1937- 38 Greenwood School Day Memories

November 17, 1998

contributed by Elaine (Wood) Greene/Jenson

My first day of school was almost a disaster for me. I hadn't been there very long when I had to go to the bathroom (toilet in those days). There were two outhouses one for the boys, and the other for the girls. I headed for one of them and all the kids hollered, "No! That's the wrong one". I turned sharply, heading for the other one and they hollered, "Wrong one!" So being I had to go, I opted for the one I had started for in the first place. As it turned out, it was the boyís toilet, and I can remember the stench of that one yet. The walls must have been saturated with urine.

I attended the same one-room school for all eight grades with only one exception--second grade.  That 1937-38 term, I spent at Christoferson School and my teacher was Hazel Woodward.

Since the second grade was the only year I did not attend the same school, I will talk about it first. My parents moved to area of Greenwood, Wisconsin, and I went to a country grade school there too. I lived about a mile and a half from the school, unless I cut across a couple of pastures rather than go around on the road. I had a little black and white dog, called Gypie and he use to try to follow me to school. My dad would spank him for it, but it didn't seem to help. One day as I was cutting through the pasture with Gypie following, a bull that I hadn't seen started to chase me. My dad could see what was happening and he started running down the drive way to the pasture, in the mean time Gypie thought it was great sport to chase that old bull, and distracted it long enough for me to run to the next fence, after that Gypie was never spanked again for following me to school. He always went back home when I got to the last fence anyway. But after that my parents made me go around the road even though it was farther. In the winter I use to ride most of the time, with a boy who had a dog sled, he was in the fourth grade and I in the second. But occasionally he would love to tease me. He, would make the dog run just fast enough so I couldn't catch him and I would get so angry with him. He lived four miles from the school, which is why he used the dog and sled. Then he would leave the dog and sled at my friendís place, which was right by the school. In the good weather he rode a pony, which he also left at this place. Sometimes when we walked which wasn't very often, we would play in the snow that the plow had piled up beside the road. One time we both decided to keep twisting and found we could each dig a hole in the bank straight down, and the hole I dug was near the edge and when I got it up to my shoulders, I found I couldnít get out. I was able to keep working in it until I got out on the road, but my friend had dug his hole farther from the road and then he couldn't get out. So we both decided that I should try and dig a tunnel straight in toward him. I did this and before very long my tunnel caved in and I had to start over. We kept this up and soon it was getting dark and there were two sets of parents pretty worried. Our parents came looking for us and just as they arrived, Wayne was able to get out. We each got a lecture about digging holes in snow banks, but I don't really think either one of us would have needed it because we were both scared when he got stuck. Then when it got dark we were even more scared. Although it never dawned on us that we could have been buried under that snow, especially when I was tunneling into that bank.

The place we lived in at Greenwood had a windmill, which I thought was so neat because it pumped water for the cows. We still didn't have electricity at that place either, but the house was a much better house than the one we came from.

One afternoon in the fall I decided to leave school, and go home because my dad was filling silo, and I had never seen a silo filler so I wanted to see it. My mother checked the next day to see why school had let out early and that was when she found that I had just plain left. I took my dinner pail and books so the teacher told her, she thought I had gotten ill and left for home, the teacher hadnít bothered to check and my mother was not too happy at that point.

My mother paid that teacher a couple of visits. One time my mother had sent some canned peaches to school in my dinner pail and some boys got into my lunch and ate the peaches and then urinated in the jar, closed it up and put it back in my lunch pail. Of course they even told me what they did so I didn't bother to open the jar, but I did eat the sandwiches and when my mother found that jar of urine, and then found that I had eaten the rest of my lunch, after they had put the urine in, she about hit the ceiling. From then on my lunch was kept by the teacher's desk.

Another time the big boys in that school got a hold of my ears and each pulled a different direction and my ears tore loose from the top, and they were terribly sore, again my mother marched down to that school. For some reason the bigger boys in that school were always doing something and my mother would always be at the school shortly after.

