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Monday, December 17, 2012

MacKay Elementary School

When I was about 12 years old (1968), Robie Tufts got the school janitor to let us inside the huge chimney which was accessed from the school basement.  In late summer each year, chimney swifts heading for South America would congregate here in the hundreds for a few weeks while on their migration journey.   It was on one of these inspections that we found several nests in the chimney's enormous interior indicating that at least a few pairs nested in the first weeks of summer.

I went through my first school years in this building with Mrs. Joan Eaton and Miss Purdy as my teachers.  Everything was bigger back then.  The elms and maples shown in the foreground of this photo were between 35- 50 feet tall in my youth.  The ceilings in the classrooms were about 14 feet high!  Those wishing to expand their language too broadly that were caught swearing were whisked out to the hall water fountain 
and given a bar of hand soap to put into their mouth.  Standing on your tip toes to reach the spout, one was instructed to use a finger to work up a little lather, followed by a rinse.  :)

On my first day of school, Mrs. Joan Eaton asked students to tell a short story about their summer, sing a song, or perhaps draw a picture on the blackboard for the benefit of the class.  The idea was an ice breaker to give everyone a bit of insight as to your interests and talents. I decided to sing a song.  With all my vocal chords, I belted out a Burl Ives version of an old classic called: "Mama Don't Want No Peas, No Rice, No Coconut Oil."

Mama don't want no peas an' rice an' coconut oil, 

Mama don't want no peas an' rice; 

She don't want no coconut oil, 

Keeps a bottle of brandy handy all the time!

Mama don't want no gin because it makes her sin, 

Mama don't want no glass of gin, 

'Cause it's bound to make her sin, 

Keeps her hot and bothered all around the chin.

Mama, she likes the rum, it fills her soul with fun, 

Mama, she likes to have her rum, 

Says it fills her soul with fun; 

And that it makes her feel like whoopee all the time!

A call was made later that day to my poor parents to advise them about the debauched picture of my mother that I had painted, on my first day in school, at the age of five!  The teachers laughed through my entire performance.  I just couldn't understand why...


  1. What a delightful story! I went to school in Wolfville for one year, 1963-1964, so I was a few years ahead of you. I was in Ron's (from Sophie's view) class. What a great janitor to allow you to explore the chimney. Did Robie Tufts have any relationship with Peter Tufts? I'm thinking interest in birds might run in the family. We used to play some boys chase the girls/girls chase the boys game right by this school, and two of my younger sisters attended it. Thanks for the memories!

  2. I can just see the teachers smiling and chuckling...great entertainment for the 1st day of school. I had Mrs. Leslie Crosby for Grade 1 and Mrs. Dearman for Grade 2 until she had to leave and Mrs. Fuller from Port Williams finished the year. I can't remember my Primary teacher. Robie Tufts was quite the character and I enjoyed walking down passed his house every once in awhile cutting through the Hopgood's property. His house always seemed huge with so many windows. The janitor must have been Ken Schofield, I believe. He was a good old soul always helpful and kind.....anyway....must toddle on....