My nephew Dale Wilker sent me a picture of school house 65 which was located 3 miles west of Geneva Minnesota. The article that went with it was written in 1936 when my brother Don and I attended school there.
I am going to write about the school which I first attended in Sept of 1933 and the students that were in the school at that time. First grade Deloris Cress .Milton Paulson and Woodrow Jensen. Third grade Eleanor Christen, Margret Peterson and Alan Mangskow. Fourth grade Elaine Hanson, Fifth grade Russell Paulson, Russell Ditlevson. Sixth grade Maurice Paulson, Donald Cress and Marvin Christenson. Seventh grade Lucille Christenson and Eighth grade Lawrence Cress, Vernon Paulson and Thelma Jensen.
This was a typical country school that taught all eight grades during the great depression. Our school teacher was Agnes Vaughn and I suppose she finished high school and then went to what was called Normal school for about a year and then got her teaching certificate to teach in the rural school. All the counties had a Supt of the county schools and suppose they supplied the schools with a few books and such. We brought to school a tablet and a pencil and if we were lucky we had a box of crayons.
Here is how they taught us and it was most interesting. Most of the children had been pretty much sheltered on the farms and I do not remember playing with any little girls until I started school. So that was an exciting and new experience for me. The teacher started off the morning working with the first graders on their reading and then if the weather was fine outside we went until first recess which was about ten o'clock and lasted for 15 mins. Then back in to the school room and a few more mins of instruction for the wee ones and then outside again to play until noon hour. We had an hour off at noon and all the kids played outdoors. In good weather the older kids played work up soft ball and we did "Run Sheep Run" and "Anti- I - Over" and other games. In winter we made a circle in the snow and cut it into pieces and played "Fox and Goose". The Fox tried to catch the goose and the center of the circle was the safe spot. Lots of fun. Also in winter we brought our skies and sleds to school and went down the hill that was in back of the school.
When the weather was bad we had a basement and we went down there to play and sometimes we played games in the school room during lunch . As first graders we did not leave the room every day after working on our reading. We sat and listened to the other classes recite and we worked on our Palmer penmanship. That is we did ups and downs and circles and worked on our cursive writing. There was a lot to be learned just listening to the other students and was an interesting place for a wee one.
Most of us had about 3 changes of clothing and lots of it was hand me downs and dresses made from flour sacks and we wore long underwear in the winter time. We changed our underwear on Saturday night when we took a bath in a round tub. We wore long stocking and a damn garter belt.
My brother Don was in sixth grade when I started school and I would turn around and look back at him and he would make a goofy face and I would laugh and get in trouble. Think Lawrence looked after me well and the other kids did not bother me. I learned to read in about 6 weeks and the first story was about Mother rabbit went into the woods hop hop hop. Then Father rabbit and baby rabbit did the same thing. Math was easy for me and when I was in first grade I could do the 3rd grade math and I was angry that they were not teaching me that.
In March of 1934 new children came to the school. Two different families. The Vogt family came and the Mother had died. Mae and Vera Vogt were in 8th and 7th grade and they were doing the house work for the family. Arnie and Eugene were a bit younger, I think in 4th and 5th grade. Then Delores Jensen came and she was in first grade. The rent farmer moved in March so they could start getting the ground ready for spring planting. They share cropped with the land owners and times were really tough.
Our school started at 9 am and we finished at 4 pm. The children started milking cows when they were about 8 or 9 years old and the boys would be doing field work and driving the horses by the time they were 11 and some younger. There was lots of stuff to learn on the farm. My brother Richard was born when I was 8 and I looked after him in the day time in the summer so that my Mother could get the never ending work done. I some times played by myself when he took a nap.
We had a well in this school so the kids did not have to walk to a neighbors to get water. One time a hive of bees got into the basement of the school and my Dad came to school with a straw hat on his head and a old curtain over his body and he had some kind of smoke device. He robbed the honey and every child went home with a lard bucket full of honey. Lard came in a nice metal bucket and that was used as a lunch pail. We did not have money to buy a lunch pail.
The picture I have was taken in 1936 and there was a different bunch of children in school then. That was the year we lost the farm and had to move to a rent farm 2 miles south of Hope Minn. 1936 was a bad winter and don had to break the snow ahead of me when we walked to school. My sister Daisy had pnemonia and I and my brother Dick was sent to my married sister Dorothy while my Mother nursed Daisy. This was before the day of antibotics and the Doctor came out every day and cupped Daisy on the back. He had to use a horse and sleigh and he could fall asleep and the horse would take him home to Ellendale.
We moved in March of that year and the neighbors came with their horses and wagons and moved us to the new farm. They had to dig out a road for ¼ mile as it was snow packed. We were able to get through with our Model T Ford and my mother carried the mantle in her hand that went with the Alladin lamp. We did not have electricity or running water on the rent farm and did not have it on the farm that we owned at one time. Life was tough in those days but we lived through it.