Maureen Cooper formerly Cox
Born in 1940
Lived in Grants Avenue
Maureen started school when she was 6 because of the war. Her mother was a nursing sister at Naburn hospital and her Dad was a fireman. Her mother arranged for an older girl, Pat Neale, to take her to the top of Heslington Lane near the church to get the bus to the Rialto. She would then walk through the bar to school. There were two sisters, Pat and Anne Neale. Maureen was 6 and they would have been about 9 and 10. Maureen Smalley went with them too. The bus fare was 1d. She remembers the tramlines were still down then. When they walked past the cattle market to school they would see the cattle wallopers working.
Miss Coyle was a vicious woman who was fond of caning the children. Once she caned the whole class because nobody would own up to a wrong-doing. She seems to remember that Christopher O'Rourke was the culprit but nobody grassed on him, you didnít grass on anyone. Miss Mansfield was another one of the teachers and taught Maureen to knit. She had a high chair with a step on it and she used to sit the children in front of her on the step which was a very good way of teaching knitting. Miss Fineron (who was to become Miss Benneworth) used to work part time. Pauline and Anne Baines were her nieces. Her son, Michael Fineron, also became a teacher at the school (Not sure this is correct - TR).
Maureen thought the nuns were on wheels because they used to glide effortlessly and smoothly everywhere. When she was older she saw a nun's feet peeping from under her long habit and she was shocked.
If you went to the outside toilets you had to get someone to hold the door for you as they did not lock properly. The teachers had an indoor toilet and Maureen always wanted to use it instead of the cold outdoor one. The other side of the school was for the bigger boys. They did not scare us but did climb the wall and we thought they were going to fall off.
Dressmaking was starting to be taught and Maureen really liked it, they made pinnies. There was a parents day and all the childrenís work was arranged and displayed on the walls. Maureen waited all day for her mother to come but she was at work and did not make it. Maureen was very upset and remembers it to this day. Most other mothers were there. Once the Bishop came to school and Maureen had a painting on the wall, she was good at art. The bishop commented how good it was.
She hated swimming and did not like St Georgeís baths. She was once ducked under which left her terrified of the water. Her friend, Jennifer Harrison, tried to help her to learn to swim. Christopher OíRourke was always in some kind of trouble and he once fell in the deep end.
They had milk which used to be left in the playground. Sometimes it froze and they put it near the radiators to thaw. Maureen does not like milk to this day because of this. There used to be a class monitor who opened all the bottles by pushing in a cardboard stopper. Straws were then pushed in ready to serve. The straws were paper ones.
The nit nurse and dentist regularly came around and then there were medicals where you stripped to your pants and had an examination.
Sports day was on Low Moor. Playground games were tig, hopscotch, which graduated to bean-bag hopscotch. They played rounders and had coloured sashes on in their team's colours. They went to the Castle Museum. There were no cookery lessons and only hand sewing lessons. There was a lot of emphasis on hand writing lessons. Lessons were very much the 3 Rís.
Brian Witham was in her class and could be disruptive. He would not stop banging on his desk when they had a school inspection. When it was inspection time all the bright kids were put right at the front and the not so bright at the back so the inspectors would be aware of the more clever ones. Others in her class were David Pennington, Billy Thornton, who was 'a scamp', Antony Boggan, who had red hair. Paul Walker was another of her school associates. His Dad was the caretaker. Paul was a bit older than Maureen. Paulís daughter, Adele, has a hairdressers on Fulford Rd now. Other names that spring to mind are Paul Penrose, Tony Calpin, Anthony(?) Howe, Angela McCann and Marie Yearsley.
Dave Oliver was in her class and was very clever with his hands. He went on the be very good with computers. Christian Granger was in her class but moved away to Ireland when he was 9. Later Christian became a fireman and worked with Maureen's husband, Terry (Cooper). Anne Allison was a good friend of Maureenís at school. Her best friend was Iris Read. Other good friends were Anne Lawler and Pat Herbert. Anne was her bridesmaid when she married Terry. She knew John Betts and his cousin, Peter Richardson.
When it was your first communion Miss Coyle said you could wish for something special. Mike Donoghue was in her group and he wished for a sister. Not long after that his sister Joan was born!
The priests were Fr Brean and Fr Moynagh. Both of them were very good with young people and encouraged them to learn and love school. Thursday afternoon was Benediction, Mass was Friday morning and Maureen looked forward to her banana sandwiches after church in the school room. Canon O'Connell was a nice man who was always joking. He married Terry and Maureen and went to the reception to help them celebrate. Canon O'Connell heard Maureenís first confession. The confessional was then at the back of the church and the kids had to shuffle up, one by one, as the next one went into the box. Mass was in Latin and the priest had his back to the congregation. Nobody was allowed on the altar and the only time she went on the altar was when she was married.
Maureen was good at dancing and singing as a child (she is still in the church choir at Margaret Clitherows). In one St Patrick's Day concert she had to kiss Mike Donoghue! They used to practise on the stage at the big boys school and then perform the show at the Rialto. In a May procession she got to carry the statue of Mary which was a great honour. The procession was from school to the church.
When they left school on a night the nuns used to button their coats up right to the top and put their hats on. They wrapped them all up nicely to keep warm. After doing her 11+ Maureen used to help the teachers out by looking after and helping the younger children. Maureen loved school and was very happy there.
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