Harrow County School for Boys

Reminiscences of Eric Sillick 1930-34

I was a student at Harrow County School (as it was then known) from 1930 to 1934.  Looking back, I realize that, judging from today’s standards, I had a superb education.    An education that was to serve me well in my future life.   A regret I have now is that I didn’t study harder but, like all kids of my age, education seemed such a bore and a chore.  You were exhorted by parents and teachers alike to study harder, do your homework, don’t daydream!     If only I had listened then!

I have such good memories of the Teachers at HCS – didn’t we call them Masters then?   Randall Williams was the Principal.  I never thought that he had much time for me, but perhaps I misjudged him …. or maybe he misjudged me.   Anyway, my school career was not exactly a stellar performance.   I started off in Grade 2A, made it to 3A and then 4A.   Then, I fell at the post and wound up in 4C!   This did not go over well with my parents and it was predicted by them that I would not amount to anything in life.    OK, I guess they were right – but I haven’t done too badly either!

At age 85 I think I can still recall the names of many of the Masters and the subjects they taught.   Here goes

Beakie Fooks – much loved and respected by all.  He struggled to teach me English.   That was always my stumbling block and, to this day, I cannot parse a sentence or decline a verb.   But, somehow I got by.   Beakie also led us through Shakespeare.   I hated it and it is only in my later years that I have come to appreciate the Bard’s wondrous plots and well-turned phrases.

George Thorn – did he have a nickname?   I am a little unsure of myself here – did he teach both Music and Art?    The Music part I am sure of.  Didn’t he write the words and music for the school song – “ ‘Tis worth not birth be this our battlecry … stand up for truth, be honest spurn a lie”?    In my 3rd or 4th year my parents started me on violin lessons and this resulted in my being “invited” by Dr. Thorn to join the School Orchestra.  It just may have been a good thing because all my life I have had a great love of music – from Classics to Swing.    

Bill Duke – I may be wrong here but I relate him as my Maths teacher?   If it was, to you Bill, my belated thanks for rousing in me a life-long interest in mathematica.   His teachings have stood me well in my business life.

Spadger HeysI relate him to French studies.  I know I did poorly here but it was my fault not his.

Hippo Jonesagain I am uncertain but I think he tried (and failed) to teach me Latin.  My thoughts then, as now, were why study a dead language.  In my day you had to take English, German, French and Latin.   To my mind this was an absolute overload and, as a result, I got a smattering of some but a mastery of none.

         ???? Attridge – I can’t recall anything about him other than the name – could he have been my German teacher?

         Charlie Crinson – again I cannot recall the subject he taught.  On a visit to the UK in 1963 I stopped by the Old School and was delighted to meet with him again after 33 years!   If my memory is correct he was then Assistant Headmaster.

         Punch Woodall – again memory fails.  I do recall him as being very popular – all the students liked Punch!   But what did he teach though?

         Swannie Amos – he was the Phys Ed. Instructor. Another subject in which I was a dismal failure.  I was petrified of climbing those bloody ropes like a monkey!    I think he tried to teach me how to swim – again a failure.   But thanks Swannie for trying.   I did hear that he went to California to spend his retirement.

         That is about my total recall of Masters.   I should remember more for, in their individual teachings, they made noble efforts to provide me with a good education.  Thanks fellas – I wish now that I had tried harder. 

         On to the “characters” of my school days.  Top billing (pun intended) must go to Cardew the Cad Robinson.  It seemed so obvious in those youthful days that he would “amount to something” in the entertainment.   He did well.   I don’t recall seeing him in person after we left School but, every now and then, he would pop up here in a taped TV show.   A friend sent me a news clipping of his death.     I think this would be about 10 years ago?   Much too young Cardew.

Then there was Reg Bright.    I hear that, he too, made his name in the entertainment field.   Reg owes me money!!!  Here’s why!   In the last years at school and, for some time thereafter,  Reg was putting together small combos to play at dances.  It wasn’t my talent as a violinist that appealed to him, it was the fact I would work for nothing!   Not even bus fare – we didn’t have cars then!  I don’t recall his even standing for a pint?   So Reg – how about we settle accounts?   A couple of pints of Mild and Bitter will do it!   Other class mates come to mind – Bert Roberts, Art Walker, Babs Stratton, C.D. (Seedy) Panchaud.   Where are you guys now??

         So many, many good memories.   Very important to me now that I am in my 86th year.    What came as a rather unexpected surprise was to find the Society was still flourishing.   It just happened that, one day, I was trawling around on the net and came across the name of the Society.  This led to my making contact with Jeff Maynard and Colin Dickins.  The latter I met when he and his wife came to Toronto (was it 10/12 years ago?) with the OG’s Rugby team.   Anyway, I am so glad that, in my twilight years, I have rediscovered you guys.

         One last thing comes to mind.   Some years ago (15?) I tried to get started a North American Chapter of the OG’s.   It flew very briefly (about 10 members I think) and then disappeared from the radar screen never to be seen or heard from again.   There must be many of us in the far flung – if you are out there you can reach me at ericws@sympatico.ca.

Virtus non Stemma,

Eric W. Sillick


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