The gauntlet was a strong leather glove worn by the Knights of King Richard & the Knights of Europe. To throw down the gauntlet was to issue a challenge to your opponent. Running the gauntlet was born & encouraged in the British  public school system as far back as the 18th century. It is the most brutal, perverse form of bullying one could imagine. In the early ‘50s, when I thought bullying no longer existed, a nice lad a couple of classes ahead of me was accused of stealing an item from someones locker. As punishment he had to run the gauntlet. I don’t have the heart to describe the details. It is an unforgotten memory from the early 1950s. And as for the Master on duty at the time – where in heaven’s name was his spiritual spirit?? Vacant I suppose.

This story was told to me by Mr Edwards. For once, although I was in school at the time, I do not remember this. A boy stole a Master’s dinner from the Mess. Servants soon found food to console him. He made a complaint. The following morning was The Month-end Visit to Muss; Mr Edwards was the master on duty. He addressed the boys, someone stole a Master’s dinner last night. If the thief steps forward he will be on detention, if he doesn’t step forward the entire school will be punished for the crime of one boy. No one owned up. Right boys, I will count to 3, if the thief steps forward, he will be punished, if he doesn’t, your visit to Muss is cancelled,  1,2,3  a boy stepped forward, he was detained, we went to Muss. At the end of term, Masters would journey with students to their destinations. As the station arrived for the boy who confessed he stole the dinner, he thanked Mr Edwards for being a good teacher & said, by the way Sir, I did not steal the Teacher’s food. Then why did you confess? I know the name of the culprit, but he did not have the courage to confess. I thought it was damnably unfair for all the boys to suffer for one boy’s cowardice… I asked Mr Edwards, who was our hero? Mr Edwards was in his 80s in 2004, when he told me the story & he wasn’t 100% sure. 

The 1953,54,55 Senior Cambridge results were healthy. Going through the school results over the decades, GS out performed BS EVERYTIME. In the mid 50s, teacher Mr Edwards complained that his son Wasi was slapped by a JS teacher. The teacher apologised. Mr Love writes about 2 JS teachers who slapped each other. Disgraceful, he wrote. In 1953 Mrs Edwards was transferred from the JS to the GS. In 1954 Errol Eden died. In 1955 Diana Venner married. 

Mr & Mrs Bellew parted company around 1952-53. The memory lingers.. Mrs Bellew, stone faced, looking ahead, son Michael holding her left hand, daughter Lizzie her right, proceeding down the road from the BS to the Principal’s bungalow. Every few steps the young kids wave to Daddy, Mr Bellew waves back, teary eyed, rifle slung over left shoulder, faithful dog Cora, sitting to his right. He never saw them again. In  early 1956, Mr Bellew attempted or succeeded in attempting to throw an infant down the khudd. He was the Father of the child {a boy} his servant was the mother. Mr Coombes arranged, with the passage of time, that Mrs Venners eldest son would adopt the baby. Mr Venner, wife & infant emigrated to the UK where they lived happily ever after. Sadly, Mr Bellew was tried in the Dehradun court & spent a few years in gaol. On his release he taught school in Africa. Many years later he retired to Delhi. O’Grovian M. Van Ristell met him one day in Delhi. Mr Bellew was in his late 80s, lived on the top floor of a 5 storey apartment & had no trouble climbing the stairs. 

On a happier note, here is a poem that reminds me of the HAPPY days we spent in OG…

Harrow on the hill
The scenes of my childhood,
whose loved recollection embitters the present compared with the past.
Where science first dawned on the powers of reflection
& friendships were formed too romantic to last.
Again I revisit the hills where I sported,
the streams where we swam & the fields where we fought.
The school where, loud warned by the BELL,
we resorted to pore over the precepts by pedagogues taught.
– Written by George Lord Byron.

Byron’s friend Percy Shelley wrote on Byrons death at the age of 36 in Greece….. The sense that he was greater than his kind had struck me, methinks, his eagle spirit blind by gazing on it’s own exceeding light…….. Years later, Matthew Arnold wrote… When Byron’s eyes were shut in death, we bowed our head & held our breath.

