Que Que Junior School Class of 1958

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Back Row: Robby Fletcher, Clive Menhennick, Victor Crowther, Allan Bull, Godfrey Opperman, Norman ?, William Bueck, Henry Gerber. Third Row standing: Gillan Lyon, ?, Gywneth LLoyd, Gail Fowler, Marilyn Gaskell, Anna Naude, Elizabeth Gillham, Ann Christinson, Melody Hannaford, Wendy Allen. 2nd Row sitting Mr. Clelland, Betty Botha, Sheryl Poupart, Allison Smith, Gail Owen, Diana Hirsch, Jennifer Sinclair, Lynn Jelks, Mr. Barker the Headmaster. Front row: Paul Harper, Carl ?, Jeremy Bailey, Thomas Trotter, Roger ?.

Que Que Junior School Class of 1958

My schoolmates are scattered all over the globe.  I’ve often envied my American friends that gather annually for school and college reunions.

Que Que Junior School Standard 5A Class of 1958

Que Que Junior School was built not in the thick of things but out on the edge of town,  next to the new government hospital.  Both institutions had huge grounds so one could hardly say they were neighbors.

There were three rows of classrooms with the headmaster’s office situated in the middle of one of them.  Behind were the hostels, one for boys and one for girls.  Weekly boarders came from the surrounding farms, cattle ranches of up to thirty thousand acres, maize and tobacco farms.   Gold was what had brought the pioneers to Southern Rhodesia in 1890 but by the mid 1950’s gold leaf tobacco exports were more than twice gold exports.

The Naudes, the Fowlers, and the Sinclairs  were farming families.  The Sinclair’s house had been built on the edge of the Bembezaan River as a retreat for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth’s Royal tour in 1947. It had a hundred steps down from the front door to the bank of the river and had a magnificent Gone with the Wind staircase.  But the king was too ill to avail himself of it.  The Fletchers had an egg farm and their lanky son Robby was home-schooled until Standard 5, a rare exception to the boarding school rule.

Around Que Que  there were recorded 295 gold ‘small workings’ and some children boarded at the school like Allan Bull.   But most of the day-scholars were from the The Globe and Phoenix Mine that was the foundation of the town pegged in 1894 and established in 1900.   The Menhinicks, the Bothas, the Owens, the Christenson’s, were all mineworkers of one sort or another while Mr. Allen was the accountant.  Mr. Smith ran the Que Que Stores Globe and Phoenix native concession store and of course Dr. Hirsch was the mine doctor.  The Lyons owned an insurance agency and Mrs. Lyon grew her own flowers on their farm and owned a florist shop.  Mr. Gillham worked at the steelworks and Mrs. Gillham, a feisty Italian, owned a milk bar in Redcliff. Gangly Padre Lloyd, who seemed never to brush his hair, was the minister of St. Stephens Presbyterian Church.

Secondary industries were developing as a result of the iron and steelworks from at nearby Redcliff.  William Buenk joined us in Standard 4.  He was not Afrikaans, like a number of others in our class, but straight from Holland. He wore clogs to school.  What a ribbing he received!  Unlike America that prizes individualism, we were a cruel lot and conformist.  We wore uniforms to school.

Our school teacher was Mr. Clelland, fresh from Hastings, England.  Instead of learning about the Matabele Wars of 1893 and 1896, which were really exciting, we learned about William the Conquer and the Battle of Hastings in 1066.   He let us know in no uncertain terms that it was far better to be British than a colonial and never let us forget it.  He screwed up his eyes and his buck teeth protruded from fleshy lips.  We often wondered why he’d ever ventured out to the middle of nowhere.

He set us all up with pen friends there and monitored our every word of correspondence.  He had set ideas about the King’s English too, and did his best to improve our elocution.  He thought we did a deplorable job of covering our text and exercise books and taught us how to do it properly with new brown paper and envelope corners like hospital beds.  My mother insisted cut up brown paper bags were good enough and this was quite an unnecessary expense and busy-work.

But Mr. Clelland’s greatest challenge was Jennifer Sinclair and me.  We cried when we could not do our sums.  This was a great source of consternation for him.  My brother, David, was skipping a class, but he needed to skip another two to join me at my school desk.  I cribbed off my best friend Wendy Allen, who was top of the class every year, but when it came to quiz time, Jennifer and I were the last ones standing because we couldn’t come up with any answers.

Mr. Barker was our tall and handsome headmaster. I got to know him well when Padre Mullet of St. Luke’s Anglican Church was temporarily replaced.   His replacement  preached that the Jews killed Jesus.  I abruptly dropped my regular Sunday school attendance. I was excused our twice-weekly compulsory denominational religious classes at school and ran errands for Mr. Baker instead.

