08 June 2010

Memories of John St John

Thanks are due to the Old Symondians' Association magazine where this article appeared in autumn 2009. It had first appeared in the Peter Symonds' School Magazine.
The date of first publication is unknown but it was after 1964

“Mr J L St John

In this and the preceding issue, we have outlined the careers of several masters who have served the School for exceptionally long periods. None of them, however, has touched the life of the School in more diverse ways than the career of John St John.
“Saint” in the Common Room, “Sandy” to the boys, he joined the School from Weymouth in 1929, after his education at Taunton’s School and University College, Southampton, and a brief sojourn in a Midlands school.
He taught Chemistry and General Science with efficiency and a touch of humour. It is when we remember the inadequate facilities which existed and the depressing laboratories in which most of his career was spent that many of us will feel grateful for his efforts; just as many Old Symondians will recall, not without affection, the Freeman and St John Chemistry textbook, which was also successful in many places outside the School.
“Saint” has played many games gracefully and successfully. In his early years at the School he played hockey for Chandler’s Ford and cricket for Stanmore, but it already seems a long time since he became a leading member of a local bowling club and a regular winner of the OSA bowls championship. It was, however, his great interest in swimming in the School which will be remembered by many Old Symondians. He was in charge of swimming and life-saving activities for a number of years, and thereafter was a regular supporter of the swimming team at home and away fixtures.
Before 1939 he organised a number of visits of School parties to the Continent and was also in the Officer’s Training Corps, as it was then called. During the war he served in the Special Constabulary and organised agricultural camps at which boys of the School helped on the land.
Mr and Mrs St John took boys as boarder in their house in Cheriton Road before they moved to Kelso House in 1947 and where they remained until 1964. It would be idle to attempt to assess what influence they have had n the several hundred boys to whom they stood in loco parentum, but few could have lived with them without remembering many kindnesses and quiet advice and without cultivating a bit more concern for courtesy, personal appearance and tidiness. Even the Kelso House hurdle for new boys presented - in the event – little terror. The song that had to be sung at the Christmas party was soon taken up by so many other voices, and the spread of food was more than mere compensation. Many members of the School Staff, too, have reason to be grateful for the hospitality and friendship which Kelso House offered. “

This was transcribed on Tuesday 8th June 2010 by Jim Wishart, co-manager with Doug Clews and Chris Cooper.

1 comment:

  1. More kudos for your efforts, Jim!

    Strange how different masters loom large in our memories. I have very little image of St John. Being a day boy is part of the reason.

    I'd forgotten - if I ever knew - that Freeman and St John had written a chemistry book! I've only found one reference to it on the Web. It's rather tantalizing. There's an article called " A Field Review of 'O'-level Chemistry Textbooks — 2. Errors and Omissions" dating from 1961, in a journal called "Education and Training". Seems that the F&SJ book is one of the titles reviewed. Unfortunately the article is behind a paywall so I'm not going to be accessing it. I'd have liked to know what sort of errors and omissions are in the book!


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