Learning from home during the 1938 Polio epidemic – An Old Old Boy Remembers.

Photo: Oldest Old Old Boys: John Haigh, Yichen Wang Xu, Warwick Rowe, Nash Noble, Colin Coker and Theodore (Teddy) Teasdale. Taken at the 2019 Old Old Boys Assembly at PAC.

Author: David Cornish, Executive Officer, Prince Alfred College Foundation.

Colin Coker, Born 1925. PAC 1938-1941.

Colin Coker was due to commence at PAC on 6 February 1938 but due to the polio epidemic impacting South Australia, the school year didn’t commence until six weeks later, on 21 March 1938.

Eighty-two years later, Colin recalls that class work was prepared and posted to the boys until school commenced. Students received learning materials, assignments and tests by mail, and were expected to complete their work and return it by post to the College for marking. In his first year, Colin was taught by Mr Spencer ‘Spenny’ Williams, Mr Clive ‘Big Bogger’ Davies and Mr W. Laurence ‘Little Bogger’ Davies MC. These names are familiar to older Old Reds for their service to the College.

Colin came to Princes from Glen Osmond Primary School and recalled that when school started, he and his primary school friend Jack Brown rode their bikes to the College and, as new boys, were accompanied by a local boy named Doug Provis who was a Prefect.  Colin remembered that Doug showed him and Jack where to park their bikes and then disappeared, leaving them to find their own way around a school, they’d never stepped foot in. Doug Provis was later a highly respected member of the College’s senior staff.

Upon leaving school Colin served in Royal Australian Navy during World War II in communications, including in New Guinea.  Colin is now 94 and half years of age and lives in retirement in Adelaide. Last year , he was one of the oldest three Old Old Boys at the Old Old Boys Assembly.

Thank you, Colin for sharing your story as the College adapts to changing circumstances.

David Cornish
Executive Officer
Prince Alfred College Foundation