Stokenham School Poem for 50 years


From : Jan Clarke

The Poem 

To mark fifty years of the AONB
we went back to school on a mission to see
Just how much the class of two thousand and ten
Really knew or could guess about life way back then
So with SATS finally over and term’s end in sight
There was much going on and our timing was tight   
But the welcome was warm and Year 6, full of beans,
Took on various tasks and found “history” means
Things that happened round here to the people and places
That we see everyday, or can find in the traces
Of different events, interests, commonplace things,
Not just battles and dates, politicians and Kings.

We looked at school life and compared then with now
The classroom, facilities, transport and how
With the new school unbuilt, children would have gone….where?
(So, the start of the Quiz, and to make it more fair
Sharing ideas in teams, sixty challenging questions
But with plenty of clues and some helpful suggestions)
Where – not Loddiswell, Charleton, Malborough or Hall-
sands, but Stokenham, Slapton, Huccombe or Prawle
Arriving by bus or by walking – so far –
Not dropped at the gate from the family car
And the heating back then, the old stove filled with coke
Not gas or oil-fired or with candles – some joke!

A fly’s eye view drawn of their favourite school lunch
They looked back to the sixties and portrayed their hunch
Of how set dinners then might have tasted or looked       
Forward into the future and just what may be cooked
Names of Sweeties and Lollies they could easily guess
Though the food sold in Wimpy Bars proved to be less
Familiar – perhaps pasties, fish and chips or lamb chops
So, howzabout questions on Top of the Pops
Pre-Beatles, pre-Stones, back to Cliff & to Elvis
Then the Twist, (not the Tango) with gyrating pelvis
Demonstrations ensued with a great deal of laughter
And some nifty moves, though the adults looked dafter!

Unfamiliar coins, even worse “LSD”
Just mystified many, so were there just three
Or seventy-five pence to make up a shilling?
And next, guessing prices, when some teams were willing
To speculate wildly, fifteen bob for the Dandy
Or a grand for a Roller? It might have been handy
If newly built houses really had cost one ton
The electronic age had still hardly begun,
Communication from boxes, just 4d a call
No mobiles, no i-pods, no Facebook but all
could identify systems then experimental
Cassettes, record players, but what’s “Radio Rental”?

Self portraits were drawn then we considered how
Both uniform and fashions were different from now
We looked at school photographs fifty years on
The hairstyles so odd, knitted pullovers gone
Then fifty years forward-just what might they wear?
We played consequences, each section with care
And attention to detail, but with scope for excess,
Was drawn and passed on, so a recycled dress
Was combined with a high-tech or edible necklace
With mind-reading hat or with footwear so reckless
Transformer high heels or cat’s paws, penguin flippers
Soft floating clouds, jet packs or armed slippers!

Retail therapy next, or just everyday shopping.
Local businesses pre-dated Tesco in dropping
Off milk, bread and groceries, also paraffin, coal
While outlets in villages played a far bigger role
And Kingsbridge provided a wide range of shops
They looked at the map and identified swaps
From cycles to health foods, from bouquets to phones
From fabric to photos, fruit and vegetables to loans.
Soon Superstores sprouted and Shopping Malls thrived
Car ownership doubled, the internet arrived
But within walking distance we’ve pills or a perm
Lobsters, asparagus, bespoke chocolates, lugworm ….

We looked at employment, identified changes
With transport improved and with such different ranges
Of skills and equipment that now are required
But with age-old traditions and ways still admired
Fisherman, farmer, hairdresser or vicar
Occupations still “local” though there may seem a quicker
Pace to our lives and a focus on rules
To promote Health and Safety in workplace & schools
Feedstuff and net size, online orders, new features
In hotels, pubs, classrooms and “updated” teachers
Goodbye to the lighthouse man, bobby and baker
But we’ve butchers and builders, school cooks and caretaker.

Fifty years backward and fifty years on,
With inventions and progress some tasks and chores gone
We’ve microwaves, freezers, dishwashers, clothes dryers
And gizmos and gadgets that work without wires
BBC or “Commercial” could then cause a fuss
Just compare with the choice that’s on-line or Sky Plus!
Child seats and airbags, “clunk click” on the roads
Fast food, oven chips, ready meals lighten loads
But packaging multiplies, waste ever mounting
And fuel stocks go down day by day, so we’re counting
On class 2010, with their zest and their fears
To bring humour & hope to the next FIFTY years!


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Stokenham School Poem for 50 years


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About the project

Stokenham Community History Group worked with the children in year 6 at Stokenham Area Primary School. The project led to this fantastic poem, made into a presentation, to recognise and celebrate 50 years of the South Devon AONB.

You can read the poem left, but to really appreciate it you have to see it as the presentation. Click through the images to see the whole thing or download a pdf of the piece above. 

The project was realised by Jan Clarke, Fran Ansell, David & Sandra Vosper and Clare Pawley with children and teachers from Stokenham Area Primary School.

New plans for 2011

We've just heard that Stokenham CHG are planning more for this year. They're borrowing digital sound recorders from the AONB offices* and using them to record children interviewing their grannies and more! Intergenerational community history in action. Watch this space for the result. 

*The AONB unit has equipment for community groups to borrow, purchased with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Interested in organisng a project in your parish? Have a look here: Take part

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