Open Air School

We had to carry our desks outside, even in winter. We used pencils because the ink used to freeze.

 

When I was young in 1931, I was sent to an open-air school after a bout of pneumonia.  The food was plain but wholesome and you had to eat everything in front of you.  Sometimes the staff would hold a child’s hands behind his back and pinch his nose to make sure he swallowed all the food, such as fat on meat.  Each week we had to line up for a spoonful of ‘physic’.  We slept in dormitories of about 24 of us.  Under each bed was an enamel potty.  The dormitories were open to the elements and the shutters were closed only when it rained.

Every morning we had to carry our desks outside, even in winter.  We still had our lessons outside even when there was snow on the ground.  We had a blanket to put around our knees, and we kept our coats on.  We used pencils because the ink used to freeze.

At lunchtime, we had to carry our desks back in, and after lunch we carried our canvas beds out for an hour’s rest, to help digestion so they told us.  Then we would have PE lessons because these were essential to improve circulation and exercise lungs.  We had cod liver oil every week, and we were weighed every week.  In spite of the harsh regime I really rather enjoyed it.

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