A Mr Reghelini taught English, English Literature, Scripture. Mr Ahmed taught Geography, Mr Edwards ..Hygiene, Physiology. Mr Fletcher..history. And those were the subjects I studied 100%

OG 1949-1950

1949-1950 was Principal Mc Gowans’ last year.  Standard of education had dropped to a low level. Just about every boy doing Senior Cambridge in ’49 failed.. After 5 years of Junior school, I found myself on a new level of unfamiliar battlefield. Bullying, unheard of in the JS, was regular deriguer. After a while you got used to it. First week, I copped a missile, made with a tennis shoe that flew through the air with great speed & struck me in the right eye. Couldn’t see… for a week. No help forthcoming, no visit to the hospital. Welcome to the senior boys school!!!. We used to have monitors during evening study. A standard 10 prefect, Al Holder, would sit at the teachers desk & keep discipline. I was whispering to a mate & the Prefect called me up to his desk, clasped his 2 hands over my ears & clapped his hands.. A few weeks ago I couldn’t see & now I couldn’t hear.

HOBBING was a great laughable pastime of the STD 10 prefects. “Hey I’m 17, you are 11, you are a fag, you have stepped six feet out of school bounds, welcome to the prefects’ room, you will now bend over & a few of us will take turns & kick your ass.” The prefects’ room had a reinforced iron girder that ran vertical to your bowed head. If you dared to stop your forward motion & protect your head after you had been kicked!!!! Well??? You are going to be kicked again.. aren’t you SUCKER?? Welcome to the REAL world of OG 1949. Not only a sore ass but injuries to your head & face!!! But good news was a year or two away. Don Mc Lean dedicated ‘bye bye American pie….the day the MUSIC died” to Charles Buddy Holly. I dedicate this story to a little Indian boy who had the courage to stand up, speak up & say as the Spanish do, NO MAS!! Which means, NO MORE……. Around 1950-51, a boy called Stockman beat up a young kid, strange how a bully SELDOM picks on a guy his size? For the life of me I can’t remember the young kid’s name. He went to a teacher and a prefect & complained, nothing was done. Justice? What’s that? Well it’s jam yesterday, jam tomorrow.. but no jam today PALLY. He has one lifeline left. A letter to his Dad!! Off goes his letter, Dad happens to be a Senior officer at Rly. HQ., Dad visits the school, demands JUSTICE, justice is done, Stockman is expelled….. Moral of the story? That was THE DAY THE BULLYING DIED.

Years later, I met Al Holder in NZ. He apologised for the heavy handed ear clap. He said, as a youngster in OG, I was bullied. I guess I had to pass the culture on!!!!! Not IN MY ERA AL!!!! None of my peers did either. It’s called Enlightenment. Our Dorm Master was Fitzy. He had been shellshocked during WWII, walked with a limp like Dustin Hoffman {Ratso Ritzo} in a classic 1967 movie called Midnight Cowboy, which also introduced Angelina Jolie’s Dad in his first major role.. A boy, nicknamed Fitzy, the old woman. Actually, HE was the nicest old WOMAN I ever met in the BOYS SCHOOL. But he enjoyed one punishment. KNEELING ON THE GRASS MAT. He never lashed or hit anyone. If you were punished, you knelt on the grass mat. Trouble is, as time passes, your knees hurt. As time continues to pass, Fitzy decides to close his door & hits the sack. After a while, you pick yourself up & go to bed. Most of Mr Mc Gowans’ 1949-50 entries are day to day activities, sports results, etc ……. A new Principal is about to arrive, his name is Mr Bertram Love.  HAPPY DAYS! EARLY, R& ROLL! MUSIC! LAUGHTER!! By the mid 50s TESTOSTERONE OVERLOAD WILL ARRIVE. Life will be groovy baby. End Chapter. aka Never grow up & Always look on the bright side of life, keep smiling. As Dickens’ character Micawber said, something will turn up.

