Editor’s Note: Years ago, school started right after Labor Day. Now, August is the month that most students return to school. The experience is still much the same but in some ways very different from years gone by.
By Starrlette L. Howard
It was an unassuming place where progress was made and a child marked time with 4 R’s…Reading, Writing, ‘Rithmetic and Recess. For surely the latter carried with it lessons in or out of the schoolroom…in the realm of social skills, gamemanship, and lessons in whether the world was or wasn’t fair.
People don’t exaggerate when the say they walked a mile(s) to school or rode their horse. In the winter, ice-topped, snow-scraped legs and the cold managed to sneak into coats, under hats, and into boots or plain old shoes. The stove in the school warmed you against the cold drafts that found their way through doors and windows. But on the coldest days, even the stove couldn’t compete with frigid winds.
There was a time when writing and ciphering were done with a slate and chalk. A time when whittled pen nibs and the rareness of paper did the job. Later, pencils and tantinged paper scratched a meaning into the work.
Decorating the walls was a big wind-up clock that moved slower just before recess or lunch. There was usually a patriotic poster of Washington or Lincoln, or something with a patriotic theme. And sometimes a calendar that hurried on weekends, but seemed to slow down on weekdays.
Teachers were generally prim and strict (unless you had a lucky year). But it wasn’t all their fault—sometimes they were just following rules of the school district. (See the following teacher’s rules.)
It was there we met our first cast of characters: the “class clown,” the “bully,” the “brain,” and those whom we counted first friends or enemies.
The old schoolroom wore on us a familarity—like a second home—where we watched (dreamily out the window) what each season could bring to earth. Where lessons and life were learned, and we began to figure out where we fit into the social world of this big earth.
We didn’t know it then, but we were making memories….