Copyright © Ray Crowther 2004

Tom Hood School Reunions

Extracts from Emailed/Personal Memories

Don Grunbaum:

Something over the weekend reminded me of the so-called bombhole on Wanstead Flats, close to where we had our games lessons. I remember it being a place to hide during cross-country runs.

Bob DeAngelis:

The worst part of the run was crossing the road that ran through the flats. There was a ditch you had to cross that was just narrow enough to jump if you were in good condition.  When it rained the thing filled with water. Mr Simons made the rugby team run through the damn thing. I still remember that Welsh bastard screaming. “You jump that DeAngelis and your on detention!” He was quite a hoot. He would turn up for rugby training in a brand new pristine track suit. He would collect the ball and charge down the pitch at you yelling for you to tackle him. Again no tackle then detention. Just as you were about to lay him low he would then yell: “Get this track suit dirty and you're on detention.”

Lynda Sharpe:

Yes, I can remember the last weeks at school disappearing to the bombhole with a huge crowd plus beers!!!!

Dave Storey:

The bomb hole was also called the cat and dog.

Do you remember when we were in the 6th form common room someone setting fire to Tony Clayton’s newspaper while he was reading it? It became quite a blaze before the inside pages turned brown. I reckon so did his underpants as he tried to stamp it out. Now who was the evil chappie who did the deed - I think it was Buddy.

Poor Mr Morton (Sam) (mole) - I think he died soon after we left he was very ill when he taught us.

Just like to throw in a memory of Bob Chaplin and co. Do you remember the RE lessons with Mr Robinson? They were usually a riot. I forget his nickname but at that time I was sitting next to Alan Huggins. Bob Chaplin and co would sit at the back and start up a small model diesel engine. Also we would throw chalk at his back and one lesson he said “you would not throw that at me if I faced you”. Big mistake he was showered in chalk.

Ray (Crow) recalls going to the S.W.Essex Tech to do A level Chemistry and Physics. I used to go with Crow as we were the only ones doing chemistry at A level. We went in the mornings and were joined by the rest in the afternoon for physics. Crow and I used to find physics very boring and sometimes fancied the afternoon off, so on one occasion we had the idea of putting a note up saying the lesson was cancelled. We wrote the note and stuck it on the door; it fell off, but as luck was in our favour that day, the lab technician came out saw it and stuck it back on the door. All we had to do was tell everyone that it was cancelled. Any doubters could see for themselves. We had a good afternoon off.

Anyone remember using the phone in the tech to ring the phone box on the main road and when someone answered we would tell them there was a hit man coming in the next car which we described to them?

Story from Don Grunbaum about Mickey Titmus:

The classic was when a teacher (Janice Brooks?) asked what puberty is. Mickey replied “that's when you get hairs growing...(long pause)...under your arms”. Collapse of class laughing!

Story from Pauline Saunders about Mickey Titmus:

I remember in French once we had to tell Mrs Wingfield in French what we did when we got home after school.  Everyone else said things like I eat my dinner or watch TV etc. Michael said “Je frappe mon frere”.

Ray Crowther:

I remember the Squash Box. It was an alleyway beside the boy's outside bog where the upper school used to cram first year pupils and charge into them.

Bob DeAngelis:

There was also “High Jimmy Knacker.” Brutal wall game. Two teams. One team received first. A young innocent

allowed to play just to fulfil this role, stood with back to wall while first player bent forward theatre cow style and placed head firmly against private parts. A second player placed head firmly up the backside of first player and so on until a line of lads bent forward with head between legs of guy in front was formed all braced by the unsuspecting testicles of the first year against the wall. The second team would then one by one fling themselves along the line of backs landing legs astride as far down the row of backs as possible. This leap was accompanied by blood curdling screams of “High Jimmy Knacker” from the players and screams of pain from the poor bastard against the wall! The object of the game was to collapse the enemy line or to resist the mounting weight of players. The object for the poor shit on the wall was to emerge with his testicles intact. “High Jimmy Knacker” was banned by the authorities when we were fifth formers due to the high rate of personal injury involved, and protests from some of the first formers parents.