OG 1937-1955

1937 – Principal Mr Watts has now served his school for 19 years. Within 9 years he would pass away. As we recall, he wrote the school song, not sure about the music. Daphne Beard was the school tennis champion. On the 12th of Feb, 1941, Col A.C. Chapman dies in England aged 85. In 1944 {I arrived in OG}… the staff were HM, Miss Gibson, staff, Macdonald, Gifford, Dadswell, Simmons, Norris, Chatterton, Barnes, Curtis, Niblett, MacJohn, Keystone, Perry, Robbins & my absolute favourite Miss Amstel. I was mad about her. She was sooo feminine, great legs, loved the way she walked, very kind to all of us. She & a BS teacher Mr Sumption had “a thing goin on” which endeared them to me. At 6 years of age, I was already hooked on Hollywood love stories. Within a year or two after 1944, during the school holidays, Miss Amstel did not return to school. We were informed that Miss A had died in a train accident. The kids were sad, I was devastated.

On 1st March 1946, Principal G. F. Chunn made this entry…. Tragic death of Principal H. P. Watts, gunshot to the head, 12.30 pm. Verdict, suicide. This happened in the Principals upstairs study. 58 years later, Principal Gabriel said, during lunch Mr Watts excused himself from the luncheon table & went upstairs, a shot rang out & he died. Mr Chunn only had one term as Principal. There seems to be an unsettling period of management here, because between 1946 & 1948 diaries are written by Messrs Chunn, Sullivan or is it O’ Sullivan & Charleston. There are still the torn pages here & there.

In 1948, a new Principal arrives in the guise of Mr K. F. McGowan. He possesses the most beautiful hand writing I have ever beheld. Exquisite.!!. 1948 also saw the arrival of a great bloke called Mr Coombs. He was our Housemaster & was nicknamed ‘HORSEY”. I have no idea what my peers thought of him, but I liked this man. He didn’t give a stuff, if anyone dared to enter his domain{the kitchen}… you’d  better be on official business, his servants adored him, Horsey championed the underdog, if a kid was bullied, Horsey was the Main Man to see, not some prefect or Master. He would yell, loud & clear, while watching his boys play sport… kick the ball Smith, don’t kiss it….. what are you a girl? Oh Come On, wake up!!! The goalie  is asleep. Get some sleep tonight son!! When he & Mrs Venner retired, they ran the housekeeping at Woodstock. Teacher Mr Maskell was farewelled. Entry… 2 Oct ’48.. Mr Gandhis birthday…

1949… I was now in the Senior school. Pages missing in the diaries!!! Elwin Connor is School Captain. The 4 captains of WG, Haig, Roberts, Kitch, would stand on the school stage & choose from the assembly who would be in their House. By the way, Lord Roberts was the only one who was born in India, {Cawnpore} At age two his family left for England. He became Roberts of Kandahar, his soldiers coined the term ‘Bob’s your uncle’  Why? Whenever the soldiers were in dire straits, Roberts came up with a new strategy. Mr McGowan’s nephew, on a visit to OG, committed suicide. CAUSE? As usual I have 3 versions. Most likely a gunshot wound. Elwin Connor told me he was a pallbearer at the funeral.

