Chapter 3 continued...
Old Red Schoolhouse
The next day we found the Old Red Schoolhouse on the Polk County Fairgrounds where we had arranged to meet Vickie Engel who is the teacher for the K-2 Enrichment Summer School Program. She and her class of 17 children, all in the 6-year-old range, spend about 45 minutes each day at the old school after a ten-minute walk from their base at the Middle School.
The school building was sided with red, metal, brick-like material which needed some attention. Inside was a collection of double and single desks and a teacher desk. There was no stove or crockery water "bubbler" -- those items had been removed to the museum in town, unfortunately. There was little in the way of pictures or other historical material in evidence. The building had been moved from New Farmington.
The short session with the children included a pledge of allegiance to the flag, roll call where the children answered to their names with either a curtsy by the girls or a bow by the boys. The children had a few slates and chalk for writing, sang a few songs, drew pictures or did other design work with pegboards and pegs. We took pictures of the children and then asked them to gather outside for a school picture with their teacher. Vickie gave both of us handouts which she provides the parents. She said that the session culminates with a "Recitation Day" where each child recites and earns a certificate of merit. It was obvious that Vickie really enjoys her time in "Old Red".
|Jan told us something of the history of the county, how it was Gates County at one time and why it was changed to Rusk, and where Ladysmith got its name (she was a teacher herself and knows how to impart information).|
We left that beautiful area the next day and on the way home
in Wabeno came across a school with a large flag labeled "OPEN".
However, though the door was open and we could look inside at
the conventional rural school set up, the grillwork inside the
door prevented entry. Maybe that metal work is unlocked at special
times but we were invited to dinner down the road a couple hundred
miles so we just looked and left. The school building was in good
repair and was part of a small park that displayed a huge log
-- must have been six feet in diameter. The library building,
a log structure on the grounds, looked inviting but dinner waited
down the line.
But Jerry Apps led us to one more school before that dinner,
a school building located in Pinecrest Historical Village
just west of Manitowoc, Exit 52. It is a 60-acre outdoor museum
of local history and the school is part of 27 buildings moved
and restored there on farmland donated by three local families.
The school building was in great shape and was, in fact, being
painted. The site is peaceful and lovely. All the buildings were
open and we just walked in and out of log cabins with their dishes
and furnishings, the school house with its George Washington and
Abraham Lincoln and photos of past classes of pupils, the beautiful
little church that hosts weddings and family gatherings still,
and finally, in a sudden downpour, we sought refuge in the saloon
to wait out the storm. When it abated somewhat, we left but did
not have time to wander through the rest of the exhibits, mostly
farm buildings, machinery and a train exhibit -- a locomotive,
flat car, tender and caboose. We especially wanted to see the
last building, a Greek-Revival home built in 1870, but it will
not be open until its restoration is finished.
There is a small fee to tour the museum but it is well worth the price of a ticket to be able to wander in the past on a beautiful summer day. There are more schools waiting to be seen and in fact, we know of two that hold classes for local area students who take field trips to the schools to have a peek back into their grandparent's, and great-grandparent's, lives. When fall comes and school is in session again, we will be there with those kids.