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 shoelaces.

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 that.

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.

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