Home Schooled With an Audience Part II
, named for some early settlers
and ranchers in the area, the building itself was part frame with an addition made
of middle sized creek boulders set in cement. That type of construction was
used a lot at the time because half the material was essentially free. Every
small gully or arroyo had an assortment of rocks one could pick up and use.
There were still outhouses but we did have a washroom and a kitchen. The first
year or two it served lunches but later was closed and only used for special
events and parties. Willard School
By this time I did wear dresses quite a lot. Thank you, Grandma for providing them for me and for giving me that odd gene for sewing by which I later outfitted myself. Still, jeans were not odd and many girls wore them frequently. Even the teacher wore them, at least Mr Morgan did! It seems there were more girls than boys, by odd coincidence, but most of the kids had horses and often rode them to school. The community consisted of a number of small farms or ranchettes and there was a dairy and a few small businesses such as a general store and service station and perhaps a tavern.
The first year, I was in Mrs. Fuller’s class as she taught the first four grades. I was the only girl in fourth grade but there were several a year ahead or behind with whom I became friends. At least by then I could interact with other kids and fit in well enough. For fifth grade I moved back to Mr. Morgan’s room and there spent the next three years advancing grade by grade to be an “upper class” pupil the final year as a seventh grader.
My memories there are almost all happy ones. All the kids played together so the fact I was not any kind of an athlete was no big issue. We all played whatever the game of the day was and did out best, mostly to have fun! Students ranged in age from six through early teens with a few who were taking some extra years to get out of the eighth grade.
I had gotten my first pair of glasses near the end of third grade when the county school nurse noticed I seemed to have trouble seeing the blackboard at
I found out my vision was 20-200 in the right eye and 20-400 in the left, an
extreme case of nearsightedness. But it was correctable to 20-20. One time I
caught a kicked football smack in the face but the glasses did not break—I
guess vindication of the fact my parents insisted on sturdy metal frames and
safety glass. I had a gash or two but no other damage. Camp Wood
|In the classroom|
|The front of the school|
A few more highlights of those years. At
|Gaye start of 7th grade|
The next day was a community wide picnic. Some parents, mostly dads, were working but at least one adult from most families attended. There was a potluck with all kinds of delicious dishes. The event was held down along the Verde River, just south of the bridge for Highway 89A to Sedona and
. We all played games—baseball,
horseshoes and just racing around, splashing in the stream and letting off
kid-type steam. The amazing part, in retrospect, was the equality and community
feeling. While there were well-to-do and impoverished families there did not
seem to be any big distinctions, no cliques or snobbishness at all. Flagstaff
Friday the rest of the students got report cards, put books and sports gear away and tidied up the building which was then closed for the summer. That was the end of the school year although at least a couple of years, there was a field trip or short campout the following week. The students had gathered scrap iron, held rummage sales and asked local merchants for donations to finance this trip and they were a lot of fun as well.
I still marvel at the simplicity and openness, the camaraderie and trust of that small community. Later I missed that the most. Nobody was harassed and if someone was in need—like when one father lost a hand in a farm accident, everyone pitched in to help, raise needed money and donate goods to help the family. I may have been naïve or not noticed but I do not recall anyone being harassed or made to feel inferior and unwanted.
Finally that school, too, was closed. Allegedly this would allow the rural students to have all the ‘advantages’ a larger school could offer. The
kids then went to Cottonwood but since I lived
in Clarkdale, I went on to begin my eighth grade year there in a “regular”
school.. Advantages or not, I had no trouble making grades that kept me near
the top of my class so I had not missed much.
What I did miss was all the good things. I went from a one-room school to a junior high or middle school that was co-located with the high school and had the same subject-exclusive teachers so we went from room to room. It was basically just mini-high school. Talk about culture shock. No jeans now as girls were not allowed to wear any kind of trousers except on a few special occasions like dress western day. I survived but that is another story.