Marion/Mom's Own One Room Schoolhouse, c. 1935
Druecker's School on the Middle Road, North of Port Washington, Wisconsin
My beloved school, Druecker's, has since disappeared having been burned to the ground by a realtor who wanted the land to build a quite ordinary ranch style home. Of course, he built the house for his mother which makes him less of an offender than other arsonists.
Jan painted this scene of Druecker's School from a slide (the original painting is hanging over the sofa in the Dining Room).
Maybe it was not J. Apps' book (One-Room Country Schools) at all that sent me on this quest but my own search at age four-and-one-half to find answers to the weighty questions of the world. Such as, where did my best friend and brother go every day that I could not? Apparently I decided to find out and ran away from home, all of 1/8 of a mile to our schoolhouse down the road where he was in first grade. After enough of these escapades, the teacher tired of it all and said to my mother, "O, let her stay. She's as smart as the other first graders." There were no underage testing programs in place in those days. Or if there were, Teacher had never heard of them.
Our little school had an enrollment of 11 by the time of my
graduation. In first grade, my brother, another pupil and I learned
from our Teacher, from each other and from the older students,
a common phenomenon in rural schools where all the students shared
the one room. At Druecker's, we also shared the water pail and
dipper when we were thirsty, the heat from the huge old furnace
in the front of the room, and softball at recess where first and
third bases were trees and second was a hole dug in the ground.
Field trips were literally field trips across the neighboring
farmland to a forested area where we looked for colored leaves,
abandoned birds' nests, anything under a rock that looked interesting,
and finally lunch which we carried in our pockets. In winter,
we slid down a nearby hill on sleds, often homemade by our dads,
and in spring, when the snow on the hill started to melt and we
hit water at the bottom, we trudged back up to the schoolhouse,
hung our wet clothes near the furnace and continued with our classes
with the smell of warm, wet wool in the air. Wet wool is still
one of my favorite smells.
I yearned for more books, however. Our home had no books except for the three I had somehow acquired myself and they had been read and re-read so often I knew them from memory. We had no access to the city library since we were neither in the city nor even the township. By the time I was in 4th grade, I had read all we had in the school except the bottom shelf of the bookcase. I looked at that shelf and opened a few of the books but they did not seem interesting. In 5th grade, I decided I would give those books more attention and try to make sense of them. What a disillusionment! They were all Wisconsin Blue Books full of dates and dry statistics with absolutely no plot. Our three-man school board did not believe much in buying books for the school but accepted the Blue Books because they were free and looked good on the shelf. About two years ago, one of my sons-in-law gave me a Blue Book for old times' sake. Nothing had changed except numbers. Still no plot.
We had a radio which we turned on only on Friday afternoons when we had art and distribution of goiter pills. I do not remember if there was any art program coming over the airwaves, though. The goiter pills (which all country kids got to prevent thyroid problems because our well water did not contain iodine) tasted sort of like chocolate, or more correctly, like carob. We had almost no candy in our house so hey, goiter pills were appreciated
To graduate from 8th grade, all country school children were required to take the county examination. We collected in a large room at the county seat and wrote the tests. I wonder if our current high school seniors could answer many of the questions (check some out in the Journal-Sentinal article ) on those tests. Graduation day took place at the county seat also and was an august occasion for us. There were flags, music, speeches, and enough pomp and circumstance to satisfy our simple, uncomplicated lives. It was a sad day for me to have to leave our school; I am so grateful it was such a big part of my life.