Community Portrait: Chilliwack Progress July 1957
"After my first year of teaching, I thought I knew everything, but now I'm sure I know less," says Peter after some 30 years in the profession. "The same thing that makes teaching so frustrating is that it is difficult to tell whether you have achieved any success or done something worthwhile," he goes on.
Mr. Andres feels that over the years, teachers himself included, are accomplishing too little. He questions the thought of being able instil orderliness, honesty, thoroughness or any of the really essential characteristics in a child if one does not have these qualities himself. "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach"; is too often true he says.
Mr. Andres says: "I was born the year that Japan astonished the world with her defeat of Russia, in the year that Saskatchewan became a province in our Dominion, but I do not remember much of these events — I doubt that they left a predilection for history in my mind." Mr. Andres has been a social studies teacher (primarily history) at Chilliwack Senior High School for nine years (in 1957).
Mr. Andres recalls when he was a youngster — "We had to make our own amusements," he says. He remembers all their equipment was homemade - skates and baseball bats included.
This community portrait has always been keenly interested in sports and says: "You can imagine my thrill when our team won the first money ($400.) at a Rosetown, Saskatchewan sports day. At the time his ball club gained its equipment by each player contributing 25-50 cents. "I got my money selling gopher tails," he recalls.
Mr. Andres marks tennis as his favourite sport. He has definite plans to build a court in his back yard and has long entertained the idea of tennis courts at Chilliwack Senior High. He coached Senior "A" softball while on the prairies as well as playing extensive baseball with different teams in Saskatchewan. He is currently a regular fan of his hometown Yarrow Ocean Sprays.
Mr. Andres did a great deal of track in his young days. "But 10.4 was the fastest I could ever do 100 yards," he says. "Then of course we never had spikes-just running shoes or barefoot." He was a member of his University of Saskatchewan track team which won the inter-collegiate track meet one year, and also played soccer for the university team.
Mr. Andres remembers that as a young lad going to school he had two choices on what he wanted to do — "Either work on the farm or loaf in school". "Studies came easy to me," he says. Farming was not mechanized at the time, the hours were long and irregular and since his father insisted that at least one of his five sons should be able to write letters for him—"I chose the classes and have been studying and teaching ever since."
One of the popular teachers at CHS, Mr. Andres has been sponsor of the yearbook, "The Frontiersman," for six years.
This teacher thinks the ideal school setup should include segregation of the seat warmers and work horses.
"Whether that would be feasible would be another question, however, he continues. He maintains that as it stands now, neither the general program nor the university program students are taught to the limits of the students' capacity. He believes "our pre-university students are Under Privileged students" — They seem to get too little for the mind — We have a tendency to let them shift for themselves."
Mr. Andres was graduated from Nutana Collegiate in Saskatoon and the University of Saskatchewan, majoring in history and political science. "Actually, I am more interested in the philosophy of history, or in other words—what makes a man tick, than historical data—guess I should have been a doctor," he grins.
Most of Mr. Andres' life has been spent in Saskatoon where he also spent the gloomiest period of his life during the depression years. "I was teaching and studying at summer school while looking after an old father, a sick mother and an invalid sister." He was the highest salaried man in the community at the time, he recalls, only his wage of $60. per month was never paid and he was forced to stand in line with everyone else waiting for the regular relief cheque. A day's work included a four and a half mile trek each way to and from school. "Day by day-blizzard, rain, sand storm, heat-made no difference."
He will not vouch that his students learned anything in his first year of teaching but "the kids taught me to be a barber." He also recalls how during the "roaring twenties" in his first year of teaching, he completed teaching the required course in three months. After a brief quizzing of his class by the school inspector, "we spent the next seven months reviewing."
Mr. Andres spent exactly six weeks in the Army. In 1944 he enlisted but was discharged for medical reasons before he saw service. He tried all the forces after that but all gave him the same reception.
Mr. Andres enjoys singing and has sung with the choir of the Yarrow Mennonite Brethren church of which he is a member. The Andres have five children. The eldest, Alison, will begin Senior High this fall. Patty is the musician-playing violin and also singing. Peter is the scholar and like his dad, takes great interest in sports. Kenneth and Gary haven't got long to go before they too, will likely swing a bat.
Currently, Andres can be found amid the confusion and muddle which comes with berry picking. Mr. Andres' summers are kept busy with one and one-half acres of raspberries. He has always liked agriculture and "someday, when I have time, I'm going to raise flowers." He concludes: "Right now we're too busy making a living with no time to make a life."
[Peter H. Andres was born January 19, 1905 in Kamenka, South Russia. His parents were Gerhard & Anna Andres. He passed away March 12, 1982 in Abbotsford and is buried in the Yarrow Cemetery.]
Editors' Notes: Sunday School students fondly recall the stories Mr. Andres told at Extraversammlung in the Bible School building. Spectators at the softball games at Knox Field, and players like Fred Adrian, pitcher, say that Yarrow people went to the softball games in Yarrow, in the first instance, to watch Peter Andres' colorful performances while umping behind the plate. Yarrow students at the Chilliwack High School considered themselves fortunate to have Mr. Andres as their homeroom teacher, providing some continuity from the closed environment of Yarrow to the more secular society of Chilliwack.