Submitted by Nute Chapman
Written by Clifford Peterman
From Onaway Outlook August 17, 2012
Caption: PIERSON SCHOOL - About 1938. Front row from left, Donald Pickett, Donald Beaudry, Silvia Beaudry, Joe LaFave, Royce Burgess,
Helen Cleveland, Lillian Harrison, Shirley Harrison and Alice Peterman. Second row from left, Dale Peterman, Bob Crooks, Cloid
Harrison Jr., Eva Scott, Donald Harrison, Charlotte Minier and Clifton Peterman. Third row from left, Marcia Steele, Mamie Prow, Marion
Prow, Connie Crooks, Robert Campbell, unknown, Bob Scott and Cecil Peterman. Back row from left, Gene Burgess, Rosiland Scott,
John Crooks, Lyle Peterman, Bill Minier, Floyd Minier and Walt Gendron.
The following is a continuation from last week of Cliff Peterman's School Days.
Teacher at the Pierson School my first year (1935) was Miss Mildred McAtee. She apparently thought I was a bright boy for she moved me from kindergarten to first-grade when I had only been in school a short time. With three older brothers ahead of me, (and with what I learned from them at home), she must have been convinced that it was a waste to have me go through kindergarten. That may have been true at that time, but as I progressed toward junior high and high school, studies became increasingly hard for me. I never became fond of reading until after I graduated, which means I had done poorly in English and history.
I liked mathematics, probably because I didn't have to read a lot to prepare for class. Miss McAtee, (later Mrs. Percy Everingham), taught three years and was one of my favorite teachers.
My next teacher at the Pierson School was Clyde Smith. I seem to remember him as stricter than Miss McAtee, so I'm not surprised that I never became fond of him as I did Miss McAtee. Mr. Smith began teaching the fall of 1937 and taught for two years.
Clifford Roberts took over in the fall of a 1939 and though he could be a firm disciplinarian, we knew in our hearts he had our best interests in mind. Mr. Roberts was well organized and a devoted teacher. By this time high schoolers from our district were being bused to Onaway, so the number of students attending Pierson had been reduced considerably.
This was the case in February of 1941 when Mr. Roberts drove through a storm on his way to school. Much snow had already fallen and he wondered if there would be enough students show up to hold class.
He picked up the children of Cloid and Ann Harrison and gave them a ride toward school. As they turned off Highway M-33 onto east 3 Mile Road his car began to struggle against the accumulated snow. He drove a few more rods to the top of a ridge and decided not to go any further. With the help of the Harrison children, they turned his car around, leaving it beside the road, pointed back toward the highway. He and the children then walked the balance of 300 yards to the school.
Emil LaFave was the janitor and had been there and started the fire in the furnace. He and the children lived close enough to walk to school. When no other children showed, Mr. Roberts decided to close school for the day.
He told us later that he had banked the fire with a scoop of coal and shut the drafts before leaving the building. He and the Harrison children walked back to his car and managed to make it back to the highway.
Authorities believe a gas formed from the coal, which caused an explosion to blow the door of the furnace open and spread across the teacher's desk. I don't know who discovered the fire, but due to the storm and plugged roads, fire trucks had a struggle to get there to save the building. The school was lost to the fire.
-Onaway Outlook, August 17, 2012, p.3. Retyped by J. Anderson.