Sixty Years Ago: Welcome Back To The Two-Room School
One and two-room schoolhouses.
They used to be everywhere, and I don't mean you had to go back to the 'Little House On The Prairie' days to see them.
I remember when I worked in Winner South Dakota back in the 1970s, there were small white schoolhouses out in the country, out in what some people would sarcastically call 'the middle of nowhere.' There would generally be one vehicle parked next to the school, the teacher's car, and an American Flag flying proudly on that tall pole beside the school. The playground was empty, except if you were lucky enough to drive past the lunch hour or maybe during recess.
I went to one of those schools. No, it wasn't white and it wasn't out there, far off in the country. No, it was in town...the town being about 300 people or so, small and friendly, the kind of place where everyone knew everyone.
When my older brother by five years went there were eight grades. By the time I went, the grades were down to six and it wasn't long after I left that the grades went down to...zero. Zip. Yep, the school is gone for many years now. Well, not really gone I guess, the building is still there and it still serves a purpose.
About six kids or so per grade back then, first, second, and third grade in one room, fourth, fifth, and sixth graders in the other.
Recess meant a rousing game of softball, whether we had enough players or not (there were always ways to improvise). Or maybe it was 'Red Rover, Red Rover,' and hope that the other team didn't have the biggest kid to bust through our line! One day a week was 'Bake Day' when we could bring a homemade pot pie or goulash or maybe a potato for the oven downstairs. Otherwise, we'd bring our Roy Rogers or Jetsons or Lassie metal lunch box with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a cookie, and maybe a thermos of chicken soup.
I always smile a little when parents talk about their kids getting to see their friends again after a long summer break. We saw our friends all the time anyway, school or not. We all lived together in this small town, or in this small farming area. All our parents were neighbors, were friends.
But that first day of school was (and is) special, and it doesn't matter if you go to the biggest school in the state or....a little two-roomer.
If there are any of those two roomers left.