We just got to know that Dick D’Abreu (Curzon 1936-46) has been very unwell for the past few weeks. He was taken to hospital by The Flying Doctor service to Perth. They put in a stent for his heart, and was sent to the ICU ward. Dick went home 3 days later, only to have his heart stop. The Ambulance medic restarted it with a defibrillator and took him back to hospital for another three days. He is recovering at home with his wife Joan taking good care of him.
We wish Dick a speedy recovery!
School stories of the 1940 era, by: Peter Maidment. Rivaz 89 years / Jim Lee. Curzon 90 years / Dick D’Abreu. Curzon 88 years.
I have some very precious memories of my years at BCS Simla between 1941 and 1943. I was in Rivaz House when Peter Rollo was House Captain. We became very good friends, so much so that I was relocated to a bed adjoining the Captains cubicle in our dormitory overlooking the tennis courts. Our mutual friends Andy, Ken and Jim would often meet in the dormitory. Andy and Ken are now deceased, but Jim and I still correspond and talk with Dick D’Abreu (a later mutual friend) on Skype. Jim, Dick and I recently resolved that we had some good cause to be included in the Old Cottonian news that is still forwarded to members past and present, hence this account.
One of the regular incidents that occurred in those halcyon days was the surreptitious and sneaky nocturnal visits to the Pictures after lights out. The four good friends would get dressed up in Indian garb and walk all the way to the City to see the chosen film. On one occasion we were half way to our destination, when coming towards us were two House Masters who somehow recognised we were not the locals. To forestall this surprise discovery I involuntarily spoke a few garbled Hindustani words to make us seem authentic. It so happened that my House Master was one of the staff who recognised me and reprimanded me for setting a bad example as the then House Captain. I was given a firm lecture the next day and promised I would not commit the act again.
As a child being lead along the beach on the back of a pony was the only time I had ever been in a saddle. Pete, Ken and Andy desperately wanted to go horseback riding and persuaded me to join them one weekend. From a stable in Simla we rented the horses, and my request was for a small gentle horse because of my lack of experience. When the groom and his assistant brought the four horses into the courtyard, all saddled up, he walked over to me with an animal that must have been well over 16 hands. It was huge compared to the other three horses. He overcame my protests by telling me, that despite its size, the horse that he had picked for me was an old animal, very gentle, well trained and not a fast runner. My buddies assured me they would walk their horses alongside me to make sure I was alright, which they did until we got to a straight stretch of road known as “Ladies Mile.”It was the only area where a rider could gallop his mount. As we approached Ladies Mile my friends suggested that I let my hoprse graze on the shoulder of the road while they went around the corner and galloped to the end and back. That was fine with me because I was certainly not comfortable or confident to gallop on ‘the giant’I was astride. Away they went assuring that I would be ok until they returned. Well, it did not quite work out that way. When my horse heard the thunder of galloping hooves it raised its head, put its ears forward, and turned the corner in hot pursuit of the others. I was not prepared for the sudden burst of speed, and tried to stay in the saddle as best I could, pulling down on the reins and calling for help. I didn’t make it. I seemed to slide forward in the saddle and rolled to the ground off the horses neck. The horse stopped and just stood over me. The three ahead heard my desperate cries and turned to help. It was an embarrassing long walk back to school after returning the horses. I was shaken and bruised, but what hurt the most was my pride.
It was 36 years before I mounted another horse, my daughter Jennifer’s horse Quinn, and wouldn’t you know, I was bucked off even before Quinn took a step. After this second indignity I resolved I would confine my horsey activities to feeding the horse and cleaning the barn!.
As Peter in Sydney Australia, Jim in Langley Canada and I in Perth Western Australia chat for an hour once a week on Skype, we thought it would be nice to write a few lines on our interesting and happy days at Bishop Cotton School Simla in the 1940ies era.
From an early age of five years old my parents gave me a horse to ride of which I was able to manage very well. I used to ride the horse to my kindergarten classes on week days before I was sent to BCS as a boarder in 1936 in class Lower 1. My father worked on the Great Indian Peninsular Railway as a senior Interlocking Engineer while we lived in Jhansi. My parents would drum into my sister Grace and myself that they were making big sacrifices to send me to BCS and my sister to Auckland House so as to have the best of education. I took a while to adjust to boarding school in those early days as I could hardly dress myself, or tie up my shoelaces. A very kind servant that cleaned our shoes every morning saw my plight and used to assist me in getting dressed for class every day. Many a time I would cry on his shoulder. It never took me long to make friends, as our PT instructor Baby Hawkes taught me the finer points of boxing. At four stone in weight I was one of the flee weights.
In my latter years in school while in the senior classes I became good friends with Derek Blewett who also loved horse riding . Together we would go down to the stables at the Lower Bazaar on a Sunday to hire horses which we rode out to Auckland house to visit our sisters. My pocket money was a generous Rs 3.00 a week, the cost of hiring the horse was 8 Annas for two hours. The rest of the pocket money would be spent on Kurram’s tuck shop to buy peg tops and paper kites. We also used to spend it at Kurram’s sons place adjacent to tuck shop eating samousas and cups of tea. Freddy Brown who was a Cottonian in my early days at school returned after he left school as my Curzon House Master. He was a great person.
