I am sure it was an exciting September day 1943 for this 5 year old freckled faced lad. Hair slicked down with hair oil, combed, wearing bib overalls, a new pair of shoes and carrying a metal lunch pail, it was my first day of school. Little did I know that for the next 19 years school would be a part of my life.
The country school was called Prairie View. It was located one mile south of the seven-mile corner on highway 166. It was a large, one room building with a bell in the alcove, that was used to signal the start of the school day and when recess was over. A rather tall round coal stove heated the room. Other buildingss were a coal shed for storing the dusty black coal and a horse shed. A merry-go-round and tetter totter made up the playground equipment.
The teacher was my aunt, Lucille Metcalf. There were six students, my sister Cecilia, my clusin Wayne and the Coil children, Lester, Robert and Maxine. These student ranged from the first through the eighth grades.
Prairie View school was one and one half mile from our house. One of my parents usually took us to school and most of the time we walked home ubnless the weather was bad. I do remember riding a horse to school. Some times I would tie old Nellie up in the horse shed and ride her home. Ocasionally I would turn her loose and she would go back to the farm. She had to cross the hiway, but in those daays there wasn't a lot of traffic. The Coil's farm was probably one to two miles east and they normally walked through the pastures to and from school.
School started a eight o'clock, fifteen-minute recess at ten, one-hour lunch break, andother recess at two and school out at four o'clock. The teacher had to get to school a little earlier, get the fire started in the stove to take the chill off. In colder weather we wore our jackets until tthe room warmed up enough to take them off. One of the duties of the older boys was to fill the coal buckets from the coal shed.
In the second grade, there were three students. Lester had graduated, cousin Wayne went to a different school, sister Cecilia was sick, so the students were Robert, Maxine and myself. The teacher was Iola Gordon, daughter of Curly Gordon, who I think worked for Jarvis. She stayed with Joe Westbrook and wife, who then lived one-fouth mile west of the school. Unknowing to we students, romance took root from the school. Harold Pettigrew, son of Ray Pettigrew, (who lived southwest of CV) was back from the service and bought a farm that joined the school property. Iola and Harold later married. Harold died at a fairly young age and Iola I think still lives by herself on the farm today.
The school term was eight months. In those days the boys were expected to help prepare the farm for spring crop planting, so school was out the last of April. For the last day of school we had a picnic which was attended by students and parents. I received a $25 war bond , donated by Cora Wallace, proprietor of the seven-mile corner business. It cost $18 and matured in twenty years. What a greaat rate of interest. I remember thinking I would much rather have the money now. When the bond matured I would be 27, which seemed like forever.
Because of the lack of students, three country schools, Prairie View, Prairie Flower and Prairie Eagle, consolidated with students from these going to Prairie Eagle. (ie CV and Dexter consolidating now). School was now approximately five miles from home, so we had to ride the school bus. The school bus was my Dad's 1940 two door Ford. He picked up kids on the northern route, dumped them at school and went another route and picked up more kids. Someone else picked up the kids on the southern route.
From three students, now there were thirty-two. What a cultural shock that was. For the next four years the teacher was Carrie Johnston. Her home was in Burden, she didn't drive and she stayed with a farm couple about a mile from school. She walked to and from every day, regardless of the weather. Looking back, what an amazing woman she was. She had over thirty students, from the first through eigth grades. She was strict, dedicated and wanted her students to llearn. In my eight years of going to country schools, probably none of the teachers had a college degree. They probably had teaching dertificates, which I have no idea what education they had to have to qualify for one. The ability to teach a first grade student to read and write, while teaching other grades math, english, geography, history, spelling etc. all in one room. They were indeed amazing people,.
Recreatiobn was playing softbll, if we could get the girls to play. Some of our dad's put up two poles, made board backboards with iron hoops, no nets, so we could play basketball; anti-over the school building; red rover; tag and if it snowed, we would make a large circle in the snow, with spokes going into the center. The center was the free spot. Some one would be "it" and chase the other players around the circle or in the spokes and try and touch them before they got to the center. I don't remember what that game was called. During cold and bad weather we had to stay inside. I remember playing clue, rook, monopoly and other card games.
At Christmas we had a Christmas play. All students participated in the play, or recited poems or other readings.
Other students that I can recall that went to this country school and then to CV high, who might be remember by some of the blog readers were; JD Sanders, Dale Wolfe, Bonnie, Maxine, Kenneth, Louise and Chester Campbell; Carole Riley; Virginia and Steve Nellis; Steve, Tom and brother Shorter and my sister Patricia.
In looking back, while it is intriguing to have been part of a by gone era, educational wise it probably was not the best. By having one teacher that would teach only one grade, I think would give a broader and more in depth knowledge of the various subjects. Something that has affected me all of my life, which I think stems from going to school with few classmates, is the inter action social skills. High school was a scary and whole new world to me. Being somewhat introverted, I have never felt comfortable in groups. At one stage of my business career, I gave speeches and conducted seminars. While it was a terrifying experience each time, I gradually felt more at ease in groups and gained more confidence, which helped me in later years.