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Little Red School Houses

Music:  Bless the Beasts and the Children

Whispers - Home
Friday's Journal
Ghosts of School Days Past
Goodbye to the Country School

The Rock Island came to No Man's Land
In nineteen hundred and two;
Towns were planted each ten miles,
But residents were very few.

Soon families came in number
And everyone agreed
That somehow, some way,
The kids must learn to read.

There were no schools,
But some, for monthly fees,
Used their homes and taught
The children their ABCs.
Then in the towns some rooms were built,
Sometimes two and sometimes three;
The district paid the salaries,
So now kids could learn for free.

But many lived too far away
To take their children in each day;
So schools were built six miles apart,
For those who lived from town away.
The teachers lived with families round,
Some even in the schools;
They taught eight grades, made the fires,
And swept, according to the rules.

The children came in carts or walked
And many rode horseback;
They brought their lunch in buckets,
And not in paper sacks.
Some schools had wells,
Some not they say,
And those without hauled water
To fill the crock each day.

The County Super was in charge,
He visited each year,
And tested the eighth graders
When the term was near.
Some of the schools were dugouts,
Some were made of wood,
But all were for a gathering place,
And that was understood.

On Sunday, there was Sunday School,
Sometimes a preacher came;
Dinner on the ground at noon,
Then a friendly baseball game.
There were literaries and debates,
Pie suppers, quite a few,
Picnics at the end of school,
And many programs, too.

Now, gone is the superintendent,
Gone is the yearly test;
Gone is the big commencement,
The suppers, and the rest.
Gone are the debates and picnics,
Gone are the miles of walking,
Gone is the leisurely game,
Gone is the friendly talking.

Gone are the Big Chief tablets,
Gone are the country schools,
Gone are the tin lunch buckets,
Gone...because progress rules!
Students drive their own cars
To school, twenty miles or so,
But walk?  A city block?
Why, that's too far to go!

They now sit before a computer
And with their fingertips,
Get their instructions
From a distant teacher's lips.
It's really strange to contemplate
How far and fast we've come;
But through it all, let's never forget
The place that we came from.

-- Author Unknown
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