Old School

Before texting made child’s play of surreptitious classroom chatter, students passed notes

Illustration by Leslie Supnet

If you imagine that growing up in the small town of Weyburn, Saskatchewan, circa 1960, was dull, you’d be dead wrong. As leader of the student representative council, editor of the school paper, member of its girls’ basketball team, and head of the local girls’ club (not to mention avid “boy scout”), Eleanor was usually sitting on some pretty important news. On the eve of a new school year, The Walrus presents a selection of the notes she successfully passed to her best friend and fellow keener Maureen in their graduating year.

Dearest M—

So glad to hear from you—did you send that note via a new route? It seemed to come from Ken H. to Barb then to me. It certainly added interest anyway.

You have a very extensive vocabulary when expressing your emotions—I’d sort of like to hear you say some of these aloud. However I’ll be satisfied with the written word.

Saw you walking to school avec J.—how nice!

Thanks for the compliment—this poor blouse hasn’t seen much action in the past year.

Algebra—well I worked with the darn stuff til 12:30 in the morn and I’m still not finished (I had 2 previous exercises to do first!) Moreover, Mom took the day off, so “mon ventre m’appelle chez moi” (pour le bon diner) so I’ll probably never get fini. It doesn’t trouble me either!! Thanks again for all your help with fgb.


PS I wrote to Brian—wasn’t too nasty (took your bon conseil)

Horror of horrors Maureen! (Does that passage come in one of Billie S’s plays—I’m always using it!)

I think Mr. Smith and Mr. J are v. disgusted with me. When I asked Mr. S if we could have the dance on the 20th he said “Kind of late to ask isn’t it”—in his dry, sarcastic tone. I thought Pat M was going to ask him—but I didn’t say anything. (I guess it’s no excuse!) After a dead silence he said, looking at me with an evil eye—“well I guess we’ll change it just this once—never again though.” Wow—by this time I was ready to disintegrate or bawl or scream or something! I rather think that they think I’m not doing a good job—putting enough time on it and “raising school spirit” or something like that. If I don’t think of a gimmick soon—I’ll have to resign (I really wouldn’t mind too much.) Enough of this—I’m beginning to feel sorry for myself again.


I have more to tell—will write soon.

Dear Maureen:

I am attempting to write neater this time so I won’t give away my frenzied state of mind.

I asked Mr S. why the school board was going to pay the complete expenses of the curlers while they paid us zero for BB trips, and we had to scrounge around town for ads to pay even our gas. He said that they bought our basketballs. It still doesn’t make enuf sense to me! Oh well! It’s really kind of fun soliciting ads—I’ve got 9 now.

Just got your newsy note—glad to hear you are getting helpers. The reason we wanted streamers was to make it special—after all streamers aren’t usually seen at our tournament.

Mr. L is getting mad at me but I continue to write notes.

Barb is going to “work on” Jerry who will in turn “work on” 5 other hockey players to be our boy cheerleaders. Hope it works out!!

I have so much to say today and I can’t get it said. I should go study Geom—haven’t done so yet!!

We play at Estevan same nite as Job’s Daughters meeting—The first half of McLeod Series! That means real trouble—Dad asked if meeting could be changed to another nite—“Oh no” says Council, on prompting of Mrs. C. We don’t have enuf subs of course—you would chair unless you wanted to go to Estevan in Caravan (more work for src). Must go—bell has rung—our hero is coming.


Wel, Maureen, thow arte nobelle,

   sewe, eye hoppe

yew hav a gude 6-daye holedaie.


   Wilum Shackespeer

M—Hi! Are you going à Regina à entendre “Les Lumières de Lime”? I hope you do! I s’pose your maman has made les reservations?! Mr S asked me what course I intended to pursue—I said Lit and Comp. Then he asked me if I intended to teach in Weyburn. He said they would need a good (ha!) teacher in about 3 or 4 years.

Do you mind if I asked what you told him when he asked what courses you were going to pursue? You see I don’t really think I know, and I should—being a member of the “club” and all……



Oh it’s such a long story! This morn in French I got a note handed to me in T.B.’s Soc St notebook. It said

This is just on the spur of the moment but I wondered if you would go to the graduation dance with me. PLEASE.—Tom

Well, I nearly died! and I’m serious!! I wrote back “Sorry. I have already invited a boy from another town” (a barefaced lie!). Then I sat and stewed.

At noon Pat heard me tell about this. She wasn’t sure—but she put 2+2 together when she saw Derrell come back and tell Ed something and Ed grinned broadly.

So we knew then that Derrell had written the note!! I was just hopping mad at noon.

After dinner I sent Derrell a note which said—

Dear Derrell—Got a phone call at noon—the boy I invited cannot come—hope your invitation is still good—I’ll be glad to go with you.

P.S. That was a cute way of asking me—using Tom B’s name—but don’t be so shy next time.

PPS By now you know this is all a joke but PLEASE don’t do it again—it’s too hard on my nerves.

End of note to Derrell.

He sent me a cute one back—will enclose.


I just got to thinking—wouldn’t it be nice for F.H.’s wife to come for graduation? Especially if he didn’t know about it—B.E. asked him if she was coming from Hamilton and he said they couldn’t afford it! (Aren’t junior hockey players paid?) Oh I wish we could raise the money and secretly bring her out.

What do you think?


Do you mean he gave you a ride—went to all that trouble—and then didn’t come to school? Mmm! (Or is he at a class?)

You must feel wonderful! I’m so happy, and glad he didn’t need a push from an “anonymous source.” It must be hard to think of everyday things!

I’m glad you are staying home to study for your music exams! Starting when? For how long?


The Walrus