The longer I live on this earth, the more I appreciate the freedoms we enjoyed in the days of attending the country school. Oh, I know, some of you younger ones may say “Oh no, that is ancient history!”
That was, however, the liberty of living that has made our country great, in spite of what some political parties may rant about.
It was refreshing to wake up to the sound of the crows cawing in the shelterbelt behind the house on a beautiful Autumn morning. To put your bare feet on the cold linoleum of the floor as you made your way to the succulent smell of breakfast in the big farm kitchen, was an eye opener, to say the least.
Later, breakfast eaten, books and dinner bucket in hand, I started out across the wheat field to take a short cut to the country school of Sunrise. The windmill was cranking its usual blustery wheels as I walked beside the barn, the chickens were pecking away at their morning repast. I could barely hear the pigs, off a little ways in their pen, grunting around their troughs in typical hog fashion.
Our two farm dogs, Shep and Spot, ran around excitedly as they followed me across the wheat field with just a bit of green wheat beginning to crop up through the little fall furrows of black loam soil.
I swung my dinner bucket back and forth as I took long strides across the field. The clouds across the sky skimmed across the horizon in a lazy fashion and I could imagine new horizons. I always looked forward to a day at the country school. Life was good!
After tramping across the field, I reached the country road and started up the hill where the school of Sunrise was located. The bright American flag was waving lustily in the Kansas breeze as I walked up the cement porch steps. I walked in through the outside hall, past the sink that even had a pump, and into the girl’s hall where I put up my dinner bucket.
As I walked back outside, I joined my friend Ruth at the swings and we sat on them and chatted about the happenings of our day. After awhile we made our way to the merry-go-round and one of the boys decided to give us a fast twirl. Two of the younger kids were on the teeter-totter, enjoying some bumps along the way.
The large bell on top of the school began to ring as we saw the teacher standing by the door and we hurriedly made our way to the front of the school to march in.
We stood by our desks, the little first grade ones on one side of the room and the larger ones on the other. We stood straight and tall and proud as we did our flag salute. After that we sang “God bless America” with all the gusto we possessed. It was then, we closed our eyes and listened to the teacher make the opening prayer.
All through the opening of school two famous patriots scrutinized our faces from the wall…George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, Americans we were proud to know.
“You may be seated!” the teacher announced, and we each sat down at our desk. Then started the schedule of the period. “First Grade Reading!” she announced and two little children went to the front and sat on their seats. After about ten minutes they went back to their places and she called the next class forward. This went on through the whole period until all eight classes had been up and their assignments given.
It was interesting to listen in on each class and I dare say, we learned a lot.
Finally it was time for recess. If you were one of the younger ones you probably played on the swings, teeter-totters and merry-go-round. If you were a little older and could bounce the ball, you got to play basketball on our dirt-packed court. It was totally fun and even the teacher got into the thick of it. Sometimes we even went a little longer, consequently, we came back in very sweaty. But oh, what fun we had!
For our lunch break at noon, we all went to get our dinner buckets from the boys or girls hall. Then we found a place to sit and enjoyed our banter back and forth. Sometimes we would trade part of our lunch with someone else. It was a real treat when we had a sandwich with “store” bread, even though it was white and gummy. Usually we had home-made bread cut in thick slices with ham.
On cold days the teacher also had to keep the coal stove burning to heat up the school. If it was really cold, we all sat by the big pot-bellied stove to keep warm. Sometimes in winter, it got dark and we could barely see. The teacher couldn’t light the lamps from the ceiling since that was quite a job.
The teacher must have breathed a sigh of relief when school was over at four p.m. Some of the kids’ fathers would be waiting for them in their cars outside. Mine never did because he was still at his job in Hutch. Several of us kids would walk down the hill of the country road on our way home. Sometimes we would stop at a little creek at the bottom of the hill. We would sit around a few minutes and play “make believe” about what life would be like someday. No matter the weather the school day would have been a “good day!” There was a certain peace about the simple life and it did feel that “God was in his heaven and all was right with the world!”
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