Country School Day Memories
by Janice Walker
THE FAIRFAX FORUM, Fairfax, Missouri, May 11, 2006

"Cousin, Mary Catherine's story of country school raised a lot of memories in me. My first and second grades were at Spring Valley. My brothers Bob and Roger and I walked a mile through the fields to school. Bob was a seventh grader my first year and Roger was a fifth grader. Being older, bigger and longer legged they'd run off and leave me and I'd cry and holler at them. I'd go home and tell mother and dad and they'd lecture the boys about it.
Our teacher was Phyllis Zachery from the Bellevue community. She was a very good teacher. When it snowed Dad would go scoop us a path through the fields. Over near the school there was a small creed with an old bridge across it. I was terrified of that bridge because the floor was full of holes and I was afraid I'd fall through it. Roger was always there to help me across. After our second year, Bob went on to town school. Bob always got to school and home before Roger and I did. Roger always felt sorry for me because I couldn't keep up. The second year Roger and I came over the hill east of our house and we heard a noise down by the pond in the pasture. It was a hot and muggy spring day, with the sun out. Roger made me stop and stay where I was and he walked down to the pond. He hollered back, "Sis, I've never seen so many snakes in my life. Don't come down here, they're everywhere and still coming in out of the pasture. Our dad thought maybe they were breeding. It was bull snakes and Roger said they were just tied in knots, there was so many.

Some of our school mates were: the Roop kids, Richard King, Jim Wright, the Zeliff kids, the Bailey family. Al Fries kids and others that I've probably forgotten about. We had a good time and learned a lot of common sense things. My third grade was at South Center, up by Waldo Thomson's place. My brother, Roger, was in the eighth grade, and we rode a horse to school. Our horse was named "Ginger" and was a very temperamental horse. The road was dirt then, Route N wasn't there yet. We'd ride up to the Bill Heine residence and Francis, their son, rode a horse also, and we'd meet and ride the rest of the way together.
Sometimes Ginger didn't want to go, so she'd always buck me off first, then Roger would light on top of me and hurt me and I'd cry. Roger always laughed at me because he thought it was funny. Ginger would always run back to the barn and Roger would always have to go get her again and he'd whip her with a tree branch and come back up to the house to get me and start out a second time.

Our teacher was our cousin, Frances Bowness Bilby. By this time in my young life, my mother was sick and in the hospital. So it was Dad and my Aunt Mary who took care of us at home. Dad always told us if we got in trouble at school, we were in trouble at home. Well, leave it up to me to get into trouble and cousin Fanny spanked me. After all these year I can't recall what I did but, I'm embarrassed to this day, that she had to spank me. I wasn't going to tell Dad, but Roger told on me and Dad spanked me again. That really hurt. We also had the Smith brothers to visit with when we were out for recess. Tobe, Kaiser and Jake would ride their horses down through the field by the school and stop and talk to us. Sometimes they'd give us a piece of candy. They were scary in a sense, but they were big, ugly and always dirty looking. The wouldn't hurt a flea. We looked forward to seeing them. They were our friends. Roger went to town to school the next year.They closed all one-room country schools and took all the grades to Daleview out in our neighborhood. So my fourth, fifth and sixth grades were at Daleview and we rode a school bus. Johnny Close was my bus driver and he was a good driver. My teacher was Ruby Burns who was a very good teacher. I've had people comment to me about my penmanship. We had writing in school as well as math, history, English and other subjects. I give my grade school education credit for my good writing habits. I always made good grades in country schools. My fifth and sixth grade teacher was Lois Anne Parks. We had match matches between grades and Ben Wynn always won. He was so smart! Everyone envied him but, we like him too. During my time at Daleview, my mother passed away and the whole student body came to her funeral. That made me have a lot of respect for my teachers and the students I went to school with. I made new friends at Daleview. Some of the kids that I graduated from high school with, I started the fourth grade with at Daleview. Those being George Cottle and Larry Lewis. It's hard for me to believe that they are both gone now. Yes, country school was always interesting. I will always treasure these memories and many more I didn't tell you about. I came to town for my seventh and eighth grade classes. Again, I made new friends."