Jack Waters recalls riding his bike up and down the ramps of the old Tillicum drive-in theatre with his friends like it was yesterday.
It was the 1950s, and they’d cruise through the drive-in grounds during the day (now the parking lot and Save-On-Foods portion of Tillicum Shopping Centre) and turn the volume up on every speaker. By evening, the friends would sit on the back porch of the Waters family home at 3144 Albina St. They could see directly down the hill to the drive-in, and the sound would bounce off the cement and up the hill to their house.
“It was stereophonic,” Waters said. “There were none of the buildings between Albina and the drive-in that are here now, and we were up higher than the 10-foot-fence [that kept passersby from peeking in].”
His family’s Albina house was also directly across the street from Tillicum School (now Tillicum elementary school), which he attended from 1944 to 1953. At 77 years old, Waters is happy to be a part of the school’s alumni team helping to organize its 100th anniversary on June 3.
“I was here until Grade 8,” he said. “I can recall a lot, I remember the construction of the school’s addition in 1947, including the library.”
The library is significant for the school’s 100th as it will host a stained-glass mural in each of its 11 window frames. Teacher Doug Wilson has led the mural project, with each of the acrylic panels dedicated to a decade from the past 100 years, and one to the region’s First Nations.
“It’s been a full school project with individual classrooms taking on each of the decades,” said Tillicum principle Lori Burley.
The classes will be on hand to demonstrate what they’ve learned with songs, poems and other exhibitions during the open house portion of the 100th celebrations.
To the surprise of Grade 1 student Ben Wilson, who is researching the 1970s with Mrs. Dagg’s class, the first Star Wars movie (which his dad loves) actually appeared in 1977. Ben’s classmate Scarlett Beil will report on a 1970s discovery of her own, the pattern-drawing Spirograph home kit.
Older students took the research to the next level, including Grade 5s Aidan Riley, Harsimar Dahah and Christina Enns, who focused on the 1930s.
Riley is bringing an in-depth look at the Great Depression in Canada, Dahah the accidental creation of the chocolate chip cookie (“which turned out great”), and Enns another accidental discovery of the ‘30s, Play-Doh, “which was first made as a wallpaper cleaner.”
“We’ll have our work on posters in the classroom for everyone to see,” Riley said.
The June 3 celebration starts at 3:30 p.m. with a formal welcome and speeches, from 3:30 to 4 p.m., (weather permitting, it will be outside on the Orillia Street side of the school, otherwise in the gym).
The next hour will be the open-house format with self-guided tours of the school. Inside will be a program of performances by students in the gym at 5 p.m. Outside, a group of teachers will run old-fashioned games, activities and a picnic in the schoolyard.
Food trucks will be on-site throughout the afternoon and evening. Cake and refreshments will be served from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Waters will be there too, as an expert resource on the school’s history, and knows of quite a few alumni planning to attend.
Waters recalls using a boys’ entrance when he arrived each morning at the west end of the building, separate from the girls at the east end.
“Classes started with the Lord’s prayer and hand inspection to make sure they were clean, and recess was in the basement during the winter.”
Waters can also recall his teachers’ names from Grade 1 through 8, Ms. Everest, Ms. Goodwin, Ms. Muirhead (Grades 3-4), Mr. John White (Grades 5-6), Mr. Ken Yard and Mr. White again, and the two principals were Mr. Love, replaced by Mr. Kitely.
Without a budget for the event, the organizing group has relied 100 per cent on volunteers, donations and student fundraising efforts to make it happen.
Tillicum has created a Library Legacy fund and is now campaigning to better “provide a wide range of educational, social and cultural experiences,” at canadahelps.org/dn/26444.
Handicapped parking is available at Tillicum, with additional parking at Colquitz middle school on 505 Dumeresq St., and a park-and-ride shuttle service running from the SD61 main office at 556 Boleskine Rd.