Memories of School and Education

"When I started to school, I spoke very little English language." Mrs. R., born 1914

  • "The school was on top of the hill and had 4 rooms. The first room was 1st and 2nd grade, the other was 3rd and 4th, then 5th, and 6th and last was 7th and 8th grade. One of the teachers in the 5th grade gave me a good slapping because I was talking. We had this big coal stove and the teacher had to come up there early to start the fire in the stove because there was no heat in the school. At that time they could beat us up. I remember one time Mr.—gave my brother such a licking with the paddle. They believed they could do anything to the kids then. The toilets were outside and in the winter it was so cold. I remember some of the teachers were nice." Mrs. F., born 1915
  • "By throwing these kids in school like that they, on the average, they did very well. These kids learned to speak fairly good English. I would defy you to tell from anyone I remember if they came from Europe not speaking English. You’d visit them at home and their grandfather would speak in Polish and they would speak in English and they’d converse that way. They were also ashamed that their parents or grandparents didn’t speak English but I still think those kids did very well." Mr. S., born 1920
  • "In school they used to give us like a box, they call them color sticks, they were all in color they looked like a toothpick. And we used to build like a little log cabin, a little house. And then when we were bad we’d go in the cloak room, they used to call it the dark room. We’d drink our water from a dipper and a bucket and later on they bought a little tank made out of a crock and there used to be like a little spigot on it where water come out." Mrs. G., born 1912
  • "When I started to school I spoke very little English language. I talked in Hungarian because my mother and father were Hungarian. So when I went to school I told the teacher my name. So she could not spell my last name and spelled it another way. Therefore, my social security and even on my wedding certificate it is spelled the way the teacher said. " Mrs. R., born 1914
  • "The only people with college education from the 20s 30s 40s and into the mid 50s were if your father was a superintendent or boss or had money. Few college graduates if your father was a working miner during this time. I can remember my dad when my sister in 1954 started college and my dad coming home and saying that some guys he worked with couldn’t understand why he was going to waste that money." Mr. S., born 1943
  • "It was during the hunting season and my brother must have been about 12 and he [teacher] paddled him so bad and me I was in the same room. When I saw that, when the teacher turned around I called him an SOB and said you killed my brother and he dropped my brother right on the floor, I thought he died cause he hit him so hard. In school the windows were low and in them times we had dresses that were not short but long and I couldn’t make it through the window. So I ran home and my father had on a vest with all the bullets in it and I told him the teacher killed my brother. My dad used to lick us too but that was different licking. He took up his hunting gun and started talking Italian to my mother and said I’m going to kill the teacher. You know in a mining town everybody knows everybody’s business. They saw my dad coming out of the house with the gun and me then my mother joined in and she took pots and pans and we went out the door and all the neighbors around was outside it was in the summer. Everybody had a shovel, a stick or anything they could grab ahold of. There must have been about 50 people going up the hill to the school. When the teacher saw my dad coming up the hill with the people, he took the car and he went." Mrs. G., born 1912
  • "In the 7th or 8th grade I used to wear high top boots with a knife in them as worn by most boys back then but there were no threats or accidents. While playing mumbly peg if you cut yourself you automatically lost. We did a lot of cutting or whittling. Some parents could not afford the high tops and knives." Mr. S., born 1920

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