| Remembering School Days
Williams, Esther M. "Remembering School Days." Elk Grove Citizen, 16 September 1998.
One room country school is remembered by long ago first grader
The day this picture was taken [photo not included], on
the south side of this one room country school, stands out in my
memory as though it was yesterday. It was recess and the teacher
lined us up according to grade.
I was in the first grade. The older girls told me to hold my head
to one side so that I would look classy. I am the one with head
tilted and white shoelaces. I was terribly hard on shoes and especially
We walked over one mile to school through a plowed field and then
into a neighbor's pasture where horses and cows grazed.
Sometimes the horses would run to greet us. I was terrified. I
thought they were going to hurt me. I still have nightmares about
The year was 1926, the school was in Edmunds County, South Dakota
three miles from Roscoe. The school had a potbellied stove, an old
handcranked phonograph that each family could take turns borrowing
for the weekend, along with six records.
The one I remember the best is the "Minuet in G." I almost wore
that one out.
All of the children carried their lunch to school in half gallon
buckets, except the children who lived next to the school.
The school got drinking water from their well. All of us drank
out of the same water pail that contained one dipper.
The teacher's name was Mr. Yule. He was tall and had red hair.
Whenever the school went on a field trip, he would often pick
me up, put me on his shoulders, then hold onto my hands so I would
not fall off. The children liked him.
One day the neighbor's pigs got into the coat closet where the
lunch pails were kept and made a mess. They smashed the pails and
got them filthy dirty. The teacher had to ask the neighbors to take
us over there for lunch. The pigs were theirs.
The neighbor was very hospitable, and we had a big lunch. Her
son, the little boy next to me in the picture, was so mischievous
at lunch time that his mother spanked him right in front of everyone.
Also, she accused him of letting the pigs out of their pen. Later
he told me he was the culprit who let the pigs out.
He and I were the only first graders. My parents had six children
going to that school then.
Christmas was so wonderful; we decorated the Christmas tree and
cut out a large colored paper Santa Claus, then tacked him on the
wall. We never had a Christmas tree at home except in church.
I loved the first grade in that one room school.
The next year we went to a brand new school that had indoor toilets
with septic tanks in the basement.
There was also a large crock water container on a stand with a
spigot and cups for all of us.
That one room school house withered away.
Reprinted with permission of Elk Grove Citizen.