Monday, May 13, 2013

Amanuensis Monday--Elsie Crocker’s Manuscript, Part 16: School Days

To read this project from the beginning, click here.

This installment of Elsie’s manuscript is rather a long one, but a common thread runs throughout. It discusses the Underwood kids’ school days, telling a little about the school itself, but mostly focusing on the human element: what they would do at different points in the day, and incidents that happened either on the way to or from school.

We went to Ten Mile School. It was at least one and a half miles around the road. Walking the canal bank was a little shorter. We were never tardy, we got a certificate. I wonder how many children would like to walk that far to school. now a days. Rain, frost, snow or sun shine?

This was a one room school with eight grades and just one teacher.

The canal ran part way thru our place and came out close to the school house. There was a bridge over the creek, this bridge we had to cross in order to reach the school. Sometime we walked the canal bank.

The owner that the canal ran thru his fields, warned us he had a ram goat that was real mean. He gave us permission to go thru his fields but be very careful of this ram. He said if we saw the ram not to go in that field.

One morning my friend Margaret Church and I was alone going to school, this morning we couldn’t see the ram anywhere, so we decided we would take our chances. We decided to go thru this field. We didn’t see the ram until we were almost out of the field.

Our hearts nearly stopped There he was on the canal bank right in from of us. No way to avoid him, water in the canal and a small creek on the other side. My girl friend jumed toward the stream. I was so scared I stood, afraid to move, by this time I was face to face with him. He such big horns, the kind that circles around, I had never seen such horns. I don’t know how but I put my hand out to pet him. He seemed as surprised as I was. His big horns were so rough and hard. I was so scared, I tried to move away. He then tossed his head, I stepped backwards and as I did I slipped and fell on the ground. I think I slipped on a small rock. The goat didn’t hurt me. I got up and looked at him and he at me. Then somehow I got out of there. The goat just stood and looked at me, I guess he was wondering how I got there.

In the mean time, my friend had ran to the school house and told everyone the goat had knocked me doun. But it didn’t. I had slipped by myself and fell. I wasn’t afraid anymore but I didn’t go thru that field again unless my brothers were there to see if the gaot was anywhere to be seen. Why press your luck.

The school had a big bell, I was located in a belfry. On top of the school. The bell was rung by pulling a long rope. You could hear this bell when it was rung, for a long ways. The bell was rung in the morning and again at our lunch time and at our recesses. The bell was rung more times in the morning, just once the other times. The teacher let me ring it once, it took me off my feet. My brother used to ring it often, he was taller. (Walter)

The teacher would line us up in a row to march us in to the school house. In the morning, lunch time and the recesses. The small children in the front and the tall ones in the back.

We had a out house, just one. The grounds was partialy fenced in. on one side it was as nature left it. Sagebrush and big boulders. In the spring there were a lot of wild flowers and a lot of bright colored moss. I loved that moss it had such a pretty color and velvet like feeling. There was a real flat big rock we called Table Rock. This is where, some of us would sit and eat our lunches every day.

Margaret and I would exchange sandwiches. She was fond of cheese We always had cheese at our house. She would have peanut butter and I was fond of that. So we got along fine.

The school, we had a pot belly stove that heated the whole school room. We had a huge blackboard right back of where the teacher sat. The desks and seats were connected. The seats would push back when we got off of them. They stayed until we pushed them doun, when we sat doun. The teacher had a regular chair and a fat cushion to sit on.

I wonder what occasion this photograph commemorates. The streamers imply some sort of celebration. (Elsie is the second girl from the right in the front row.)

The books, pencils and tablets were pushed into the front of the desk. The to of the desk didn’t lift up.

We chalk and erasers, to use on the blackboard. The teach ever so often would have a couple of the kids stay after school to clean the erasers. You had to be careful the chalk dust would fly all over. The boys (mostly) were the ones asked to do this, they would hit two erasers together to knock the dust out.

We carried our lunches in a lunch pail, we had no cafeterias those days. The lunch pails were put on a shelf in the cloak room. No lockers. Our hats, coats and goullashes, hung up in this small room.