Yvonne Keyte:

The girls also had a very violent game called scrum, not very original but describes it to a ‘T’.  Take one tennis ball and however many girls that were there, could be 50, might be 100!!  As far as I can remember it was everyone for themselves; someone had possession and everyone else leapt on them and dug away until someone else got the ball and the whole process started again.  Squashed or flattened girls staggered away.  Many a finger was dislocated and bruises appeared in weird and wonderful places.  It finally got banned by Gladys, because someone broke an arm or a leg! Shame we all missed it, and they say today is more violent! Sounds like our school 'incubated' violence, I hadn't realised until now!!

Linda Reed:

I remember scrum really clearly - it was great fun.  You could get really involved in it!  I seem to remember that Gladys wasn't too pleased about us all trampling her rose bushes under her window.  I reckon that was the real reason it got banned. Do the other girls remember a kind of tagged version of “he” where when you caught someone they got added to the line until there were loads of you being dragged around the playground, with the one on the end really getting thrown around.  Not as violent as scrum, and only occasionally stopped by whoever was on playground duty that day.

Lynda Sharpe:

I can remember Mr Nicholas, used to teach us History I think.  He developed some illness that meant he had to use a walking stick.  However, he used that stick as a means of abusing a lot of our class if we a) got any questions wrong or b) answered him back.  I can remember him walking round the class lashing out with the stick if we did not do as he said.  On the other side of the coin though, do you remember the hell we gave Mr Robinson (RI Teacher) when we used to load up with ‘sugar pip’ sweets to aim at him when he was taking a lesson?

Buddy DeAngelis:

Robinson had congenital spit disease!! He punctuated his words by ejecting spittle in all directions. His classes were always notable by the ring of empty seats around him at the front. I was/am an atheist and missed the RI till 5th form but in the sixth form he ran classes on world religions, which I attended and have to admit were very interesting. If you could ignore the steady stream of liquid and his other idiosyncrasies (ducking at the whistle of an approaching fruit sweet) he was quite an interesting lecturer. It's sad that so many good teachers are lost because of their physical appearance or mannerisms. We kids were very cruel!

Buddy DeAngelis:

Gladys used to hate everything we did except singing. She used to terrify everyone. I remember when we used to take it in turns to sneak to the shop (was it called Charlie's?) to get jubblies and woe betide you if she was looking out the window and caught you. She used to rap on the window and you'd be shaking in your boots!!!

Don Grunbaum:

I remember playing cards for buttons, only the buttons were the ones on your clothes, and we played against the girls. One incident that comes to mind was when Ann Boardman had lost sufficiently to have all the buttons on her blouse undone, and Ding-dong came in, so all the cards went into our laps. She said “Ann Boardman, if you stood up now, what you are playing with would fall on the floor.” Truth be told that if Ann had stood up the falling items would not have just been the cards!

David Lake:

Valerie, you are correct we did meet. It was about 1972. I did work for 3M at the time and also lived in Wickford. One of the jobs I did at 3M was to take over from Roy Castleton. A "G" lad I believe.

Eric Churchyard:

I’ve been reading the mail on Bus routes with increasing interest Does anyone remember Russel Owen - He and I used to regularly go on Twin Rover Tickets to Bus Spot all over London. - Became quite expert on the infrastructure of London Transport. How Boring! Russel if I remember correctly was a ‘difficult’ pupil and was ‘removed’ from the school cc 1963. Anyway, I have been raiding the loft and have found old bus passes issued by London Transport via Tom Hood.

Valerie Waters:

Yes I think I remember Russel Owen. I think he lived in Redbridge. In the first year, he and others boys, used to stand up at the back of the class to look down the low-necked blouses of Miss Perchick when she bent over and she seemed to do that all the time. Russel lost his place at Tom Hood in the third year. He had been warned, but did no work and basically was a disruptive influence. Dave, you have forgotten Geoff Goodyear who also came at 13. He used to sit next to Bob Chaplin in 5A at the back on the left with those 'Rockers', greasy motorbike blokes Stubbs etc. I went out with Geoff just as we were leaving school. Got ‘together’ at the end of term visit to Windsor we kept in contact for some years. When I was eighteen, we went to ballroom dancing classes in Walthamstow.

