Memories

Penny (Tisdall) Devlin, VHS 1959

Although I was involved in many, many activities, this event has stayed in my mind for all these years.

In 1959, we had a very small but select choir [at Vic High] and were preparing to sing in the school music festival.  We were required to sing two pieces – one of the festival’s choice and one of our own choice. The festival choice was “Where ere you Walk” and our choice was the Adoramus Te Christi” in Latin and unaccompanied.  No small feat but Miss Douglas never did anything in a small way.                                    

When we were settled, standing on the risers, Miss Douglas looked over at the piano accompanist nodded gently and off we went. We sang well, probably better than ever before, but the real test was to come. Having finished the first piece, we waited for the starting notes for the Adoramus. The four notes came, Miss Douglas raised her arms and we started. When we finished, there was a moment of absolute silence followed by a burst of very satisfying applause. We left the riser, went to our seats in the auditorium, and waited for the adjudicator. When he came up there was a small smile on his face and he said, and I quote:  “When I saw you were going to sing the Adoramus I was a bit frightened, and when I realized you were going to sing it with no accompaniment I was terrified, but I have only this to say:  ‘You may sing in my church any time you like.’ “.  We realized we had won and all burst into tears, at least the girls did. It was such a wonderful moment and we had all worked so hard for it. I was 17 years old at the time and am now 80.  It’s like it all happened yesterday.  For those of you out there who remember this, I hope you remember it as happily as I do.  Much love to you all, Penny.

 

Nancy (Johnston) Hunter, VHS 1963

Nancy sent us a wonderful memory of classmate Timothy Vernon, and we were so inspired we contacted Timothy and wrote a profile about him. (Click here.) Here’s Nancy’s story:

After 3 miserable years at a local Jr High I was thrilled to enter Vic High in Grade 10.  What a refreshing change it was and I was more than ready to make new friends.  My parents, Maurie Johnston and Doris Anderson, were also Vic High grads and my brother, Denis Johnston, [VHS 1967] taught at Vic High in the 80’s, I believe.   (Denis taught 1974 – 1980)

Tim Vernon sat behind me in Grade 10 homeroom and even asked me out on a date that year.  He knew that I loved to skate so his father drove us to the Memorial Arena for the Ice Capades show.  Tim was too young to drive at the time.  Mozart was Tim’s favourite composer, and on the anniversary of his death every year Tim would wear a white turtleneck and a black armband symbolizing mourning.  He tried very hard to look serious and sad all day, and we all tried hard to make him laugh.  He always had a keen interest in conducting and would stand outside the bandroom where the GVSSO rehearsed under the very skilled baton of Dorothy Evans.  [I was fortunate to play french horn in that orchestra.]  He would ask if he could conduct the orchestra but the answer was always No.  Later, Tim spent several years studying conducting in Vienna, and when he returned to Victoria he started the Pacific Opera Company in Victoria.  He was later awarded The Order of Canada for his valuable contribution to The Arts.  

I remember my mother used to say, “That Tim Vernon, he’s either a nut or a genius.” I think he proved to be the latter. I remember he used to be guest conductor of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and I used to love watching him perform (here in Vancouver where I live), both as a conductor and also as a warm and fascinating communicator with the audience.  He’d regale us with stories about the composer and the piece he was about to conduct.    

A few years ago my husband and I were in Vienna (on a river cruise of the Danube) and he thought it was a good idea to sign me up to conduct an orchestra in Vienna.  The last time I did any conducting (which I loved) was in Jr High as I had been appointed student conductor for outdoor concerts in my Grade 9 year (1959).  I was a little apprehensive since it cost a fortune and I didn’t know if I had the nerve to do it.  Well it turned out to be such a good experience that the conductor asked me to conduct a piece that evening in that same concert hall in front of a real audience! I was scared to death.  But it went off well after all and my husband took videos. When we got home I couldn’t resist sending these videos to Tim.  He sent a lovely reply saying that I got to conduct more in Vienna than he did!  True story.     

PS … I even remember Tim’s full name which I made my brother, Denis Johnston, memorize when he was a child.  Here it is: Timothy James Arthur Kenneth Douglas Bowden Vernon.  Now that sounds like a VIP!   

 

Christy (Wilkie) Bowen, VHS 2000

The feeling of history and achievement when going through the doors of Vic High. Looking at all the past grads on the walls. Those are what I miss about being at Vic High.

 

Bob Darnell, VHS 1954

Bob and his wife Penny (Carlow) Darnell, VHS 1954

 A group of myself & friends (Court Haddock, Harvey Gillis, Art Moysychyn, Kent Allen, Reg Simon, Monty Exton & Paul Simpson & a few others) created the “Worm Stomp”.  (Definition: a gang of testosterone charged youths, formed in a rotating circle, arms interlocked, stomping feet in unison after a good rain causing worms to rise to the surface.) The only thing raised were the frowning eyebrows of several teachers looking at us from the windows, gravely shaking their heads, thinking “are we witnessing our future generation?”

