Our Little Country School House

Seems as though our family had just moved to the house where I’d spend the majority of my growing-up years. It was autumn and my oldest brother and sister had already started to school. They were in the same class – and no, they’re not twins. They enrolled in school two years before I did, so I had two years to wait to join them. The schoolhouse was close enough to our house that during recess, I could hear the kids laughing and playing in the school yard. If I walked across the road and looked East, I could see them running in the yard near the road (now a highway).

I must have been around 4, because I started to school when I was 5. Even though my younger sister was home, (and there was probably one or two younger brothers), I was so lonely being at home during the day. And the worst part was knowing that I couldn’t join those happy kids celebrating their recesses.

You know the lore about the one-room, country school house. Well, our school didn’t fit that model. On the contrary, it was a big, white, multiroom building with a cafeteria (then defunct), a large auditorium, three large classrooms (only two were in use in the 1950s); two outdoor toilets “privies” and a well. The classroom for the third-sixth grade had a small walk-in library. The school complex consisted of several acres of “playground.”

Due to post World War II migration, the school population was down to only three small classes. Each of the two teachers taught three classes. I can’t imagine learning anything in an environment where (when your class is being taught), you have to listen to the other students being instructed. Then, on the other hand, perhaps that was a more sophisticated way of learning. Each student heard his or her lesson and the other grades’ lessons too. Not sure it made any of us any smarter, but, I can say, we were well-exposed.

Physically, the school was a beautiful place. Large, well-built and completely electrical but not air conditioned. Back then, though, structures were built with lots of windows, so naturally, summertime was cool with so many open windows.

There was a concrete sidewalk leading from the back of the buildings to the well and partially around the building. In the front there were several steps leading up to the doors and a long, wide concrete walkway that lead to the place where the bus stopped. This area is where we played most of our games, especially “dodge-ball” in the winter when the yard was too muddy to walk on.

The auditorium was one of my favorite areas, because it contained the milk and pop machines. We had our Christmas and other plays there and just about the entire community attended. Even people from town came out to see the country kids perform. By the way, we did have some inspiring actors. One of the students even went to Hollywood, but unfortunately, he didn’t make it big. At least he did go. The auditorium is also the place where our teachers gave us the surprise luncheon. The room was beautifully decorated and the food was more than delicious – the first time I ever ate tuna sandwiches.

In 1955, low enrollment forced the county administrators to close our doors, and even after the school closed, the building sat there for ages. Finally a family bought it for a house. Now, that structure is gone, and all that’s there are the memories of a much-needed educational institution and a fun place to be – especially during recess.

Published on Oct 10, 2013

Grit Magazine

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