Friday, February 22, 2008

Cadets, 1956-59

When we reached the age of sixteen or so, we were no longer eligible to be Guides, and for most girls, that would be the end of the road. But we were fortunate: our school, Enfield County, had a troop of Cadets, a companion organization for older teenagers.

Our troop was lead by Miss. F. Sharp, my formidable Classics teacher, assisted by Miss Margaret Hodgson (funny, we actually knew her first name), who was a retired County School gym teacher. We must have held our meetings after school—we all traveled a way to get to school, so we wouldn’t have gone home to change and then returned. Did we eat a meal together? I think I need to pick the brains of some of the people who attended these meetings with me. I don’t recall a single activity in the two or more years I was a cadet. This photo of my friends Diana and Ann is labeled, “Cadet Investiture Test, Chigwell, Easter 1957”, so we must have had to prove our worth, and it looks like cooking sausages over an open fire was a requisite skill.

What I do remember is the camps that we held in the summer. I have lots of fading black and white photos commemorating a trip to Cornwall and two to Scotland. I remember the train journey north. I assume we had all our tents etc. in the luggage compartment and Miss Sharp had arranged for us to be picked up in a lorry. All the food for the week or so were to camp had been ordered and the latrines had been dug. It never occurred to me at the time what a headache all the logistics were. They were great times. We took it in turns to cook, we went on walks and trips, and in Cornwall, at least, we relaxed on the beach. I remember that Miss Hodgson, who was pretty ancient at the time (or at least, she seemed so to us) was especially fond of standing on her hands in the sea with her head under water. We probably sang Kookaburra, too.

I labeled my photos well. Holy Loch, Kyles of Bute, Glen Massen, the Trossachs, Glen Eagles Station and the final destinations in 1959, Portscatho and St. Just-in-Roseland. After that, I would be off to University, never again to be assigned latrine duty. Here we are, gathered around the flagpole. That’s Miss Sharp on the left, Miss Hodgson on the right. Both of them are now dead. I am still in touch with one of the cadets in this photo and I would dearly love to know what happened to some of the others.

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