Memories of YesterYear
STORIES and TIDBITS
"Country School" by Louis C. Williams....copied from Grandma's scrapbook
One of the most cherished childhood memories we have was listening to our granddad tell us about his “school days” at the country school. Whenever there were a lot of us “kids” around, we would always ask him to tell us about it.
Now, after all these years, no amount of thought on my part will bring forth the precise words to describe it to you the way he told it to us. His mannerism and the pauses he made ----waiting, not for questions or answers ---but waiting to watch our facial expressions.
“Going to school was the easiest part of our day, when we got home we had so many ‘chores’ to do, we often wished we were back in school.”
Take a look at the picture of the schoolhouse ----would you believe all eight grades were taught in this one room building (or two room building as in the case of the Seney School.) The way he explained it to us ----the class to be taught would sit up front, close to the teacher, and the others had to sit in the rear and study until their time came.
“We had to walk to school, carry our lunch and buy our books,” I remember him telling us. “We loved our teacher. Her name was Mrs. Jones and she had a way of being both kind and stern, which was what our parents liked.”
He would tell us the day started with the flag raising ceremony, which none of us ever missed and once in school the first words spoken in unison was the Lord’s Prayer. Then the class to be taught sat in front and Mrs. Jones would say, “Now I want the others to keep quiet and study --- do you understand?” And the way she said it ---- we understood.
Now and then she would tell the class being taught, “I want you to pay particular attention to this, it’s fundamental.” Whenever she said that we all stopped studying and listened to that “fundamental part.”
“Soon it would be recess time and we all went out in the school yard to play. The girls played on one side of the walk and the boys on the other. When we were having the most fun, she would ring her bell to end the period and I wish you could have seen us all rush to not be the last one in.”
“Our President’s picture with the flag was up front. On the walls hung pictures of Washington and Lincoln and down low was a framed copy of the Declaration of Independence, where we could read it. At the end of the day she would let us ask questions. This one I will always remember, “Why are some of the farms so much larger than others?” And she answered, “It’s like the grades you get in school, they are not all the same.”
The country school produced a generation with faith in God, duty and loyalty to country with pride and satisfaction over one’s accomplishments. We may have lost more than the building with the passing of the Country School.
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With imagination, one was sure he could distinguish the faint outline of the school that lay a mile to the east and pinpoint the grove of maples and elms just across the road. It was a night in which the crafty fox would leave his lair and tread lightly the devious path that led to the henhouse and the mournful wolf would howl at his shadow.
It was 7:30 when we heard sleighbells entering our driveway. We children were agog; we expected no company. Mother, like all women said, "There's nothing in the house to eat." But her worries were unnecessary, for the company had brought their own food and in volume.
Seated in the bottom of the bobsled, with heavy overcoats and blankets were Mr. and Mrs. Edward Stinton and daughter, Neva, Mrs. Orvis Gaston (sister of Mrs. Stinton) and her daughters, Rena and Alma, and her sister-in-law, Mrs. Lampton (Telitha Stinton) Morehead and others whose names I cannot recall. It was a merry crowd who participated with enthusiasm in a variety of activities including games, charades and a lot of pure fun.
Refreshments were served at 11 o'clock. Reminiscences were exchanged, other new years recalled and old friends remembered.
High against the wall, the old clock ticked off the fateful minutes -- 11:30, ll:45, 10 minutes to 5 minutes to -- emotions ran high. This was no ordinary year's end; it was the end of a century, something no one in the company had ever seen before and none would witness again. Rather sobering, of course, but not enough to dampen the enthusiasm of the hours. A new century lay ahead, a century that all hoped would be brighter and better than the one just ending.
It was one minute to 12; the ghosts of a hundred years were skipping like moon beams across the snow-clad hills. It was the "witching-hour." The old clock seemed to hesitate, then chimed one, two, three, ---- eleven, twelve! Shotgun fire could be heard in the distance. Someone was already ringing the dinner bell at the door. In time everyone had had his turn, sometimes turning the heavy instrument completely over. It's sounds must have carried for more than a mile in the frosty air. Old Pup, our ancient canine, had sought shelter under a bed and against the unearthy noise.
Mrs. Gaston, I believe, was the first and the last to ring the bell. She was fascinated by it's tone and was moved, I'm sure, by the import of the occasion. The celebration lasted a full half hour, then all entered the house again and, with Mother (Mrs. Agnes Tindall) at the organ, joined in singing Auld Lang Syne.
It was indeed a night to remember, a memory to cherish.
There are some of you who will have no clue what this is about.
There are some of us who will feel very nostalgic remembering
our Grandma and her aprons.
(A little history about grandma and her apron)
The principle use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath, but along with that, it served as a holder for removing hot pans from the oven; it was wonderful for drying children's tears.
From the chicken-coop the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.
When company came those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids; and when the weather was cold, grandma wrapped it around her arms.
Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove. Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.
From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled it carried out the hulls.
In the fall the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.
When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising
how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.
When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.
It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that old-time apron that served so many purposes.
Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool. Her granddaughters set theirs on the window sill to thaw.
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