By Doris Schroeder
If my memory serves me right, it was somewhere around 1944 or 5 that my dad told me “Doris, we are going to move back to Hutch!” His parents had already moved to Buhler a few years previously and we moved to the farm. Now they had sold the farm to my uncle. To me the farm was a little bit of heaven, at least at that time. We had lived there a year, then moved to California a year and a half, and then back to the farm for three and a half more years.
This farm was built on a hill about a half mile from 82nd St., on a road that is named Sunrise Road, located between Medora and Buhler. The road was named after the country school of Sunrise, I enjoyed attending. It, too, is now gone.
I loved that school and I think I never missed a day except for the one time they called it off because of a terrible snowstorm. It was a simple building with the usual bell tower on top and during the day the American flag would flap in the wind. There was something that made us proud to be an American and to live in this great country of rolling wheat fields of gold. Each morning the teacher would ring the bell, we would march to our desks and do the flag salute and the teacher would pray for the day. That must be where the saying of “God and country” came from.
The inside of the school had a boys and girls hall where we could go on occasion and practice our spelling or memory work with our classmate. Since the single teacher had her hands full with teaching all grades, the older ones would sometimes help the younger ones. It certainly felt like family.
The teacher would call for each class to come to the front row and she would teach us what we needed to know. Then we would go back to our desks and she would call the next class. If you had your work done you could listen in on that one.
We were so proud when the school board bought a water fountain for we students. The entrance hall also had a sink and a pump to keep the fountain filled.
April was such a beautiful month. The whole earth was blossoming with spring. Fields were turning green with the lush growth of emerald colored wheat and I, as an eleven-year-old, eagerly looked forward to the mile walk to school down the country road. The cheery robins voiced their melody in the crisp, country air. Who could ask for anything more?
When we became “one of the older ones” in the 5th and 6th grade, we especially enjoyed the noon recess. After eating our sandwich of homemade bread and ham and usually an apple, we thought we really had a treat when we had “store” bread and lunch meat. Afterwards the younger ones would go to the swings and teeter totters and we “older” ones could play basketball on the outside dirt-packed court. Even the teacher enjoyed it and we really got into the game. When she would ring the bell to come in, we’d be really hot and sweaty. She usually read us a story from a book while we rested at our desks.
The last April I attended, this would be the time we would practice for our Last Day of School program. This last year I was to sing my first solo “Farewell to Thee” and I was a little jittery. The words, however, came from my heart “Now our golden days are at an end, The parting hour will be here soon, and we think as swift the moments pass, How delightful has been our friendships boon.” When I got nervous, I looked at my Mom. She smiled and nodded at me and that helped.
After the program, we all piled into cars and went to a picnic ground by the Little Arkansas River. The men had brought sawhorses and pieces of plywood for the food tables. Our mothers unloaded all the great food they had made…fried chicken, potato salad, baked beans and chocolate cake, and we enjoyed our last picnic together.
As we said goodbye for the last time, the chorus to my song I was thinking the words. “Our golden days are coming to an end!” The good thing, however, was that they didn’t. With God in our lives, each new phase of life is very special and we can enjoy each segment if He is with us. I will always, however, remember the wonderful days of country school!
Doris welcomes your thoughts and can be reached at [email protected]