Since the kids will be going back to school in a very few days (sorry kids) it got me thinking about my public school days.
I started school at a pivotal point in public school history. Out in the country the old one room schools were still in use but their time was limited.
My first school (I went there for six grades.) was a small yellow brick one room school with a boys and a girls entrances, cloak rooms and chemical toilets. It was still being heated with a wood stove at the back in 1954 just like in pioneer times. We had a huge grey and white crockery barrel with a spigot at the bottom which the big boys kept filled with cold water from the well for hand washing and drinking.
Both sides of the building were lined with high windows that opened at the top for ventilltion. The windows were raised just high enough that little people in desks couldn't see anything out of them but sky. The front wall of the room was lined with chalkboards in front of which loomed the teachers desk. One corner at the back held an ancient bookshelf floor to ceiling lined with dusty old books no one had looked at in years and the other corner held the water crock and a work table. The desks were arranged by size in rows down the middle of the room.
One teacher looked after eight grades and ruled with an iron fish, a long pointer and a whipping strap. Even the older boys lived in fear of public punishment with 'the strap'.
In those days you could still teach public school with a grade eight education but things were about to change drastically and continue to change with alarming speed for the next several years. At the end of my sixth year there was a new school built that had (gasp) separate classrooms for all the grades, central heating and air conditioning, a library and a gym. Would you believe that both boys and girls all filed into the building through the same door? This little country girl was in shock. The next year my family moved and guess what....I was back in a one room school again.