An unforgettable snowstorm
With freezing temperatures and snowfall being experienced throughout the Karoo these past two days, we thought we’d share this #throwback
to October of 1953 when a snowstorm that hit Graaff-Reinet resulted in the teachers of Union High School being held hostage in the staff room by the learners.
Well, sort of held hostage…
As told by the late Mr Puggy Munnik in the book, “𝘏𝘦𝘳𝘣𝘺 𝘈𝘳𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘵 (1909 – 1984) 𝘈 𝘊𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘯𝘪𝘢𝘭 𝘛𝘳𝘪𝘣𝘶𝘵𝘦’:
“On October 21, 1953, believe it or not, we had a heavy fall of snow in Graaff-Reinet.
We awoke that morning to an eerie silence and when I looked out the window I was amazed to see snowflakes falling.
I made my way to school through the falling snow and found a layer of it lying a good few inches deep in the quad.
Inevitably, the seniors who were allowed in the quad were pelting one another with snowballs. In the staff room, Lex Bremner had made a lovely, roaring fire and we closed the door to keep the warmth inside.
When the bell rang for classes to begin, we opened the door to exit the room, only to be greeted with a volley of snowballs from the pupils outside.
We hastily closed the doors. Repeated attempts on our part to get to our classrooms were met with the same response: a barrage of snowballs – 20 to 30 at a time – which forced us to close the door again and again.
Triumphant roars of laughter outside greeted every victory. We began to realize that with all the excitement of the snow we could not expect the pupils to concentrate on anything we might teach them in class.
We were quite happy then to enjoy the warmth of our fire.
Eventually, Herby Arnott arranged a truce and informed the pupils that there would be no formal classes that day and that they would be allowed to go home around about mid-morning. The bell was duly rung for school to close an hour or two later.”
• This story is an extract from the book ‘𝘏𝘦𝘳𝘣𝘺 𝘈𝘳𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘵 (1909 – 1984) 𝘈 𝘊𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘯𝘪𝘢𝘭 𝘛𝘳𝘪𝘣𝘶𝘵𝘦’ written by Mr Oskar Prozesky in 2009 – the centenary year of the birth of Mr Arnott who served as headmaster of Union High School from 1947 to 1968. Copies of this book can be obtained from Union High School (049 891 0262).