Sunday, March 5, 2017

Alumnae of the past, keepers of the future

Many questions have been asked on Facebook about the early towns and schools in Franklin Township. So, today I am turning my column over to Mom. In 1996, about three months before Dad passed, Mom sent a journal to me for my birthday. She wrote of her childhood, of her life. In doing so, she wrote of the history of the times. So, Mom, it is time for your pen to have its way: (I use my mother's words.)

The year before I started to school, Bess (her sister) took me to visit. She had a man Orville Riffell as a teacher. I kept laughing and he told me to be quiet. And I told him I didn't half to. So he took me up to his desk and switched me. Bessie got all excited and run down to her Uncle Dan's (he was on the school board). There was quite a lot of excitement for awhile. And when it came time the next fall for me to go to school, although there was another teacher, I wouldn't go.  Abe Minnich (the owner of Red River Grocery) took me and sit with me every morning for the first week of school before I stayed by myself.

We had a bench in the front of the schoolroom that 5 persons could sit on. The teacher would call on the 8th grade arithmetic class up from their desks in the back of the school. They would work problems on the board. Then the 7th grade would be called on down to the 1st grade. Sometimes I would be asleep as it was boring to listen to all of them recite. After I got in the 3rd grade, I liked school and I liked to go early before the big kids got there, and I'd carry wood from the wood-house in to make the fire. We would have to stay after school and clean up. Sweep the floor, pick up papers. I really liked that part.

I did good in school and hated to miss any, but in the 3rd grade I was riding Edward Young's bicycle home as I always went home at noon from school to eat dinner, and I was going pretty fast and fell off the bicycle and hurt my knee. It got infection in it and I had twenty-three boils on my right leg around my knee and couldn't go to school for three weeks. The teacher boarded with Bob (Mom's brother) and Welma and she come with my lesson every evening.

There is more I will share of my mother's story. This is the way it was in Red River when the school was  just down the road. A place where brothers and sisters were in the same room and all ages learned together. Water in the well and fire wood to be brought in. A time when classes were small and teachers lived-in.

This is the time of year for remembering the alumnae of our schools. A time for looking back at our own pasts and a time for watching the new graduates move forward. Let's hope in our moving forward that we not forget what and who came before.

Read the papers left behind from your loved ones. Hold the diaries and appreciate each word. Close your eyes and step back in time. Smell the wood fire and feel the snow on your cheek as you walk to school.

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