Durban High School's matric class of 1947. Picture: Supplied
Durban High School's matric class of 1947. Picture: Supplied
NOW: Class of 1947 reunion this week at Durban High School. From back left: Mike Gierke,
Aubrey Bidgood, Mick Winn, Tony McClean, Stan Coffey. Front: Frank van Vloten,
Mervyn Robinson, Alex Taylor and Les Keats. Picture: Leon Lestrade/ANA Pictures
NOW: Class of 1947 reunion this week at Durban High School. From back left: Mike Gierke, Aubrey Bidgood, Mick Winn, Tony McClean, Stan Coffey. Front: Frank van Vloten, Mervyn Robinson, Alex Taylor and Les Keats. Picture: Leon Lestrade/ANA Pictures

DURBAN – Recalling memories of long ago, the matric class of 1947 at Durban High School gathered at the school this week to celebrate their 70th reunion.

And with such memories forming the starting point of the tapestry of each life, they had much to catch up on.

Mick Winn, who was the chairperson of the Comrades Association and has over 50 years of history with the marathon, was in deep discussion with Mike Gierke, who has run the Comrades 33 times, although he’s now more likely to be found on the bowling green.

Recalling his school days, Gierke said, “One of my highlights was watching our boarder prefect winning the inaugural Natal School’s quarter-mile in 1947.

Sitting with the pair was Aubrey Bidgood, who was captain of the cricket team, while Alex Taylor was also "sporty" in his school years, playing badminton, squash, bowls, soccer and cricket.

“I think the highlight of my school career was when I got 100% in a geometry test, I couldn’t believe it,” said Taylor.

Frank van Vloten was also keen on cricket, with his memorable moments being when he was part of the U17 cricket team. Having spent many years as an electronic engineer, Van Vloten said there had been huge changes in technology over the last half a century.

With fond memories of the boarding establishment, Les Keats said "midnight feasts" were his favourite memory, although “you got flogged if you didn’t get back into bed in time”.

Meanwhile, Mervyn Robinson had an altogether different memory of his high school years, which had nothing to do with his days at school.

“It was during the war years and I used to go down to my grandparents' place on North Beach. I had gone surfing and went over something. I thought it was a jellyfish, but it turned out to be an arm as a ship had been torpedoed,” said Robinson, who later started the Ladysmith Gazette and then the Ladysmith Stationers.

There was a lot of reminiscing over their shared years, including having to wear school uniform whenever out, while blazers had to remain buttoned and bashers on.

The guest speaker for the reunion was Stan Coffey, who matriculated in 1966 and was the former president of the DHS Old Boys' Club.

NOW: Class of 1947 reunion this week at Durban High School. From back left: Mike Gierke, Aubrey Bidgood, Mick Winn, Tony McClean, Stan Coffey. Front: Frank van Vloten, Mervyn Robinson, Alex Taylor and Les Keats. Picture: Leon Lestrade/ANA Pictures

Speaking to The Independent on Saturday, Coffey said: “It’s important to remember that six of their years at school were during the war years.

“One of their older peers, the head boy and captain of the rugby first XV in 1940, joined the air force after school and was shot down in Italy, some 18 months after matriculating.”

Coffey started the DHS Old Boys' running club 21 years ago and it now has 250 members who train every Wednesday evening.

● The Independent on Saturday appeals to readers who have old pictures from elsewhere in the province, as well as those of Durban, to send them to us. If any readers are featured in the old picture, we will do our best to recreate the scene again.

Readers sending pictures digitally can address them, with the relevant information, to [email protected] Pictures should be about 1MB.

If the pictures are in hard copy format, they can be posted to The Editor, Old Pictures, The Independent on Saturday, PO Box 47549, Greyville, 4023.

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