Another memory was when the same “Testosterone charged group” painted the front steps of Oak Bay High School Gold & Black (VHS colors).  This was in retaliation to an OBH gang painting our Goal posts in their color one weekend just prior to a game. I can still hear the loud footsteps stomping down the hall to our classroom, flinging the door open and there, glaring was Principal H.L. Smith (the Bear) calling out our names, front & center and marching us to his Office.  We were ordered to go and scrub clean the Oak Bay stairs, removing all traces of our paint and to do this during school hours under the threating glares of OB students.  (We got more than just glares, but it was worth it). How “the Bear” knew it was us remains a mystery to this day.

Ahh, 1954 was a great year.  Out of our “Gang of 8” there is only myself, Art & Kent still with us.

Gerry Lister, VHS 1967

Gerry loved Vic High Principal Aaron Parker’s speech to the 2022 grads: Fantastic! Heartwarming, and there is reincarnation! Fellow Alumni and Students, you just witnessed Duncan Lorimer! [much-loved Vic High Principal 1966 – 1979]. Wow, I actually sang the School song and had a tear of Joy in my eye and a heart full of what could only be “Vic High and it’s Fabulous Memories!’

When I returned from playing Pro Baseball back East, I was notified by the Victoria Fire Department that my application was accepted ! June 1970 ! I retired as Battalion Fire Chief in 2004 ! That’s the only photo I have in uniform! Hahaha!

Whitey Severson (in photo with Gerry) was a Lacrosse Legend with the Shamrocks. He’d come to Victoria in the 1950s to play lacrosse. He was Deputy Fire Chief in the Victoria Fire Department, my best friend, and godfather to my daughter and son. He also served terms in Saanich and City of Victoria as a municipal Councillor.

Cheers and God Bless!  Come Give A Cheer!  You’ll never regret it!  Nor forget it!

PS Gerry married Vic High alumna Stephanie Trim, VHS 1969. They had two children and many grandchildren. Stephanie passed in 2016 from Alzheimer’s.

   

Pierce Graham, VHS 1953

I attended VHS in grades ten, eleven and twelve, September 1950 to June 1953.  I played first trumpet in the VHS Band under Roland F. Grant when we defeated the world famous Kitsilano Boys Band in open competition in Vancouver. The Kits band had been successful in national and European venues, had enormous community funding,  and members up to twenty one years of age. VHS by contrast, had to conduct a series of  fundraisers to afford the chartered bus and ferry costs from Victoria to Vancouver, and billeting for all members. When we won, Kitsilano’s famous director, Arthur Delamont, refused to shake the hand of our director, who was probably one of the most humble of gentlemen. Some of the Kits band members actually threatened us after the competition, and we were escorted to our bus. They and their leader had a huge sense of entitlement. They had never before lost. But we won. In fact, we never failed to win a competition from grade eight at Central Junior through Vic High graduation in 1953. I remember being elected to represent the Band in the planning process and present our case for travel ALL THE WAY FROM VICTORIA TO VANCOUVER. School Superintendent JFK English, who was popularly known as the Silver Fox, eventually Provincial Minister of Education, expressed his confidence in our commitment and ability, as well as in our director, Roland Grant. He, by the way, had played cornet in her Majesty’s Coldstream Guards…good credentials. Other Band members included Denny Tupman, Jane Scott from California, Jon McKinnon…

 Other great Vic High memories included ”Porky” Andrews and his science experiment and basketball coaching, Harry Smith’s phenomenal memory as he recited Romeo and Juliet in English 91 and remembered my brother from three years earlier, Stan Murphy as my English and French teacher, Mrs Cameron and her love of Emily Carr with whom she had had a personal friendship…all wonderful teachers.

One year I swam for the swim team at the Crystal Gardens. I had wanted to run on the track team and actually had a four and a half minute mile timing,  four thirty five, I think. But Don Burgess passed me at the last curve and beat me. I think he set a new local record around 4:20 or so. This was the year before  the famous four minute mile, so it was not a trivial accomplishment.

Thanks, and WOW… I was at Central Junior for grades 8 and 9, then VHS….

I also remember I was sent to the office once in three years, and sat while I waited for [Vic High Principal] Mr. Smith to question me about an alleged act of spitting in class. He simply stood in front of me and asked, ”Pierce did you do that?”  When I answered, “No, Sir,” he was silent for a moment, then said, “I believe you. You may return to class.”  I have often thought of the incident as the power of moral authority. Wonderful stuff, wonderful memories.

Thanks, Vic High. You shaped my career, my life, and my values. Cheers.

