One-room schoolhouse legacy |

One-room schoolhouse legacy

Today, they are lonely buildings along stretches of road. Some weathered and battered by decades of harsh winters and fierce winds, others still stand pretty much the same as they were when school children roamed their playgrounds and sat in uncomfortable wooden seats.Learning lessons and counting the minutes until their escape at the end of the school day.The one-room schoolhouse history is a legacy that an older generation knew well. In the early 1900s and as late as the 1950s, there were many children who lived on farms and ranches, and mining communities who attended these rural schoolhouses. It was the only way they would be able to attend school. For some, the trip to school and back home was long and harsh.This was a time when one teacher taught every student from first grade through eight grade. Schools with only a handful of students.The one-room schoolhouse era has long past but there are still many who have fond memories of their time going to school at these small buildings. A few residents who attended these tiny schools shared their stories and memories of that intriguing part of our past. Yes, the one-room schoolhouse era is now one of history, but the legacy of a long ago time will not soon vanish from our landscape. Dale Shrull

By April E. ClarkPost Independent StaffLarry Velasquez remembers the days of ink wells and merry-go-rounds, proper penmanship and Kick the Can.All highlights from his grammar school alma mater, the Canyon Creek one-room schoolhouse just west of Glenwood Springs.In 1935 Velasquez, of Parachute, was a first-grader at the Canyon Creek School, also known as the Little Red Schoolhouse. Nearly 75 years ago, schoolyard games were foremost on this students mind.The highlight of the day was recess. One in the morning, one in the afternoon, of when a multitude of games were played, he said. Kick the Can, Annie Annie Over, a lot of softball, tag, and a lot of ditch jumping to see who got to sit in muddy pants the rest of that day.Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance around the flagpole outside the school was a daily formality. Reading, writing and arithmetic were also staples for Velasquez and his classmates.All eight grades were in one room, a real challenge for the teacher. Penmanship, spelling and some reading, all at your own level, he said. All the desks had an ink well in them, and that was pretty fancy.

Velasquez also experienced an abbreviated and somewhat hands-on approach to health class at the school.First was health inspection, he said. The teacher inspected your fingernails, your teeth and your general appearance.Hardly standard procedure in todays classroom. Not to mention walking a mile to school in unpredictable weather.I always walked, and it was like one mile down there. But it felt like three, he said. Winters were tough. Walking was hard I remember at Christmastime we were loaded into a horse-drawn sleigh with warmed bricks wrapped in newspaper, lots of blankets and snuggling.Canyon Creek School was home to countless community events, especially during the holidays.The school was always the central community social gathering place, he said. All holidays, especially Christmas when there would be plays, a big tree and exchange of homemade gifts, and a lot of pot-luck eating that would give way to dancing, mostly with the parents.The cold weather also brought out schoolyard Double Dog Dares and memories that mirror the holiday film classic A Christmas Story.Us kids would play outside, you know, what games you could play. And naturally us boys, us tough guys, was always trying to push with a lot of snow, trying to push the merry-go-round around and all of that, Velasquez said. One of the kids took their tongue and put in on the bar, the handrail of the merry-go-round, and it just stuck, froze stuck, to it and they had to get some warm water and pour it on the railing to release his tongue because it would have taken skin cause As I remember it There was a lot of squealing going on.He also recalled a scary moment involving an unwelcome visitor.One day a bear was spotted outside the school, he said. At that time there was no phone, so we all stayed in until they were sure it was gone then scurried home.Velasquez looks back at his years at the Canyon Creek School in admiration. He credits the school for becoming a Marine and graduating from Michigan State University, among other life accomplishments.Its been a long journey since the days at the Little Red Schoolhouse I served as a Garfield County Commissioner for eight years and on the Re-1 school board for six years, he said. I married my wife Barbara in 1950. We moved back to Canyon Creek in 1965 with our two boys, Gregg and Jeff. The school had long been closed but the memories and basic education is still with me.He hopes the school remains standing and put to good use for community events like in the past for years to come.

By April E. ClarkPost Independent StaffRIFLE When Phyllis Scarrow was 5 before kindergarten was mainstream she followed her six brothers and sisters to school everyday.It wasnt too long before she wormed her way into the one-room Beaver Creek School. My older brothers and sisters went to school, and I would follow them, so my mother talked the teacher into letting me stay, said Scarrow, standing in front of the aging schoolhouse up Taughenbaugh Mesa Road. I started in 1939.Scarrow and her family originally lived about a quarter mile from the schoolhouse where boys and girls from the rural, farm-rich area learned the three Rs. After school, Scarrow and her siblings contributed to their part of the daily chores.My folks lived out here in this stone house down here, she said. We had cows, I wont say a lot of cows, but I have milked a lot of cows. And we had chickens and pigs.The Raley family later moved further from the school not as convenient for walking to school in the winter.We always walked, but if the weather was too bad Dad would take us when it was too cold in his pick-up truck, she recalled. Sometimes hed bring us on the sled that he fed cattle with in the winter. And sometimes we would walk down to the road and catch a ride with the teacher. An orchard across the road from the schoolhouse transformed into a winter wonderland for the students.There used to be a big orchard over there, she said. In the noon hours we would go over there and play on the ice.When it came to outdoor play time, imagination was key for Beaver Creek School students.The school ground wasnt too big, she said. We used to play what they called work-up Baseball, we would play baseball.Considered a staple in todays school cafeterias, a warm lunch was a commodity in the areas one-room schoolhouses during the 1940s.We had a pot-bellied stove with a flat top, Scarrow said. In the wintertime wed take turns having hot lunches.The facilities were pretty standard to one-room schoolhouse design.Of course there were outhouses out here, Scarrow said, pointing. Theyre gone.She also recalled after-school projects kids today probably couldnt fathom.I remember, I dont know why, the floor was hardwood and after school let out we had kind of a treated sawdust that you would sprinkle all over the floor, she said. I remember staying after school and sweeping out the schoolhouse.For Scarrow, recollections of the Beaver Creek School are held near and dear to her heart.Math was her favorite subject.The husband of one teacher, Mrs. Woods, routinely stopped in to give students candy as he delivered gas to local farmers.The schoolhouse was small, but the memories are larger than life.