OG 1913-1955

Hakim Omar Khayyam composed this quatrain which we all read in school. He wrote this when he was pondering the past & future of the universe. He is best remembered as a poet, but he was also an astronomer & mathematician. He said it is impossible to change the past…. the moving finger writes & having writ moves on, nor all your piety & wit shall lure it back to cancel 1/2 a line, nor all your tears wash out a line of it. Rossellini opined, the soul of society is Law & the soul of community is Truth. It is my view that in this era of Mr Fenemore, 1913-1917, all basic entries are the TRUTH. What disturbed me were the amount of pages that were removed, torn, in some cases harshly. Is this not the era when Mr Fenemore shot his wife, then himself? When we approach the McGowan era 1948-50, pages are deleted. This was the era when Mr McGowan’s nephew committed suicide on the front lawn of the Principals bungalow, or the usual 2nd version – shot himself in the lounge!! I will introduce my referees to these 2 incidents as the stories continue…..  Mr Fenemore’s comments in 1913 were, a large leopard was shot by Mr Gibbs, 2 little girls were withdrawn from school, one on doctor’s recommendation, the other wee lass for epilepsy. Epilepsy & I are old friends, because my mother was an epileptic & I always kept a lookout for her, knew all the medicines names by the age of 5. A teacher Mrs Macauley absconded, the office babu was dismissed for inattention to duty, cholera epidemic, children continue to die. 

1914-1916, sports details, Cambridge results, servants & children die. 1916-1917… A Mr Gibbs is now in command of OG. The reader {ie ME} notices torn pages. So how did I learn that Mr Fenemore shot his wife & then committed suicide? Because of the torn pages, I asked Principal Peter Gabriel, WHY? He told me the story {without detail, except it was a crime of passion} In 1918, Mr H. P. Watts takes command of OG. He reigned for 28 years, 4 years longer than the great A.C. Chapman. He writes that OG defeated W’Stock in basketball {never played in my day!!} In 1920, he married Miss K. Rowley, head nurse at the hospital from 1917-1920, kids were given a holiday. In 1922 the Govt. Inspector visits, usual mumps, flu, measles. 1923- a great written account of a tennis match between Alderton & Pilcher. A defeated P 7-9, 6-4, 5-7, 6-3, 6-3. Certainly made my day. 1924, March 8. The Lee boys absconded after tea. Mr Weldon killed a full grown leopard in Barlowgunj. From 1924-1931, usual deaths, sicknesses, Cambridge Results. A boy, E. Butteswick absconded but was caught in Hardwar. In 1932, Miss Wortham died. Very hush hush. On Dec 5, Miss Beryl Brewster stepped over the khudd & died a few hours later. Dec 7 – funeral. In A.C. Chapman’s day we would have been told more. As an O’Grovian, we all knew the story of “Brewstwers Rock”. I shall now tell you what Jim Ross had to say. Jim was a student in ’32. In those days the girls left school, end of term a day before the boys. Jim & his mates were studying Std 10, Senior Cambridge. The door burst open, PT master Mahoney said, “Right , I need some volunteers, a lass has fallen down the khudd, servants have got stretchers”  Jim {thank God, for the truth of my story} was part of the search party. Yes she was still breathing, groaning with pain. They carried her almost lifeless body to the hospital. An O’Grovian who saw her corpse told Jim, After she died her titian hair turned almost snow white. According to Jim, Beryl was a very attractive lass.

The OG chronicles continue 

Preface – Have you ever wondered about the craftsmanship that went into building of the OG walls? Eg. the fortress style walls that support the valley, GS, BS, JS, the hospital? It was the Afghan stone cutters that did all the “heavy lifting”. These guys were experts at their craft. Sadly, many died when falling rock killed them.

Mrs Edwards was a loveable & respected teacher. When she was a wee “gel” her dad died. Her mum could not afford to give Dorcas a quality of life. An English missionary asked if she could adopt Dorcas. The birth mother agreed. Dorcas loved both her mum & adopted mum.

In 1901 sergeant D. Grant died at 7 pm of dysentery, leaving 5 children orphans & unprovided for. Buried Mussoorie, military funeral. I have tried to get the children adopted. Rs 1870-5-3 pies paid into his account. Days later, A.C. enters… 2 little Grant girls have been granted free passage to England… There is NO mention of the remaining 3 kids!

