Memories on Parade
Meet the Family
A Town is Born
The Growing McCullough Family
A Church Becomes a Reality
A Closing Word
The Man Called Guelcksie
A is for Arthur
The Coffin House
Poet and Philosopher -- Aged Seven
The Two Room School House
Open the Windows and Open the Doors
Sixteen Girls in White
Four Girls and Five Boys
The Poet in Hot Water
Windows Open for Edith
The Great Decision
THE TWO ROOM SCHOOL HOUSE
The School House, known as Little Room and Big Room, was not graded in any way. Alicia had no school board and no organization of parents. The Little Room was used by beginners and very young children. The teacher was a woman who taught numbers, letters, drawing, and simple songs and games.
The Big Room was presided over by a man. Pupils were of different ages and recited in classes when he called them to the front of the room. Children were promoted to the Big Room when they could read simple sentences and handle addition and subtraction of simple numbers. At recess they were all together to jump the rope and play "London Bridge is Falling Down", and get a drink of water from the pump.
Several boys came from the country on horseback, their dinner buckets hanging from the saddlehorns, and their horses were tied to trees near the schoolyard.
Being promoted was a great experience. I soon learned that life was more pleasant as a big girl in the Little Room than as a little girl in the Big Room. I did not like going forward with my class, with all those older pupils sitting at their desks in the rear of the room. But I loved bits of geography, bits of composition writing, bits of history. I thought my teachers knew everything -- and I loved having new books, new pencils and new shoes.
I do not know how the teachers were selected nor how they were paid. But I did know that the man teacher had a leather strap in the drawer of his desk, and I sometimes heard him call on a bad boy to come up and take off his jacket and receive several slaps of the strap across his shoulders. I buried my face in my folded arms during such trying moments.
On Friday afternoons we put away the books early and enjoyed saying speeches. Sometimes parents came to hear us. And we always had stick candy, courtesy of the teacher.
I had two poems that I liked to say on these special days. My mother taught them to me:
Sometimes, just for change, I said the following poem:
On warm spring days the teacher dismissed two of the older pupils to pump fresh water and bring it in buckets to refresh us. The long-handled dippers rattled as the buckets were passed up and down the aisles.
If a pupil dipped more than he could drink, it went back into the bucket with the dipper.
Both boys and girls dropped out of school when they thought they had learned all that it had to give. They became teenagers, with little or nothing to do.