Ray Crowther:

I do remember frequently visiting a record shop in Leytonstone High Road (Taylors). Three singles at 6s 8d each used to come to a nice round £1.

Lin Reed:

All this conversation of buses reminded me of the fun we used to have in the summer when we used to get sent on the bus to Ashton Playing fields for games.  I can't remember whose bright idea it was, but at one stage all those of us on the top deck would rush from one side of the bus to the other as it went round a bend in the hopes that the bus would go round on two wheels (seemed like a good idea at the time).  I do remember us all getting moaned at by a teacher, but the details have vanished with time.  Does anyone else remember this with some more details?

On the topic of teachers, I do remember that Miss Kerrison and the other DS teacher (can't remember the name - she had dark hair) used to follow Mr Nicholas down the road to the bus stop giggling like a pair of 14 year olds. At the great age of 12 I remember thinking that they were pathetic, but then I didn't particularly like them or their subject which may have coloured my judgement!

Does anyone remember the English Literature teacher we had in either the 4th year?  She was youngish and had dark hair, and made the long poems seem much more interesting by reading them in different accents?  And speaking of

English Literature, does anyone else remember sitting in Miss Kavanagh's Art room reading selected passages from Lady Chatterley's Lover, thoughtfully provided by Pat Perry?  It was usually a lunchtime activity!

David Lake:

I remember the Ashton bus very well. It was one of the things I was good at. The top deck got quite good timing the lunge to the other side of the bus for maximum effect.

Downstairs was Alan Gray, I think; he had a device to measure the angle of the dangle.

We were all usually knackered by the time it came to actually "do games."

Quite frightening now, especially considering the state of the bus.

Don Grunbaum:

Ah, the blue and yellow double deckers? No I don't remember them at  all :-) It was the bends on Lakehouse Road that were the scene of the attempts. God knows what would have happened had we succeeded.

Every time I pass the playing fields (or what's left of them) alongside the M11 I remember going there, and trying to avoid playing sport of any kind.

The english teacher you are referring to is, I think, Janice Brooks. I got on very well with her, and still have a dictionary she gave me as a prize. I don't think her face fitted and she left after only a year.

The only thing I remember about Kate Kavanagh's room is spending most lessons doing lines as I hadn't done my art homework.

Valerie Waters:

Does anybody remember the system devised by Mr Symons for taking the register for our class, though I don't remember which year it was. Each morning, we all had to call out the number against our name in order but in different languages, Swahili being one of them. This inevitably resulted in us always being late for assembly. He was eventually ‘spoken to’ by Miss Cole.

Ray Crowther:

Who still has copies of their school reports? Just dug mine out and some interesting facts.

1st Year - Form I.3 - Form mistress: E L Reid

Headmaster comments: “His place at this school will be withdrawn if this unsatisfactory set of results is repeated.”

2nd Year - Form II.1.S - Form master: I J Simon

3rd Year - Form III.1.G -Form master: D Gregory

4th Year - Form IV.G - Form master: D Smithers

5th Year - Form V.G - Form master: J H Flowerdew

6th Form - Form master: D R Williams

Headmaster: 1st year to Upper Sixth was P Claydon, then in last term G E Hackman.

Don Grunbaum:

I have got the following information from the London Transport Museum.

Route 10: Abridge to Leytonstone (Green Man) and Woodford Bridge to Victoria (Monday to Saturday- ran in two sections) Abridge to London Bridge Station (Sunday) via Chigwell, Woodford Bridge, Wanstead, Leytonstone, Stratford, Bow, Mile End, Whitechapel, Aldgate, London Bridge, Lambeth Road, Lambeth Bridge.

