Hastings High School. 1938 to 1942, We were the first of the Beeby Brats;'The Proficency Examnaton had been aboilshed and we were the first to enter High School as of right. With determination and enthusiasm our teachers set about preparing us for Life. Instead of teaching us how to pass exams with a minimum of thought we learned:-
Girls might pass University Entrance but career choices were limited,
A strean became Teachers and Nurses until they married.
B stream became shotrhand typists until they marries.
Home and Vocational stream worked in shops or factories until they got pregnant and had to get married.
A stream girls learned English, Latin. French, Mathermatics, Science History and because they were going to get married they also learned Cookery. Dressnaking and Homecraft.
In Cookery we learned how to maintain, control and cook on a coal range
We learned to test the heat of ovens by putting a square of paper into the oven and timing how long it took to brown. Immediately for scones, three minutes for sponges , five minutes for fruitcakes or roasts.
We learned to cook said scones, sponges and roasts.
to soften butter to spread on sandwiches
to cream butter and sugar using a wooden spoon
how to clean up,
In form IV we learned about the essential food groups\ We would lose our teeth if we did not drink milk, we would lose our eyesight if we did not eat green vegetables and we would never have babies if we did not eat wholemeal bread.
Homecraft we learned how to polish wooden furniture. silver cutlery and brass tapsto sweep and mop floors,to prepare household linen for Monday's wash, this included advice on soaking our home made sanitary pads in cold water before boiling them in the copper.
to use a mangle to press sheets
to iron handkerchiefs, pillowcases, tablecloths, tea towels, shirts and dresses
We practised bathing babies using a celluloid doll, testing its bath water with our elbow to check that it was not too hot.
Dressmaking we learned to make blouses dresses and baby clothes using french seams, flat seams, turned hems.
We learned to turn collars when the top layers frayed so our future husbands would always look neat.
to darn socks
to hand make button holes
to sew on buttons, domes.and hooks and eyes/
We were certainly well prepared for life. Trouble was it was someone else's life. Nobody predicted washing machines, disposable nappies ,microwave ovens,automatic cars or chainstore clothes made in China.