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School House Project

Oak Grove -- Linn County

The Kansas Heritage Server would like to thank Robert E. Dunavan (redun@juno.com) for contributing this information.

I saw only one school listed in Linn county. I attended Oak Grove School eight years, graduating from the 8th grade in 1934. In 1933 I rode a blind horse many miles from my home on Big Sugar Creek to the Farlinville School to take and pass the 7th grade examinations to be promoted to grade 8. That was the last year such examinations were required in Linn county. I would be happy to see all the one room schools in Linn county Kansas listed.

I went to Oak Grove grade school eight years, grades 1 thru 8. I had a series of pretty young women teachers.

Grades 1-3	Marry
	   4-5	Maxine
	   6	Marry
	   7	Beth 
	   8	Leona 
Mary was a friend of the family and of my older sisters so I probably got preferential treatment. She had bright red hair. Every morning school was opened with a prayer and a song from the hymnal.

Maxine was tall and slender and pretty. She had a brother named Joe who used to come and get her on weekends. He drove a real neat Model A Ford coupe. Sometimes he would carry my sister and I home from school on Friday nights. The school house had a huge round coal burning stove in the center of the room. The teacher was expected to tend the fire to heat the building. Maxine would cook the children hot lunches during the winter months. Once she cooked a goose. We ate goose for about a week. Sometimes she would leave the door to the stove open, I suppose in order to control the fire because sometimes it would get pretty hot. A favorite trick of the older boys was to sneak over to the stove and toss in a few 22 caliber cartridges. When they exploded it would make a terrible racket. All the students thought that was great but not teacher.

The school house was (is ?) located on the side of a hill which is not nearly so high today as it was 65 years ago. To the southeast was a large pasture land, part of the Bouvard ranch land. In the spring time it looked so inviting, the tall green grass, with trees interspersed through out. Just like the song "There's a Tree in The Meadow", with a stream passing by. One spring the teacher thought it would be nice if we had a picnic down in the meadow under a tree, so it was planned for a certain Friday afternoon. All the children were supposed to bring something from home (big mistake). By the time the picnic was scheduled it had gotten pretty late in the season. From the school house steps it looked so inviting down there in the meadow as we all started to walk to the nearest tree, everyone carrying something. As we approached the selected tree I begin to sense that all was not well. For one thing the farmer had started pasturing about five hundred sheep in the area and sheep do not exude a picnic type smell, plus the day had turned off warmer than expected and I believe everyone forgot to bring water. I guess Miss decided, like the British, to muddle through. The teacher picnic was set up and the food spread out. Well sheep tend to attract flies so we were just overwhelmed with flies and they were the kind who like to bite humans too. Besides that the sheep liked the shade of the tree so the ground was covered with sheep manure, some pretty fresh. Between that and the flies and the heat and no water the picnic was turning out to be not so much fun. My own personal trauma turned out to be more than flies. I had made myself a sandwich from meat I had brought from home and two slices of home made bread brought by another student. Just as I started to bite into the sandwich I noticed these black objects in the bread. Guess what? they were dead house flies baked right into the bread. Well I am not usually very squeamish but just the thought of eating home made bread with baked in dead house flies was too much for even me. I don't recall much of the picnic after that part.

Now Mary X was something else. She was a pretty little thing just out of high school, probably from Pleasanton. I was old enough by then to notice such things and there were several older boys there who were plenty aware of the attraction between boys and girls. I don't know if she did such things deliberately to turn the boys on but turn then on she did. I don't recall much about the academic part of her term as teacher but I do recall some of the other events, one in particular. One day we were all lined up in the back of the room for some reason or other and this one boy did something I did not see what but did see the two of them struggling together. Well the upshot of that was the boy was expelled, permanently I believe. The teachers usually stayed or boarded with friends of my parents. They lived just a mile east of the school house on the side of a hill. There was a deep ditch between their house and the road. One Sunday night our family was visiting the neighbors listening to their radio when my little brother Willis Leonard was looking out the window and exclaimed, "look at that car on it's side". Mary X's boyfriend was returning her to her work and missed the bridge across the ditch and ended up with his Model A on its side in the ditch. So the neighbor had to go hitch up his Farmall and drag him out.

I don't remember all that much about Beth except she was kind of short, wore horned rim glasses and was a very nice person. She had a brother who today would be called a "Nerd".

Leona was probably the best teacher I ever had, for sure the best grade school teacher. She was older than any of the others and took her job of teaching very seriously. She commuted to school from some where and drove a Model A Ford roadster. It was my last year of grade school and was a breeze, not nearly so tough as the seventh grade had been for me. Had I know what the future held I would have studied harder even then. My family had to move from one farm to another before the school term was over and I was determined to finish at that school so I commuted the last few month from the farm on Linnville hill to Oak Grove school . On rainy muddy days it was a pretty long commute. No one today believes I did it.

Robert E. Dunavan May 6, 2001

Tuesday, June 18, 2002 5:45 PM

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