Tuesday

Off To A Bad Start

[The] pioneer one-room schoolhouse had the inside measurements of a small living room. In fact, the teacher and her handful of various sized pupils, that posed outside, overpowered the building. Really, in those days, they didn’t make other schoolhouses much bigger. If you added on a place for the water bucket, coats, and overshoes, that mini-schoolhouse “filled the bill” in lunch bucket days.

Our schoolhouse was typical of its time. It had all the equipment to make an early day one room schoolhouse functional. There was a barn for the riding horses, and the horses that pulled the ever-present buggies, two pit toilets, and one woodshed. Also, a pump that had no windmill over it and a flag pole for showing what country we lived in. Sagebrush was chopped out between the barn and schoolhouse so we kids could play games during the noon hour.

With all that neat setting for a country education, I got off to a bad start. School had been going for two weeks before dad took me over and introduced me to the teacher. She was busy with two advanced first graders, so she left some mixed red and blue sticks on my desk. The teacher told me to sort out and count how many sticks of each color I had and tell her. Since I never counted colored sticks before and I wasn't too sure of my counting ability, panic set in. Seeing big boys and girls in grades beyond doing tricks with figures on the blackboard didn't help things either.

I ran over to where the teacher was and told her I had to use the backhouse. Instead, I went three miles straight home. Later the teacher was informed that I had passed through Rocklyn.

The next morning mother cried as she packed some lunch in a lard bucket. She told me I had to go to school and said if I got a wiggle on I'd make it to Rocklyn in time to walk the rest of the way to school with kids I knew. For reasons known only to me, I let the kids disapear down the road, then beat it to a stubble field that was across the road from the schoolhouse.

Laying in the field all day, looking at a lot of stubble brought no joy, but it was better than trying to figure out that stick game. At noon I could see kids playing and making joyful noises. Then I ate my first homemade lunch away from home. When school let out, I cut across fields, dodging roads as I headed home.

Years later, rumors had it that I spent my first two weeks of schooling in a stubble field. Not so, my parents were too smart. The next day dad laid a trap for me. When school let out, he spotted my head bobbing out of the stubble and flushed me out.

Only a child psychologist could explain why I got myself in such a mess. It didn't take my folks long to decide that I should wait 'til sister was old enough for school. I then wouldn't have the chance to dart into the stubble field. When the first grade finally soaked in, I should have been in third grade. I forever blew the opportunity of becoming a whiz kid.

"Country Schools and Country Preachers" Kik-Back Country, p.7


Rocklyn / Zion Schoolhouse - photo by Gerald Hardy

Govan Schoolhouse
Between Wilbur and Almira

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