Our lunch pail was probably a five pound lard pail. Our tablets were called “penny tablets” a very cheap grade of paper. The older children used pens. The pens then was a holder which held pen points. The pen points came in differend size points of course you used one point at a time. There was a small hole in the desk at the top and to one side, that held a ink well, which had a top, with a small hole in it. So the pen could enter. You’d have to dip the pen often to have enough ink to write much. They finally invented fountain pens.

The first fountain pen I had I lost in the snow and never found it untill the snow melted in the spring then it was too late. It had frozen with the ink in it and burst.

The boys used to like to put the tip of the braid of the girl that sat in front of him. They did’t dare do mine as I had two brothers big.

Inez was born, she was named after, the Shaw’s daughter. Inez Shaw. She was a surprise to me I didn’t know I was going to have a baby sister.

Coming from school one day. I had walked around the road. I was close to our house, I had to still go across the bridge of the canal.

A short ways from the road I was on was a big puddle of water. See there stood a big coyote with his teeth showing, and lookin straight at me. I was scared to pass in front of him I turned around and ran all the way back to our neighbors, about one half mile away. Never being late home from school, my mother got worried, she called the neighbors, to see if I was there. The neighbors told her I was there and afraid to go home. Mother sent some one to take me home. Mother was sure the coyote had stopped for a drink as he probably had been running. Said coyotes won’t attack you unless their hungry. I don’t know I didn’ stop to ask him if he was hungry. After Mother’s experiences with couotes I wasn’t taking any chances.

In the winter time the distance was a long way. There a lot of cold days in Idaho. We were lucky we had friends to walk with. The wind would blow a gale and seemed to go right thru you.

We wore scarves around our necks, up around our mouths Our hot breathe going thru the scarf entering the cold air would form icicles. We would blow our breathes to see the white steam come out. It looked like white smoke. Our noses were like a big red cherry. Our hands were so cold we couldn’t feel them at all, and we had on warm gloves.

When the snow came Mother didn’t want us to eat the first snow that fell She said it had germs in it. The snow cleaned the air. We children would make snowmen, angels by laying with our arms out straight and moving up and doun. Which made the wings. We would lay on our backs in the snow. Having brothers we made forts. We had a lot of snowballing. I didn’t mind the soft ones but the boys learned to soak the in water and they would hurt.

When it was really snowing, we would have two layers of clothes on. Lon johns, and long black stockings. Over our shoes we wore galoshes, which were called “over shoes”. They came all most up to our knees. Dad would wrap gunny sacks over our galoshes up to our knees. My brothers would have to remove these gunny sacks before we got to school. They would hide these sacks under the bridge of the canal. We would have to put them on the way back home after school. We took off our “over shoes” after we got to school. The teacher was good to help the little ones. These mornings the heat from the pot belly stove felt good

Our “over shoes”, buckled up in front of the foot with six or more buckles. There were hard to pull on over our regular shoes. Some of the other children got frost bitten because they weren’t dressed warm enough.

This little story reminds me of our family. A teacher was helping to put on a little boys over shoes. She tugged and pulled, finally succeeded in getting them on. The little boy piped up Those aren’t my over shoes. Reluctantly she took them off. Then the little boy exclaimed Those used to belong to my sister. So the teacher had to tug and pull them back on the little fellow. She wasn’t very happy about it.

At our house we only had a heater and the kitchen range for heat. We had a lot of fun popping corn and eating apples Some times we could make candy, I remember once, we were making some fudge, it was boiling real good and I stuck one of my fingers into it. I was burned real good. I learnt a lesson I never did that again.

In the winter we wore fannel gowns to sleep in. The gowns were long, we would wrap them around our legs when we got into bed. I bedrooms were always cold.

We wore long johns until Easter Sunday, off they came the long johns, on with the light weight clothes. It felt as tho we had lost ten pounds. We could wear white stockings.

Sometimes Dad would make a sliegh out of his wagon. If it snowed while we were in school and not clothe for the weather, he would pick us up, not only us but all the other kids. He would sing “It’s a long way to Tipperary” but my hearts right there.” We all got a kick out of it. I always thought he meant getting home.

To continue with the next installment of Elsie's manuscript, click here.

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