Ed. Note: Blackburn was a BCN columnist for many years, is author of the 1987 “Just Visitin’”, and is also a winner of a 1990 Texas Press Award.
This article originally ran in the Blanco County News on August 14, 1991.)
Every year when it is time for the kids to go back to school, the school kind of memories come back. We all have our own, all different yet in some ways alike.
I was just a little girl when I started to school, kindergarten age, only there was no kindergarten. For some reason Daddy decided to pay to send me to school. I don’t know how much. Probably not much in today’s money. But it must have been a sacrifice to them, whatever it was, because this was 1930 and the depression was in full swing.
That was the only year I got to go to school with my sister, Neva, because she died the following spring. But she was there that year to hold my hand and introduce into my life the world of formal education.
I don’t remember alot about my first and second grade years of school. My first grade teacher was real old I thought, maybe even fifty, and she would make us stay in our seats, confining us to a certain area, something I had never had to do before.
The best part of the day would be when the last bell rang and Neva would come to my room to get me and take me out to the yard gate where Daddy was waiting in his Model T. Then we would be on our way home to Mama.
I loved the playground swings. Sister and I would share one, she standing with one foot on each side where I sat, making the swing go higher. We rode on the same see-saw because I knew she wouldn’t bump me like the other kids might. I was always sort of scared of everything. I followed her because she never was.
But Neva would tell Mama on me if she felt like it. Like the day we heard one teacher say to the other that I was a sweet child. It made me real mad and I told her boldly that I wasn’t a child - I was a kid! That was what I had always been called and that is what I knew I was!
We didn’t have school busses running to the little school we attended. It was two miles each way through loose sand that would get in your shoes and cut holes in the heels of your socks. Part of the time we had to walk if Daddy was too busy to take us in the car. Walking to school was easier than walking back home because in the afternoon you were always tired and hungry.
Homework, I suppose, is eternal. I remember carrying all of my books home no matter how simple the assignment. And in third grade there was even a geography book which was bigger than the others. I never did find out why that book had to be so big.
We had a real pretty little brick school house down at Pandora. The year it was built it was the pride of the community. There were five rooms, a hall, an auditorium, and a broom closet. We had water fountains on both ends of the hall and two outhouses, one for girls and on for boys, in opposite corners of the school yard.
The school rooms were heated by big black stoves which were carefully tended by the teachers. Boys carried in the wood which was supplied by the trustees and they also carried out the ashes. Girls erased the black boards and dusted the erasers. Everybody had to help pick up things off of the floor when it was time to sweep. There was no janitor.
The school superintendent was an elderly man, a perfect gentleman, a quiet, grandfatherly sort. He always rang the bell at the end of recess. Mr. Williams didn’t allow running in the hall. But he neither punished nor scolded me on my first day of school when I ran so fast to help him.
He lifted me up so I could reach the bell rope.