Sunday, May 30, 2010

Eakin School, my early years

I entered first grade at Eakin School in September, 1932. We lived about a mile from the school and, except for the first day when Mother took me in the car, I walked. That first year I walked with Bob and Marion Buckley, neighbors who lived about a quarter of a mile from us on the way to school. Bob was two years older than I was and Marion, four years older.

Eakin School was a one room, red brick building that housed all eight grades and had been around since before the Civil War. It had actually been used as a recruiting barracks during the Civil War. In the late 1800's my Grandfather and his brothers and sisters had gone to school there. Grandfather's brothers, Smith (Richard) and Clyde, taught there as young men. The red building bricks for the school were quarried and made on site. The building was approximately 12' x 40'x 60' inside dimensions. It had a fairly steep roof with two gable ends. There was only one door in the building and it was located in the front. Outside, there were four or five steps up to the door. There were four large  rectangular windows with multiple panes on each side.

Inside, the room was divided roughly in thirds down its long dimension with, I believe, nine rows of seats except the back-center half was open to the entry door. In front of the door as you entered was a large, round, pot-bellied stove about mid-way in the room that sat on a piece of metal which protected the oily-floor timbers from the heat of the stove. Almost the the entire front wall on the inside, from about three feet above the floor to a height of seven feet, was a large black piece of slate that functioned as a blackboard. The teacher's desk was centered in the front of the room, just in front of the blackboard. Along one side wall near the entry door were three rows of wooden pegs, one above the other, used for hanging hats and coats when school was in session. The other wall had shelves and was used as a library. There might have been forty or fifty feet of shelf space for books.

Outside, in front of the school, was a large graveled area about ten feet wider than the building on both sides and maybe fifty feet deep. Near the far end of this graveled area was the school water supply, a drilled well capped by a long-handled pump standing about four feet high. To drink from this well one had to either have a personal cup somewhere, or as most all of us did, someone pumped while you cupped your hands below the spout to form a cup and drank. A few fussy girls would wash their hands before drinking. The rest of us thought they were showing off and "uppity."

Along the right hand side of the building when facing the school, and about two thirds of the way back, were two large, slanting cellar doors covering the passage way to the area under the school floor. These opened to several steps that led down into a dank, dark, dugout-space beneath the school floor where coal for the stove was stored for use during winter.

Behind the school, and about twenty feet away from the building, were the outhouses–two-holers- one for Boys, one for Girls. Each outhouse had a shielding, wooden wall in front and side of its entry door and a low, sloped, hinged, wooden cover extending out from the back from which the waste material could be removed. As you might imagine, these could become quite aromatic in the early fall and late spring. We boys used to get large, flat rocks, sneak up behind the girls outhouse, quietly lift the covering door and hurl the rocks into the “maggoty” mess hoping to splash some poor unsuspecting girl seated inside.

One time, unknown to us, the school teacher, a woman, was using the facility when some of us older boys did our thing and the flat rocks did their thing. We gloatingly waited for the customary screams, which had always happened with every  gal we had caught. Surprisingly, silence.  No one in there? Hmmmm. In about a minute, and to our total surprise and chagrin, one angry lady teacher came boiling out of the outhouse.  As you might guess, no one would talk, so eight or nine of us were punished severely for that little caper.

On the north side of the school where the school’s long dimension was east-west and the entry door was on the west side, there was a grassy, upward sloping area with about ten very large old oak trees that provided wonderful shade under which to eat our lunches and for horsing around. Mudlick Hollow Road was about one hundred feet from the south side of the school and parallel with it. Going east from the school the road ran flat for just a short distance and then turned down as it wound its way down into “Mudlick” hollow. The road went from the school, where it intersected Sebring Road, all the way to Vanport, a distance of about five miles. During the winter when the snows were deep, this became a prime sled-riding slope. It was so long down to where it first leveled off that we could usually only make one or two runs during our lunch break.

Behind the school was a very large field that was farmed by the Hogue family who were my relatives.  The Hogues living there when my syblings and I attended school were descendants of Grandfather’s Aunt Rachel (Holt) and Uncle John Hogue. Corn was frequently the crop of choice and after it was harvested and the slalks cut there remained about a six or seven inch "stob" sticking above the ground. These became flying missiles during recess and lunch times.  Believe it  or not, no eye was put out during my six years attendance there and "stob" slinging every fall.   Don't tell me there wasn't a guardian angel watching over us kids.

The school year in those rural schools was from the day after Labor Day until April 15th the following year, reflecting the fact that the community was still in the transitional stage between being a rural farming community where all available manpower was needed to help with spring planting to more modern times when machinery replaced manpower. Change was in the air everywhere, but in those little one-room schools, time seemed to stand still.    World War ll changed all of that almost overnight.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Can't wait until next installment. Hopoe yu got your house done.