Route 26: Aldgate to Leyton (Baker's Arms)- Daily, via Whipps Cross, Leytonstone, Stratford, Bow, Mile End, Whitechapel.

Route 32: Victoria Station to Wanstead Station (Monday to Friday - not evenings) via Hyde Park Corner, Bond Street, Oxford Street, Holborn, Bank, Aldgate, Whitechapel, Mile End, Bow, Stratford, Leytonstone.

Then on the 18th November 1964 all these routes changed as follows:

Route 10 became Abridge to Aldgate on Sunday; Woodford Bridge to Victoria on Monday to Saturday with school day journeys working through from Chigwell.

Route 26 was extended daily from Leyton (Baker's Arms) to Leyton (Gloucester Road)

Route 32 was withdrawn.

So Dave Lake was right about the 10 going to Woodford.

Anoraks now to be removed!

Eric Churchyard:

Do I also remember correctly about Crow's? antics in TD - when a guy by the name of Alan Gray took a photo of the ‘object’ in question?

Valerie Waters, Don Grunbaum, David Johnson and Eric Churchyard had a mini reunion at Tom Hood on December 14, 2001.

Don Grunbaum:

Four of us, Valerie Waters, Eric Churchyard, David Johnson and myself, went to Tom Hood yesterday (Friday 14th) and spent 3 hours wandering around the old school and talking to Del Craske, one of the assistant headteachers.

Most of the original building is still as we remember it, especially the ground and first floors. The top floor has been remodelled inside, particularly on the boys' playground side, where the typing rooms used to be. That is now the library. The classrooms now have carpet, but the corridors still have the wood block floors.

Other than the staff room, none of the “specialist” rooms are still used for what we knew. The old needlework room is now full of Apple Macs, for example.

The hall is very much as we knew it, but the hall foyer is now the kitchen with a new dining hall alongside where there used to be houses. This block also has science labs and toilets. The boys’ toilet was disgusting! The hall is much as we remembered, and Eric took the opportunity to play the grand piano, which is still there but sadly in need of some TLC. Eric also brought along a digital camera and will be posting the photos on the yahoo group site for your enjoyment.

The girls’ playground no longer exists as such, as that side of the school is where most of the development has taken place with awful late 60s and early 70s buildings that are falling apart in contrast with 'our' bit. We didn't go around the new parts.

The playground on the boys’ side has been extended around the hall so the bike racks are long gone, as is the caretaker's house where Jack Roper used to live. The peculiar game of squash that used to be played is no longer possible, but football played with a tennis ball has survived, with bags and jackets traditionally forming the goals. No water fights as the drinking fountain has been removed. Some of the graffiti from our time survives, but I couldn't find my own. The children are very much like we were except for their skin colour and the languages that they speak. They were polite and slightly curious. They had a lot more freedom than we had in our day.

The old woodwork and metalwork rooms are now used for drama. The outside boys' toilets are bricked up and the wooden screen outside the entrance has gone, but the site of the squash-box survives. Nobody was playing High Jimmy Knacker.

Del Craske sat and chatted with us for about half an hour or so. As he's been there since the early seventies he knew some of our teachers. He's still in touch with Ivor Nicholas and is going to pass our regards on to him.

David had to leave after about an hour of the visit, but Eric, Valerie and I finished the day at Tesco’s near the Green Man (via Eton Manor due to my mis-directions!) talking for about 2 hours over a drink and snack.

