Milton High School

Selborne Avenue, Bulawayo

Boarding Hostels - Charter and Pioneer House

Grace (in Latin) delivered by house prefects before and after each meal.

The bugle - used for reveille, meal times and retreat at 6:00pm (needed to stand at attention facing the flag)

Sundays at Boarding School by John Eppel

As a junior (forms 1 and 2), the only time of the week I didn’t have a sick feeling in my stomach was Sunday morning, a few precious hours between compulsory church attendance and lunch. The penalty for missing church was a caning, two of the best, from the prefect on duty; the penalty for missing lunch was a gnawing hunger. My church was St John’s Anglican cathedral in Rhodes Street, opposite the city hall.

Dressed in my Number Ones, which included a straw boater (or basher) I would wander down Selbourne Avenue with my Collection sixpence burning a hole in my grey trousers pocket. There were only two things I liked about the church: the stained glass windows and the girl boarders from Eveline High School.

I had perfected a way of simultaneously donating and retrieving my sixpence from the collection plate, or bag. Magicians call it prestidigitation. On my way back from the service I would spend the sixpence on an ice cream from a Lyon’s Maid cart-pedaling vendor.

Sunday lunch was special: slices of roast pork, roast potatoes, peas or beans, and carrots or pumpkin. Ice cream and jelly for dessert. Only, there was a problem. During the week you sat with your peers but on Sundays seating was random. Consequently every table would be commandeered by two or three big boys who would eat all the meat and potatoes, all the ice cream, and leave the juniors with the vegetables and the jelly.

In the hours between church and lunch my friends and I would escape the school premises either illegally (bunking) or legally (exeat). The advantage of bunking was that you could wear comfortable clothes; the disadvantage was that, if you got caught, you were in for what is sometimes called ‘’the high jump’’, and sometimes ‘’it’’.

In those days there was plenty of bush between the Milton High School perimeter and the Ascot race course, and that is where we spent most of our Sunday mornings. We would raid bird nests for our egg collections, shoot mossies (which we cooked and ate) with our catties, and inspect our mouse traps.  We would skin the rodents with old razor blades and hang the pelts on acacia thorns to dry. Later we would carry them back to the hostel and store them on top of the lockers in the junior change room. Our plan was to sew them into a kaross once there were enough pelts – hundreds – to accommodate a double bed. Unfortunately they began to stink so badly, even worse than our socks, that they were discovered by the powers that be and were got rid of. Our backsides, permanently purple from canings, got purpler.

We didn’t always spend our precious few hours in the bush. Sometimes we spent them on Top Field playing rugby or ‘’gaining ground’’ or ‘’open gates’’ with a rolled up exercise book for a ball. Or we ventured into the sewers of Bulawayo (dangerous in the rainy season) which could take us all the way to Coghlan Primary school. Or we searched for golf balls in the roughs and on the fairways of Bulawayo golf course for the purpose of making fly catties. Or we went looking for money, coins, that might have been dropped on the streets of downtown Bulawayo. We didn’t want to think of the gathering gloom of Sunday afternoon, Sunday evening, Sunday night and, God help us, Monday morning.

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