Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.

24.10.11

Out of the archive.

I’ve done it again. Volunteered. This time it’s a 125th anniversary publication for a college. My mother and two of my sisters walked through its gates in the 1940s and the 1960s/1970s respectively. But that’s incidental. The school shares its archivist with the school that was the subject of the book I finished last year, and she asked me if I’d do one for the second school. I said yes because this one will be shorter. But it still has to be done. I said yes also because, in a strange twist of coincidence, the archivist was my Grade Three teacher in 1965 and it is ingrained in one to say yes to one’s teachers. (Yes, she was young – 1965 was her first year out of teacher’s college.)

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The college archive was in a cramped office in one of the old wings that was once the nuns’ living quarters. Across one entire wall was one of those sliding compactus things that holds sixty million documents in no particular order. Me and my big mouth. I went to the 1960s and pulled out some annuals and magazines and opened the 1967 number. Could my older sister be mentioned? She was more than mentioned. She was the author of several poems, letters and reports. It was like finding old pound notes under the floor. One report bylined her as “sports house captain”. I’d forgotten all that. On the page in which the senior girls got to sum each other up in a cheeky line, it was said she “Would make a great bank robber. Can outrun Herb Elliott.” That brought it all back. She had the first pair of running spikes in the family; those old-school white ones with blue stripes and fixed spikes that you couldn’t screw in and out. She used to run for Aberfeldie at the grass athletics track that is now under the hockey centre at Royal Park.

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That was one document. I hope sixty million is an exaggeration.

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