Tom Hood 1959-1966 by Don Grunbaum

My eldest sister (Roberta known as Bobby) was in the 5th form when I started in 1959. The first thing I remember is the meeting where I went with my mother and my brother (Bill) who was also starting at the school, having passed his 13+ at the same time that I passed the 11+. I only remember 2 other pupils from my primary school going to Tom Hood; Valerie Waters (an old flame!) and Les Long (last seen working at Kelvin Hughes in Hainault).
I saw Gladys Cole on the stage in the hall and was horrified. My mother told me who she was. After being told all about the school (I don't remember anything that was said) we were measured for our uniforms. They were to come from Harrods who were the school’s official outfitters. Must have been Gladys’ idea. No other school in East London would have dreamt of using them. In due course the Harrods van delivered them uniforms to our home on the council estate at Hainault. That would cause a stir these days!
We travelled to school by tube, then bus (10, 26 or 32) down Leytonstone High Road. The pass went to Harrow Green, but we usually got off the stop before and went down Beachcroft Road.
My first form teacher was Miss Read, who taught needlework to the girls. We were in the needlework room (Room 26?) and had lockers (which didn’t lock) at the back of the room, because the room had tables rather than desks.
We had outside toilets that were used mainly for smoking and playing 3 card brag. Woe betide anyone who used the WCs – only in an emergency!
Other teachers were:  Mr Johnson (Woodwork); Mr (Little Bill) Williams (Metalwork); Mr (Harry) Windus (Technical Drawing); Sam (Mole) Morton and Mr (Badger) Thomas (Maths); Miss Purchick - sexy young lady who taught maths. We used to ask for help so that we could peer down her top!; Mr (Fluff) Flowerdew (Deputy Headmaster and French) used to hold meetings with the boys in the playground “gather round here a minute boys” was the rallying call;
Messrs Gregory and Smithers (Science); Mr (Jim) Kennedy (Maths); Mr Curry (P.E.); Mr Brewster (German) – once told our class to go to hell!; Mrs (Ding Dong) Bell (Geography); Miss (Janice) Brooks (English) – only there for one year and I still have the dictionary she gave me; Mr Aldsworth (Physics); Mr Morby and Mr (Chunky) Davies (English); Mr (Big Bill the Commie) Williams and Mr Ivor Nicholas (History); Messrs Stephens and (Spitting Image) Robinson (R.I.). I only remember Mr Stephens after reading my old school reports (yes, I've still got them!); Miss (Kate) Kavanagh (Art) – I remember spending most art lessons doing lines as I hadn’t done my art homework – I detested the subject!; “Hank” – I can’t remember his real name – who tried and failed to teach geography. He wore a blazer with a crest and the motto was translated by us as “Dum Diddle My Spider”. When he was on playground duty chair rubbers were thrown at him; I can’t remember the name of the young lady teacher we had for French in the first year – was it something like Miss Brannigan?
Academically, I don’t think it was too bad a school and I still find that what I learnt there is useful to me, especially maths and engineering drawing. I managed 6 good O-levels and stayed on to do 4 A-levels – I ended up with 2 E grades in Engineering Drawing and combined maths (having taken separate papers!). Failed physics as I hadn’t done very much work. I had worked hard on my relationship with Janet Bickmore in the 5th form. That lasted the whole of our last year but in the November after we left we broke up – actually she dumped me to use the current phraseology.
Who remembers me? Bob “Buddy” DeAngelis - Roger "Grout" Carpenter (paired up with Pauline Jones) - Henry Stephen "Spud" Tate (paired up with Madeleine Prosho; probably the first head boy not to get any A levels)
Ann Boardman, Terry Tremlett (lived in Seven Kings over the undertakers that his father ran!)
Susan Taylor, Christine Bedingham (who proved girls with glasses could be sexy!) Jean Pell (hit me in the eye with a marzipan sweet she'd made in cookery) Keith Edgeley (who I think runs a post office near Huntingdon), Jeffrey Ekins, Pete Higgins, Stan Coe (who I believe joined the army), Derek Corps and Fred Dawson.

1966 - The terrible trio by Bob DeAngelis

The 60's were a time of change all right. I moved into the world of senior school and trying to make a place in the world. I nearly made it as a professional gambler. My memories are much as Don Greenbaums. (you don't use your nickname I see Don..?=0)

