|Pinetown Boys' High School Recollections (1988)|
|Pinetown, KwaZulu-Natal, Republic of South Africa|
...hard to believe!
|Standard 10F (12th grade)
Matric at last. Finally—the highly-coveted, solid blue tie.
the man with...
Part of the English curriculum at the time, and the name poet Alexander Pope used to berate an English nobleman in his "Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot", Sporus quickly became notorious—not only because of its absurd name, but also because Mr. Seiger, who was notorious even among the teachers/staff for his very bad temper, was also the head of department for English. He was promptly branded with this fungus-among-us name. The night of the Matric Dance (similar to the Senior Prom in the U.S.) toward the end of the year, a number of matric students put up a large "Sporus S**" banner on the wall of the assembly hall. When Mr. Seiger saw this, he stormed out in a rage. 1988 was, unsurprisingly, his last year at PBHS, apparently leaving for Amanzimtoti High School. This action had long been coming; a handful of students had frog stickers (somehow representative of Sporus) with "Sporus S**" on their motorcycle helmets and surf boards months before this happened.
Reel-based fire hoses were located at the ends of the second floor in each building. Once a year, when all the teachers were in a special meeting for several hours (and prefects were the only rule), water hose fights would break out, with students in the corridors below getting instant showers.
Sometime during, or immediately after, the Matric Dance which went late into the night, a crafty individual strategically placed some strips of heavy fabric inside the assembly hall piano, rendering its keys useless when pressed. The next morning when it was time to play the opening hymn for school assembly, Miss Goodway tried to play the piano and was dumb-founded (and of course completely embarrassed and flustered). She then stood up, opened the top of the piano, and angrily pulled out the fabric strips, to the muffled snickering of the students. Surprisingly, there was no lecture about this incident.
This was also the year that detention was introduced. Caning (or "Jacking" as it was known) was still going on, but was slowly on its way out. Sadly, because discipline is a much-needed thing (American schools are a pathetic mess). To some, it was considered a "macho" thing to get caned many times, but for most, it truly provided incentive to follow the rules. I personally got caned for eating a granola bar while we were lined up outside the classroom waiting for Mr. Seiger to show up (as a sign of respect, students were to wait in a line along the outside classroom wall, following the teacher in when they arrived).
The sundial was given to the school as a gift from the matric students. A nice thing to do in providing a visual reminder of that years' student body. I believe it is still there to this day.
The headmaster, Mr. Visser, and the noted German-born Mr. Oellermann, left at the end of this year. Mr. Visser was a headmaster to remember. He commanded respect, was a good leader, and also had a good sense of humor. I can't speak for the other headmasters that PBHS has had, but the school fit him like a glove, and much was accomplished during his years there. I have to admit that I probably would never have thought I would be saying these things—it's what happens when you get older. :)
Mr. Oellermann was notorious for his "No excuses!" response in regards to hair-cut checks. Apparently some students thought they had a plausible explanation for their long hair. Although shoes were to always be polished, inspections were never actually carried out while I attended. Understandably, keeping tabs on the hair growth of 1,200 students year round was a logistical nightmare and time drain for already busy teachers and staff.
Under Mr. Seiger, the previously small choir of 35 students in 1985 more than tripled to 108 students in 1988. This was not due to Mr. Seiger's personal charm or natural way with people. The truth was that if you wanted to avoid Cadets or Immigrant Afrikaans on Thursday morning, all you had to do was join the choir. In addition, there was also no voice selection or requirements to meet in determining whether you could actually sing in the first place. This made for a badly motivated and (listening to the audio) very poorly-sounding choir. To our credit though, we only practiced for 45 minutes a week on most weeks—some weeks no practice was possible. In the photo to the right, the non-student staff are (second row from the bottom, left to right respectively): Mr. Seiger, Mr. Visser, Mr. van der Ahee, and Miss Goodway.
Pinetown Boys' High School hosted a Song Festival in the assembly hall on the evening of April 8, 1988. Lasting approximately two hours, the choirs that sang were (in order of appearance): Clifton Preparatory School, Berea Girls' High School, Benjamin Primary, Pinetown Boys' High School, and the Durban Mens' Choir. I had the rather dubious honor of leading our choir onto the stage. This event was the only time that girls ever made an appearance on the school grounds, other than the occasional girlfriend(s) of boys during rugby matches.
Before this festival, Mr. van der Ahee had asked for someone to record the event, and my father (who worked with Trans World Radio at the time, recording Zulu choirs for broadcasting) volunteered to do it. The evening of the performance, while setting up the recording equipment, my father was reprimanded by Mr. Seiger for placing a microphone near the front of the stage. Mr. van der Ahee countered by explaining to Mr. Seiger that the setup was correct, and to leave it where it was. Such was the quick temper that Mr. Seiger exuded during his brief stay at PBHS.
The original recordings of this performance are available below:
|PBHS Song Festival Audio (.mp3) in order of appearance||File description||Track length||Filesize|
|Welcome by Mr. Kelsall||53 sec.||829 KB|
|Clifton Preparatory School Choir||12 min. 24 sec.||11,631 KB|
|Berea Girls' High School Choir||9 min. 42 sec.||9,100 KB|
|Benjamin Pine School Choir||5 min. 49 sec.||5,469 KB|
|Pinetown Boys' High School Choir||24 min. 13 sec.||22,705 KB|
|Durban Mens' Choir, part 1||28 min. 52 sec.||27,074 KB|
|Durban Mens' Choir, part 2||17 min. 55 sec.||16,799 KB|