Book features GarCo country schools
Citizen Telegram Editor
PARACHUTE — It’s a time that will never be back.
But thanks to LaVerne “Bubbles” Starbuck, the day of the country school is preserved in her newly released book, “From the End of the Road — Country Schools of Garfield County” in which she covers rural schools west of Glenwood Springs from 1894-1923.
“This is an era that will never be lived again,” Starbuck said. “It’s gone. When I started to write it, I lived on the end of the road on Divide Creek — it was literally the end of the road.”
And she should know.
Starbuck worked as a teacher in a one-room country schoolhouse beginning with the Hunter Mesa School District, now south of the Garfield County Airport, beginning in 1948, with 11 students and five grade levels.
She then worked for a two-room school house in the Fairview School District #23 south of Silt from 1951-1956.
“We had 34 students and eight grades,” Starbuck said. “I taught grades 1-4 and my sister-in-law, Dee Starbuck, taught 5-8. I had 10 little boys and one little girl. They were adorable.”
Starbuck said she donated articles to the Silt Historical Society, but then thought maybe they needed to be preserved more permanently in book form.
It took her two years, with the help from others, to get it all together.
“The book covers 28 schools — 27 from Garfield County and one from Mesa County,” Starbuck said. “It took two years to put it together.”
She did it the help of Jean’s Printing in Rifle, Sharon Gardner and Kimberlee O’Connell.
Along with her own memories of 27 years of teaching, her book includes memories from former students from around the country.
When Starbuck was teaching, she followed a book called the “Course of Study” that was put out by the Colorado Department of Education.
“It told us what we needed to teach at every grade level and what the students needed to know by the end of the year,” Starbuck said. “We taught spelling and writing, which they don’t teach anymore. We also taught social studies, history, geography, math and of course, reading — definitely reading.”
Physical education was also important and was conducted outside during recess.
School hours were 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
“That gave them time to ride their bicycles or their horses to get to school,” Starbuck said.
Starbuck’s book includes “Rules For Teachers,” which include:
• Each teacher will bring a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the day’s session.
• Male teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly.
• Women teachers who marry or engage in improper conduct will be dismissed.
• Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, visits pool halls or public halls or gets shaved in a barber shop, will give good reason for people to suspect his worth, intentions and honesty.
• The teacher who performs his labor faithfully and without fault for five years will be given a pay increase of 25 cents per week.
If those rules weren’t enough, there is also the “Recipe for a Good Teacher”:
“Select a young and pleasing personality of all mannerisms of voice, dress and deportment.
“Pour over it a mixture of equal parts of the wisdom of Solomon, the courage of Daniel, the strength of Samson and patience of Job. Season with salt of experience, the pepper of animation, the soil of sympathy and a dash of humor.
“Stew for about four years in a stuffy classroom, testing occasionally with the fork of criticism thrust in by a principal or superintendent.
“When done to a turn, garnish with an inadequate salary and serve hot to an unappreciative community.”
Starbuck laughs about parts of her book, but she is serious about recording the history of the old country schools in western Garfield County.
Her book includes copies of newspaper articles, pictures and descriptions of the schools.
“Most of the schools were log cabins,” Starbuck writes. “Playground equipment was almost unheard of.”
The book quickly sold out of its initial printing.
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Monday’s arrival of the Garfield Re-2 School District’s mask mandate was met by an organized protest and march in Rifle.