Saturday, February 23, 2013

4 - My Story, God's Story - Elementary School Years

If I told you I attended a one room country school, would that give my age away?  I am so glad I was able to be in on the tail end of that genre of education, to experience eight grades all in one room, with one teacher.  When you reached high school (9th grade), you rode the bus into town and attended the public high school.  If you lived in town, you attended a public school...several classrooms, several teachers, but just one grade in each classroom.  However, if you lived in the country, and I was only two miles from town, you attended a one room country school, until it closed down...which is what happened to my school after fifth grade.

We lived one mile from the school, and I had to walk both ways...even as a kindergartner.  I can't imagine sending a five year old on a one mile walk today without a chaperon.  It's just not a safe world any more.  Usually you walked to school with neighborhood kids that lived near by, and that helped pass the time.  On a snowy winter day, you might stop and slide on some of the road banks.  On a spring day, perhaps you would stop to pick some dandelions along the way.  However long it took us to walk to school, or to walk home, it didn't seem so boring when you had friends to talk and play with.

In the school room, wet mittens were laid around the pot-bellied stove to dry off for recess.  Girls had a coat room and bathroom on one side of the building and the boys had their rooms on the other side.  There was a fridge for the milk bottles, which were delivered every day for lunch.  There was a little poem on the bottle, "We've come to visit, not to stay.  Return our bottles every day."  At lunch time we would grab our lunch pail and our bottle of milk (white or chocolate) and sit around desks with friends.  Recess came after lunch. We played soft ball, or group games like Red Rover, or played on the swings, slide, or teeter-totter.  There were several tall lilac bushes that were grown together and made like a play house inside them.  All ages all played together.  We had our reading groups broken down into classes by age/grade, but our music and square dancing was for all of us together.  We put on school bazaars and Christmas plays, and at the end of every school year we would all go to the Roller Rink on our last day, and have a picnic at the park.

Remember in an earlier post I mentioned that we would go to Florida in the winder so Dad could find work as a carpenter.  That meant leaving the one room country school behind, and being put in a large city school. Then, before school was out, we were taken back to Michigan to finish that school year.  I guess it didn't bother me too much, as I don't remember any fears.  Since we lived in different rental places each winter, I didn't always go to the same school.  At the close of my 6th grade, Dad and Mom decided to stay in Florida until school was out for the summer.  On the last day of school all of the classes assembled in the auditorium for a program.  I don't recall how it came about, but I do remember directing a play from Children's Bible Hour.  That was a radio program for children with Aunt Bertha and Uncle Charlie with character building stories (presented in dramas) and songs and Bible verses.  When the assembly was over, I headed out the door and got in the station wagon with my Mom, Dad, and brother, and we started back to Michigan.  Funny how that memory comes back to me after all these years.

I remember having the measles in third grade.  I told Mom I didn't feel good, but she made me go to school anyway.  Then the school called her and told her I had the measles and to come and get me.  I remember laying in bed with sunglasses on and Mom waiting on me.  It wasn't much fun.  I would rather have been at school with my friends.

Those are the memories that come back to me tonight as I type this post.  I had a happy childhood.  I had lots of friends at school and at church.  I liked playing Dominoes and Old Maid with my Grandma.  Sometimes in the winter we lived together, as she and Grandpa (maternal grandparents) would go to Florida also.  Usually they stayed longer than we did.  The car trips were long, but I liked seeing the different states we drove through.  My favorite signs were "See Rock City", and sure enough...we would stop and "see seven states" from Point Lookout.  Never did I realize that one day I would live near Chattanooga!  That I would raise my children in East Tennessee.  Half way between my homes in Michigan and my homes in Florida. I a Yankee, a Florida Cracker, or a Hillbilly?  I guess I could say yes to all of them.  The Great Smoky Mountains, however, has the strongest pull on my heart.  Thank you, Jesus, for the variety of education and experiences you allowed me to have as I grew up.

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