Mayfair & Memories Of AnotherSaturday, May 09, 2009
When Rebecca arrived at noon today for her piano lesson (we have a Chickering baby grand in our living room so her classes are here) she said, “I want to go to Mayfair.” Mayfair in our neck of the woods is the annual fair held at the nearby Catholic private school Vancouver College. There was no way I was not going to please Rebecca and Lauren (she also wanted to go) on this wish. Sometimes I rent a movie but it seemed a shame to stay inside on a beautiful day like the day today was. So Rosemary and I took the kids to Mayfair. I strapped a couple of Nikon FM-2s around my desk. “You look like a tourist!” Rebecca said. I countered, “With these film cameras I don’t look like a tourist, I look like an old man.” I joked with Rebecca that the reason she wanted to go was to ogle the handsome private school boys. This did not seem to be the case. “I want to go on the bungee cord jump.” Lauren said, “And I want to go into the Pirate Ship.” It seemed harmless enough. We walked.
It was a bit of letdown as memories flashed in my head of fairs in the American or English schools in Buenos Aires and in Mexico. They had all kinds of treasures, Mickey Mouse comic books in English (can you imagine that!) and later in the 50s used Tom Corbett Space Cadet or Hardy Boys mystery books.
At the Mayfair they had boring games (the exception was the bungee cord for which Rebecca waited close to 40 minutes on a long queue) and lots of food. The gym was full of junk by the time we got there mid afternoon. But Rebecca enjoyed her three minutes on the bungee cord jump and while she made several back flips she refused to make any front ones. Not having a digital camera I have no idea what my pictures will look like.
Back home I instructed Rebecca to write in a notebook the location and state of every rose in the garden. If the rose was missing a tag, Rebecca printed out its name in her very neat writing. The purpose of the exercise was to prepare her for our joint appearance in the forthcoming World Rose Convention in Vancouver in late June. Our lecture is called A Rose Through a Child’s Eyes. Rebecca has to learn more about roses. During our work she said, “This is like studying except it is fun.” Part of her job was to assess the condition of the rose bush and to mention if it had scent, how powerful that scent was and if it was fruity or myrrh, not to mention the colour and shape of the flowers. We finished our day with barbecued chicken, white rice and sliced ripe tomatoes. After our meal Hilary surprised us with a DVD called Miss Potter which we all enjoyed. Taking them home I was again hit by waves of memories of those former fairs and of one in particular in 1951.
That year my mother was teaching at the American High School. I was going to the nearby (two blocks) American Grammar School. Only in recent years have I finally come to understand that I never ever went one day to a public school and that my mother always found ways of sending me to private schools. She must have had a deal that by teaching at the high school (she was loved and appreciated and the school annual for 1951, The Southern Star is dedicated to her) I did not pay to go to what must have been an expensive school.
As soon as I got home I went to the family album in search of a picture that I remember was taken that year at the school fair. In Spanish we called it a tombola. In back of the picture here (my mother is in the middle with the funny hat) it says barrel pull. I think it may have been filled with sand or saw dust and the little boys in the picture bought tickets to then take their chances of finding “valuable” prizes.
Perhaps they didn’t have the exciting games they had at Mayfair but through a child’s eyes it must have been every bit as exciting. At Mayfair I noticed lots of 14 year-old girls with great big fronts of metal in their mouths trying not to notice the boys that were trying not to notice them. At age 9 it must have all gone over my head in that fine afternoon at the American School in Buenos Aires.
I noticed that the Southern Star's editorial began like this:
The world today is challenged by two great powers, Democracy and Communism. The outcome of present and future conflicts will determine a new phase of history. Which of these is for the best is for each one of us to decide.
When you consider that the modest sized school annual had lots of ads as end pages including this one by General Motors you know in which direction the school was rooting for.