Grit Blogs > Russ-Stick Ramblings

Walk to School Day

Amish school yard

Back in my day, it was pretty clear.

The country kids rode the school bus.

Or their horse.  Or their snowmobile.  Or their John Deere.

Or if you are Amish, a horse and buggy.

Horse and buggy

It wasn't that the country kids wouldn't walk to school, it was just too far.  Up to 30+ miles for some in the district.

The city kids walked to school.

There was no in-between.

This past week, a local middle school in a nearby city celebrated "Walk to School Day."

Have you ever noticed how many things we took for granted as a kid, now becomes a special day?

Police and volunteers assisted middle school kids on the 1/4-mile walk. 

Growing up on the edge of our beautiful bay-side town, I had the pleasure of walking to school, year after year.  Each year was a milestone, as the school locations changed. 

East and North for grade schools.  West for middle school and high school.

Those walks created who I am today.  Smelling the budding fruit trees in the spring, learning neighbor's dogs, cutting through farmer's fields, feeling the warm breeze coming off Lake Michigan in May, contemplating how to handle classmates before entering the school, battling strong winter winds against open fields.

Yes, like Opie from Mayberry, some of my life lessons were learned on the walk to school.

Street smarts.

Parents didn't drive us if we were running late.  We simply ran, clinging to our small paper bag filled with a PB & J, an apple and a cookie.

It was simply your responsibility each day to get to school.  Rain/sleet/snow.  Didn't matter.  You dressed the part.

No police escorts, no orange cones, no volunteers.

My heart aches for children today. 

Please folks – know that "doing for" sometimes actually means depriving your child.

Until tomorrow – grateful for my past – God willing,

Woodswoman

sherry 'woodswoman'
7/7/2009 11:24:55 AM

Cindy ~ Yes, it is sad that most kids have been stripped of their "kidhood rite". I love the cello story ~ that is priceless. Nebraska Dave ~ I envy you to have experienced a one-room school. I had never given a thought to the "recess" options now. No kickball (too traumatic). No grass - pave the playground. So sad. Hail to Louisa May Alcott - she had it right. Alice ~ Poor? I don't think so. From what I've seen of your published books, your childhood must have been one of the richest ones around. Country school included. Yes, memories are our best keepsakes. How can we get it back? Woodswoman/Sherry www.russ-stickacres.com (Where time stands still...)


alice matusiak
7/1/2009 7:28:27 PM

Yup, this walk down memory lane sure conjured up some memories of my own walking to school. I went to a country school that was one room, one teacher and eight grades. It was a mile from our home. Going to school didn't allow time to play around, but walking home, whether snow on the ground or not, was always fun; an old barn we kids liked to play in was on the way, and there was also a creek that we played around. If it was frozen over, we would take off our golashes so we could slide on the slippery soles of our shoes. (Mom wasn't too happy about that) We were dirt poor, so it cost money to buy new shoes. When I started highschool, I had to find a ride because there were no school buses back in forties. If my ride didn't show up it was a three mile walk to school. Memories are precious things.........what would we do without them.


nebraska dave
6/29/2009 1:26:21 PM

Sherry, I have been privileged to walk to many schools in my lifetime. The most memorable was the walks to the little one room school house at the country corner cross roads. I spent two years walking and riding the heavy duty fat tired one speed bicycle to that school. Third and fourth grade were definitely memorable years. I really can’t say that I walked up hill both ways in snow storms; in fact I don’t even remember walking in any snow to that school. Walking to school in the city was an entirely different experience. I definitely learned about the school yard bully. I was not much for intimidation and was at times the target. Come to think of it kids today don’t really walk or ride bikes anywhere. Too dangerous I guess. The swings, and teeter totters brought back some memories for sure. Our playground in the country had those and a merry-go-round but in the city it was more basket ball hoops, softball fields and gravel kick ball areas. I consider it the best part of an education to have been born and brought up in the country. – Louisa May Alcott.


cindy murphy
6/28/2009 8:44:36 AM

Hi, Sheri. One of my brothers and I were recently just talking about this - the good times we had walking to and from school. It wasn't far - the elementary school was only about a 1/4 mile from home; the jr. high, and high-school a little over a mile. Getting there didn't take long, but oh, how the time to cover that distance could be stretched on the walk home! There were friends to talk and walk with, woods to explore, and adventures to be had! Walking home from school wasn't a chore, it was a kidhood rite, and one that supplied us with childhood experiences that we look back on with fondness and laughter....like the time my brother used his cello in its case for a sled on the snow covered road. Mom wasn't too happy when she saw him round the corner of our street; his cello career didn't last long, and thirty-some years later, he still hasn't heard the end of it. Walking wasn't just fun and games; it was also a lesson in responsibility. Unfortunately, my kids are missing out on this childhood rite. Shelby got to enjoy the walking experience for part of her elementary years; Shannon's never had the joy of walking to school. In a heated town battle, the small neighborhood schools - 100 year-plus historic buildings - were closed in the name of progress. One now houses the Historical Society; the other three were turned into 'upscale' condos. New schools outside of town were built, and existing schools out in the country were expanded. It's kind of the opposite of what is typical: kids who live in town take the bus to attend school in the country. Escorts, and progress....sometimes it seems the advantages given our youth today, aren't really advantages at all.