On the first day of school 65 years ago, retired Vernon mechanic Pat Marzoff was like some of the other kids in his Grade 1 class at Coldstream Elementary School, taught by Mrs. Hartley.
He was accompanied into the class by his mom.
Even though he and his family lived right across from the school on Kalamalka Road, Marzoff’s mom crossed the road with her son over to the school on his first day and stayed in the classroom, welcomed by Mrs. Hartley.
Students were in the front. Moms were in the back.
For a while.
“Most of the moms that were there would sneak out the door,” laughed Marzoff, now 72, who said the routine carried on for most of the first week of school.
He shared his black and white class picture with the Morning Star.
Mrs. Hartley is front and centre in the first row, bookended by Johnny Postill (pictured left) and Bob Weatherill.
Marzoff is in the back row, at left. His good friend Chuck Johnson is below him in the second row. Standing beside Marzoff are boys named Dennis and a Chinese student he called Moonie. He struggled to remember the first name but the last name was Moon, and Marzoff said his mother smuggled Moonie from China in a suitcase and jumped ship when the boat docked in Canada.
Leo Roberts, said Marzoff, is fourth from the left in the top row. A boy named Urban is fourth from right, followed by Donnie Quirk, a boy Marzoff can’t remember, and Gordie Nickoli. In front of Gordie is the only girl that Marzoff recalls, Sharon Shaw.
There are 18 students in the photo: 11 boys and seven girls.
Marzoff only went to school through Grade 8. He started but never finished Grade 9. Times were tough, his family was poor, so Marzoff left school and got a job at Sigalet Brothers, what is now Vernon Dodge Jeep, to help out. He had his mechanic’s licence by the time he was 18.
He worked as a mechanic for Sigalet/Vernon Dodge his entire career, retiring at age 50 after 36 years.
He lives with his wife in the BX and he loves to take his boat out and go fishing.
Despite leaving school early, Marzoff enjoyed his time at Coldstream Elementary School.
“Oh, for sure,” he said. “Made lots of friends. I have very fond memories. Lots of good times.”
Classes in the Vernon and North Okanagan-Shuswap school districts start today, Thursday, Sept. 10.