I’d love to know what happened to my classmates.

Past due time to acknowledge my support team: sons Andrew and Jonathan Davis for a brand new computer.  Andrew for web design and continued IT support, brother David Hirsch for ruthless editing and lively debate and of course obliging husband Jan Polisensky for scanning and home cooked meals.  Thanks too to my readers for staying the course and interacting.

 

 

30 Comments

  • Betty Goolsby

    Reply Reply February 18, 2011

    Mr. McClelland sounds like someone straight out of a Roald Dahl book! Protruding teeth, overzealous and cruel practices in class, narrow-minded thinking and frustration with little idiots (students) were just the tip of the iceberg. Everyone seems so trim and fit…I am sure it was the busy-ness of being out in nature, walking everywhere and good healthy living! You did get an outstanding education though, and you had wondeful jobs, so your school masters must have done an incredible job! I could not pick you out on my own….had to look at the names underneath!

    • Diana

      Reply Reply February 19, 2011

      Betty, These were the days before childhood obesity became an epidemic. We did live outdoor lives, rode our bikes everywhere and swam 10 months in the year. We didn’t think of it as exercise, just fun. Of course, food portions were much smaller, with much less refined food. We ate guavas, avocados and mangos right off the trees in our gardens and big wedges of paw-paw (papaya) for breakfast. (But we did indulge in Cadbury’s kitcats and flakey bars from the tuck shop when we got to high school. Milk shakes and brown cows were treats we indulged in at the milk bar.
      Our school system was British. We wrote the Cambridge “O” Level exams in Form 4 which were sent to be marked in England, followed by Cambridge “A” Level in Form 6 for university entrance. Later M level (Matric) was introduced as an option for entrance into South African universities (a 5 year course).
      A number of QQ students really have excelled themselves academically…quite amazing from such a remote beginning–maybe because of it!
      Diana

  • Andrew Davis

    Reply Reply February 21, 2011

    Mom,
    Thanks so much for the acknowledgement. We are all happy to support the documentation of your wonderful memories. I enjoy the weekly musings and am grateful to be able to be part of your continued success!

    By the way, what’s a milk bar?
    Keep it up! Andrew

    • Diana

      Reply Reply February 21, 2011

      Andrew,
      Couldn’t do with out you! Thanks for all the encouragement that never wanes.
      A milk bar is well like the modern day coffee shop…a place to meet and have tea or milk shakes or a ‘brown cow’ ie. Coke with a blob of ice cream in it served in tall glass with a straw. You could buy Cadbury’s flakey bars, mars bars and crunchy bars at the counter. You sat on a stool at the counter (like a liquor bar) or at tables for tea. There were pin ball machines and a jukebox where you put a sixpence in and it played the latest Elvis or Little Richard song on 45 rpms. Its where teenagers hung out after school in the afternoons, and moms in the mornings with their friends.
      MOM

  • Tess Harris

    Reply Reply February 23, 2011

    I remember so many of the faces (or their families) in your Class photo, and wonder if you did hear from any of them?

    Tess

    • Diana

      Reply Reply February 23, 2011

      Tess, Yes heard from a number of people see blog comments below as well as on my Facebook page. Via email, Wendy Allen now on a game farm in SA and Melody Hannaford now in England. Melody filled me in on a number of names.
      Haven’t forgotten to add the skeleton picture from the panto to Jan’s next scanning assignment!
      Diana

  • Keith Kietzmanjn

    Reply Reply April 12, 2011

    It’s so great to be reminded of all the great folk we grew up with. Thank God for the internet where we can open our memory banks and enjoy what we had in our childhood. Just got in contact with Alan Bull after many years via facebook.

    I have a painting of the old mine house I grew up in on the Gaika Mine. It is displayed proudly in my dining room.

    Thanks Diana fro keeping the flame burning.

    • Diana

      Reply Reply April 12, 2011

      Keith,
      Alan Bull was in my class. Reading the QQ history I wonder if they are the Bull’s that were involved in the G and P Mine’s historic John Bull law suit over the reef below the Phoenix and who had rights to it in 1911? It was the most costly court case ever held in SR and England.

      Keith if the mood moves you would you like to take a photo of your painting and I’ll use it in a blog about the mine houses…or something…maybe you have a story to go with it. (Did you see the painting Morris Sloman sent of the Paper house in one of my blogs…I think I called it Prefab? Also Arthur Chapman sent one of Main Street, which he has for sale.)

      I’ve also got some memorabilia that is special, a water color of some picinnins herding cattle, a copper relief mirror with African figures and animals around it and so on…Remember when everything was copper after sanctions and you couldn’t get anything else…firescreens and so on.

