A Day at Center School
By Mrs. Robert (Elise McCulloh) Cook
I was a student in Center School, a one room brick building with eight grades, from 1925-1933. It had a wood-burning iron stove with a shield around it on three sides, and the attendance was around forty. Desks accommodated two students and had an open ink well for dipping a straight pen. Sometimes a pony tail would get dipped.
School began at nine o’clock ended at four. Prior to opening of school the teacher had carried an open twelve-quart bucket of water from Mr. Michael Cook’s spring and poured it into an earthenware insulated cooler without ice. This lasted until noon when two students, by assigned turns, would walk for another bucket. Each of us would line up for a fresh drink.
The opening exercises were Bible reading, the Lord’ Prayer, and flag salute. Then came classes, by turn, where each class went up front and sat on a bench.
There were two fifteen minute recesses and an hour at noon to eat a boxed lunch and enjoy gamers.
Some games we played were prisoners base, softball, drop the handkerchief, ring around the rosy, see-saw on a rail through the rail fence, and handy over. In this last game one group stood on either side of the building and threw the ball over the building to the other side for someone to catch. If that happened, that person went to the other side to try to hit a person with the ball. The person hit would go to the other side. When one side ran out of players, the game was over, and the winner was the team with all the players.
After lunch was singing time, and sometimes exercises were performed. A highlight at singing was when the Superintendent of Franklin County Schools, Mr. John L. Finafrock, visited twice a year. He always came at this time to hear the music. He said that he loved to listen to that.
One memorable episode was when one student developed diphtheria and the Franklin County Health Nurse came to give us each two shots as a preventative.
One day as I looked out the window, I saw a horse-drawn hearse carrying a corpse to the cemetery for burial.
When I was in eighth grade, the Franklin County Home Economist came once a month at noon to teach sewing. This is where I learned to hand sew.
Two extra learning activities each month were to learn a poem and to read a book at the proper grade level. After having given a book report, we each received a seal. We stood at out desks to recite the poetry, and I did not enjoy this one bit.
The room and windows were kept clean by the teacher, but desks were washed now and then by the students.
A highlight was when it had snowed several inches and frozen so we could walk to school on the crust. If it were really nasty and had snowed during the day, sometimes Mr. Luther Zimmerman would come for us with a bobsled drawn by horses. This was real fun.
At Christmas time an entertainment attracted a building filled with parents and family.
A school term was eight months and ended the first week of April. The only vacations were Christmas Day, Thanksgiving, and Election Day. Center School was the voting place for Warren Township.
Dusting the erasers at the end of the day was a fun time. Two children were allowed to go outside on the porch. School ended each day by everyone standing. The teacher said, “Good afternoon, boys and girls.” The students replied, “Good afternoon.”