Attending grade school in a one room school house during the late thirties and early forties was very different from today's standards. Has come to my attention, that others are wondering how discipline was handled by the teachers in this era. A simple answer to that. We respected our elders, and those in authority. Should we be instructed to special rules, we complied. We never considered disobeying the teacher for a second, she was our instructor and provided us with teaching instructions to learn as we grew. We were interested in her words, and respected her with high esteem. However, recall being punished for somthing, do not remember what. Though remember the punishment vividly to this day. Was the WORST that could be given. I had to stand in a corner away from the blackboard in front of the class room where everyone could see me. Then needed to use the back house, and afraid to ask. Waited as long as possible, then had to urinate on the floor. Fortunately, some may not have seen it because class was ending. This combination of punishment was very embarrasing for me, and students reminded me and laughed constantly for a long time.
We walked to school, sometimes a mile or more, whether it was snowing, raining or whatever weather. If the school was open, we would manage to arrive, no matter what. During those days, school books were a valuable asset in learning, do not recall carrying them home many times, merely notebooks, etc. For special assignments parents would take us to the local library for reference material. We attended Kindergarten through the eighth grade. Many children were unable to attend school because of the need to work on farms.
We had no running water in the schoolhouse, two children were assigned the task of carrying water in a bucket from a close neighboring farm. One would take an end of a broom handle with the bucket of water, and the other child would grasp the other end. Somehow we managed to arrive back at the schoolhouse with over a half bucket full of water.
We would recite the "Pledge of Allegiance" (as what this graphic depicts) before classes began. The school room had many wooden desks which filled the room. A pot bellied coal stove was at the front, for providing heat during the winter months. Boys were assigned to go to the basement and bring fuel as needed. We oftentimes placed a potatoe brought from home on top of the stove, to cook during morning classes, and/or place frozen ice cream in a jar outside. The teacher's desk was in the middle of the room facing the students. Then two or three long benches remained in the room when she called a class for attendance, then the classmates would be seated there. The other classes, would collect study books in preparation of their class call. Students were assigned tasks for erasing and cleaning the long blackboards from chalk writings for studies by the teacher. Sometimes, on an overcast day, it was difficult to read, etc. because we had no lighting, the teacher made allowances for those days.
During recess hours we played games such as "andy over" where teams were designated to throw a ball over the schoolhouse and catch it. Also, we played "kitten ball", played on the "teeter totter", and utilized the small "back houses" designated for girls and one for boys. Then, once we heard the teacher ringing the hand bell, recess was over and was time to return to classes.
The great annual event "Christmas Program" was much anticipated by everyone. We decorated our schoolhouse and placed a curtain from storage across the front of the room where it could be pulled open to disclose activities of student performers. We had a piano, and a mother of the students would play it for the student activities, i.e. singing, dancing or sometimes reading poetry and other things. Farmers brought their lanterns and hung them around the school room for lighting the night of the program. Wives furnished food, including ice cream made by a hand drawn freezer, pies, and all types of delicious home made food. Ham, canned beef, potatoe salad, etc. All of which were canned by them or cured, even sometimes rabbits which were hunted. After the performance of the voluntary acts by the students, the food was served, then conversations entailed, by all. This activity usually lasted until late at night, much enjoyment for all.
Sometimes, the Superintendent of Schools would appear unannounced at our schoolhouse, horrors, everyone stiffened up with fear. She would sit at the back of the schoolhouse and observe our classes. Needless to say we were at our best possible behavior.
All in all, we managed to learn many things as we progressed our way into adult hood. Including making friends. Happy was the day when we graduated, and moved on to another school house in the city. High School!!!!
The 1930's were a perilous time for public education. With cash money in short supply parents were unable to provide their children with the necessary clothes, supplies, and textbooks (which were not furnished in some states) to attend school. Taxes, especially in rural areas, went unpaid. With the loss of revenue, school boards were forced to try numerous strategies to keep their districts operating. School terms were shortened. Teachers' salaries were cut. One new teacher was paid $40 a month for a five month school year - and was very glad for the job! When a rural county in Arkansas was forced to charge tuition one year in order to keep the schools open, some children were forced to drop out for that year. One farmer was able to barter wood to fuel the classrooms' potbellied stoves for his four children's tuition, thus enabling them to continue their education.