My Kindergarten Experience

My Kindergarten Experience


In my fifth year, I was moved from Estcourt Convent to Durban to embark on formal education.


I attended the kindergarten coeducational section of Gordon Road Girls’ School. It was customary for boys to move on to the adjacent Durban Preparatory High School (DPHS). Our teacher, Miss Jennings, was a delightful person, loved by all. Evidence of this was shown by the number of children who accompanied her on her daily walk to school down the length of Gordon Road. I shall always remember the Mauritius bag with sliding lid on the strap which went over her shoulder.


On my first day at Gordon Road Girls’ School I was made welcome by my two girl cousins May and Verna Buckle, the daughters of my uncles Harry and Percy Buckle. I was not told at the time, but I am sure this was at the behest my mother Anita. The first boy I met was David Napier who was later to play cricket for Natal and Baseball for South Africa. David or “Nip” as we knew him also became a tennis player of repute. I was to meet up with him again in Potchefstroom during army training in 1944. My final recollection of “Nip” was meeting him at the Royal Hotel in Ladysmith in 1951 on the day of our marriage and introducing my dear newly married to him as “Florrie Goebel”!


In those days there was a hostel for DPHS boarders owned and run by the Headmaster, Mr. Bullimore and family. Situated on the corner of Venice and Lambert Road, it was within walking distance of DPHS in Gordon Rd, being only two blocks away. It was also conveniently close to the Anglican Church in Venice Rd, which the boarders were required to attend on Sundays.


Anita reasoned that the hostel would be equally convenient for a five year old attending Gordon Road Kindergarten. Because of her circumstances, the Bullimores accepted me as a boarder, notwithstanding the fact that the hostel was for DPHS boys only. My stay at the hostel was like being with a big happy family. On school days I accompanied the boys on foot to Gordon Rd and they saw me safely in. On Sundays, if not taken out by Anita or Sydney, I joined the boys at St James Church where services were conducted by Rev. Oberlin Harris.


Two of my father’s surviving brothers, Harry and Lawrence, lived with their families within walking distance of the DPHS hostel, in Goble and Larch Roads respectively. Sydney sometimes took me to see his father (my grandfather) when he came to take me out from the hostel. The old man, then in his eighties, was always happy to be given a piece of honey comb.


During these visits I got to know both grandpa and cousin Tootie who remained a close friend for most of my life. I recall that he had a pet fowl called Cuthbert that walked up the old man’s leg and sat on his lap. When I arrived back at the hostel I invariably discovered that the old man had slipped a few coins into my blazer pocket.

Sailing is great