By April E. ClarkPost Independent StaffRIFLE When George Cerise looks back at his days at the one-room schoolhouse in Emma, the recollections make him smile.It was nice at the that school house there, said Cerise, 87. The teachers were nice. It was a lot of fun.Today, Cerise resides at the Colorado State Veterans Nursing Home in Rifle. But eight decades ago, he was one of a handful of students who braved the dynamic Colorado weather to attend the Emma schoolhouse each day.In the winter time, my friends about froze when they walked to school, he said.Lucky for Cerise, his school day walks were less than a mile.I walked about five blocks from dads farm, he said. Rain or shine or snow.During chilly winter months the Emma school was heated the old-fashioned way, Cerise said.I remember it was pretty cold in the winters, he said. We used a coal stove.During the holidays, the schoolhouse was the setting for memorable celebrations. Cerise fondly recalled Christmas parties at the school.Along with attending the Emma School, Cerise enjoys happy childhood memories of rural life on the Western Slope. Cerise said what he misses most about being a kid is riding horses.We had horses on the farm every year, he said.Growing up, Cerise shared his childhood with two older brothers and a sister, who also attended the school.My brothers and sister, we got along OK We had fights every now and then, he said, followed by a chuckle.Like in any schoolhouse setting, there was always room for discipline.I remember one time my dad brought some benches up and I helped him, he said. And the teacher got after me and said, How come you didnt come to school? you know, and so I told her I was helping my dad on that. There were some real nice teachers at the school.The school that makes Cerise smile remains standing just as he remembers it off Highway 82 in Emma. About three years ago, a friend took Cerise to revisit the structure. He keeps a photo of the event as a keepsake.I hope that stays there and I hope they keep that in good shape, he said.

By John GardnerPost Independent StaffMISSOURI HEIGHTS Margaret Harris and her two younger sisters, Nellie Polegay and Linda Craig, can tell stories of the Missouri Heights one-room schoolhouse they attended that conjure images of Mark Twains famous character, Tom Sawyer.We remembered a good one, Harris said, with a chuckle.She spoke of two young boys, Delmer and Orvil Lawrence, who she had attended school with when she was in the seventh or eighth grade.Those two threw a handful of .22 shells into the heating stove, she said. Thank goodness it didnt blow the heater up, but they made a heck of a ruckus when they started going off.The commotion caused the schoolhouse to clear, and the boys were probably reprimanded for their actions. A harmless prank that would not be considered so in todays world.You can almost see the dirt-smugded faces of the two young boys in their raggedy overalls and worn brown leather boots.Harris and her family, the Marks, lived just up the hill from the schoolhouse in Missouri Heights. There were nine children two of whom died young according to Harris and her parents, all living in a two-bedroom house.You get some people today that say, Well, I cant sleep in the same room with my sister, Craig said. I say, Honey, you should have slept with nine of us in one room, not just the two.All of the Marks kids attended school at the Missouri Heights Schoolhouse. Margaret and Linda just attended the later grades, before studying at the Cattle Creek Schoolhouse up Cattle Creek, west of Missouri Heights.The two schools had their differences.It was different from when Nellie and I went to school up at Cattle Creek, Harris said. You know how people always say they walked four miles to school? she asked.Up hill both ways, her younger sister Linda interjected.Well, not both ways, Harris continued. But that was us. We walked four miles each way for school.Things got a little better for them as they moved to Missouri Heights and within spittin distance of the school house. And the memories get better too, but for whom its not all that clear.Arent you the one who has the best memory of the school? Margaret asked her sister Nellie. About the teacher putting you under the desk?Oh yeah, Nellie responded sarcastically.She continued with her story about becoming sick one day at school and she happened to vomit all over Dorothy Long, who sat next to her at the desk. To save her from embarrassment, her teacher made Nellie sit under the teachers desk. I was more embarrassed down underneath her desk than I would have been if shed just let me go sit outside and wait, Craig said.The girls try to make a trip each year to visit the school house, just to see how its changed. Each year it surprises them to think about how much has changed since they grew up in Missouri Heights.Ranching up there was hard work, Harris said. You go up there and the Missouri Heights reservoir is still full and green and beautiful. But by this time of the year, when we were ranching, it would be dry.And with each year the memories and the stories grow a little more unique, representing a not to distant way of life here in the Roaring Fork Valley.Post Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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