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Schoolyard Economics

Updated on October 16, 2008

Bus Tickets and Sandwiches

Just Rodney's Hub "games children play" inspired me to write this hub.

Bus Tickets

When I first went to high school I was about 11 going on 12. I was a year or two younger than my classmates as I had "skipped" a standard.The high scool had classes from form 1 ( standard 6) to Form 5 (Standard 10 or Matric). Today it is grade 8 (I think).

The high school was in Bezuidenhout Valley which was about 8km (or 5 miles) from Hillbrow where I lived.

This entailled a municipal bus ride to school. If one paid cash the ticket was a sixpence (6 South African pennies or 5c in the current currency) . If, however, one bought ticket coupons from the Municipal offices at a special scholar rate, they cost a "tickey" which is pennies or 2.5 cents (current currency). One book of 20 tickets for five shillings (50c current currency.).

Now for the economics.

After 4pm a scholar was not allowed to use a coupon unless it was officially stamped by the school. This was to prove that the scholar was engaged in legitimate school activity eg sport and thus was entitled to use the coupon.

Now my best friend and I (his name is Patrick) figured out that if we left home early enough in the morning, we could save one bus ticket for each time we walked to school.

Our respective parents would only dole out two tickets a day so that if we lost our tickets we would only lose that days value. Wise parents.

So now we each had a ticket which we could sell to other scholars.Other kids also had coupons but life being what it is, every now and so often, one would run out of tickets. The parents would give the sixpences each way for bus fare until the next book of coupons could be bought. Obviously if we could sell our tickets for four pence to one fo these kids they would have a net two cents to spend and we would have four.

Then if one did not have a stamped ticket after four pm. the cost was a ticket plus a sixpence.Normal cost a shilling (12 pennies) or 10c current currency.

So by stamping extra tickets we could sell these for a sixpence.and gain another tickey.


We had a significant Jewish contingent at our school. They used to bring fabulous sandwiches, lox on bagels, Rye pastrami anf gherkins, cottage cheese gherkins on rye (even sometimes pumpernickel).

As we left for school so early, we used to persuade our parents to give us bacon and egg sandwiches for breakfast. Now bacon was pork and pork was forbidden fruit for our Jewish pals. We had a roaring trade trading (swapping) our bacon and egg sarmies for the aforementioned delights. We then sold these sandwiches to other kids at school. We used the proceeds to buy sausage rolls or Jaffles (a kind of closed toasted sandwich).from the school tuckshop. Sometimes when the trading had been particularly good we could even afford hamburgers.


I forgot to mention that another income source for us, when walking to and from school to save bus coupons, was the glass cool drink bottle (Soda bottle). Plastic did not really exist in the late fities and early sixties in South Africa,so the deposit refundable soda bottle was the order of the day. Each bottle commanded a refund of two pennies ( don't be lazy do the conversion to existing currency -ok ok 2c). So discarded bottles were collected and returned. Any retail outlet (Store) would gladly accept the bottles. On a good day we could collect 5 or 6 bottles.


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    • sixtyorso profile imageAUTHOR

      Clive Fagan 

      10 years ago from South Africa

      GeneriqueMedia thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. Don't worry even for those of us brught on LSD (NOT THE DRUG) We were confused. Your commments are much appreciated

    • GeneriqueMedia profile image


      10 years ago from Earth

      This is way cool. Even at your age then, you were destined to be a savvy marketer. ;)

      And thanks for helping me get that six pence/shillings thing down. I'm still a bit confused, but thats not out of the normal for most Americans.


    • sixtyorso profile imageAUTHOR

      Clive Fagan 

      10 years ago from South Africa

      Hi Russ Yes we did go the same school! I matriculated in 1963! Class of Malcolm Joel, Peter Kalish, Bobby Grace to name but a few.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Much appreciated.

    • Russ Baleson profile image

      Russ Baleson 

      10 years ago from Sandhurst, United Kingdom

      Hi, thanks for bringing back so many fond memories.  I'm sure I went to the same school (Athlone) and also quickly learned to be street-wise.  I too sold my lunch, my bus coupons (and as a result walked the few miles up Stewart's Drive to my home in Yeoville).  I used to enjoy walking around during break and shouting, "Who wants to buy bus coupons?"  My favourite snack from the tuck shop was a GI Bar which was chocolate covered toffee, so tough that it took about forty minutes to mash it into digestible form.  A LOT of value there!

      Omzikilazi hoo ha he!

      Best regards, Russ

    • sixtyorso profile imageAUTHOR

      Clive Fagan 

      10 years ago from South Africa

      Hi J_eds

      I am not so sure about smart but canny yes. Survival is is a great mechanism. Once again thanks for stopping by and commenting

    • J_Eds profile image


      10 years ago from Blackpool

      Who says kids arn't smart... I just wish I had been as switched on when i was younger!

    • sixtyorso profile imageAUTHOR

      Clive Fagan 

      11 years ago from South Africa

      Hi Cold WarBaby

      The sandwich thing was purely an economic neccessity. We were impoverished when I was young. My Dad walked to work. Later he bought a bicycle. By the time I reached High school he has a motor scooter on which he and my mom had an accicident! So no trade, no spending money! I dont doubt that the environment formed my later personality and career bent. But as an adult I swore that I would never go humgry.

      Thanks for reading and commenting

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      I was always content to eat what I brought with me at school. Wheeling and dealing was never something that I found interesting. Perhaps that's part of the reason I find capitalism so repulsive. I would, however, occasionally share or trade with friends if one of us had something that the other was particularly fond of.

    • sixtyorso profile imageAUTHOR

      Clive Fagan 

      11 years ago from South Africa

      Ah Constant Walker, thanks for the compliment (hubwise and lifewise) but if you consider Patrick is a Senior executive in the credit operation of a major south african newspaper group and I am general manager of a telecoms support company, one has to ask - aptitude or environment, or is that another hub or maybe a PHD thesis? I still have at least one more hub on schooldays and who ended up where.. watch this space.

    • Constant Walker profile image

      Constant Walker 

      11 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

      Very clever. My friends in school weren't as smart as you guys were.

    • sixtyorso profile imageAUTHOR

      Clive Fagan 

      11 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks for commenting on the Hub.

      Of course if one needed extra cash one could also walk home but that was much tougher after a school day and extramural activities

    • Just_Rodney profile image

      Rodney Fagan 

      11 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      Good one there, that was one side of the economic chain that I missed out on, as I was close, releatively, enough to walk both ways to school and back, therefore never had to use the bus.


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