IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST: Precious memories may help today
AS THIS IS MY FINAL COLUMN for 2016, I could not help reflecting on the issues of the past year as I sat in front of the computer to write.
By any system of measurement it has been a tough year for Barbadians and the issues I have tackled through the year reflected this.
Sad as it may seem, my gut tells me 2017 will be just as tough, if not tougher for many. That being the case, I will resist the urge to end 2016 looking entirely at the negatives. Instead I will cast my mind back to another era, when I was still a “little fellow” at Coleridge and Parry School.
That was a time when the school bus arrived almost at the same time every morning and the drivers were regulars, so they knew you either by your name or [bad] behaviour. That was a time when, if the bus arrived just five minutes late it was a big thing.
I also recall when the same two Transport Board buses that took the “below road” – Highway 1 – were parked outside the school like clockwork when the last bell rang in the evening. Lateness was definitely the exception.
The Albion Viking, the fast one, used to be driven by a man we all knew as “Barnes” and the Seddon, the slow one, driven by “Hairy Ears”. The fast bus had its “crew” and “Hairy Ears” had his people – me being one.
With the same precision, the open-sided bus from the Rocklyn was there every evening for students taking the “top road” – now known as the Ronald Mapp Highway.
And those school buses were the centre of many memorable moments – like the evening, after years of being labelled the “slow coach”, “Hairy Ears” overtook Barnes along the Mullins, St Peter stretch and silenced all his critics; or when deputy principal Ernest Rocheford publicly flogged Andy Williams at assembly one morning because the evening before he threw an object into the bus after getting into a fight; or the day I hopped off the bus before it stopped, while showing off, and crashed head first into the bus pole.
There are other more titillating stories I could tell, but the people involved, now respected men in society, would probably never forgive me, so I will leave them to tell on themselves.
My point is that school was not perfect back then, just as it is not now, but even when reminded of the embarrassing moments, pleasant moments and a sense of achievement ought to predominate.
Somehow we have created an environment today where too many students just do not enjoy school. That’s not how it was supposed to be. Maybe if more adults shared their memories – good and bad, achievements and failures – with today’s students their perspective might be a lot more positive.
Take a look at these old school bus tickets and see how many memories you can recall from your time at school. Then share them with the youngsters. Maybe you can begin by explaining how you paid only 15 cents for a journey and the operator was still able to keep the bus on time. Thanks O’Leary Sobers for sharing your 1970s bus tickets with us.