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|First Day I was picked up at NTC by Ian White, his Fijian wife Susi and Woody a Fiji II PCV. And Woody was driving!! Completely against rules. They were an odd bunch and had been drinking. They questioned me on the way and when I told them that am an artist by hobby, White said I was the new art teacher...just like that. Does any of this sound like M*A*S*H? That first evening David took me up to meet the headmaster, John McDougall, and have drinks and chat. Totally straight goody-two-shoes thrown into what seemed like a Somerset Maugham story of English imperialism.|
|From a letter dated 27-1-70 "Its the best school, no doubt. It has a chapel, four dormitories and the main school
building looks like Mount Vernon complete with columns. A surgery, farm and dining hall. Each teacher has his own house.
The guy I am with is a bum, the house was a mess, every dish and pan was dirty, junk everywhere, dirt everywhere with bugs crawling
all over. I'm spending most of my time scrubbing. I'm about ¼ of my room washed. The diesel generator that produces
electricity for the school is right below and soot has caked everything. He also doesn't have any food nor money so we are getting
by on tea and bread. So tomorrow I'm going to bus into Suva and buy, buy, buy. We have a refrigerator, but since power is only on
a few times each day we can't freeze anything.
"I know that I am going to teach math and art classes. Don't know if I can do it but I want to try. I'm also in charge of set design for the drama club and I understand that we tour the islands. I'm also in charge of the food store which means I order the food for the mess hall, I check it in and I distribute it out to the cooks. Food for 400 people is going to be a headache".
|Art Classes There weren't any supplies, there was no syllabus so it became a 10 week course based around paper and pencil. Highlights - had boys draw memories from favorite movies (Al Capone was very popular); had boys model for class sketches; perspective lessons sketching the school buildings; down to the beach to sketch Qoma island. When supplies finally arrived I had them paint a picture of their village. I spent a lot of time cleaning up old paint tins and and brushes. It was with mixed feelings that I handed over the keys to Murph.|
|Master on Duty aka MOD. Each teacher takes a turn for a week at a time. I hated it because I had to get up
at 5:30AM to wake the boys at 5:45AM and force them to work until breakfast, supervise that and chase them up to the Chapel and from there to
school. After school to try to supervise 300 boys cutting grass all over the place. In the evening you had to chase them down to
prep at school and then wander around for two hours making sure that the studied. And finally you had to make sure they were all in bed
by lights out.
To help you out there was a Prefect on Duty - Tevita Sekicolo is in the photo taken on a Saturday morning. My favorite ploy was to ask the POD to cover farm work. Saturday is the same as during weekdays until 8AM and then comes farm work for 90 minutes. I hated it the most just as the boys did - so many skip it and try out so many excuses that you never figure out who should be doing it. Some boys are on "fruit salad" duty, making it up for the Sunday treat. And another group chops up firewood. The dining hall gets cleared out and given a scrub. From I need to get down to the office and prepare the mailbag for collection by the "stand by" bus driver and he gives me the incoming bag - around 10:30AM. Now comes the fun part - punishment parade. In the good old days, the boys would shool up at the school office with a cane knife and you would bring them to an area to clean up and release them at the end of their time. But now its all badgering for a "contract" - which turns out better for both parties as you tell a boy he must do a specific area and then he is done. You don't need to watch him, as you will be able to tell later if he did it. And since it is no longer a time based exercise the boy will work 20 times harder and get his hour punishment done in 15 minutes. In the evening there is usually a movie that you have to supervise and finally bed check. See MOD instructions sheet
|Punishment The boys called me James Bond because I was so sneaky and caught so many of them. I continually set new records for number of offenses each week. Black and white Malley. A rule is a rule. Which is idiotic since it just created more headaches and arguments and bad feelings plus work for myself.|
|Post Office Savings Once in awhile a fellow drives up from Suva and the boys get a chance to make a deposit, but usually it is drawing of funds to use at the school tuckshop. Was a pain for me as my homeroom class, 4B, could never make a trip to the "bank" without behaving like little twerps.|
|Typical Weekend Saturday is breakfast at home, read a chapter or two from a novel, letters to Mom and Gail, straighten my room, correct prep(aka homework), have lunch, clean the house, draw, read newspaper, magazines, Readers Digest, have dinner, exercise, shower, misc writings, work on foodstore records. In the evening a movie was shown in the dining hall. Sunday is pretty much the same except I'll write a letter to someone different each week.|
