Howzat! Teacher and pupil’s enduring relationship

Hugh Cunningham with former pupil Arthur Hadden.

Some boys might not relish the thought of their ever-vigilant teacher living around the corner from them. This is not the case with Arthur Hadden, however, whose cricket master Hugh Cunningham not only lives nearby, but moves in the same social circle.

But then, perhaps Arthur does not constantly feel the need to pull up his socks because he is 77 and Hugh turned 92 in January.

In the 1950s, Arthur was a pupil at Jeppe High School for Boys and Hugh was a teacher. Those were the days when red trams trundled on their tracks down the middle of the Kensington roads, smart shops such as Ansteys, John Orr’s and Stuttafords did brisk trade and school masters wore spiffy suits.

And an integral part of it all was Jeppe High, Johannesburg’s oldest public school, having been established in 1890.

Arthur had been living at Rand Aid’s Inyoni Creek retirement village for some time when he heard Hugh would be moving in and was quick to make him feel welcome by issuing a dinner invitation.

That is the way of Inyoni Creek. It has a strong sense of community. “My wife Pam and I have never lived better,” says Arthur. “The support shown to fellow residents is amazing. We are like one big family.”

There was not that much to catch up on over dinner, though, because the two had rubbed shoulders over the years at Jeppe Old Boys gatherings. Hugh once served as secretary at Old Boys and when he resigned, Arthur filled his shoes.

Arthur remembers Hugh as a very precise teacher, while Hugh remembers a polite, quiet boy.

At a recent Old Boys breakfast, 11 of the 40 people present remembered Hugh teaching them back in the day. He initially spent 11 years at the school, before moving to Dawnview school in Germiston. When he retired, he found sitting at home was not for him and so he returned to Jeppe. During his two stints at the schools, he taught Latin, junior history and later, after obtaining a further qualification, matric maths.

Trim, ramrod-straight and still an imposing figure, Hugh was the organist at the Turffontein Congregation Church for most of his adult life – bar an interruption imposed by World War II. He played his last note in the church two years ago. However, Hugh remains active, playing Scrabble, enjoying the village quiz evenings and he is currently being taught Bridge by another 90-something-year-old resident of Inyoni Creek.

The U13 team with Hugh Cunningham standing on the left and Arthur Hadden seated in the front row, third from left.

A 1957 Jeppe High School for Boys team with Hugh Cunningham on the left and Arthur Hadden seated in the middle row, on the far left.



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