by Elinor (Barley) Brown
Nick Purdue or as we called him in class, "Mr. Purdue"... taught typing and
shorthand to many of us in the Commercial Course. Often, he entered the classroom
wearing a cream-coloured cable knit sweater and navy blue trousers, looking really sharp.
Mr. Purdue very rarely sat at the desk. He usually pulled his chair out to the front of the class,
then sat down straddling the chair with the back of it facing us or occasionally, he would end up
sitting on the corner of the desk to get our attention. Sometimes when we had discussions on
office procedures, he would give us advice, reinforcing it with comments like, "you are just as
good as the next person." I certainly remembered that when I applied for my first job.
Mr. Purdue continually encouraged us to do our best whether it was typing or shorthand.
Mr. Purdue was a very patient, kind and understanding teacher. In fact, the only time I ever
heard him even raise his voice, was when he wanted us to type faster (he had to yell over the
old Underwood typewriters)... or when he had a boys' class. I guess he wasn't as
gentle with the boys as he was with the girls because we often heard him shouting orders in the
Boys' Gym and out on the football field. (Some of you guys will remember that, I'm sure.)
I recall an occasion where I was to be rewarded for some accomplishment with the only
problem being, that it has been 57 years since it happened and I can't quite remember
exactly what I had done to deserve it... although, it may have been for selling a certain
number of Macleans magazine subscriptions which was a fund-raiser for the school every year.
Anyway, my prize was to attend a Varsity football game and when the day arrived, I was
accompanied by, guess who... ??? ... Nick Purdue and Ross Sturgess!
After we arrived at the stadium and got settled in our seats, I found myself very well protected...
with Mr.Sturgess on my left and Mr. Purdue on my right.
I tried to not let on that I knew absolutely nothing about football, so I jumped up and cheered
every time they did. The real baffling part of the whole deal was when the two of them started
talking about a "split-T formation". I didn't have a clue what it was and I still don't, to this day.
Now, I can tell you about a "split-P" as in split pea soup, but I sure don't know what a "split T" is,
and while I don't really remember why I won that prize, it had to have been one of the most
memorable events of my high school years.
Mr. Purdue... Thanks for taking me to the football game, ... and ... for introducing
me to a "split T"... and Nick, ... thank you for being a great teacher.