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When a teacher spanked you over her knee

Last October Rolph Road school celebrated its 75th anniversary. It brought back a lot of memories.

The school opened in 1939. I startedthere in 1940. At that time the school was both an elementary school and the embryo of Leaside High School. The high school kids took classes on the top floor of the school, in two portables which they called Joe’s house named after the school janitor, and also in St. Cuthbert’s Anglican Church and Leaside United Church basements.

I attended Rolph Road Public School from kindergarten to grade 8. In later years Rolph ended at grade 6 with its students attending Bessborough School for grades 7 and 8.

While these days I sometimes have a problem remembering the names of my friends and neighbours, I can still remember the names of every one of my teachers at Rolph.

For instance my kindergarten teacher was Miss Milburn. Her brother Harvey was my dentist whom I blame for all the fillings in my teeth. Thank goodness for floride in the water today. If you misbehaved in her class Miss Milburn would have you stand behind the piano. I believe that was the origin of what parents today call “a time out”.

The Honourable Barbara McDougall, who arrived at Rolph a couple of years after me and went on to become Canada’s secretary of state for external affairs, reminded me when she spoke at the reunion that our grade 2 teacher, Miss Turnbull, used to put kids over her knee and spank them if they misbehaved.

In grades 3 and 4, my teachers were the Reid sisters, Marion and Pauline. I suspect that today no board of education would allow sisters to teach in the same school. Marion Reid married my Leaside High history teacher Don McLeod.

My grade 7 teacher was Mr. Bick. His brother was the long- time chairman of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Commission. If any of your family or friends were police officers they would likely have attended the C.O. Bick Police College.

In grade 8 we had two teachers for different subjects, George Barrett and Anson Taylor.

Whenever I think of Mr. Barrett, I am reminded of the strap, or as we used to say, Did he give you the slugs? After a dust-up at the bicycle rack one day, Mr. Barrett suddenly appeared on the balcony of the principal’s office and ordered me to join him. When I arrived the first thing I saw on the principal’s desk was a long wide thick belt, the kind barbers used to use to sharpen their razors. Mr. Barrett picked it up and caressed it tenderly. Fortunately however, after giving me a good talking to, he put the strap back on the desk.

What Mr. Barrett never knew was how fortunate he was as well, because my father had often told me that if any one at that school ever laid a hand on me he’d come up there with a horse whip. So Mr. Barrett was fortunate to escape the horse whip and my father was fortunate to escape a criminal charge.

Anson Taylor later became the director of education for Scarborough. In that capacity he interviewed and hired my wife Louise for a Scarborough teaching position. If he had turned her down, Louise would have likely returned to the one-room school house just outside her home town of Cobourg, Ontario where she had been teaching previously. Then I would have never met her and without her love, help and support over 52+ years, I wouldn’t be writing this today.

The 75th anniversary celebration was organized by the Rolph Road Home and School Association. My mother was active in the association when I went to the school and later when our daughters, Kim and Andrea, both attended Rolph, my wife Louise played an active role in it.

Robin Dickie, Carolyn Armstrong, Petra Grantham and the present Rolph Road Home and School Association deserve an enormous thank you from our entire community for their tremendous work in making the 75th anniversary such a great success.