Wednesday, August 19, 2015

LFR 19 Aug Number 612

North Berwick, East Lothian, Scotland

Welcome to the Laws Family Register. 

A Child of the Twenties

A suburban childhood of the Twenties 

seen from the Ninteen Nineties

by my late father

 John Robert Laws 1921-2008

Part 13.

In those days one paid fees for attendance at grammar schools though these could be waived if a family income was a bit tight. At fifteen guineas a term, or was it a year, it seems chicken feed now but for many the amount was a big lump to find. School uniform was obligatory of course and included caps for boys and hats for girls – to hide their pretty curls.

Minchenden was, like the elementary school, one of the schools which were co-educational probably about half and half, and one soon found out that boys and girls were pretty equal at academic subjects and that some of the girls tended to work harder, There was a theory that boys worked harder in separate schools without the girls to distract them, but I doubt the truth of it, indeed it seems possible that the boys in the boys only schools had to put more time and effort into finding and meeting girls instead of working.

We were in general, fortunate with the school staff, a mix of types and personalities like any group, but as competent as any and better than a lot. They too must have been influenced by the pleasant working conditions and relaxed but disciplined mood of the unit. It was small by present day standards, some four hundred pupils, quite enough to my mind even if it can be done more cheaply with twice as many. George Bernard Shaws’s comments about doing and teaching are very true so often, but we had both, Art and Music teachers about whom the reverse was true. - They could do but not teach. It must have been frustrating in the extreme for them. 

The rest of the staff must have had their frustrations too with the need to produce exam results from pupils with their normal share of laziness and only interested in only a few subjects. However produce results they did, by dint of much note scribbling and even the unorthodox use of a French text of the New Testament for religious instruction.

Not all the education was in the classroom, there were occasional outside visits, two very contrasting ones spring to mind. The first to the Roman remains of Verulanium at St.Albans and the other to the Ford Car factory a Dagenham. I think I was more impressed with the factory where it seemed to me that they made everything except the tyres, perhaps there was not a lot of sub-contracting then. The molten metal being poured into sand moulds for the cylinder blocks was a wonderful bit of knowhow even if its roots went back as far as Verulanium.

Although education was fairly broad it became exam orientated as the time went by. The General Schools Certificate with Matriculation exemption was the objective for most of us and there was plenty of homework to be done in the evenings and holidays. I fear we skimped on a lot of it. Only a few went to University in those days but the Matric served as an exemption from the preliminary exams of a number of professional bodies as well as being needed before doing the Inter for University entrance.

There were other activities outside school hours and one of my interests was the Astronomical Society. Under the guidance apparently of the woodwork master a good observatory with a revolving dome was built by the boys and was equipped with an excellent five inch refracting telescope which had at one time belonged to King George the Fifth. 

How it came to us I have no idea, there must have been some sort of tie up between one of the science masters and the powers that be who arranged it well in advance as the observatory was built to fit it. Apart from the idle curiosity of looking at the moon and planets, a good deal of useful work was keeping records of sunspots movements and timings of occultation of stars by the moon. 

We visited the Greenwich Observatory which was still one of the great observatories of the world although beginning to be out-classed by the hundred inch reflector at Mount Wilson in the United States. The big two hundred reflectors and the radio telescopes were not even on the drawing board. There was at that time, already speculation about the possibility of space travel and my friend Stan Law and I gave a lecture to our group about it, all carefully mugged up from a book of course. I doubt whether at that time we believed a word of it. 

We were kindred spirits with common interests in mathematics and woodwork. The maths did not get that far as the ‘mathematics’ – more advanced, which a few of us did as an extra subject for Matric, was only on the fringes. The woodwork turned out more useful and the final exams we spent all our time in the woodwork room making equipment for the physics lab.

To be continued tomorrow


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Family Events from our database for today August 19th

If you are interested in anyone listed here, email us with the name, date and reference number, and we will happily do a look up, you might get a whole tree! 

