Saturday, May 18, 2013

The One-Room Schoolhouse

I'm not sure if this is the one-room schoolhouse my mother and a few of her sisters attended before it was closed and they went into the nearby city to school and I don't know how old they were when they made the switch. I do know they graduated from the Catholic high school which has since been torn down and is now the sight of the local fire department.

The one-room schoolhouse they attended was up the road from where they lived-down a side road just as it curved by a bunch of maples. The creek that ran behind their farmhouse ran behind the school as well. The school is long gone but the maples are still there. Sometimes I go down that old country road. I slow down before that turn; imagining exactly where that school sat and imagining my mother and her sisters walking along that very road. If this is the school-then this is where my parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents bought the desks, books, and chalkboards for me and my cousins for our chicken coop clubhouse.

Looking at the picture I think how far we've come in educating our children. Some of that is good and some of that isn't. How simple it all looked back then. No computers or football fields or baseball fields or swimming pools. No connecting to other students around the world or excelled classes or foreign languages or guidance counselors and on and on. Just a plain building with kids of all ages clumped together. And when their school day was over there were no sports or after-school activities. Activities were actually chores that were waiting for them at home or out in the barn. They did their chores and helped out without question-sort of like Little House on the Prairie. Of course mothers were home and dinner was cooking. Kids weren't distracted by cell phones or texting. Neither were their parents.

Sometimes that all sounds better than where we are at today. But then the grass is always greener-right??

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Helping my Brother Out

By the time my cousins and siblings and I came along our grandparents' farm was not a working farm. Everything was left as it had been when the barn was full of cows and horses; chickens and pigs. There were still some stray feathers in the roosts. Empty milk cans sat unused. Stanchions sat idle. Most days when the bus would bring us home from school my brother would walk up the road to a nearby farm and help out. He was a hard worker. He was also a neat freak-the total opposite of me! I remember sneaking into his room to look at his stamp collection. It was so organized; as were his school notebooks and closet.

 A couple of times he bought a few heifers and kept them in the barn. One time it was black angus. It was fun having animals in the barn. I could only imagine what it must have been like back in the day when the farm was up and going. I think our grandfather would have been proud of my brother who was the first grandchild. They were quite close. My brother inherited his work ethic. My brother cared for the heifers and black angus every day before school and every day after school. One summer he asked me if I'd care for the black angus for a few weeks. He was going to visit relatives. I was thrilled. I was also nervous. Being as organized and particular as he was, I felt I had some big shoes to fill. But I didn't tell him that. I followed him around a few days before he left-and then-it was me and the angus!

We did just fine. The barn got a little out of control but by the time he returned I had it all organized. All the black angus were fed and accounted for. My brother brought me back a pack of Juicy Fruit gum for helping him out. I was overjoyed. I may not have filled those big shoes of his-but I had fun trying!