Newsletter #2 May 2018
I would like to say with gratitude my thanks for all the “get well” messages while I was in hospital. I had not been well and was in hospital for a few days. I was sent home only to receive an instruction to return immediately as Dr. Nina Diana had received the results the results of all blood tests showing I had a very virulent infection. On arriving I was placed in a very small “prison” isolation ward. To enter the ward a plastic gown had to be worn including gloves. These to be discarded before leaving the ward. With this procedure only a limited number of visitors were allowed.
I could have been very lonely. It however was my privilege to be cared for by Sister Dolores, soft gold coloured hair and immaculate. After studying me for a while she said I see you are always “thinking”. What are you thinking now? After a few serious answers I thought this could be dull and so introduced the fact we had to go “dancing” that evening. We spent regular good fun time on the subject of dancing and what we would wear for the rest of my stay. All of this helped during a painful and difficult time.
I came out on Monday the 7th feeling better but with no strength to walk. Yesterday Tracy took me for a much needed haircut and a mug of coffee. Woke up this morning feeling well but when I tried to walk my legs felt like I must have run the comrades during the night!! So while my legs were letting me down my mind was full of thoughts I wanted to share. So here I am writing to all of you and feeling more relaxed and happy.
Geoff and our builders have been working through the “bill of materials” and costs of our next projects the transformation of the Museum and Library and the Arts and Music Centre. Both will be impressive and of good quality at best cost. This will be Phase 1 of the library Phase 2 will be replacing all wooden shelves with glass enabling suitable lighting to show up items in the cabinets, as well as the new style show cases, with glass tops to provide easy viewing.
The library and Museum to be known as the Charles Miller as the main sponsor and his class of 62. Music Centre will also be transformed and will be known as the Paul Mortimer Rhodes Scholar 1950 the main sponsor and his class of 1950. Both of these projects will add great “pride” to the school and be more functional for Staff and Pupils alike.
Recently reading a wonderful speech made by Malcolm Armstrong Milton 1945 on the 80th Anniversary of Milton on the 10th May 1991. Malcolm was Headmaster at Pretoria Boys High, I think for over 40 years.
Milton has recently been upgraded externally by the school and really needs to be upgraded internally. We are hoping to find a sponsor(s) for this very worthwhile project.
Mention of Malcolm Armstrong engender wonderful memories for me. Malcolm was a special friend of mine. His role with the Old Boys was very meaningful and deserves proper report as he is very much part of the history of the Old Boys. After leaving College in 1945, until he passed away sadly during an operation. Please look out for it in our next Newsletter.
College reaches far and wide….
[Natie Kirsh – A College moment in New York]
I am fortunate enough to occasionally interact on business with one of College’s best known alumni and benefactors, Natie Kirsh.
At a recent meeting he recounted what is certainly a strange and heartening experience. While in New York, Natie attended a religious event and on greeting the gentleman seated next to him, was asked if he was from South Africa – our accents always give us
away! Natie confirmed this saying he came from a town called Potchefstroom, to
his surprise Natie was then asked if he attended Potch Boys High which of
course he proudly confirmed, what happened next is the amazing bit.
The gentleman suddenly started chanting the School’s war cry, right there in the middle of New York – turns out his dad was an Old Boy and had taught all his kids the war-cry.
Small world for sure!
Ian Hirschfeld (80 – 84)
Milton’s Eightieth Anniversary 1991
We are proud to acknowledge that Milton has existed for eighty long years, and that so much history has walked down her corridors. This year Milton celebrated the year of her eightieth head prefect with a braai and a dinner which were attended by many old boys and the present Milton Matric group.
Preparations had already been underway since the end of 1990 when a group of standard nines compiled an historical over-view Of Milton’s triumphs and failures during eight decades. Mr. Canova had the pleasurable task of drawing up a guest list and arranging the day’s activities.
Milton Day, 18 May, began with a rugby match against Volkskool. The old boys were pleased to see that College still retained the spirit they once knew. The second fifteen won and the first team went down 15-9. Afterwards, the old boys enjoyed a braai in Mr. Canova’s garden where they exchanged stories and met old friends. The garden looked splendid, furnished as it was with informal seating and umbrellas.
At the formal dinner that evening, the matrics and old boys listened to a thought provoking speech by Mr. Armstrong, an old-Miltonite. We then enjoyed an excellent three-course dinner (which will be well remembered by the matrics, for we were even allowed to enjoy a glass of wine. During our meal, we saw a tape-slide show entitled “A day in the life of Milton” which had been compiled by J Earl, M Fletcher and C Bower. The evening came to an end with a shout of “Kierie Kierie Kabongwe!”
We are grateful to Mr. Canova for making such an enjoyable and memorable event possible and to those who helped him. I am sure that we will remember it whenever we see the souvenir’s which we have kept of that day.
Mr Armstrong’s Speech
80th Anniversary Milton House – Potchefstroom High School for Boys 18 May 1991
“It was the year Of Our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five. These were the years leading up to the French Revolution. In the opening paragraph of THE TALE OF TWO CITIES Charles Dickens wrote of them thus:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age Of wisdom, it was the age Of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we .were all going direct the other way.”