Family Events
1733 - Baptism: John LAWS-123442, Stepney MDX UK

                                                        St Dunstan, Stepney MDX UK

1788 - Marriage: Green LAWS (Saddler) -3019 and Mary RICHES-3021, Fakenham NFK (St Peter & St Paul)

                                                         Fakenham NFK UK

1810 - Marriage: Robert NEWMAN -7669 and Rebecca LAWS -7881, St.Marylebone MDX
1816 - Marriage: John LAWS-7365 and Sarah Elizabeth STUBBERSFIELD-7366, Dover KEN UK

                                                  Dover Castle , Dover KEN UK

1821 - Birth: Sarah LAWS-57078, Hilgay NFK UK

                                                                  Hilgay NFK UK

1849 - Christen: Edward LAWS (Former Mariner) -9647, Dymchurch KEN UK
1856 - Burial: Thomas LAWS-121257, Aberdare, Glamorganshire, Wales
1871 - Birth: Alice LAWS-6922, Close House, West Auckland DUR UK
1894 - Death: Thomas Austin LAWES (Corn Miller) -2542, Donhead St Andrew WIL UK
1895 - Birth: Cyril Edgar LAWES (Tea Broker) -55416, Paddington MDX UK
1896 - Birth: Frederick Compton LAWES (ARMY Private 814293) -44908,
1898 - Birth: Cecil Sydney LAWS (Australian Army (NX1791229)) -32311, Goulburn NSW                        AUSTRALIA
1899 - Marriage: Arthur LAWS (Ag lab) -5443 and Alice PEYTO-36320, Swanley KEN UK
1909 - Birth: Maud LAWS-45543, West Hartlepool DUR UK
1912 - Birth: James Peterson LAWS-119102,
1914 - Will  Proved: James William LAWES (General Foreman in Iron Works) -5176,
1915 - Death: Mary A LAWS-115066, Stepney MDX resided in Mile End MDX UK
1916 - Death: Sidney Charles LAWES (ARMY Private 3686) -45022, Basra IRAQ
1923 - Birth: William Ernest LAWS-118688,
1923 - Birth: Auldrey Sybil G LAWS-118621,
1926 - Death: Martha M LAWS-41511, Kendrick, Latah, Idaho, United States
1936 - Birth: Bryan Edward LAWS (Diagnostic Engineer)-29418, Folkestone KEN UK

                                                         Folkestone KEN UK

1939 - Admon: Eric Frederick George LAWS-117379,
1939 - Miscellaneous: Allen Henry LAWS (Printer Compositor) -29127,
1944 - Marriage: James Ronald LAWS (Australian Army) -32339 and Shirley Glorina CASSIDY-                35287, WOOLLAHRA NSW AUSTRALIA
1947 - Birth: James Ralph LAWS-40240, Gregg Co TX USA
1948 - Birth: David Phillip LAWS-122812,
1952 - Miscellaneous: Samuel Charles LAWS (University Principal OBE ) -4032,
1952 - Miscellaneous: Emily Sarah LAWS (Assistant Schoolmistress / Spinster) -4031,
1952 - Birth: Nicholas LAWES-55571, Chichester SSX UK
1954 - Death: Robert Edward LAWS-123832, Winston-Salem, Forsyth NC USA
1954 - Death: Annie Eliza LAWS-33443, Kelowna, BC CANADA
1957 - Birth: David LAWS-40393, TX USA
1960 - Miscellaneous: Percy William Herbert LAWES (Railway Officer) -1305,
1960 - Miscellaneous: David Harland LAWES (Mech.Eng.) -1295,
1960 - Marriage: Dewey Alvin LAWS-114886 and Mary Angelina RODRIGUEZ-114887,
           Clark NV USA
1963 - Miscellaneous: Stephen LAWES (Railway Guard) -912,
1977 - Death & Burial: William Richard LAWES-124580, Portsmouth HAM UK
1988 - Death: Agnes Wilson LAWS-31817, NSW AUSTRALIA
2003 - Death: Eileen Ethel LAWS-30146, Auburn, formerly of Gladesville and Banora Point NSW
2011 - Death: Terence Ronald LAWS-120519, at Home

1893 - Birth: Elizabeth Diosma PFEIFER-47880, Younghusband, South Australia
1900 - Death: Amelia Judith WADE-850, Madras Villa, 31 Lady Margaret Road, Tufnel Park MDX
1914 - Birth: Frank BURTON-122535, Manchester LAN UK
1914 - Birth: Hilda CLEGG-118947, Manchester LAN UK
1914 - Birth: Lily Agnes A COTTON-34775, 
1988 - Death: Agnes Wilson SINCLAIR-39371, Sydney NSW AUSTRALIA
1999 - Birth: Eleanor Francesca Mary JEANS-38954, The Times 26 Aug 1999
2002 - Death: Sylvia GABBARD-49703, Garden City MI USA

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