 Mr Milsted continues to miss church service again & again. June 1901, excellent weather, the swimming pool is filled. Post office plans laid. In 1902 the Bakery is opened {this is the only locked building my dear David D’Lemos, aka the thief of Jharipani, could never impregnate. By golly he could pick everyone’s tuck box. Fagin of O’Twist fame would have loved David as an acolyte} In 1906, the Princess of Wales passed by Jharipani on her way to Muss; staff & children sick, severe water shortage, many have dysentery. New Dr arrives – Zarawah Khan. 100 boys have mumps. Workshop opened. 1907…Water still in short supply. First scholarship offered for EIR hill school children, music, shorthand, typing, locomotive etc. It is a pity I can’t describe in detail the loss of so many young children but at the end of this series I will publish their names & brief details. In May, X Ray equipment arrives. A.C. Chapman’s wife is suffering with cancer {1888-1907} a dedicated servant to education. In June of 1908, Mrs Chapman dies. Mr Chapman continued to serve OG until 1912, ie 24 years. He retired to England & died well into his EIGHTIES!! In 1908, OG celebrates 20 years.. School is rampant with measles, 24 cases in the GS alone. In 1909, 2 new pianos are purchased for the GS. On that happy NOTE this chapter concludes.

OG 1950-55

Dear Reader. Comment allez vous. Sava. Forgive my insouciance, but I’m in a flippant mood today.. Years ago an OG buddy told me that in the JS when a little girl wet her bed, she was made to stand in the corner with a sheet on her head. I said that’s rubbish. No, he insisted.. it is the truth. I wonder if he was right? His next story was about Father Emelius’ black dog. It wore a heavy metal collar because it had once been attacked by a leopard .?? The 3rd story was about a young lad who was asked by the good Priest if he had evil thoughts. The kid replied that he was too young to entertain evil thoughts. The good Priest then gave the kid some advice for the future… when you become tempted with wickedness, always wear your underpants back to front!!!!!!! His final story was about FLAGGING. Flagging is when a boy sends his love to a girl via the “hanky system” This guy liked a girl whose initials were, let’s say, AB. AB was not interested in the message, but as coincidence would have it there was another girl in school with the initials AB, who accepted the guy’s love. That is the most ridiculous thing I ever heard!!  

In Oct 1951, Mr Love writes, Corbett is in hospital, hurt his skull while jumping. That explains my nutty attitude to life from that that day forward. Released from hospital 2 days later.. Carl Connor fractures his arm. March 26, 1951 Mr Murphy marries Miss Dadswell. In April, Isobel Burrows, acute appendicitis, admitted Community Hospital. A few days later- operation successful. In May of 1951, Lizzie Bellew is very ill. Few days later, she is better. In May of ‘ 51 PINOCCHIO the movie is shown in the JS. In May, Mr Gomes joined the staff of OG. He was later to become HM in the 70’s???  Good bloke, excellent Maths teacher. On 10 June, Mr Love fondly writes.. Party for Anne’s birthday. 18 June, Mrs Wolfe replaces Mrs Clarke. Woodstock wins the swimming competition 5th year in a row. {My comment..W’Stock would continue to win for the next 4 years} Why? In the 7 years of Senior school, when it came to sports if you were not a natural athlete, eg. swimming, hockey, soccer, boxing, track & field etc., you would NEVER learn how to improve your game.. because in MY opinion….we were Never coached. Take a swimming lesson for eg? 1949.. Right Chaps, we’re off to the pool for your first lesson. One by one, we were thrown into the deep end by our ignoble prefects. Where was the PT Master??? Who knew? Who knows what evil lurks in the mind of man? The most impressive coach I met was a Mr Wood, aka Lakhri. Sadly he was the coach at St. Georges. He was great. In May, Lizzie Bellew was ill but in Oct she was seriously ill in the Community hospital. On the 21st of  July, Winnie Dubignon.. not too well. On the 24th, Winnie is on the mend. In Sept Miss Gifford is ill, but recovers. Mr Coombs left the premises & was duly reprimanded. In early 1952 the Senior Cambridge {1951} results arrive & only one boy passed. This is indicative of the poor quality of teaching that existed. The boy who passed was S.K. Chhabra. I remember him very well, because he played tennis, had a great serve & some heavy hitting ground strokes. Tennis became the greatest inanimate love affair of my life. It’s a shame I did not pick up a racquet until I was 20 years old, but I have made up for lost time. Tennis & I have had a very healthy relationship. Thank you God.

