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Hazelbury Open Air School - Feedback 5

September 2015 - Carroll Greenfield [1943-1948]

Hello Jeff, I just found your website. I was writing a piece for the writers’ group I belong to and wanted to get the correct spelling for Mrs. Male. I attended the School from approx. 1943 when I was seven until I termed out around age eleven or twelve.

I had pretty severe asthma/bronchitis. The only teachers I remember are Mr. Robinson (Old Robbo) and Mrs. Male. I also remember our headmaster Mr. Rapley and the nurse I believe her name was Sister Keysbrown but that could have been from a different time and place. I loved being at the school but learned nothing. I was doomed to continue at Silver Street Secondary Modern school, which was like going from heaven to hell. When I was 20 my family took our doctors advice and we came to California and I have lived here ever since. It was a good move as I am approaching my seventy-ninth birthday, far older than I ever expected to live.

I remember when I was in Mrs. Male’s class and she had us bring our books up to her desk. She looked at the first book and shook her head; she took the second book and was not pleased; by the third book she took one look and then threw the book on the floor. As the rest of us gave her our books she no longer looked at them but started throwing them all around the room. We all scurried around trying to find our books and slink back to our desks. I never saw another tantrum like that in any class I was in. I really loved that lady. My memories of Mr. Robinson are of a very nice man who had the worst-fitting false teeth. Those teeth clattered like castanets when he started explaining something.

Well these are a few of my fond memories of the Open Air School. Do you remember a thin kid by the name of John Duncan? He was not at the school vey long and went on to grammar school. He and I were good friends and I wonder what happened to him.

So nice to find you and the site, I look forward to hearing from you.

Carroll Greenfield

Hi, Carroll.

Thanks for your email.

Lucky you, living in California. As the fall approaches here in Nova Scotia I am looking out at drizzle; I envy you. Rain tomorrow but sun starting on Tuesday and then I’ll brighten up with the weather. There’s lots to do before winter descends on us.

That’s a good anecdote about Mrs. Male. She was forming our personalities and our work ethic as well as teaching us our three R’s, I think. Several people have commented on how much she influenced their growing up.

Why was it you "learned nothing” at the school? Was that because of your asthma?

I don’t remember John Duncan and nobody else has mentioned him so far. Maybe someone else will remember him.

Good luck with your writers’ group. Can I find any of your writing on the Web?


Well, the bronchial asthma was pretty bad so I was always off doing breathing exercises and other treatments with the nurse and then there was nap time. My mother was very overprotective and I was never required to do homework. When you add all the bits together I was a very uneducated young man. I made my way in life as a salesman and store owner. I acquired a decent amount of knowledge by reading and staying current on world affairs and was able to converse intelligently on most any subject. Coming to California was the best advice my parents ever received. I did much better here and of course once the flu shots started I was even better. I would get flu every year and be laid out for weeks.

Two things that might stick in the mind of other kids in my class: first was my name Carroll and Mrs. Male dubbed me “Carroll he” and the girls whose names were either spelled Carol or Carole as “Carol she”; the second thing was that I was probably the only Jew in the school at that time. I loved Mrs. Male and she definitely left a very lasting impression.

I remember that during play time if we misbehaved she would give us a couple of smacks on the inside of the leg well above the knee. (of course we all wore shorts). We did a production of “A Midsummer Night's Dream”. I do not remember if I had a part. I think I was a member of the unwashed chorus.

I remember one time in the summer when I was probably around ten we were going to play Cricket. It was right after lunch and we had time to play on the field until the whistle was blown. All the equipment was sitting on the field and the group I was playing with just ignored it. Then another group of boys came over and started throwing the stumps and whatever else was there. We all got busted even though my bunch were trying to pick the equipment up and put it back. We all had to go before Mr. Rapley. Several kids said we were picking the stuff up not throwing it. After he heard several boys say they were not throwing the equipment he said “I do not want to hear anyone else say they were not the ones throwing things”. I was next - what was I going to do? I did not want to disobey him so I kept silent. We had to sit in front of his office during break time for a week.

I really don't remember the other teachers. Those were the happiest of my school years and some wonderful memories. I have no photos of the school but if I find any more of me I will send them to you.

I wonder if you remember one of the bus drivers? Every morning he would do something we all loved. He would drive down the long driveway at the end of which was a wall. He would drive toward it as though he was going to crash into it, then swerve at the last second. I'm sure he would have got in trouble if it were known what he was doing but we kids all loved it and of course the times were different.

I found a couple of photos which would have been about the time when I was still in the Open Air School.

By the way, we live in Southern California just outside Los Angeles. We had planned to drive up to the Sacramento area on vacation but we have so many fires in that area that we have had to cancel the trip. We will be driving to Arizona instead where we have family and many friends. We would move to Arizona but it would not be good for my lungs as they have Haboobs (dust storms). Just too much dust.

I am including a piece I wrote about the school a couple of years ago.

Carroll Greenfield

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