 Pierce Graham, (retired 1996), Kamloops teacher of English and vice principal. (after a number of formative – or curative – years in the credit industry)

Edna Barrieau, VHS 1959

What I remember very fondly was being in the same graduation ceremony as my two older brothers – Jack and Toby Wilson.  Toby and I were in grades 1 – 12 at the same time and Jack returned to Vic High in April of 1959 to complete the necessary courses required to obtain his diploma, graduate and continue on to get a BA  degree at Denver University. Like most high school graduates I have many happy memories of my 3 years at Vic High but it was special to be in the company of my two older brothers and I am happy to share this special memory.

Roye Lovgren, VHS 1966

Thank you alumni newsletter staff for one more visit to the Class of 66. I enjoyed the tale of Art Warren’s mc venture and of Craig Strickland’s article – in particular the group of remembered names on the Camosun cover.

 

Diane Wood, VHS 1964

Diane’s special memory was her grad: As my father was a School Trustee, both my Mom and Dad attended my 1964 graduation ceremony. My father Edward (Ted) Wood served several terms from 1960, School District 61. 

Diane (Wilson) Hutchison, VHS 1967

Ha, ha, ha! I sure enjoyed chuckling over Art’s “legendary ride” story. If CSI were on the case, I can easily imagine who the fingerprints of the “two or three others” might reveal as co-conspirators!  

 

Vic High Tigers 1975, Win BC Championships

We found this on the Class of 1975 Facebook page, posted by Patti (Pesklevits) Buna. More great Vic High memories, specially as 2022 is the Year of the Tiger. Thanks, Patti!

Here’s the caption:   Devastating all opposition during the Championship series, the Vic High Tigers stormed to the B.C. girls high-school basketball championship Saturday night with a 64-28 win over Port Moody Blues in the final game of the 26th annual tournament. Shown during a respite at a recent practice, the Tigers include – Standing: Marg Barber, Barry Hanslip (Coach), Cathy Flynn, Doreen Fitzpatrick, and Leslie Godfrey. Sitting – Mary Jane Mackereth, Karen Sauter, Lois Hennekes, Patti Pesklevits, and Shelley Godfrey. Missing is manager Kathy Weich.

Patti says: Some of you may have been there, some of you may not have cared. But for me, it was a major event in my life. You may have experienced another event at Vic High that meant as much to you as this one did for me. Perhaps it was the drama group, band or orchestra, another sports team, student parliament, the library or chess club or other clubs and/or a particular social group. There was a place for everyone at VHS. As a parent, coach and teacher, I was always reminded about how important these kinds of events and groups were to my students and players (including my own children), and how life-changing it could be to someone who felt very much like a small fish in a really big pond. These basketball friendships I experienced in my school years (Richmond Elementary, Lansdowne Junior High, and our beloved Vic High), have continued on to this very day. I count myself so fortunate to have many of these amazing women still in my life. So in the Year of the Tiger 2022, I am remembering 1975 and our own Year of the Tiger! Come Give A Cheer for Victoria High!      (Well said, Patti!)

 

Vic High Ring Meant Going Steady, Dawn (Eby) Quast, VHS 1965

 

I still have my Vic High ring.  It was given to me by my boyfriend when he asked me to go steady.  We started dating in 1964 when he was completing grade 12, half days, and I was in grade 11.   I wore it for at least a year with adhesive tape wrapped around the back because it was too big.  I remember how gross the tape used to get before I would take it off and wrap it again. The ring is in rough shape, likely from being in fights before it was given to me.  My boyfriend, and many guys at that time, liked to show how tough they were by getting into fist fights.

My comment in the annual talks about the UGA group.  We were the Unavailable Girls Anonymous – 5 of us with boyfriends already graduated from high school, so we hung out together at Vic High during grade 12.  Grace Hunter, Janie Potts, Nancy Rigby, Linda Temple and me.  I had a 52 Austin and we would pile into it at lunch time and head over to the Oak Bay A&W, all the girls pitching in to pay for the gas.

I eventually had the ring resized for my finger.  We were together for 4 years and then split up, but I never gave the ring back.  Does that mean I’m still going steady?  LOL

 

Cliff Moffat, VHS 1957                                                   

Here’s a great memory: watching the Totems play their arch-rivals, the Alberni Athletics, on a Friday night,  viewing everything from the old indoor track above the Roper (Old) Gym floor.  I also remember watching [Principal] Harry L. Smith  (The Bear) out on the field refereeing and officiating, just like one of the boys. A truly great man and principal👍👍

Cliff currently lives at Shawnigan Lake with his wife Joyce (62 years married), and regularly slalom skis with the Victoria Aqua Ski Club.  Thanks, Cliff!

 

Ray Pauwels, VHS 1960

Doc and the Doo Wops performed at our grad reunion in 1988 which was the best Vic High reunion ever! It was a fabulous reunion and as a result Doc and the Doo Wops are permanently etched on the blackboard of my mind. I graduated in 1960 so if you care to do the math, it was the 28th year post graduation. Why 28th you ask? Check with Russ Leech for an explanation!