Fragments from a forgettory

There is no such word as forgettory. I wish I had the talent to invent it. My literary idol’s Henry Lear & Lewis Carroll could invent the impossible. In the meantime, I never told the truth that anyone would believe & I never told a lie that anyone would accept. But you must believe this FACT…the longest village name in Wales is… Llanfairpwilgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobillantysiliogogogoch. There are more FAT people in America than there are people. Spring has arrived in Melbourne. Spring is a shoe full of rain & a heart full of hope Life is mostly froth & bubble, 2 things stand as clear as stone. Kindness in another’s trouble, courage in our own. Teacher. Define irony? Student..rain on an iron roof? Teacher says CORRECTO<EXACTIMO!! Limerick..There was a young man of Bengal who went to a fancy dress ball, he said I will risk it, went dressed as a biscuit & the dog ate him up in the hall. Will I ever grow up?? NEVER, never, never.

Principles diaries

1907 – 2 boys Millard & Barnett removed from school by their parents on the cause – not enough water to drink. Masters are complaining of poor food. 8 boys in hospital with dysentery, 2 die. {By 1908, 19 children, from age 8–17 died i,e, 19 kids in 20 years. 12 boys, 7 girls} 1908 – OG celebrates 20 years. Boys attend technical school. 1909 – 2 OLD O’Grovian girls training in General Hospital, Calcutta, Miss May Cumming & Miss B. Sharpe died of cholera. Mr Miller, manual instructor, complains about the food every day. Nov 18 1909, Ondal station master Mr Grieve, on a visit to OG, died of pneumonia, buried Mussoorie. Very good Trinity college exam results. 1910 – A girl Elsie Harrison sent home because she is physically & mentally unfit {Isn’t this sad??} Another Afghan stone cutter was beheaded by a large piece of rock which fell on him while cutting stone for the new junior school {JS was completed in 1912, many workers died}

A.C. Chapman’s diaries continue until 1912, details of leopards shot, cobras killed, children dying, sports & exam results etc. After 24 years, he retires & departs for England, where he lives well into his eighties. During his era, the BS was founded in 1888, GS in 1897, Hospital in 1906, JS in 1912. Of interest, Maddocks was the first school built in Muss; but closed after a while. Waverly convent is the oldest surviving school, St Georges, built 1853, Woodstock, 1854, Wynberg Allen, same year as OG…1888

Principals diaries 1888-1955

1. This article is written out of sequence.
2. Last chapter ended in 1901.
3. We will journey fast forward to 1954
4. I was in touch with an  O’Grovian a few days ago who reminisced about the Errol Eden affair. This charming lad should never have died so young. In fact this incident should never have happened in the first place.
5. The story begins on the 24th of June 1954. Our Principal was the popular Mr B. Love, who wrote in his diary, A boy Verma runs away & cannot be found. Parents advised. Search party sent out. 25 June, search continues. On 26 June at a place where they are quarrying in direction of “stream” a boulder was dislodged & struck Errol on the head.  He fell down the hill & died. 27th June Errol buried in Muss; 30 June, Mr & Mrs Eden visit school & on 1st July visit grave.

Q??  When a boy runs away he will not head for the “bush”. He will head for Mazslows theory. i.e. food, clothing, shelter. He will head for Rajpur & D’Dun. Our Principal can only enter in, his diary, what his search party leader tells him. What happened to Verma? If he survived, why didn’t his parents contact OG?

Coda. I did not know this, but kids have their secrets, their own observations, the truth that teachers don’t know. On very good authority, I was told years after leaving school, Verma was sexually abused. Life can be tragic? If Verma had not run away, Errol would not have died. I have spared readers the gruesome details of the condition of Errol when he was found. OG ladies reading this will remember Errol’s sister. Was her name Marion?     

