School Days – by Rachel Jones Martens


I started school at age five at the city school in Barnsdall. All but the three little ones went at the same time. Lloyd drove to school in the two-seated buggy.

Later Emitt, then Johnnie drove. Ten kids piled in. After the buggy wore out, we had to take the wagon to school. Mom put quilts and straw in it.

School was 9-4. There was a recess in the AM and PM, along with a one-hour lunch. We played games like red rover, hide ?n seek, jumped rope to chants, hopscotched, and played jacks. I was good at jacks! The boys played ball. They also played marbles for ?keeps”. The teachers probably didn?t know that one!

The school had a cloak room where we hung up all our coats and hats. It was a one-room schoolhouse, with one teacher. There was a big potbellied stove that vented up and out.

I hated Miss Renfro. She was in her 20?s or 30?s. She partied half the night and came to school cranky. She would make the unruly pupils hold out the palms of her hand, and she would hit them with her thick ruler. I loved school and didn?t get spanked. I liked English, reading, math, and penmanship but hated history and geography.

We took 2-gallon syrup buckets for lunch. Summer and fall the buckets contained extra breakfast biscuits (and Mom made the best biscuits in the whole world). Syrup and butter would be put in something with a lid. We?d all gather round and eat. In the winter we had country-cured ham in the biscuits. We cured the delicious ham in our well house in the winter. We would drink out of the same dipper at school. Later on we did have collapsible cups.

At the end of 8th grade, when I was 13, I wanted to finish school. Dad said if I would stay home two days of week to help Mom out with the laundry and other chores, that I could go. Earl, Frank, Bill, and Lois were still at home at that time. I didn?t feel like I could miss out on that much school and still learn the curriculum and get good grades. So, I quit after 8th grade, as my older brothers and sisters had done. Because of the teaching we received, an 8th grade education in those days was equivalent to a High School diploma today. The youngest three (Frank, Bill, and Lois) did get to finish high school.

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