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School House Project

Union Valley -- Republic County

The Kansas Heritage server would like to thank Beverly J. Brzon (TxKolibri@gbronline.com) for contributing this recollection.

District No. 39, Republic County, Kansas

I attended Union Valley from the Fall of 1939 to the Spring of 1947. These were the WWII years. Along with going through school in this turmoil, I also had to contend with my brother, Richard, starting first grade when I was an eighth grader. Please, let me share with you.....

I REMEMBER.....missing my first day of school in the first grade because we were late getting back from Colorado (picking peaches), which we did during the depression and the Dirty Thirties in order to survive. We went there in a Dodge Tareplane Pickup Truck with a neighbor who had a truck of the same description and my Aunt and Uncle who were in a Model T Ford. The trucks had a 1x4 wood frame covered with canvas (modern day camper) which I was privileged to help build at such a young age.

I REMEMBER.....my first grade teacher, Maxine Muth, which, I believe still lives in Concordia, Ks. My eighth grade teacher was Twila (Brzon) Bowersox. Another special teacher was Mary Ellen (Cook) Snapp. It was an honor to have the teacher come stay all night at your home. She was always treated with respect and given the best food and accommodations parents were capable of giving.

I REMEMBER.....riding my horse Pet to school and tying her in the horse barn. She always chewed the hemp rope apart and ran home. Then, I had to hoof it home. In the later grades, I was graduated to a bicycle.

I REMEMBER.....one of the recess projects. There was an empty horse barn on the school grounds which was fixed up to resemble a store. All of us were encouraged to bring empty food boxes, cans, etc to resemble a grocery store. We made card-board and paper money (down to buffalos on the nickels) and played STORE. We all learned how to make change, plan menus and to be polite and quiet in line. It was an honor to be chosen store-keeper for the recess period.

I REMEMBER.....Playing Andy Over over the coal shed. This involved the throwing of a ball over the roof of a very large building (according to small folks) and the catching of the ball on the other side by the opposing team. Keep in mind, when a ball comes rolling off a roof with an approximate 45d pitch and no one knows where it is coming, this is a major feat. All the while, you must keep your eyes open for Blue Racers. Blue Racers are snakes. They are not dangerous, just scary and very fast.

I REMEMBER.....germinating wheat. This involved putting x amount of kernels of intended seed wheat brought from home, with soil in a zinc jar lid, adding water, covering with wax paper and waiting. Our sand table was taken up for this purpose. After watching and waiting on a daily basis for the germination to take place, we were asked to calculate the percent of germination and planting at home was done accordingly.

I REMEMBER..... the County Health Nurse making a visit to our school. She checked various health related things, one of them being eyes. I remember the Es........couldn't see some of them with one eye. Had it not been for that project, I would have always thought the world was blurry. Shots were given when needed, this Nurse kept track of all children within the county. She checked teeth and sent the dreaded notes home when a child should see a dentist. We also had health check every morning upon arriving at school. We got stars if our fingernails were clean, our hair was combed, our teeth had been brushed and our faces and hands were clean. During my years at this school, there was no electricity or running water available at school or at home.

I REMEMBER.....Track Meets. These were held on a County Wide basis and had as much competition (or more) as do the Nation-Wide Meets now. These meets involved Parents taking the children to one common place, Parents setting up boundaries, start lines, finish lines, Parents refereeing the events and Parents giving the ribbons . Practice for these meets was done at every recess for several months prior to the event. Three-legged races were practiced, broad jump, high jump and just plain running. AND, oh my, the sack race. Keep in mind there was a speed limit of 35 mph during WWII, so any event attended took some time.

I REMEMBER.....the Victrola. We would listen to the wax records at various speeds, depending upon how tight the Victrola was wound. The music was used to sing with, listen to during lunch or play games with when it rained during recess. The ever favorite was Musical Chairs, with a knowing operator in charge of lifting the needle at just the right time. Sometimes all played and just waited for the Victrola to take its natural course of running down.

I REMEMBER.....learning words during recess as a first grader from the eighth grade boys. When I incorporated these words into my new-found vocabulary at home, I received a real tail brightening and an en-lightening about these words.

I REMEMBER.....singing a solo at a county-wide music program when I was in the first grade. This was in the county seat, Belleville. All districts within the county participated and all children within each district participated, whether it be solo, group or any other combination of vocal music. The preparations for this event took several months.

NOW I WONDER.....Why.....the parental guidance, the family participation, the area concern could not have been carried to this time.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003 12:33 PM

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