One Sunday on our visit to Auckland House on the horses, my horse that was tied up to the bench overlooking the girls playground came loose. It ran on to the playground, despite the girls and teachers chasing it the horse eluded capture. It was over an hour after which I took out some of my gelabbies to eat, (Indian sweets) which I had bought wrapped in brown paper, when to our surprise the horse came trotting up to see what I had. I was able to ride it back to the Lower Bazaar and promise to pay the syce the extra 4 Annas the following week.
Dear Old Cottonians
Old Cottonian Richard [Dick] D’Abreu from Australia wrote in recently and has also sent in a few pictures, appended below.
It was good to read the History of BCS, written up in so much detail. I was able to recall the part written up from 1936 to 1946, the accuracy of which was so precise. In 1937 Allan Fennell was the School Captain. To me at aged 9, I would mistake him for one of the staff, I was in awe of all the school prefects. Fred Brown was a senior student in my time. He was an excellent hockey player and an all round cricketer, and although I was a few years years his junior, I came to know him quite well. He left school in 1939, with his fellow hockey friend Malcolm Petters. Fred then returned as a member of the school staff while I was in Fifth Form. He was first a master at the Prep school for a while, but then, Cannon Sinker transferred him to the senior school. He became my House Master of Curzon when I was a House Prefect. In his single days he became engaged to our Bursa’s daughter Pat Murphy. His living quarters was one end of the Curzon C dormitory. One of his duties was to have the House boys over to his quarters on a Saturday evening. He would often trust me the key to his quarters on Saturday so as I could lock up after the boys left at 9.00pm, while he was out taking his fiancee Pat to the pictures in town. I left school before he married. For a few years while I was in the RAAF in Australia I kept contact with him, but regrettably lost touch when I was with the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces in Japan. Many years later while retired in Perth Western Australia, I met up with Malcolm Petters. He used to ring up his old friend Freddy Brown quite often. I used to go over to Malcolm’s home and chat with Fred also for a while. It was sad when Alzheimer’s got the better of Fred and he could not remember me.
I also recall all the school operas that we sang in under the direction of Mr. and Mrs. Priestley …In the opera Trial by Jury, as mentioned in the BCS History the boys took the part of girls in the opera. I was pleased I sang as a Tenor so did not qualify to be a girl. The singing of Handel’s Messiah in Simla in 1943 was a highlight. The photo of the choir is included.
Old man Karam had the tuck shop on the first playing field. His son we called Silly Billy ran the tea shop next door. Rs 2.00 was the maximum pocket money we were allowed each week, in those days it would buy quite a few things. At the end of each term we would have 10 days holiday, for this my parents would allow me Rs 50.00. We would think we were rich.
Mr. Fisher was a senior master that taught us Physics. I think he was also a House Master. When we used to quite often play up in his lab, he would call us out by name and say “Take your books and leave the class..you are only wasting your parents money…all you people realize is the stick… ” He was also in charge of the little photo lab and darkroom where we could go and do our own developing and printing of films. I had a Box Brownie camera of which I took the photo of Simla in 1937.
I would like to also make mention of the end of year House Chews each House would indulge in. Our parents would contribute to a fund which would go towards buying tasty curries and Indian sweets for everyone to enjoy. This feast would take place in the main dormitories of each House. Sometimes I wish I could wind back the clock 70 odd years to those memorable school days.
My best wishes…Dick D’Abreu.
All Cottonians remember well the school’s BELL that stood on the First Flat – and the various different tones and ringing patterns that were struck to denote the TIME, BREAK, LUNCH, END OF SCHOOL DAY, PREP TIME, etc ….
Recently, we had an email from OC Richard D’Abreu [Curzon 1936-46]:
My thanks to Bishop Cotton School for forwarding me the Mitre School Paper. I look forward to this newspaper arriving at my home in Bunbury Western Australia from time to time. I am also fascinated by all the stamps which have the picture of the school printed on them.
I find the Mitre interesting to read. It keeps me up with all the events that the school has during the year. So much change to the days of the 1930ies and 40ies which was my era. What got my attention, in Volume 1 March – May 2011 issue, in the column “In and around BCS” written by the School Captain Uday Punta, was the mention of the demise of the school bell, and that it would be sadly missed. I could remember, in the 1940ies at the end of term in December, a few vandals, as a school prank, would take the big brass bell down and roll it down the khud. It was always found by the workmen at the school and put back to it’s rightful place in its housing on the First Playground. I cannot comprehend that the old bell is no more. Was it lost or just replaced by a more updated system?
Best wishes to all Cottonians and Old Cottonians…
The HM’s response:
I write to inform you that the old order changeth to herald in the new as far as the School bell is concerned. Mr. G.P.S. Sahi and his batch-mates also donated a lovely brass bell along with the bust of the dear Founder in 2009 and it is this bell that is in use at present, having replaced the old one that time and the elements of the weather had put paid to.
You will be glad to know that a Museum has been in place in School since 2009. The Estate Department has been instructed to place the Old School Bell in a place of prominence therein.
With good wishes.
Dick D’Abreu responds:
Thanks for updating me on the fate of the old school bell which I remembered so well. Progress is a good thing and the replacement new bell may last as long as the old faithful… It was good to read the Head Master’s comments. I had fond memories of it after 9 years as a Cottonian. Many a time I was privileged to be given the honour of ringing it on a Sunday while the boys and staff filled into the chapel..So pleased it is now in the school museum…