I have got to tell you my story about the old grade school that I attended from the 4th grade through 8th grade. I attended this two room school beginning in 1952 and my mother went there before me. I suppose it really could be compared to “The Waltons” or “Little House on the Prarie”.
We had no water or bathrooms in the school, but we didn’t mind. We had a nice outside toilet and a pump in front of the school. Mrs. Valentine, our teacher bought a large water crock with a push button spout and one of the boys would bring in fresh water each morning. Each of us had our own cups with our name on them. Some of the more privileged kids had silver expandable cups and they thought they were cool.
Right in the middle of the room was a large pot belly stove. Clifford usually got to go out to the coal pile and bring in the coal each morning. We would put the coal in the stove and keep poking the coal with a poker to get the fire started. All the skinny kids wanted to sit real close to the stove, but I liked to sit in the back of the room. (I was fat.)
Our hot lunch program at school depended on the old pot belly stove. The stove had a metal rack around the pipe on the stove. We would bring a potato and lie it on the stove as soon as we got to school and it was ready to eat for lunch. Some kids brought a coffee can, put water in and boiled eggs. Mother would wrap my cheese sandwich in wax paper and I would hold the sandwich on the outside of the stove to toast the bread.
We also had lunch pail with a small thurmos bottle. Bill’s mom would usually put hot soup in his lunch it smelled so good. Sometimes we would trade our lunch for someones that looked better. My mom would usually scold me for trading lunches and said it might not be clean.
Eleene was the first person in our school to bring a potato wrapped in tin foil. Tin foil was something new and we thought she must be rich to have silver paper for her potato. She didn’t throw the tin foil away, but folded it and took it back home for reuse. I begged my mom to buy us some tin foil, but she said it was just too expensive.
We always had fun at recess and at noon. Everyone had to go outside and play, unless you had a cold. Hop scotch, jumping the rope, sand lot softball and playing house on the hillside were some of the activities we had each day. The people that could run real fast were chosen to play first and the others were last. Patricia was so….good at hop scotch and could hop like a rabbit and never get her feet on the line. I envied her so much.
We always said a prayer and the pledge of allegiance to the flag before our classes began. Then Edna Watson would lead us in song time. Edna could really get us singing “She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain…When She Comes”. This was such a nice way to begin the day.
Mrs. Valentine made all the holidays so special for the kids in her room. She must have spent most of her check on decorations and goodies. I am sure this was just about the only Christmas some of the kids would have during those years. She would bring two large wash tubs and fill them with water for apple bobbing. She bought the biggest red apples and put them in the water. We had to put our face in the water to grab an apple by our teeth.
Christmas was even more fun. We would go out and fine a Christmas tree and one of the boys would chop it down. Each of us would make decorations of colored pieces of paper and they would become a chain. We would string cranberries and pop corn too. Some of the mothers would bake cupcakes and Ms. Valentine would have punch. Everyone would be given a small gift to open. This was such a special time for all of us kids.
Our school house was just about a fourth of a mile off the main road and up a road that was also the creek. We had to wear golashes (boots) to school, because it was fun to wade the creek. The snow was usually deep and even walking up that old road was an adventure.
This was not hard times for my family, but many of the children had very little. I do not regret these wonderful years of learning, exploring, being stress free (actually I don’t think anyone even used the word stress at that time) and having time to appreciate life as it comes. We thought is was fun to walk to school when we missed the bus and our mother’s didn’t have to worry that a stranger would pick us up.
I know my grandchildren would have as much fun as me, if they could just go back to this era for one day. They would talk about it for a week.