The picture is my old school south of Utica. It really doesn't seem that long ago when we had one room school houses in Missouri. As I drive along the country roads today, I find myself stopping to take pictures of many room school houses in the middle of nowhere.
There are still many of them around but most are about to fall down, some have been restored. All the grades were taught by one teacher, in one room. They all had a bell to ring for the starting of class it seemed, and don't forget the hand bell the teacher used to call us back in from recess.
I remember standing in the corner with my nose in the circle on the blackboard. The teachers had power to correct your bad manners back then.
The three R's were taught, (Reading, Riting and Rithmetic). You had to write each letter exactly the way it was on the alphabet chart above the chalkboard. Did you know that the Bible was even used in school back then?
For most of the boys, the window was where the real teaching occurred. We had to bring our own lunch to school and that taught us to share.
The well pump was the only place to get a drink of cold water. While one of the bigger boys pumped the handle, each of us would take turns sipping on the stream of water. You could be sure some of us would come in wet, and let me tell you that sitting with wet underwear all day was no fun!
Some of the schools were lucky to have fuel oil to keep warm while others still used wood. There were lots of windows for air conditioning. Remember the one and two finger hand raise? The outside toilet was always a great hiding place to stow things we shouldn't have. Getting back at the teacher was a quest for some.
My aunt would walk me to school with her even though I was only four. I remember the time I ran away from school because I didn't want to use the outside toilet with the Sears catalog. We had a Vagabond trailer parked at the round barn between Utica and Dawn in the early 50's and it had a flush toilet and real toilet paper! I was spoiled, if you know what I mean. I think I'm still being punished for running away though, because I clean outside toilets to this day!
As young children, learned to be quiet and sit still in class. Punishment was a paddle, switch, or dunce hat and they worked well. We were trained to respect our parents and elders. "Yes Sir" and "Yes Ma'am" was how we would answer grown-ups. "Thank You" and "Please" were a few more words we could use to protect ourselves. They say teaching is better at school today and that could be true. But, I think I was taught something else kids are missing today. I hope our schools find that “something else” once again some day.