The Ride Was Bumpy, But Fun

The Ride Was Bumpy, But Fun

Maybe it’s because a virus has caused so much turmoil everywhere, especially in schools, or maybe it’s because I’m growing older and tend to look back sometimes, but, lately I’ve been thinking about a little one-room school my brother and I attended in northern Oklahoma– wheat, alfalfa, and cattle country. The school’s name was Valley Center. The teacher was an unmarried woman, Miss Virginia. The school was her life and she lavished time, thought, and attention on it and her thirteen pupils, grades one through eight.

In front of the door was a small porch and in front of it was a shoe scraper. Don’t know what that was? It was an iron frame with a blade at the bottom. Students were to scrape the dirt off their shoes before coming inside. Many of the children walked to school, including my brother and me, and sometimes we got mud on our shoes. But, no mud was allowed indoors. Each morning, without fail, we had our opening exercises. We rose to our feet, placed hands over our hearts, and said the pledge to the flag, bowed our heads and said the Lord’s prayer, and, on certain days, we told of a current event. That’s where I learned the term, current event. It was keeping us on top of the news of the day.

We loved the playground. Miss Virginia wouldn’t always stand outside with us, but she stood at a window that looked out on the playground and kept an eagle eye on her little charges. Recess was fun! The merry-go-round was a large metal circle with a bar to hang onto and a board all around to sit on.  Only thing was, it was different. You see, it was hinged at the top where it connected to the pole that went into the ground, and it swung back and forth freely. So, we not only could go around in circles, we could swing at the same time, banging into the pole. Miss Virginia frowned on that, but sometimes the big boys would get in a few bangs before she made them stop.

The swings would go really, really high. In fact, some daring kids would loop their swing over the top pole. A dizzying feat.

The teeter-totters were loud and bangy, with smaller ones for the smaller children, taller ones that went wa-ay up for the older kids. Nobody was supposed to let their end of the teeter totter hit the ground, causing their partner’s bottom to bounce up from their seat, but, let’s face it, sometimes that happened. It was a jarring experience. When recess was over, Miss Virginia rang a little hand bell and we all trooped back indoors.

Memory is a funny thing. I can close my eyes and still hear the distinctive sounds of the playground, the clang of the merry-go-round, the squeak of the swings, and the squeak, bump of the teeter-totters.

However, inside the school room, quiet reigned supreme. Miss Virginia was a strict teacher. Not harsh. I don’t remember anybody ever being paddled. But, we were respectful, we raised our hands before speaking, and we learned the subject being taught. Oh, and we never said, “Yeah” or “Uh-huh.” It was, “Yes, Ma’am” and, “No, Ma’am.” We all brought our lunches unless we lived close enough to walk home for lunch. Our lunch boxes were stored in the cloak room along with our coats and boots.

Now, why on earth did my thoughts venture way back to those long ago days? Maybe because we had such freedom then, we followed rules, we were happy kids? Or, maybe with all this confinement, I’m thinking about the times that were more relaxed in some ways, firmer, in other ways.

If we were in danger, we were unaware of it. We learned, we were happy, and pretty much well-adjusted. Oh, and did I mention–we had fun!


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