|Supplies Being at the end of a windy gravel road meant shopping was not done with ease. Options: Deve's shop (where the boys would buy their cigarettes) where I would buy rice, kerosene, cigarettes (yes, I did smoke back then) and pop (sold in recycled beer bottles and my favorite was sort of a tropical/cream soda). Further down the road was Tong Lee's bakery (they delivered bread at 10¢/loaf and buns [1¢ each] to the school daily). Across the road from the Catholic mission was Philip's shop where one could also buy petrol (if one had a vehicle).|
|Supplies II Next option was the town, Korovou, that had a pub, and several larger Indian general stores. If one didn't feel like going all the way into Suva, then you stopped at Nausori which had a decent size market, good variety of shops including a proper grocery store, movie theatre and a decent restaurant. During school the bus was not an option but on Wed afternoon there were no classes allowing staff to get into Suva. If you left straight away and the car didn't break down you could get there just before the banks closed, get some money and hit the shops. Usually followed by a meal at a chinese restaurant. For those who couldn't get into Suva, supplies came to the school. Milk delivered each morning straight from farm's cows. Twice a week you could send an order for groceries into Wing Jang and meat to Continental Meats in Suva. You put your orders onto your front door and at 6AM a boy collects them and they get put onto the 7AM bus. The goods arrive back on the 5PM bus and are delivered to you door step. So even without a refrigerator it was possible to get fresh meat. Eggs came from Compain, down the road, once a week to a staff member who delivered them and collected the payments. I did it in 1972 when they cost 55¢ a dozen.|
|Supplies III Another source was local villagers. Children would arrive at the door selling "moli" (green citrus fruit for about 1¢ each), bananas, pawpaw, things from the ocean (lobsters at 50¢), dalo, shell necklaces, land crabs... Bialu would try to sell old vegetables (usually long green beans as ancient as him).|
Washing clothes etc... was an all day affair. Outside the house in the back was the "boiler". Fill it with water and light it up -
kerosene dripped into the flame which then heated the water. You used a piece of wood to move, pound and stir the clothes.
Then you put the clothes into a sink of cold water and tried to get as much soap out as possible. This is probably why we hired a "house girl"
to do it once a week, plus ironing ($1/wk). |
You may ask where 300 boys wash their clothes. There were a couple industrial size boilers down by the dining hall. That's Joji Rabete doing his (or is he de-stilling homebrew?).
|Leisure From a letter Feb 14, 1971: We get a movie on Saturday night for the school. I play bridge about twice a week, and parlor games once in awhile, mainly Scrabble with other staff. I play ping pong and cards with the boys. Staff has regular get togethers/parties. I play drums in the staff band and we have regular jams. I draw, I read, write, work on my gardens and listen/tape music. About the only things I miss are bowling, basketball and miniature golf. Cricket is too boring for me and rugby is too rugged. I join in on soccer, hockey and volleyball games.|
|Prep Each school night the boys are required to be in their from room and studying. The prep master was in charge of the boys from 6PM until they were all in bed - approx 10PM. This was the worst job. Imagine trying to ensure that 330 boys were in their beds in eight different buildings spread around the compound. Since I was strict I often had many rude remarks and things (knives, rocks) thrown at me in the dark. Some nights the Bauan boys would throw rocks onto our tin roof, know ing that they couldn't be "caught". See PREP MASTER instructions sheet|
|Rubbish I never did find out where it went, but Jo, the tractor driver, and a couple students picked up the garbage from the school and houses before it got too ripe for our delicate noses. That's Laisiasa Rokocibi on the left. Who is the other boy????|
|Band I was in a staff band, on drums. Woody played bass, a VSA, Peter, was lead and the deputy head, Jo Raqica, was rhythm. Jo being, Fijian, could sing but mostly we just did instrumental covers of songs that were popular at the time (well, the ones we could actually do). Luckily, no one ever taped us. My drum kit was made up the schools' Cadet bass drum and a couple normal size drums. I bought a snare gizmo in Suva for one and carved sticks out of bamboo. Woody built a foot pedal for the bass and we made a cymbal out of a large biscuit (cracker) tin. Throw in an enamel cup and watch out Keith Moon. The whole thing was held in place with the Physics/chemistry depts' test-tube holder stands. The only gig we ever played was for the staff party on Independence Day. Unfortunately it didn;t go as planned. Jo passed out after trying to play while on his lying on his back and a Fijian fellow took over the drums from me (he was much better).|
|Food Safe This was a cupboard with open sides that were covered with window screen to keep the flies and cockroaches out. To stop the ants we put each foot into a bowl filled with water. But that didn't work so we used kerosene.|