PICTURE OF GIRLS FROM 1928

STOP PRESS!!! Dear O’Grovians, My time is “UP” on the computer. Please don’t delete this. OG 1928, yes 1928 photo of a bunch of OG students. Seated centre is the “infamous” Head Mistress Miss Wortham. Tomorrow, I will send you her story as told to me by Bon Ross, Hazel Bowen & Mr & Mrs Edwards. The most sensational true {or false story} about OG ever told.

Miss Wortham Head Mistress OG GS 1925-1932

The first law of journalism is “KISS” aka “keep it simple stupid”. An edict I always remember during my career in real estate was, get the facts, check the alternatives, apply the logic. Here are the facts, but is the lily gilded?

Here is Story No. 1

Precis. During the OG centenary 1988 I met Bon Ross { Jim Ross’ brother}. We both hailed from New Zealand, but had never met before. Let me tell you a story of OG’s most infamous Head Mistress, he began. I was a student during this time. {curiously, in 1932, O’Grovian S. Cameron’s mother was in OG, school captain, Cambridge 1st div etc. When I told Sheila Bon’s story, she quipped, my mum told me this saga years ago} In 1932, she, or was she a he? was having an affair of the heart with a teacher. One night, there was a lot of noise emanating from the teachers room. A teacher from an adjoining room banged on the door. Miss Wortham fled out the window, missed her footing on the fire escape & fell to her death. Her body was taken to the OG hospital, police were informed, Principal etc. When her body was undressed, Miss Wortham had the genitals of a man. Bon Ross is not a gossiper, he belongs to that great era that his dear brother Jim subscribes to.

To my eternal regret, Mr Luther, a teacher from my era was at the function. All I did was exchange a few OG memories with him. Why didn’t I query the Wortham story with him?  Publish & be damned!!! All I wanted was some more “meat & potatoes” Mr Luther was the most ardent literary communicator with the MUSSOORIE TIMES. He knew as we say, where all the bodies were buried. I screwed up. Years later, when I got some more info: the Muss Times was dead & buried.

Story No. 2

If you have the photo I sent yesterday. L to R Back Row – Alice Brittain, ?unknown, Phyllis Taylor, Hazel Carter {my all time fav OLDER, but now sadly deceased Female O’Grovian} Check this out, ain’t she a cutie, how’s that hair, the face & the mouth? A great pal of Jim Ross. A great pal of mine too. She reminded me that she & her family were my next door neighbours in Burdwan in the Forties} Next to Hazel is Helen Murtough {Cyril M’s Sister} Middle Row. Ruby Matthews, Georgina Forrest, Maisie Whiteside, Hannah Brittain {sister of Alice} Grace Lardiner. Front Row. Jenny Campbell, Mrs Wells {teacher} hugely popular with all the girls & would stand up for you when Miss W was in a bad mood}, Miss W HM, Eva Marley, Bessie Stanford.

Here is Hazel Bowen’s {nee Carter} story. This photo I give you is circa 1928, but I was familiar with Miss H’s habits since 1925 when she first arrived in OG. I left school in 1928, by the way don’t you just love the OG badge on the girls tunics? She was horrid & cruel. Punish you severely for minor infractions. We had to close our desks & put our books away when class finished. If you forgot? Hell hath no fury. What I thought most irregular was she spent too much time in our dormitory, bathroom, etc. Girls have instincts, I truly thought she was masculine. She had a black stallion, you know. It was named SATAN!!! It was tethered at the entrance of the GS. She rode that horse with fury in the early hours of every morning. When she died it was sold or it mysteriously disappeared. Now how did she die?? I had left school but as you know the RAILWAY GOSSIP never stops. Did she fall to her death? We heard that when she was having the argument in the room it was because the teacher she was smitten with confessed that she wished to marry a Master in the BS. Miss W felt the Master was unworthy of her.. I will give you 2 causes of death – 1:  Miss W shot herself in her room when the police arrived to investigate a complaint against her by a fellow teacher, 2: Miss W taught one subject- CHEMISTRY, Any chemist can make a potion that will kill you. Rumour had it- she poisoned herself. 3: On Aug 12, 1932 Principal H.P. Watts enters this SOLITARY line in his diary – Miss W died in the early morning. OG 1925 -1932. Gone are the days of the swash & buckle, the freedom to write the truth of the 4th estate. A veil of censorship had descended on the OG diaries. The Wortham case was a cover up in terms of literary licence. 4: Over the years I got to know Mr & Mrs Edwards very well. They told me the story of Miss W, was first told to them by a servant in the 1950s. It was similar to “falling off the fire escape” This story will one day reveal the truth. Trouble is most of the referrees are absent.

