The Daniels One-Room Schoolhouse
One Room Country School
(NOTE: The Daniels School was located on the south side of 84th Street, just east of Whitneyville Road. This was designated School District No. 6. It was torn down within the last 10 years. A private residence now occupies that spot. Behind the school is the Daniels Cemetery.)
It was 1923 and I was five years old. Finally, the day had come when I would start school. I walked with my brother, Bill, one mile to a little country school house. I was very excited. I had been looking at books and wondering what was inside them. I was eager to learn to read.
The school bell was ringing. We had to hurry as we had only five minutes before the final bell rang. We could not be late! When we entered the school, I went to the girlís cloak room and hung up my jacket, and Bill went to the boys cloak room. Then we met inside and were assigned a desk to share.
(Arlo Sears is the boy on the right)
I liked my teacher, Mary Loring. She had a kind look, but I sensed she was strict. Her desk set on a platform in the front of the room. The blackboard was behind it and a long rope hung down to ring the bell for school to start, and for recess time. There was a clock on the wall and a portrait of George Washington crossing the Delaware. On the side of the room there were shelves that reached to the ceiling. The lower shelves were for dinner pails. The top shelves were for art materials. On the left side of the room was the library where I knew I would spend much time with the books. In front of it, were huge maps of the different states and of the world.
A large round stove about five feet tall stood in the back of the room. It had to be fired with coal. There were hooks on the wall near the stove to hang coats in the winter time. The recitations seat was in the front of the room where the teacher called the eight classes one at a time. Most of the desks were double and were shared with another student. Each desk had an ink well, as we used straight pens for penmanship. In the front was a single desk that was used for the water pail and dipper. We all had little metal cups that folded up, and we kept them in our desk. Another single desk in the front of the room was used for the "Mother Goose" book and the dictionary. We were encouraged to use the library and dictionary often.
The floors were wooden and had to be swept and mopped as well as the blackboards had to be cleaned. The coal had to be brought in from a shed in a coal scuttle. The water had to be pumped from the well outside the school. We all helped the teacher with the chores. There were rows of windows on each side of the room that furnished plenty of light.
Each morning we started outdoors with the "Pledge of Allegiance" to our United States flag which was hoisted to the top of the flag pole. Many times I stood in the cold, crisp air, with my hand over my heart, and with deep pride, pledged allegiance to our flag. The teacher then read a chapter each morning from various books. Many of themwere nature and character stories. Good characters and responsibility were always stressed. Sometimes, we sang songs from the little "knapsack" songbook.
The classes were called up front to the recitation seat. There were eight classes. We listened at times to the grades ahead of us, and learned from them. Recess was a special time for us. We only had fifteen minutes, but we made every minute count. We played soft ball, high jump, broad jump, raced, "hide and go seek", "anti-over", "fox and geese", and "turkey tail" "Turkey tail", was one of our favorites. We liked it so much that there were permanent tracks in the ground where we played it.
The place we liked most was the swamp. It was close to the school. There was a winding creek that ran through it where buttercups, watercress, wintergreen, with berries, hazelnuts, violets, and lady slippers grew. We never picked the lady slippers, as they were rare. It was like a little haven to us with birds singing, frogs croaking, and butterflies flying in the air. There were pollywogs in the creek and sometimes we saw a snake. We were living next to nature and felt the joy of it.
In the fall, we made "hutsí. We cut branches from the bushes and intertwined them to make rectangular huts. We filled in the walls with leaves and also put leaves over the top for the roof. The winters were very cold. I think we had deeper snow in those days, but I realize I was closer to the ground back then. We had to wear warm clothing; long legged underwear, heavy coats, with scarves and stocking caps with a tassel on the top, and galoshes with buckles to close them up.
When I was ten years old, 4H classes were becoming popular. Our teacher included a hot lunch program that could be included for credit for achievements in 4H club work. We had a kerosene stove in front of the room to cook on. Each week the teacher put menus on the side blackboard and asked for volunteers to bring food items from home. We had many different kinds of soup, creamed vegetables, casseroles, and cocoa, to name a few. We also brought our sandwiches from home in our dinner pail.
My brother and I had a black and white terrier named "Tippy" that followed us to school. He would not stay home so the teacher gave him a desk. Everybody liked Tippy and he sat up at the desk like a person. When he wanted to go out, he would open the door with his nose. One day, a boy brought in his German Shepard to school and they got into a fight in front of the school room. I found myself yelling out, "Come on, Tippy, come on!" Can you imagine something like that taking place in a school room?
I made friends easily, but I had two special friends. One was the teacherís daughter, Mabel Loring. She used to bring me large square molasses cookies with frosting on the top. Sometimes I went home with her to spend the night. She had a small upright piano that I loved. We used sit and play and sing popular songs from the Twenties, such as "My Blue Heaven" and the music of Rudy Vallie. She taught me to dance the Charleston, which was popular in the era of the Roaring Twenties.
Another great friend of mine was Elvia Dutcher, who was also my neighbor. She changed my name from Elizabeth to Betty as the boys were calling me Lizzie. It followed me all through life. I spent a lot of time in her home with her family and we are still friends today.
Left to right -
Back Row: Tom Forward, Willie Sears, Stanley Ketchel, Howard Miller, Athol Dygert, Roger Pitsch, Robert Rowland
3rd Row: Lola Sterzick, Thora Dygert, Teacher, Mary Loring, Rachel Rowland, Elvis Dutcher (Sheeham), Evelyn Pitsch
2nd Row: Jack Karrer Donald Dutcher, Lincoln Dygert, Maurice Dutcher, John Dutcher
Front Row: Elizabeth Sears (Working), Gloria Dutcher, Mabel Loring (Siegle), Virginia Miller (Shook), Beatrice Ketsey.
The day came when we had to travel to another school to take the state examination for the eighth grade. I was afraid that I would not pass, but my teacher had prepared me well. Besides the knowledge of the important subjects such as reading, writing, arithmetic, history, geography, English, orthography, physiology, spelling, art and music, there was emphasis on memory work such as the "Preamble to the Constitution of the United States", Paul Revereís "Midnight Ride", "The Gettysburg Address", and many others; words that I have never forgotten. We learned good citizenship, discipline, responsibility, leadership and an understanding and appreciation of our freedom.
There were three things I wanted to do and see when I grew up. I wanted to stand on Concord Bridge, to see The Liberty Bell, and to see the great documents from our United States Constitution. I realized theses were not just symbols, but they represented the principals of our political and religious freedoms that our country was founded on.
I was proud that I was educated in a little country school room. It was proven that it was a good education when I went into high school, business school and the continuation of my life. The roots were deeply planted in my mind and heart to which I owe a great deal of gratitude and appreciation to a dedicated teacher, Mrs. Loring, who for eight years of my life, gave me the basics of my education.
By Lydia Elizabeth (Sears) Working
Contributed by Dale Working
Created: 4 April 2007