Posted by: patwogan | October 1, 2008

School Days

I always loved school.  I think this was because of the good start I got at Riley and Peebler.  Both were quite unique. One was a “town” school, although small, the other was a “country” school.   

Peebler was a large brick building, which was unusual for a rural school.  Most rural schools were somewhat small , usually white frame buildings.  LeHunt school, the closest school to Peebler, was made of concrete blocks as it was in the small town of LeHunt which had a cement plant as its only industry.   By the time I was going to Peebler, the town of LeHunt was a ghost town (I’ll write about that in a future post).  The school buildings of both LeHunt and Peebler are still standing.  Both have been converted to homes.

All rural schools were under the supervision of the County Superintendent.  Peebler was in Montgomery County and is about five or so miles north of the west side of Independence, Kansas.  Another way to get to Peebler is to go west on Taylor Road to the end of the road and then turn north and travel about one-half mile.  I lived on Taylor Road although it wasn’t named at the time I lived there.   I don’t know how often the County Superintendent visited each school, but I remember when she came it was a big deal.  I am sure all the rural schools had the same curriculum, and most were one-room schools which meant that one teacher taught all eight grades.

Peebler did not have running water or modern plumbing.  I remember one time when the water we had to drink which came from a cistern out back of the school had “wiggle-tails” in it.  Wiggle-tails are mosquito larvae.  When water was pumped out of the cistern, the bucket would have mosquito larvae in it.  This bucket was kept in the cloak room and had a dipper in it to dip out the water.  Each student had his/her own cup and the cups were labeled and kept on a shelf above the bucket.  I know we didn’t drink the water from the cistern during the time the mosquito larvae were in it.  I think the teacher brought water from home until the problem was solved.  I don’t know how the problem was solved, but I know my father who was on the school board had something to do with solving it.

There were two “out-houses” down two separate paths from the school.  One was for the boys and the other was for the girls.  They were “government” toilets that had been constructed during the WPA days when public works were done to give people employment.   “Government” toilets were concrete lined holes and had concrete seats.  They were quite “fancy” compared to the outhouses most of us had at home.  But they were still out-houses down a path and were not heated in the wintertime.  However, there were times when one wanted a small respite from the classroom, a hand could be raised and permission granted by the teacher to visit the outhouse.  In the spring and fall the journey to the outhouse took longer than it did in the wintertime.  I remember picking flowers and generally messing around on the way.  In the wintertime when it was bitterly cold, I remember sometimes I ran and hurried back to the warmth of the classroom.

We had a large coal-fired furnace in the basement of the school and about a four by four foot grate in the middle of the floor  where the heat came up.  Often on the coldest days, we would sit in chairs around the grate to do our school work.  This was not forced-air heat and there were times when the heat did not reach every part of the classroom.  Peebler had a large wall of windows on the north side of the building and also some windows on the west.  These windows were one pane of glass and had no storm windows over them.  Sometimes frost would form on the bottom of the windows.  Sometimes we would wear our coats in the classroom.  But no matter how cold the weather, we always went outside for recess.  We also always walked to and from school.  I suppose we walked faster when it was cold and that helped keep us warm. 

This is beginning to sound like one of those stories that our parents and grandparents tell about walking two miles to school up hill both ways.  I don’t mean it to sound that way, but I am truly telling it the way it was.  Keep in mind we did not have forced-air heat at home or indoor bathrooms so it was really no different at school than it was at home.  It didn’t seem so bad at the time.



  1. It seems like people were more tolerant back then because you just didn’t know any different!

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