Principals tales 1888-1955 Chapter 3

O’Grovians visiting their alma mater this Nov, please note. There is a faded white obelisk situated to the RH side of the Boys school entrance to the valley green. It is dedicated to Sir Chas, Henry, Farrington. BART, HMS, 31st Reg, died 26 March 1828, 60 years before the foundation of OG. He, a few Brits & a platoon of Gurkhas were surveying & upgrading the village of Jharipani, when an altercation occured. Sir Charles’ head was severed by a Gurkha. I was in OG ’44 -’55 & never noticed the obelisk until 2004. Long before the existence of OG, the valley green was a Muslim burial ground. Even today, on auspicious occasions, the faithful will remember their ancestors with lights, flowers etc.

A.C. Chapman’s diary continues… July 1888. I stopped giving the boys supper – to reduce expenses. {Dear Oliver Twist, almost Dickensian} In Feb 1889, Mr Frank Cooper joins the staff from Calcutta Boys School. Rs 80 per mensem, food, quarters, light, fuel. 6 boys were punished for breaking Rule 17!!! In the early days OG had a close association with the British Army. The Boys School always had a Sergeant, whose salary was paid by the Army. But in Feb 1889, the wicked sergeant & the naughty Matron decided to have a ‘TRYST?” BEGORRAH! The sarge invited the matron to visit his room? The dirty, rotten scoundrel!!  C’est Scandal!! ACC writes, I had to speak to him about THIS!! Unfortunately, this indiscretion led to sarge & matron leaving on March 15. AC writes, Have notified commanding officer of his regiment to stop his pay {fair Go Mate} During the formative years of OG, there are NUMEROUS cases of “Sarge & Matron” enjoying the “sweet by & by” or the sweet bliss & rapture of a HOT AUGUST NIGHT? On Aug 9, 1889, Babu R Ghosh arrives. He is a Dr. But the school hospital was not built until 1906 or 1907. Where was the poor man billeted?

The staff in 1889 was Mr A.C., HM, Mrs A.C., H’Mistress. Clarke & M Cooper, teachers BS. C Bartlett & J Vinnicombe GS teachers. A married Mrs Boyce & her Sergeant “Usband” arrive in late August. But?? {not another c’est scandal?} on Aug 23 sarge goes AWOL!! {To the movies? Niet!} There was a huge brewery in Muss, designed to keep the soldiers happy. And Mr Boyce was one happy guy. The Sept roll call was 99 boys, 46 girls. In 1955, there were only 105 boys in school. Mention is made of a cricket match between OG & Fair lawn {Later to close & become the Nepalese Rajah’s Palace} May 16 1890 – OH, OH. Sarge has pushed the envelope too far. He & a teacher Mr McCarthy are dismissed for INTEMPERANCE. No mention is made of his long suffering missus. Sept 26 1890 – This will appeal to Ash Emden. Cadet Co; arrives. 64 total officers & men, boys drilled & armed.

I have decided not to mention the deaths of @ least 4 kiddies that have passed away with these few pages. The details are quite sad. At the end of these notes I will categorise details, names etc. In later years you will remember some of these names. I do.


This article was posted on the OGS Mussoorie Facebook group by Nikhil Kumar on 8 March 2012.

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