The Gaylord School In The Teens
by Alan Dodd
I was seven when I first went to the Gaylord School. We lived on a farm where Strait's Rock Estates is now, on a dirt road with only one house in the mile between our house and the school. My mother kept me back until my brother was old enough to go with me.
The school had eight grades with from two to four pupils in each grade. Our first grade had four boys; Alan Dodd, Jack Dodd, Jimmy Dolan and Roy Fredlund. Bessie Cornwell was the teacher and she was still teaching when my own children went to school. People who never went to a one-room school might think there was confusion with eight grades in one room. Actually there was none. Each class went to the front of the room to recite their lessons, while the rest stayed in their seats. There was never a problem with so many different ages on the playground, which mostly was the road in front of the school. It was a dirt road with little traffic and what traffic there was knew enough to watch out for school children. The present playground in back of the school came about ten years later and has an interesting history. A wealthy man bought the farm south of the school; a Mr. Silver, and he objected to the view of the toilets between his house and the school. He offered to give the land for a playground if the toilets were moved. they were moved and the school got a good playground. By that time there was more traffic on Gaylord Road and the school needed the extra space. The playground was a corn lot when I went there to school.
The schoolhouse had stone steps to an entryway, one side was a door for the boys and the other side a door for the girls. Inside were shelves for dinner pails and hooks for hats and coats. There was also a bench for the water pail. Water was carried from a neighbor's house. It was a privilege for two children to go for water during school hours.
Most children walked a mile to school, and a few walked a mile and a half. It was not hard in warm weather but hard in the winter as it was cold and the road was not plowed. We walked in the tracks made by horses and sleds.
The school was heated with a wood stove and on cold mornings, we sat as close to the stove as we could get until the room warmed up.
There was no playground equipment. We brought our own gloves and bats and played baseball in the road. Many brought their sleds in the winter.
In summer the boys ate lunch at recess time and dashed down to a swimming hole opposite the Gaylord Cemetery. Men or boys did not own bathing suits. I don't know what the girls wore, as there was no mixed bathing.
There was no dress code but everybody was neat. The girls wore dresses, of course, as there was no jeans yet. Some boys wore bib overalls and in warm weather, most boys and some girls went barefoot.
There were few behavior problems. Discipline was good at school and at home. We enjoyed life and got a good education. I am glad I went to a one-room school.
© 1998 Alan Dodd