I started at Kaptagat in 1961, just before my seventh birthday, I was there until our family left for Australia in late 1965.
My memories are similar to others – the contradiction of close friendships and good times on Sunday walks, horse riding, sports trips, Valentines day, secret notes in the desk from shy admirers or locusts to surprise the girls, secretly admiring some of the girls, kiss chase, cock house, stolen mealies in the hot water tank fires, Saturday night films, rest time sweet swaps and Sunday comic swaps, packing trunks and the train home – with the severity of the “regime” Chitty ran. The NS report cards were the stuff of nightmares. I remember Jupp giving our class a history test every lesson he had with us for a week until I had one of the dreaded cards. His aim was to catch me out and give me as many NS’s as he could. A ver strange man. One minute he would be taking us out for lunch, the next full of spite. I remember him chasing me round the Hockey field trying to bust a hockey stick over my back. Thank god he smoked a lot and ran out of puff.
Even in those days I thought the best way to teach/learn was to get people interested and encourage them to enjoy learning. That didn't seem to be the way at Kaptagat.
A few of us made a pact on the train back to school one term, Declan Ross (Decci) was one of them, (think was in my class well)to get caned as many times as possible in the term to come. It was a way of confronting the fear (toughenning up) or the “terror” as they put it in the film “Apocalypse Now”. Decci won hands down, I’d be interested to hear his side of the story.
We had some very strange role models and some good ones as well. Mr Archie Fraser (Frisky Fraser to his friends), Pat Kelly for his commitment to teaching us the skills of the various sports and the extra time he put in. I remember one female teacher (don’t recall her name) giving us all a hug good night one night. It was the one and only hug I got that term till I got home. Miss Knowles was kind and probably should have married Pat Kelly. We all used to speculate when we heard his footsteps going up the corridor and down past Frasers dorm in the evening after lights out. Then Miss Swann turned up from Scotland. I think it was Miss Knowles who had us all growing our own vegies, she really had no idea how to grow them herself. I loved that little vegie patch though. Cecil (Arthur Askey) West with his classical music lessons, choir practice and trips to the edge of the Rift Valley in the Anglia Panel Van. Miss Dan who had come up from South Africa in a Bullock drawn cart. Pa Tax and his “ten centies”, I thought his language skills were amazing, particularly Swahili.
The school nurse Mrs Walker Used to sunbathe in the “altogether” between the Hall and macracarpa hedge, behind a well placed log.