Saturday, December 19, 2009

Early Education in Lanark

This may be a good time in the blog to amplify the information on the Lanark school.  It consisted of two rooms plus a little room where the teachers kept the books and teaching materials plus a small rooms at the rear of each class room which had some small 18" cubbie holes where we could put our coats and lunch.   Each class room consisted of 4 rows of desks (one row for each grade) one room held grades 1 thru 4 and the other 5 thru 8.  We had 3 or 4 kids in each grade.  A large blackboard was at the front of the room.   The teacher would take turns instructing each grade, then she (Charlotte Matthews was my teacher) would give us some work to do and then she would go on to the next class.  No talking was allowed or anything that would disrupt the class. The school year began in early September and ended in April so we would be able to help our parents on the farm with preparing the land and planting the crops.  The subjects taught were very basic by today's standards and consisted of reading, writing and arithmetic.  We had some geography, spelling and things like telling time and other practical things.  In the corner of the class room was a big pot belly stove which had to heat the whole room.  The first grade class sat in a row closest to the big stove and some days it was so hot I could not stay awake.  The forth grade class sat on the other side of the room by some fairly large windows and those students were usually cold on the cold Bear Lake Winter days.

Students that attended school walked or in some cases rode horses to get to school.  It took a serious effort on those days when the temperature fell below zero or there was a "Bear Lake Blizzard"  to contend with.   The kids all came bundled up with coats and boots and warm mittens.   We had morning and afternoon recess plus a lunch period.   The first day I attended school (1st grade) we had a break after we had been in school for awhile and all the kids went to to the rear and started to get into their lunch sacks.  I thought it was lunch time and I ran home to get some lunch at home.  Mom quickly told me that it wasn't lunch time yet and I had to quickly run back.  There were no clocks in the school but the teachers had a pocket watch which they relied upon to keep us on schedule.

We played outside during recess and lunch period.  There was a merry-go-round and 2 ball diamonds layed out in the dirt and rocks.  Very little grass.  The out houses were located in the corner of the school lot.  It was a good 50 yards or more and in the winter it was cold never-to-be-forgotten experience.  In the spring there was usually a time when we could ice skate on the pond across the road.

I enjoyed school.  I was pretty good at baseball, even at the ages of 6 and 7 and was always chosen by the older boys to play on their team.  That made me feel good.   I attended this little school for  1st and 2nd grade after which the school was closed and we went to Paris at the beginning of the third grade and attended Emerson Elementary.
Ellis

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for the post. I remember some of those things, but not from first hand experience. It's always best to get the word straight from those who experienced it. I remember going over to the old Lanark School after it had been closed and abandoned with you and some of the other Lanark kids to play basketball on the weekends. A basketball hoop had been installed at one end of one of the rooms. It was cold, but we had good times there even in this old abandoned school, which would eventually become a barn and a hay shed.

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  2. I had forgotten about the basketball games. When the school board abandoned the building it left an opportunity for kids to fashion a makeshift basket which was smaller than a regulation basket, but we got very good at it. There were days that I hardly missed a shot. I wish I could have retained those skills as I went on to play Jr. High and High School basketball. I owned the only basketball for a time and one day I was playing with some older kids when Mom showed up to take me to primary. I took my basketball with me and the other kids got mad a me. Oh well, they got over it quickly, especially when they wanted to play again.

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