Remembering Wood School, a One-Room Schoolhouse

At last I was six so I could go to school with my big brother and sister. We walked 1.25 miles to the “Wood Schoo1.” In nice weather it seemed only a short walk as our friends joined us along the way. But, in winter the snow was often so deep that the big boys had to make a path for us until the crust got hard, then we all walked and slid on top.

Oh, that long underwear, warm bloomers, long stockings, button shoes, button leggings and boots. We took good care of the button hook!

My family taught me to read and do first grade arithmetic at home. So, the teacher gave me about 8 minutes a day to read to her. I loved it. Standing at her desk I read as fast as I could so I could have the next book.

Every spring for May Day the teacher would allow a group of us to go to the meadow where big, long-stemmed purple and white violets grew. We ate our lunch while picking a nice bouquet for the teacher and another to fill our May Baskets for Mother.

We had crayons and water paints and we loved to create beautiful pictures. We were very careful with crayons or colored pencils because there were only a few!

Once in a while the “Big Kids” made candy and popcorn for a 15 minute party.

With eight grades to teach there had to be good discipline. During my 6 years to complete 8 grades the teachers were excellent, friendly and caring. Usually if a pupil wished to cause a disturbance the other children helped the teacher control him.

Classes could last about 10 minutes each, so everyone had to listen and think while the teacher explained a new process or whatever. There were usually only 1 to 5 pupils in a grade so it was easy to help each other and still have time to help the younger ones. In good weather the teacher often allowed 2 or 3 of us to go outside and study together. We studied spelling, orthography, times-tables, or any type of memory work.

Much memorization was required in each grade. We learned many proverbs, Psalm 23, Corinthians 1:13 and other Bible portions and lots of good poetry. When I was in the 8th grade the state required us to study “The Courtship of Miles Standish” and “Hiawatha.” We learned to recite whole sections and even had to be able to write them.

Our library consisted of one bookcase filled with good books and a few reference books. I read everything. I especially remember one series – “The Little Maid of Bunker Hill” and other “Little Maid” books. How I would love to reread them! When I was in the 7th and 8th grades a Mobile Book Bus came once a month to our school I could have an armful of books for a whole month. What joy!

The State required all 7th and 8th graders in rural schools to pass a test in history, arithmetic, geography and English if we wished to attend high school This was most unfair! We were herded into a big auditorium in town. Bluebooks (a sort of notebook) and pencils were passed out. The County Superintendent would give instructions, then the test questions were passed. There usually were only 10 questions over a whole book. We were scared, worried and very nervous. Yet very few ever failed and when we went to high school we were never behind the “City Kids” academically.

I’ll soon be 79 years old but I’d love to go back to the one room school

Gladys Cook
Durango, Colorado

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.