“It was the year of Our Lord I One thousand nine hundred and ten.’ Bear in mind the history of our land at the time. And let us reread Charles Dickens.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season Of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us….
You will recall that there was peace in our land but everywhere there was black veld and burnt homes. There was unity and there was enmity.
It was in this climate that Milton House was created and against this background that it formed our lives.
It is the year Of Our Lord one thousand nine hundred and thirty-eight it is the month of July and two little boys, one of eleven and his baby brother of nine are left at Milton House by their wise but sad parents. Think Of Charles Dickens again in terms of the lives of these two young boys……
Milton House and the currents of history were to shape the lives of those young boys, Neville and Malcolm Armstrong. We spent seven and a half years here and by the time I left I had not started shaving.
I remember well those weird and wonderful times.
There was plundering in Europe, there was plundering in the orchards of Potchefstroom. There was nothing sacrosanct in the Far East, neither was the magistrate safe next door; there was torture in the Third Reich, there was torture in the Junior Dorm. I was bullied and I learnt to bully. I became a racist and learnt to love the Jews. We said good-bye to each other for the holidays and we said goodbye to the uniformed old boys, sometimes forever. We played kleilat on the banks of the Mooi and we played war amongst the crosses in the cemetery. We walked to the dam on the railway line. We swam across the dam and back and lied to our parents that we didn’t. We lifted eggs from birds’ nests and we lifted toffee from the Corner Store. We rendezvoused at the Rendezvous where we got the sugar to make the wine. We desperately tried all the children’s diseases and were put off oranges for a full decade because Matron mixed the juice with castor oil, even for an ingrowing toenail. We had smoky thrills in the GRAND for sixpence and a ringside seat for the fights between the soldiers and the students during the playing of “God Save our Gracious King.”
The toilets, commonly known as the bogs, were situated next to the halfway line of the rugby field; those hundred yards of open country and the severity of the Potch winters was a certain recipe for constipation. There, one dark cold night, I had the biggest and most terrifying fright of my whole life, when Quartus Grimbeeck, squatting on the Granton side, hearing the patter of mv little footsteps, started to groan as though he’d been murdered.
I remember the crippled Kees Cronje – a matric rejected by the matrics – and I remember him with warmth because every night he read us primary schoolkids “A
Bedtime Story”. I remember with awe my boss Barnie Baxter .awe for his size, awe for his sport, but mostly awe for his courage. I can see him now as he wins the 220 yards low hurdles at the Inter-High with his left arm in plaster from wrist to bicep.
I remember the ebullient Mickey Cruiser – the traditionalist who loved Latin and liked to secure his rugby pants with a knotted school tie.
I remember “Jacko” Robertson, who as his name implies, tried to swing from branch to branch in the mighty bluegums, and I remember his screams and us all leaving our soup that Sunday night, as the frail and frightened Dr. Friel tried without success to set his two broken legs.
I bear no grudge to the Head Prefect OF 1940, Kenneth Hills, who caned my brother unjustly; and I had written in chalk, in retaliation, on the outside wall in big letters, Kenneth Hills is a shit”. I bore no grudge when he gave me, all of ten years, six of the best for my trouble. I rejoiced when he was awarded the Military Medal for Courage in the Western Desert.
I remember the motivation provided by the Honours Board in the Milton House
Dining room. I enjoyed the food and Derrick Peck always gave me a second helping of cottage pie, because he knew it was my favorite.
I remember the love Of Matron King and the care Of “Gunga Bush” Boyce who with
“Chimpie” Mc-Gregor, and Oom “Jerrie” Smith inspired me to become a teacher. I think happily of the Scotsman Donald McCloud, who appropriately taught Bookkeeping, and had a nickname that was not mentioned in the presence of parents, and a bicycle that was incapable of going beyond the Welkom Beer Hall. He once left the dining room table abruptly when my white rat darted out of my shirt for a piece of mealie rice on my plate.
I was terrorised by “Toks” and placed a stone on the pyre outside the post office when the Voortrekkers came through the town – not the original ones.
Naturally, I remember the Civil Wars that were classified as “Inter-House Matches”. I cherish the scores and the scars.
The boarding house was always a desert of affection and so animals were always welcome – white mice, lame rabbits, stray dogs, red-lipped heralds, and once a donkey that broke Bannister’s arm.
We celebrated V J Day with a rugby match and a Jerepigo hangover.
GRANTON was full of rough, tough sometimes diamonds; the wets and nerds we thought were in Buxton who always won the swimming; as well-balanced, civilized gentlemen, we were entitled to make these comparisons.
The HISTORY OF MILTON will make for fascinating reading but no book could capture the essence of the place – the people who lived here, the masters, the
Boys, the matrons; the love, the hate, the fear, the fury, the discoverers, the disappointments, the triumphs, the tears, the laughter, the pain, the pleasure – the pulse of humanity that is our pulse. ‘It was the best of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the epoch of belief it was the season of light. It was the spring of hope”, and we had everything before us. It was the laboratory of life.
It was MILTON HOUSE