Saturday, August 14, 2010

Eakin School, A Little Red Brick School House

Eakin School, 1932-33

Names read from left to right beginning in the front row
with Bob Holt (me), then beginning at the left for the next
 row back. Read the list vertically beginning on the left..

My first seven years in school were attended in a  one-room, red-brick school house. One lonely teacher taught all eight grades, maintained discipline over as many as 32 students,  keep the school clean, the fire going in the winter--with some help from the older boys--and somehow, with the help of the good Lord, I'm sure, maintained his/her sanity. First, always, came the Lord's Prayer followed immediately with the pledge of allegiance to the Flag and Country.   Once the day got underway, each grade, in turn, would be called up to stand by the teacher's desk for their lesson in a particular subject. Recitation and questions would be given out loud. For some reason or the other, it didn’t seem to interfere with the studying of those other students in the room. The subjects were standard, reading, spelling, writing, arithmetic, geography, history and some form of art.

The spelling, writing and arithmetic would frequently require the student to work at the blackboard.
I remember one time when my class was up at the teacher’s desk doing our thing when my close friend, Bill Bailey, put a tack on the teacher’s chair while the teacher, Harold Ivell, was working at the blackboard with another student. To say that, after he sat down, the teacher rose to his subject would be the understatement of the year. Those of us who were aware of the reason for the bellowing outburst when he sat down, were petrified. It had to be one of us because we were the only ones standing close enough to his chair to accomplish the deed. When it began to look like we were all going to be hung out to dry, Bill manfully confessed, much to all our relief, for none of us would have exposed Bill.  We all would have accepted our punishment without a word.

Bill Bailey became a lifelong friend. We attended Kent State University together 1948/49. As kids, we used to sleep over at each other’s home. I remember one cold winter day while still in grade school, when I was staying with Bill, his father, Jess, who was part Menominee Indian from Wisconsin, made each of us a Bow and Arrow using limbs from a hickory tree. He first fashioned them with a hand ax, then shaved them to their final shape with a piece of broken glass. Talk about two proud boys.  You can’t imagine how we felt about those bows. That was at least seventy-five years ago, and it is still strong in my memory. Bill died in Tucson in 1991 and is buried in the cemetery on East Grant Road. Bill’s mother, Dicey, became like a second mother to me. She lived to be 97 years old.

Within the first ten days of class at Eakin School I fell hopelessly in love with a sweet, little, blue-eyed blond named Betty Merriman. She remained my special girlfriend from first through the fifth grade. She lived with her family on a small farm in Mudlick Hollow. We would sometimes eat together at lunch and if she was on my side when we played prisoner’s base and she got caught, I’d work especially hard to get her free. The love affair died on the vine when I was transferred to Stokes School where they had a teacher they were sure could keep me in line. 

At Eakin,the entire school would go on a picnic at the end of each school year. We would walk from the school across a meadow west of the school and down through the woods to Four Mile Run where we would eat our lunch and spend the day. That was always a special time.

Did we enjoy school? You know we did. Did we learn anything? That’s the more important question. I can speak only for myself. I came away from my seventh grade in school with an outstanding ability to read and comprehend, do arithmetic easily in my head, was well versed in history and geography, and was as wild as a march hare. As an attendee in such an environment though, I became a prankster supreme.  I ran Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer a good race in grade school.

 I attended two one-room schools, Eakin and Stokes, and was sufficiently incorrigible that the school board, with the concurrence of my parents, sent me to the much larger Beaver School System for my eighth year to try and get me under control. I never had a bit of trouble there, possibly because they had a big, big library with all kinds of wonderful books to keep me busy.

I recently learned that the Beaver grade school I attended, Fort MacIntosh, was built from bricks made in a brickyard owned or leased by my Gr Gr Grandfather, William Taylor. And, some of those same bricks were hauled from the brick yard to the school site by my Gr.Grand Father, Samuel Jacob Holt.