The storm blew hard that night, so hard that you could actually feel the house shake with each gust. The kids were gathered around the kitchen table, each of them hovering around the kerosene lamp, which gave barely enough light for them to do their homework. Nan was in the kitchen preparing supper while Pop worked hard to bring dry cut firewood into the house, and to ensure that the little pot belly stove was stuffed with enough wood to get them through the night.
In the morning the storm was over, and all eleven kids were hurrying to get ready for school. The road that ran through the little farming town and onto the school was blocked with snow, which would make for an even more difficult hike to the little school house.
When all the kids were ready to leave, they kissed their mom and dad and they were on their way.
The high winds made for poor visibility, but with the school master being Mrs. O’Quinn, the kids didn’t want to be late for school. She was one strict teacher, and not even the toughest kids crossed her. As the kids from nearby houses joined in the walk to school, the line resembled a parade of school kids.
The snow was deep and difficult to walk in, but the kids trudged on. After nearly two hours of walking, they were finally at school.
The smaller kids headed directly to the little schoolhouse, which featured kids from grades one through to eleven. The older kids went directly to the wood-house, where they split and carried firewood to the schoolhouse. One of the older kids actually got to light the fire today, a privilege amongst the school kids. He carefully struck a match and lit the fire in the small cast iron stove that stood in the middle of the classroom.
A sigh of relief emitted from the classroom full of kids, as the once freezing air began to warm. The schoolmaster entered the room and a silence filled the air. Kids from each grade opened their textbooks, which bore covers made from brown paper bags, and the teacher assigned work to each child. One kid raised her hand to ask if she could use the bathroom. The teacher replied that once the boy came from the outhouse, she could go. The outhouse stood fifty feet from the schoolhouse, and the trek between the two buildings was snow covered and difficult to maneuver. There were no flushing toilets back then, only an outhouse with a cold wood seat.
At lunch time, the kids took out their lunch buckets and enjoyed the food that their mothers had packed for them. Once they were done eating, the schoolhouse quickly emptied as the kids rushed to play outdoors. The kids donned toboggans and home made sleds of all kinds and headed for the small hill adjacent to the schoolhouse, and kids had the fun of their lives as they enjoyed last night’s snowfall.
Once the schoolmaster rang the cowbell, the sleds and toboggans were returned to the side of the building and school resumed as usual. A tremendous snowstorm loomed outside the plate glass windows, and although the kids knew that a storm usually meant a day off school, they all knew that they still had to walk home in whatever weather was outside.
When the school day was finished, the kids dressed in their warm winter clothing and headed home. On this day, the walk home would be even harder than it was that morning. Forming a line, each student held the other student’s hand. This way, nobody got lost in the storm. The students traveled on foot through one of the worst winter storms the valley residents had ever seen. The Lord above must have been watching, as not one kid was hurt or even got frostbite on that day.
My mom told me this story the other day. We were talking about how kids these days had it made when it came to school. It was nice to reminisce with my mom, and to journey with her, back to her childhood. I really enjoyed hearing about life when she was a child, and I decided to share her story with my readers.