One-room schoolhouse

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Post by Wildcat445 on Wed Feb 12, 2014 2:29 pm

I'm not all THAT old, but I spent my first two and a half grades of school in a one room schoolhouse.  We had eight grades in a room approx. 30' X 60', three stories.  The basement was the wood shop, janitor's room with furnace, and the cafeteria.  The main floor was for the gymnasium and play area for inclement weather, the upper story was the school room.  The school house was built in a "swag" and, from the front, the upper story was at ground level.  The access to the lower floors was from the outside!  So, when it was cold, you had to go to the gym or cafeteria down the outside steps.  Called the McDonald School, it was named after my great-grandmother's grandfather.  My teacher was actually my great-grandmother.  She retired in 1957 at the age of 89.  She taught my grandfather, grandmother, and mother, uncle and aunt all in that schoolhouse.  There were approximately 30 kids in all eight grades.  Actually nine grades if you included Kindergarterners.

Being taught in a one-room schoolhouse was really a good deal.  Remedial learning was easy and could be done without embarrassment.  I was really good in spelling, English and reading, and would usually recite with older kids.  I was not so good in math, so I could recite with my own grade.  There was no such thing as flunking a grade, unless you were a "rummy."  I'm not sure what a "rummy" was, for sure, but I know it was not good.  All you needed to do was to be able to recite at 8th grade level, before you went on to high school.  If you could not recite at 8th grade level, you were an idiot, so you quit school, and went to work as a pulpwood truck driver, or a coal truck driver, or you would work in the coal mines.  Or you could go to work in the city if you had somebody in the union who could give you some "pull" to get on.  

When you went to high school, you had to drive 15 miles to school.  There were no buses for our school.  We had to walk to school, or ride a horse or drive the tractor.  You know the old story, you had to walk three miles to school, with snow drifts higher than the fences, and it was uphill both ways!  Most kids around where I grew up started driving at 13 or so to attend school.  I drove a '51 Buick Roadmaster to school when I was 13.  I did not have a driver's  license, insurance or tags on the car.  I never got stopped by the law as long as I minded my manners.  Every other boy was the same.  We gave the girls a ride, since girls driving themselves was unseemly.  

NOBODY went to college after high school, if you made it all the way through.  The only thing you went to college for was to be a doctor or lawyer.  Some kids graduated high school and joined the teachers' staff at school.  Teachers did not have to go to college except for special areas like special needs kids and that stuff.  

The cook in the school cafeteria was a maiden lady named Maggie.  We had the best chow in the county at McDonald school.  Not commodities and low-fat gruel like they eat now.  We had fried chicken, swiss steak, baked ham and turkey, all farm raised and most of it donated.  Most of the school families were farmers and each family would donate something for the school cafeteria.  Fresh milk and eggs, potatoes, turnips, vegetables, chickens, pork, and beef, an occasional rabbit or groundhog, and Maggie made it all fit to eat!  Local mothers from the community would take turns helping out in the cafeteria and at the school.  The fathers would mow and groom the school grounds and donate firewood and coal for heat.  There was no air conditioning.  We opened the doors and windows and turned on the big ceiling fan.  Lunch at school was free, since the food was donated by the school kids' families.  Maggie was a volunteer.  The only paid help at the school was Mr. Ricker, the janitor.  He drove a Model A pickup, which was unique, even in 1955.  He was a county employee.

The McDonald schoolhouse is still standing.  It has been restored and is a part of the County Historical Society.  The building and property is still owned by a distant cousin.  There are lots of good memories in that old school.  In 1959, when I was in the third grade, the county consolidated its schools and they ran buses to the new consolidated school.  The first bus I rode was an old '55 Ford with a 292 that smoked like a freight train.  

Regards

WC

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Post by scottb on Wed Feb 12, 2014 9:32 pm

Neat story!! Mine is boring, but from 5th to 8th grade I suffered bad migraine headaches. The headaches ended when I went into high school 9th grade. It took an out of town DR. to figure out it was the old flickering lights from the 1930's.

