding & macaroni shells floating in milk.... In about 1950 a new canteen was built in the back playground & things improved. I do remember once finding a small black beetle floating in my fruit salad & showing it to Mr Davis. He said, "Dont tell everyone Susan or they will all want one"!
I remember clearly Miss Gaspar coming in to the top class in Feb 1952 & announcing that the King had died. I think we all stood for a minutes silence.

I enjoyed my childhood despite the lack of TV & other organised activities. In our spare time we were free to wander the heath (with suitable warnings from the adults about the mental hospital) & to go out on our bikes. We went to the "glory bumps", the "donkey pond", had picnics, climbed trees & played games. I regularly cycled to Dartford & along footpaths to friends in Bexley without any mishap.

We had good teaching & the discipline did us no harm.
I had some very happy years at the Maypole School & would be very pleased to hear from anyone who remembers me.

My E Mail address is lacknut@accommodate-uk.com
Susan Smith (Draper)

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