      Diana

  • Keith Kietzmanjn

    Reply Reply April 12, 2011

    PS I cant even spell my own name Kietzmann – must be the excitement in seeing the old pics.
    Cheers
    Keith

    • Diana

      Reply Reply April 12, 2011

      Keith, Glad you are enjoying the nostalgia so much. It sure was the good life. Diana

    • William Buenk

      Reply Reply August 17, 2012

      How are you after all these years?

      • Keirh Kietzmann

        Reply Reply August 17, 2012

        Hi Willie,
        Where in the world are you. I am in New Zealand – been here since 1978. conatc kiwi-keith@xtra.co.nz

        • Diana

          Reply Reply August 19, 2012

          Keith he is in Durban working as an industrial chemist. I have sent him your email.

  • John Nee

    Reply Reply May 16, 2011

    Hi Diana – still an avid reader of your blog!

    your copperware was probably made at Dennis Thomson’s factory. He was the artist that spawned the big 5 series in copper which graced the fire places and mantles of most Rhodesian homes. He also brought out all the bush war operational areas plaques which you could buy in the services dry canteens. I had the good fortune of spending a week with him on Kariba in the ‘Ark’ (Rupert Folthergill’s boat in ‘Operation Noah’) after which he gave me a full set of plaques which I still have. I don’t know if I’ll ever display them – it’s just not pc is it??

    • Diana

      Reply Reply May 16, 2011

      John, Nice to hear from you again. We kept our copper firescreen for many years. A neighbor of mine here on the Oregon coast from Chaplin High (Dawn Barker from Harley dont know her maiden name)) still has hers in her main living room. The screens have travelled far! (By coincidence she went to school with my brother Brian which we discovered here as neighbors!) The operational area plaques are a part of our unfortunate history. There are so many what-if’s on all sides…if Nkomo had not succumbed to NDP party pressure in London and reneged on the 1961 Constitution on the issue of the two tiered voting (non racial) system Dad engineered…if Whitehead had not moved the election up prematurely (against Dad’s advice as his confidant) and lost the election to the Dominion Party to Field and ultimately Smith and the huge blunder of UDI. (In fact if Welensky had not snubbed Smith as “not up to it” earlier he would have remained in the UFP…history might have played out differently….all part of my book.

      Rupert Fothergill’s Ark looked quite primitive (well, no frills anyway) from the film clip I attached. You have had some great experiences. See Val Barbour (nee Atkinson, Turtle Mine) posted comment on one of the Kariba blogs on the current croc situation there.

      The plaques represent our history, and the many brave young men who were called up and gave their lives to their country in the line of duty and made the ultimate sacrifice. If only (again!) international pressures, arms assistance etc had not interfered all the suffering of today’s sad situation might have been averted and we’d still be the role model bread basket of Africa instead of the prime basket case.

      Your comment on the plaques reminds me of a story…that is really beyond the scope of THE book, but I’ll blog it!

  • Susan Grave

    Reply Reply November 12, 2011

    Of course none of these names mean a thing to me, however, I recall many young ladies who came from Redcliff & Que Que to attend Byo Convent. One of them being Elizabeth Gillham who is in your Std 5 photo:-)

    • Diana

      Reply Reply November 12, 2011

      Yes, Elizabeth Gilliam was a good friend of mine. I was her bridesmaid at her wedding. She married very young to Steve Cleminson in Redcliff and they have had a wonderful marriage, two lovely children and three grandchildren. Llz and Steve live in Germiston. Liz’s parents recently moved from Redcliff to Germiston.
      The stories are real and even if you dont know the people it is hoped they reflect the time and place (SR) accurately. Enjoy.

  • megan kerr nee Jones

    Reply Reply December 26, 2011

    Hi Di, I remember 99% of the people in your Junior School photo. Cheryl Poupart lived around the corner from us and was a good friend. Not sure where she lives now but was in Zims for a long time. Jenny lives in the Transvaal as does Stuart or was the last time I was in touch. I remember Keith well. I will have to read all your articles to refresh my memory.
    Mr. Davis was my father’s teacher at Umtali school then became my headmaster in Que Que. I always got away with writing lines!! (punishment) but I think I planted all the grass around the hall. I remember the Bulls, all the teachers mentioned. I must say I enjoyed my days at Que Que High School.
    Recently we visited Zims and took a memory lane trip including Que Que. Our house looked the same but my mother’s beautiful garden was gone except for the original structure. Que Que High looked exactly the same but a large wall around which I don’t think was there when we were at school. The Civic Centre of course still is lovely and the town – main street still looks “nice”. The memories of a fun filled life we had in Que Que will always remain as the most special time of my life. Your dad was our family Dr.
    My brother Mike put me onto your website which I will study enthusiastically. Well done on this Di.

