Lifetime of passion started at a tiny school
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
SILT, Colorado ” From learning to teaching, Burneice Doose has memories of one-room schoolhouses that span a century.
Doose, 92, attended third grade at Peach Valley School in 1924 while living at her grandparents’ ranch. She walked about a mile to school, lunch pail in tow.
“The thing I remember the most were my wonderful lunches made by my grandmother and mother,” said Doose, from her home in Silt. “Homemade fried chicken … There were always surprises.”
Unlike today’s elementary school classes of students separated by age, the Peach Valley schoolhouse was home to first-through-eighth graders. Doose said her teacher was often challenged by the range in age.
“You had a whole different set of age groups,” Doose said. “Which is sometimes very difficult, keeping everyone’s attention.”
Doose remembers her grandfather taking her to school on horseback when the weather was bad. She also recalled schoolyard games such as hopscotch and jump rope during recess and practicing writing in cursive.
“I think I liked everything in school,” she said. “I liked reading, writing, arithmetic.”
Fast forward to 1936.
After attending Denver University on a scholarship, Doose returned to the Roaring Fork Valley to teach at the one-room schoolhouse up Alkalide Creek. She taught about six students that year and lived on a school board member’s farm.
“I lived in a one-room house on Frank Porter’s property,” she said. “I don’t think it even had running water.”
Doose traveled about a mile to get to the schoolhouse everyday.
“I walked in good weather to the schoolhouse in fields,” she said. “When it was snowing and the weather was bad, Frank would saddle up a horse for me. Back then we had a severe weather and the snow was up to the horse’s belly.”
Memories of a black pot-bellied stove warming the schoolhouse and students sharing water from the same ladle out of a bucket are vivid for Doose.
“I really enjoyed it,” she said. “I’d work with the older ones, then work with the little ones ” they’d help me with the little ones.”
And don’t forget hot chocolate on cold Colorado school days.
“For lunch I had the kids bring a bottle of milk. I made hot chocolate on the stove so we’d have something hot to drink,” she said. “I froze both my little toes that winter. I think the year on Alkalide was one of my best years ever. It was a hard year but it was a good year.”
A few years later, in 1941 after marrying Max Doose ” whom she met at the old dance hall in New Castle ” Burneice went to work at the Cardiff one-room schoolhouse in south Glenwood. She taught at Cardiff, which today serves as a venue for community gatherings, for two years, bringing in $70 a month.
“We had food stamps for gasoline, sugar and flour ” all the main things,” she said. “I drove then ” a Chevy.”
Doose recalled one particularly patriotic Glenwood old-timer who often stopped by the Old Cardiff School.
“George Summers was a millionaire and owned a bunch of property near Cardiff,” she said. “He had two girls he drove into Glenwood for school and they’d stop by and say the Pledge of Allegiance with us.”
As one-room schoolhouses were abandoned for larger schools and bigger classrooms, Doose’s teaching career gravitated to Glenwood Springs Elementary School. She taught first grade for 21 years, retiring in 1979.
Doose will always have a fondness for the one-room schoolhouse, though.
“I didn’t have any problems teaching in the country school,” she said. “It was more like a family. You got closer to them I think.”
That’s the charm of learning and teaching all in one room.
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