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1948 - My First Memory

My first memory is of spending an evening in the Norfolk Hotel whilst waiting for the train to Turi to leave from Nairobi at about 11pm...

I remember my mother complaining that it was "far too late" to have to wait up for.  It was a bit frightening and DARK to be up so late at night.  I slept on some sort of bunk in the train with others, on their bunks, above and below me.  Early the next morning, we climbed down from the train (from quite a height it seemed to me) on to a field and walked up through this field to Turi.

I have no memory of LEAVING Turi by the same train.  This makes me wonder if I spent only 1 term at Turi.  I know my parents came up to Kenya (from Tanganyika) and stayed up at Molo (least I think it was Molo).  Maybe it was at the end of term and they collected me to take me back to Arusha and on to leave in the UK?  I was rather a tom-boyish girl and not interested in dolls (unless it was to make clothes for them), but I had taken a ribbon from around a doll's waist and with tremendous attention to (and pride in) my appearance, tied this ribbon into my hair to greet my parents.  To my embarrassment (almost to this day), my mother took one look at me and said "why have you got that dirty ribbon in your hair, Jane?"

Regarding the swimming pool - I remember this being somewhere behind the 'main block' housing the dining room, not very big.  What I do remember is that a member of staff (presumably) swam with us on crutches.  I think she may have been a Miss/Mrs. Curtis.  But she was rather scary!

I remember another member of staff (presumably) who painted LOVELY murals of fish, shells, sea weeds, etc. on the walls of a corridor (I think as you came out of the dining room, the corridor was slightly to the left and ahead).  Lots of differently coloured, beautiful, fish ... but she kept painting out her work and re-working her murals - and sometimes I thought her second paintings were not as good as her first paintings.

My own teacher, we called 'Beth', unusual in those days.  She drew fruit trees on the blackboard and in the fruit (usually apples!) of each tree, she would write a table, i.e. 1x2, 2x2, 3x2, etc. to 12x2 in the last apple.  In another tree, she would write in each apple, say 1x7, 2x7, 3x7, etc. to 12x7.  Then she would call a pupil's name and point with her cane to a fruit and the pupil had to give the correct answer.  I always hoped for the 2x, 5x and 10x tree!

Regarding the food:  I think it was on Sunday evenings, we had cold baked potatoes and cool cocoa in tin mugs (with skin ... horrid!).  Lots of us didn't like our potatoes, either, and we used to roll them along the floor to the table at the end of the dinin g room (could the dining room have been on a slight slope?).  The idea was that WE would not be ticked off for not eating our potatoes - the pupils sitting at the end table would get the blame!

And milk puddings served for lunch - rice and tapioca - in tin trays (grey-and-white mottled tin, oven-sized baking trays) with brown skin on the top.  I remember having to stay behind in the dining room to "finish up my pudding", long after all the others had left ... and struggled to get the stuff down my throat.  But the other food must have been OK - don't we all remember just the awful and the awfully good things?

These are enough memories to be going on with (there are many more) - but just ONE more - there was a shrub/bush at the lower end of the playing field (near the swings) that had yellow flowers/buds.  At break time we used to pick and eat the buds ... they were delicious ... do you know what they were?

And, finally, Ma Lavers who wrote to my parents to say I had "not settled" at Turi (I heard my mother saying this),  read us a stories (maybe on Sunday evenings ... after the ugh potato and cocoa?!), used to have me up close to her knee while she read, as I was the youngest.  Also, she may have had my friend Joan up close to her, as Joan was also younger than most.  We both got bullied by the 'heads of dorm' - 2 sisters, I seem to remember, with the ultimate advantage of being about 11 and 12 years old!

Submitted by: Jane Smith

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