    • Diana

      Reply Reply December 28, 2011

      Megan, Those were great days. The Pouparts lived on Burma Road, and I think Jenny married Peter MacGaw a friend of my older brother Brian? I’ve got a picture of Stuart at a fancy dress at the Mayoress’s Tea Party on our front lawn at the G and P house, he was about my brother David’s age.
      Mr. Davis was quite a formidable figure. I was hopeless at art, but Mrs. Davis was encouraging as she could be.
      I am glad that many of the same icons we remember are still standing on your recent trip. It must have been quite a nostalgia trip.
      You dont happen to have a picture of a Pise house do you? I want to write a story about them. for the blog.
      My novel based on those times is finished. Editing furiously. Hope to have it out by the end of the year. Happy New Year to you. Diana

  • Alan Bull

    Reply Reply March 8, 2012

    Hi Di, My subconscious remembers you well. My conscious remembers less , but still remembers you having similar intelligence recall as me in class. You were also happy, bubbly and giggly. Attributes that I hope you still possess.
    Your dad delivered my daughter Renee.
    Now mature and a liberated thinker, I would like to understand your dad’s political thinking. I was one of the black sheep, possibly in part, responsible for losing Rhodesia. If only we were wiser.
    My heart bursts with nostalgia at the mention of our schoolmates and town icons.
    We were the farm Bulls and not related to the mine John Bulls. Not guilty.
    My brother David met your then healthy and spirited mom in Canada when he visited John Mac.

    • Diana

      Reply Reply March 8, 2012

      Alan, Yes I remember you well also…You remember correctly, I was NOT one of the academic stars of our class, but nevertheless ended up in academia somehow. The novel I am in the edit stage of is based on our QQ experience 1946-63 and hopefully will show through the characters where we were and how we went wrong politically and does beg the several “what if’s”, (without preaching I hope.) I just discovered 15 boxes of un-categorized materials of Sir Edgar Whiteheads and so I’m going over to Oxford U. in May to sift through them and will possibly make some changes to the book following that, but sooner or later must put it out there. My brother David (still in Jhb) will be joining me in the Ox exercise. It should be fun.
      Yes, the John Bull case was something for the history books, and I often wondered since if you were related.
      Yes, we were a small community, regards to your David. I’ll be meeting the Slomans and Lynette Samson in London and Melody Hannaford in Oxford. I’m looking forward to it. Where are you?

  • William Buenk

    Reply Reply August 17, 2012

    Remember the kid with the Cloggs?! Well… Here I am! Still alive & kicking as hard as a mule!

    Regards

    William

    • Diana

      Reply Reply August 17, 2012

      William I do remember you so well, I think you joined my class in Std IV and brought your cloggs to school to show us. It was a very English conformist society and you spoke ‘real Dutch’ but I guess it made you all the stronger. Glad you are still kicking hard. I was in the Netherlands in May for Floriade in Venlo and agriculturally the efficiency was mindboggling. Loved Amsterdam, bicycle heaven.

  • Eugene Els

    Reply Reply March 29, 2013

    Diana, I looked at the school photo, and most of the kids there were in Que Que High in the same class with me, I am sure you must have been in my class as well but my memory fails me? (although I hear a dim bell ringing somewhere!)

  • Keith Kietzmann

    Reply Reply March 29, 2013

    Just had another look at the picture. Carl? I think was Carl Coetzee or Joubert. JOubert sounds more like it. I think they also lived on the Gaika Mine like me.
    Happy Easter all.
    Keith

    • Diana

      Reply Reply March 29, 2013

      Keith, yes that was it Coetzee. Carl Coetzee. He was quite tall and very Afrikaans as I recall…amazing how the memory kicks in with a jog and prompt. Thanks!

  • Cheryl Riessen Uso

    Reply Reply May 19, 2014

    I had a pen pal named Lyn Jelks in 1959 and still have the letters she wrote to me. I was so pleased to Google her and find the class picture. I never had a photo of her–so cute!. I would love to get in touch with her if anyone knows where she is now. When we were pen pals I lived on a farm near Stockton, Iowa, USA and my maiden name was Cheryl Riessen.

    • Diana

      Reply Reply May 20, 2014

      Who would have thought back then that pen pals would balloon into cyberspace like this. She was quite a little actress and played Jiminy Cricket in a pantomime Peter Pan and Wendy. I do hope she will come to light I’ll keep you posted.

  • Karolyn

    Reply Reply July 14, 2019

    Pretty! This was a really wonderful post. Many thanks for providing this info.

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