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Man saves 85-year-old Burnaby school yearbook from garbage dump

David Drayson found 1936 Burnaby North High School annual in pile of books and papers neighbour was throwing out.

A retired interior decorator recently rescued an 85-year-old piece of Burnaby school history headed for the garbage dump in Surrey.

David Drayson was driving in his Surrey neighbourhood when he came upon a man cleaning out a house.

The old furniture caught his eye, and he pulled over, he told the NOW.

Among the items being tossed into a big dumpster were stacks of books and papers, and Drayson asked if he could look through them before the man threw them away.

Tucked inside the piles was a 1936 Burnaby North High School yearbook.

“It’s a fluke thing,” Drayson said. “It would have gone to the tip and never been seen again. It was like throwing a piece of history away.”

He made off with a few rescued treasures and then got in touch with Burnaby North Secondary School principal Dave Rawnsley about donating the old yearbook.

“He couldn’t believe it. He was very appreciative,” Drayson said.

The small, softcover annual is about 24 centimetres by 16 centimetres and features ads, writing and eight black-and-white photos, including a group shot of the 26-student class of ’36, which graduated from the original Burnaby North building at 4375 Pandora Street that year.

Drayson was especially impressed by the message written by principal George B. Carpenter.

“The destiny of a bird is to fly and its wings grow so perfectly proportioned to its body that it can fulfil its destiny,” Carpenter wrote. “If, however, a wing be clipped or broken it cannot fly. It is no longer free. Your destiny too, is to fly as well as to walk, for yours is a spiritual nature, and only so far as your spirit is developed in proportion to your body are you set free from narrowness and limitations to fulfil your destiny. If your body is master of your soul you are a slave.”

Carpenter goes on to reference the death of Julius Caesar, the French Revolution and Dante’s Divine Comedy – pausing at one point to ask “What, then, is truth?”

“You wouldn’t get that today. It’s just not done today,” Drayson said. “It was just so well written and so thoughtful and so deep.”

But the book contains its fair share of un-deep writing as well, including a lively write-up for each grad, a yearly report for each class and club, a literary corner and a sprinkling of jokes (called “boners”) throughout.

One article features a family fighting over the family radio, with dad wanting to hear a political speech, mom intent on tuning in to a cooking program and “little Willie” desperately hoping to listen to a “wild-west serial.”

Another piece dubbed “A Schoolgirl’s Diary” starts with a girl waking up on a rainy day and remembering with a jolt she has forgotten to press her skirt for school.

“The whole book was interesting,” said Drayson, who perused it thoroughly before handing it over.

He said he was especially struck by the photos of the smiling teens.

“And where are they today?” he said. “Well, some they could be alive, I guess. It’s 100 years since they were born.”

With a new Burnaby North Secondary School under construction, its current principal said the school is already starting to plan ways to say goodbye to the old building – which is actually the third Burnaby North campus.

The 1936 annual may form part of a send-off that celebrates the history of the school, Rawnsley said.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor
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