Friday, January 11, 2008

My Father


When I go back to Richmond or Nelson, I’m not Kurt Friedrich Gänzl internationally famed, multi-award-winning author and blablabla…

I’m Dr Gallas’s son. Dr Fred Gallas, longtime headmaster of Waimea College, Richmond, and remembered with enormous respect (and occasionally just a little twinge of fear) by the many, many thousands of local boys and girls who attended the school during his long period at its head.
Even this week, leaning over the bars of the horse-yards at the racecourse … ‘YOU are Dr Gallas’s son…?!’
I sure am. And couldn’t be prouder of it.

This year was of course Waimea College’s fiftieth birthday, and the odd bit of uninformed twaddle found its way into print (as these things do) for the occasion. I could have reacted, but I didn’t bother.

If only those people knew the truth. And (chuckle) if only those thousands of boys and girls could have looked into the box of photos my mother gave me yesterday, and seen their benignly stern ‘Victorian’ headmaster when he was in his teens and early twenties.

Mountaineer, international skier, gymnast, health and fitness teacher, Ph D (and half a dozen other sets of letters) … and heck, how come I never inherited those good looks, not to mention that elevation….!

My wonderful father. God bless him.


kevin said...

as a student I shall never forget following him down the mountain at lake rotoiti in winter on a shool exscursion, bestowing his enthusiam on us with good humour but alas feeling his wrath on my azz with cane in his office another time , he had our respect...yes

Rick Boyd said...

Doctor Gallas -- now there's a subject. Who could ever forget Doc (or Feg, as he was also known, from his initials)? Attending the Waimea College 50th anniversary and talking to a number of former students and a couple of staff members, it is clear there were two Docs.

Firstly, the disciplinarian we all knew and feared at school. Ruthless, humourless, all sorts of other 'lesses', a diminutive figure who stalked around the school in his beige suit and panama hat carrying out the vital task of ensuring that schoolboys had their socks pulled up and caps on their heads. The Dictator For Life who refused to let students publish a school newspaper. Many a bottom felt the wrath of his expertly wielded cane.

Then there was the other Doc. The good-humoured, off-duty Doc who appeared on trips to Lake Rotoiti, who forged up the flanks of Mt Christie like a small, teutonic Hillary and who stripped off to his string vest without a second thought if the going got a bit warm.

What fascinating character he was.

You must be understanding, Kurt, if the odd bit on nonsense finds its way into print on such a subject. He was a very influential figure in the education of many young New Zealanders and teenagers will be teenagers.

I also remember receiving a book in the annual prizegiving, presented by your mother. It was The Lord of the Rings by Tolkein, and I remember her saying to me that her son lived near him in the UK -- I wonder of that was you?


I just found these comments, a year later .. and haven't the computer skills to get back to you directly dammit..

Guys, you amaze me! Surely Dad never wielded a cane. Or very very rarely. He was so against it, and Jim Lewis was given the job of deputising..

And Teutonic?!!!! Surely not. He spoke cleaner English than any of my teachers ..

Well, we all see things differently, I guess. And I, obviously, from a different point of view :-)