Schools of the Past: Greene: Road One, First School 1925-1932 Part I

The subject of this article was written by Ruth Filer Thompson, the daughter of Ruby Filer, a teacher, and is a documentation of her remembrances of attending school when growing up in the Greene area. It is quoted verbatim in the following paragraphs and when read will give all an inkling of attending school in the time frame above.

“The road leading toward the first school I attended was of unpaved dirt. It was just a narrow ribbon of a former pasture, mostly scraped bare of the grass that still grew on either side, but with a few stubborn clumps surviving in the middle. It was a very old road, made by horses’ hooves and wagon wheels long before the ‘horseless carriages’ altered road design.

The school had a formal label. District #22, but it was a very small, one-room, wooden building of the sort common then in rural areas. It sat on a tiny parcel of land at the corner of two adjoining farms. Two farmer-owners apparently had seen fit to donate a bit of pasture to education, despite having little ‘book learning’ themselves. A woodshed stood beside the school, its supply of chunks replenished each fall. A pot bellied stove inside warmed the school in cold weather, but neither electricity nor running water served the building.

I began going to District 22 with my mother, who was the teacher there. I was only three years old during my first month, September 1925, but my October 3rd birthday made my age four. My mother had intended just to keep me occupied in a corner, but I was eager to do what the other kids were doing. She found it simpler to put me in the first grade. The total pupils attending usually was about twelve or fourteen, spread across six grades. Thus each ‘grade’ had only two or three at a given level.

My mother’s preparation for teaching was only the nine months called “training class” in the early 1900s. It was supposed to follow graduation from high school, but that requirement was not strictly enforced. Rapid growth in the young United States created an urgent need for teachers who were willing to serve the small rural schools. Even in the 1920s, the teacher’s role in our school included carrying a bucket of drinking water from the nearest farmhouse to the school each morning. It also included starting and tending the fire in the wood stove when weather grew cold. Just getting to and from our house to the school was quite a challenge in my mother’s case.

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