I for my sins was one of the terrible trio remembered by Don. I am “Buddy” DeAngelis!! The nick came from my first day at school when I was hung on the railings and told to sing a song or get a good kicking. Ever being one to recognise a good deal when I saw one I chirped out “That'll be the day” by Buddy Holly. The name stuck and is still used by my friends from the East end.
They were good days as I recall and led to an even better life. I came away from the school with a sackful of qualifications that I never really deserved and a grounding in life that has stood me in good stead till now. Dealing with Gladys taught me lasting lessons in how to handle authority.
I owe much to my 6th form master “Big Bill” Williams who taught me that history was about events and people rather than dates and certainties and never forgave me for not taking history A level. His enthusiasm for history gave me a hobby that I have cherished ever since.
“Sam”Morton. A wonderful man who showed me how to move numbers and manipulate and “see” them in my head. It was him “as taught me” that maths was just as easy and more profitable than shuffling cards and sometimes just as much fun.
I still remember many of that gang I schooled with and often wonder where they are now, which is why I guess I am here now. Among the notable names are “Spud” and “Grout” mentioned by Don. We three were inseparable. Amazing how such friendships are lost out in the real world. Other names were Keith Woods, Robbie Kelleher, Dave Carter, Pete Higgins, Mickey Titmus. Oh yes and those gorgeous girls : Val Waters, Jenny Bew, Pam, Lynn, Sue, Vicky, Madeleine. What a gorgeous crew. Where are they now?
A happy days!!!

1961 - Miss Cole by Christine Folwell

She used to scare even the “wildest” of pupils. Everyone could read music after a short time in her class. One couldn't choose not to be in the school choir, if she had decided you were suited!! Practice was in the lunch break; she always had a cup of coffee, and a bar of Milk Tray, which she ate walking up and down the aisles of the classroom.
She always wore suits, her black, wispy hair was always escaping from her chignon, and her one “armed” glasses were always crooked or falling off when she directed our singing!

1961 - Mr Robinson by Christine Folwell

Alias Juicy Robinson!!! The R.I. teacher who had a problem with his teeth; the front row always got wet!!

1966 - Gladys Cole by Don Grunbaum

Would have looked more at home at Hogwarts with a pointed hat.
Ruled with a rod of iron. Made one of the boys carry her bag if she met them coming in. Also made sure that they wore their caps. Needless to say we tried to avoid her if at all possible.

1966 - Mr “Mole” Morton by Don Grunbaum

Taught me maths that lasts to this day. Who can forget “congruence rock”? Lovely man who also played the piano very well. As he played in assembly I'm certain that he wasn't Jewish!

1966 – “Ding Dong” Bell by Don Grunbaum

Evil Geography teacher, who would not have put me in for O level except that I did so well in the mocks. Once sent me out of the room for being facetious - I had never heard the word before. Also wouldn't let you take your blazer off if you were wearing braces!

1966 - Harry Windus by Don Grunbaum

Taught me Technical/Engineering drawing that still helps me. Loved puns! Lived in Woodford Bridge. Sadly he died not long after we left.

1966 - Mr Robinson by Don Grunbaum

Known as The Spitting Image, because of his lack of saliva control, and his habit of saying “You See” between every phrase. Taught (or tried to teach) R.I. as we knew it then.

1966 – “Big Bill” Williams by Bob DeAngelis

A true giant among men. Inspired fear with the whiplash sarcasm that smashed young minds into infinite shame. He was my form master in the sixth form and ingrained in me a sense and understanding of history that has stayed with me all my days. A veritable inspiration. He also helped to keep me on the straight and narrow in my wilder days and introduced me to rugby as a more acceptable form of using up that angry energy.

1966 - Gladys Cole by Bob DeAngelis

The heart and drive of the school. She was as terrible and relentless as a winter storm and as stubborn as a mule. She was also extremely proud of the school and its pupils. My life is also scarred by the memory of that fateful day when she asked me what could possibly be more satisfying then really great classical music and I shakingly replied really great sex. I learned a great deal about raw anger that day.

1966 – “Mole” Morton by Bob DeAngelis

Ah Sam, I owe him so much. He was totally incapable of controlling a class of kids but had an almost psychic power that made mindless imbeciles understand and enjoy the world of mathematics. Sam gave me a joy of numbers that have stood me in good stead and helped me achieve the qualifications that led to the good life I enjoy today!

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