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Post by Guest on Wed Feb 12, 2014 10:10 pm

What a great story, what happened to us as a society? I think we've lost our minds today, what I wouldn't do to go back to days like that!

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Post by Greg Davis on Wed Feb 12, 2014 10:43 pm

Like you I have fond memories of my youth, and I rail against modern parents who prevent their kids from walking to school for fear of pedophiles or kidnappers or gangs.  But honestly, as much as they see the violence on TV and see the Amber Alerts warning of snatched kids... can you really blame them?  Yes, I walked to school almost every day (about half a mile), and I did fine... but I grew up in the 60s and the world was a different place.  And not all the differences were for the better, I assure you.

So we advance, and every step forward is a step into places we (the prior generation) don't care to go.  Schools are basically vaults into which we deposit children hoping they will be safe until we withdraw them again.  If they happen to learn something there, so much the better.  I was annoyed to learn that in WA state a school is considered obsolete if it has a breezeway.  Can you even fathom that?  We had an election referendum yesterday for $755,000,000 to pay to build new schools to replace the "obsolete" schools that are less than 20 years old.  In TN (where I grew up) the elementary school I attended is still operating, and apparently doing fine.  I bet the food still sucks, but the kids manage to choke it down like we always did.

Honestly, I am feeling every bit of my age.  It just annoys me that modern parents are so paranoid and protective.  But it annoys me even more that they have a reason to be that way.
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Post by Bill Cahill on Thu Feb 13, 2014 9:37 am

Have we ever had our minds?? Great story.. Mine wouldn't be as pretty, so, we'll avoid that.....

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Post by Wildcat445 on Thu Feb 13, 2014 1:52 pm

Actually, the original McDonald school was "lightnin' strick" and burned to the ground in 1920.  It was moved back about 50 feet, into the swag, and re- built of concrete and brick, with metal ceilings and a metal roof.  Lightning rods were installed in the 1940's.  It was wired and "made modern" sometime in the early 1950's.  The three-hole brick privies are still there.  There was an addition built on the east end of the school for restrooms.  The gymnasium was actually too small for playing basketball, so it was mainly used as a community meeting hall.  Lots of wedding receptions took place at the McDonald School gym.  Funerals, too.  There was originally three large pot-bellied stoves to heat the school.  These was replaced by an Iron Fireman coal stoker when the school was made modern.  The desks original to the school after the fire are still there.  As are all the cooking facilities, including the big wood-fired cookstove that made all those great meals.  The Delta woodworking equipment, circa 1920, is still there.  You had to be in third grade to be in wood shop, so I never got to use it.  After the school consolidated, I could either ride the bus or drive.  I would drive grandpa's old International KB-10, powered by a Buick Straight 8, to school occasionally, loaded with corn for feed.  I would drive to the Co-op in the truck, then Shud VanDeventer or Raymond Pickard would haul me to school in the Co-op pickup truck.  They would come get me when school let out, and I would drive the truck back home, feed ground and the load tarped. I started this when I was 11. If a kid would pull crap like that now, they would be locked up and put in "juvie", their parents would be jailed for child abuse, the truck would be impounded, and some lawyer would get rich defending everyone.  How times have changed.

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WC

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Post by 75X11 on Thu Feb 13, 2014 3:55 pm

They turned my first grade school grades 1 to 3 into a museum. The second, for grades 4 to 8 they turned into retired folk's apartments.

http://gascitymuseum.com/
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Post by Wildcat445 on Thu Feb 13, 2014 4:51 pm

For many years, this old schoolhouse was loaned out for parties and weddings and the rest collected dust. Fortunately, nobody took the time to remove anything. It just sat there. It was built fairly robustly and sitting did not take a heavy toll on it. It was vandalized probably 30 years ago, with graffiti on the marble plate on the front and some of the windows were shot out. Somebody painted graffiti on the brick. After it was restored, a chain link fence was erected to protect it from vandals. Too bad that it has to be hidden to keep knotheads from defacing such things.

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WC

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