There were army tanks in Jasper’s first schoolyard
Hello Boys and Girls,
HOW are you all this week? Settled in back at school I hope. Wait until I tell you about going to school — with the army!
When I was a small boy my school was in a town a few miles from home. Just before my first day, disaster struck. It was burned to the ground.
Now I know a lot of you boys and girls are thinking “I wouldn’t mind that happening to my school about now”. But in your hearts I’m sure you love your schools. Why else would you have worked so hard to get all those marvellous Green Flags?
But back to my old school. The fire left the town without a school and there were only days to go before it was due to open.
All the older boys were saying it was great and there would be no school for a year.
But then Brother John the headmaster had a brainwave.
There was a big army barracks in the town and most of the old buildings where the soldiers used to live were no longer used.
One big building was loaned to Brother John and he got busy collecting desks and blackboards and chalk and everything.
So when it came to my first day at school my Mammy dropped me off at the big gates of the army barracks and in I went to begin my education.
Tanks in the Playground
Best of all was our playground. How many of you children have ever seen a school playground with tanks and cannon and armoured troop carriers parked in it?
The soldiers were all very nice to us and they would often give us a spin in one of their trucks when they were taking them out for training.
I think we were at the army barracks for about three years while the new school was being built. We had happy times there.
I remember deliberately kicking the ball into the compound where the cannon were kept so I would have an excuse to climb in and have a closer look.
A Big Adventure
I went on a visit back there a few weeks ago and looked in the old gate. It’s still an army barracks and very little has changed.
While there I remembered one day on our way home we were passing the guardhouse which was a prison for soldiers who misbehaved.
A prisoner called out to us and asked if we could get him a cigarette. My friends and I told a man working on the road about this. He laughed and said he was in the army once and he knew what it was like to be without a cigarette.
He took out his packet and gave us two cigarettes and some matches and we ran back to the guardhouse and threw them in the window to the soldier. He was very grateful and told us we would all have good luck for our kind deed.
It’s only a little thing now but for us small boys it was a great adventure. We felt we were in a major James Bond operation and talked about it for weeks.
After that, whenever we saw a soldier we wondered if it was our friend from the guardhouse. We never saw him because the little window was very high up.
Now I know smoking is a disgusting habit and none of you should even think of trying it but for us it was an adventure, and back then people did not know how dangerous smoking is for your health.
You should all try and have at least one adventure a day and as many more as you can because adventures are what make life fun.
Bye for now,