By Rosemary O’Keefe
I hope you enjoyed your Easter holiday as much as I did. I enjoyed the company of my son, daughter, granddaughter and brothers. We shared a great four o’clock dinner in my sun room and then began talking about our recent adventures.
No dyed eggs for me this year but I did find humor in a cartoon in the Sunday comics. It told of a young boy saying he made sure some of the eggs he colored had cracks in them before he dyed them. Seems his mother made him take some eggs in his school lunch and he loved grossing out his table mates as he ate the eggs with colored veins in them. We, too, ate our found eggs for several meals after Easter but I wasn’t sure that was being done anymore. Maybe we can call that recyling.
Several of my readers have expressed their enjoyment reading about the one room school house adventures. Much like a conversation one enjoys sharing I find it difficult to stop writing about the subject.
Since discipline seemed to be included in the eduation of the day here are some instances that could cause a problem, one being mispronouncing words, or laughing at great writers. Private fun we might remember having was the reciting from “Hiawatha,” some of us failed to appreciate the “Gichee-Gumee’s” and other beauties of poetry. Then there were those who had difficulty learning to write cursive, known to many as the Palmer Method. The schools in Kentucky no longer teach cursive. Pity anyone who started to answer a question with “Well….” they were cautioned that there was no time to dig a well before answering. If we mispelled a word and were told to look it up in the dictionary and we asked how can we do that?
Remember hearing that there is no such word as “ain’t?” It has now worked its way into the dictionary against the will of many a strong willed teacher. One had to be careful in writing themes. New ideas were not always popular. Pulling a girls long hair or putting glue on a seat or sneaking sary object inside a fellow students desk or heaven forbid inside the teachers desk drawer. One of my favorites when I was a student, even as an adult student, was when you were concerned you might be the one called on to give a correct answer that you didn’t know. I would jokingly tell my students don’t lower your head or look down as this was a dead give away.
We cannot forget a time for many of us that was maybe a precursor to the texting done today or perhaps “friending” on facebook, it was having an autograph book. Classmates would write a verse or a bit of nonsense in your book. It was an honor to be asked to write in ones book, and one could not help but feel a type of kinship with the writer. An example might be, Dear Betty, I wish you luck, I wish you joy, I wish you first a baby boy, and when his hair begins to curl, I wish you then a baby girl. Love Ann. Marriage and parenthood was right up there in career choices in an earlier time. As noted in this one, Dear Mary, Be a good girl, Lead a good life, Marry a good man, And be a good wife, Your friend, Ann. Others, less personal, but still thoughtful. Dear Sally, In your chain of friendships, please consider me a link. Your classmate, Sue. Dear Lee, Here in Illinois, carved on a rock, three little words, “Forget Me Not.” John.
Did you have an autograph book? Do you still have it? I do but don’t know where I put it.
Economy is the art of making most of life.
“Teaching in the 1920s” By Charles S. Chamberlin
Recently we have seen big-city teachers’ unions strike for higher pay, smaller class size and better fringe benefits, but in the Roaring ’20s, when we were happy just to have a job, things were different.
I recently reread an old teachers’ contract for a Wisconsin school district, signed in 1922.
“Miss Doe agrees:
1. Not to get married. This contract becomes null and void immediately if the teacher marries.
2. Not to have company with men.
3. To be home between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., unless in attendance at a school function.
4. Not to loiter downtown in ice-cream stores.
5. Not to leave town at any time without the permission of the chairman of the Trustees.
6. Not to smoke cigarettes. This contract becomes null and void immediately if the teacher is found smoking.
7. Not to drink beer, wine or whiskey. This contract becomes null and void immediately if the teacher is found drinking beer, wine or whiskey.
8. Not to ride in a carriage or automobile with any men except her brother or father.
9. Not to dress in bright colors.
10. Not to dye her hair.
11. To wear at least two petticoats.
12. Not to wear dresses more than 2 inches above the ankles.
13. To keep the schoolroom clean: A. To sweep the classroom floor at least once daily. B. To scrub the classroom floor at least once weekly with saop and hot water. C. To clean the blackboard at least once daily. D. To start the fire at 7 a.m., so that the room will be warm at 8 a.m. when the children arrive.
14. Not to wear face powder, mascara or to paint the lips.”
And, by the way, the pay was all of $75 per month!