That Christmas I was given a green wicker doll buggy and a doll along with clothes that my mother had made for it. My brother got an orange and green airplane and a wagon. The wagon was wood and it had side panels that could be taken off to make it a flat wagon. It said Flyer on the sides of the wagon. We used that to haul the wood from the porch into the house. We hauled the wood to the porch with a sled and piled it up then we would haul it into the house with the wagon one load at a time as needed.

After one crop season and a winter, my parents moved back to the farm and the house you saw in the picture. So I finished my second grade in the school I started in. I'm not sure why they moved to Greenwood in the first place, and I'm sure they were only renting that farm.

Now I had the same teacher that I had in first grade, except she had gotten married and so she had a new name. I can remember the names of all my teachers. I had six different teachers in the eight years. The teacher in our country grade school would stay at the home of one of the students during the school year and usually walked to school just like the students had to. Once or twice the teacher lived at a place where there were no children.

The school I attended had an entryway; which was also the boys cloak room, it also was where the water pail and wash bowl sat for washing our hands. There was paper towel above the wash bowl. There was a door straight ahead that went into the class room and a door to the right which went into the girls cloak room, then there was another door into the class room from the girls cloak room. We had that little room so we could take off our snow pants and put on a skirt. This room was also the storage area of the curriculum books and other supplies.

In the class room, right by the door of the boys cloak room was a water bubbler. It was an earthen crock with a fountain that we could drink from, below sat a pail to catch the excess water. The water was carried in from a pump outside and poured into the crock, and the water in the pail below had to be dumped periodically. We had a small room in the North east corner about the size of big closet which was the library, The East side and south side was all windows and the West side was the blackboards. Each grade had their assignments written on one of the boards. On the North side were the doors to the cloak rooms, and between those doors was the bulletin board. High between the windows were kerosene lamps with mirrored reflectors behind them.

In the middle of the room was a hanging Aladdin lamp. Which gave more light and could be turned down when we had Christmas programs for special effects. All the desks were connected one to another with a wooden board at the bottom, sort of like a runner. The seat, which folded up was part of the desk behind and they had ink wells on the upper right corner of the desk and a place to lay a pencil across the top. Our inkwells were filled from a big container of ink.

The pen we used had to be dipped, in the ink, and some times would drip on the paper. We had a blotter, which we would use to soak up the drips and the excess ink when we wrote, so it wouldn't smear. A common expression of the day was, "You're just like an ink blotter, you soak it all in, but you get it all backward." We also had a sand table, which was real neat. Underneath was storage area for colored paper, clay, flash cards, paste and things used in the sand box on top. The sand table had edges about 4 inches high and that of course was filled with sand. We used it to make scenes of the area we were studying in Geography. I use to just love the sand table detail. We could use clay, construction paper, and any thing else to depict the area we were studying about. We would even bring things from home for our projects.

We also had our jobs to do. We had a democratic type election on Friday to determine who would do what jobs. Some of the jobs were; put the flag up outside and be sure it came down if weather was bad. We had to carry in the water, and take out the water under the cooler. We had to dust, sweep, straighten up the library, sweep the toilets, wash black boards, clap the erasers, in the winter we had to throw wood in the furnace, which was in the basement. We happen to have a more modern school, we had a furnace and a floor register. We also used the floor furnace to set our lunches on to warm them, especially if we happen to have cocoa or soup.

This school usually had only 13 students and once we got up to 15, but the unique thing about it was; there were two Elaine's, two Erline's, two Duane's and three Donald's. Two of the Donald's had handicapped left arms.

We always put on a nice Christmas program and the last part of the program was the pageant, depicting the Birth of Christ. While it was very impressive, I use to get so disgusted because I always had to be a king and sing "We Three Kings Of Orient Are" and I always wanted to be the angel. So the last two years the teacher found out about how disappointed I had been, when I couldn't be the angel, so she made me the angel, but not without a catch. I still had to sing We Three Kings, when the kings came in, but at least I did get to be the angel and I really didn't mind having to sing because to me it was worth it to be the angel!

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