Herald-Journal
Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, September 14, 1998

The good old school days

By OPAL "GRANDMA" HABISCH

Boy and girls, when you read this you will probably say, "What was so good about the old school days?"

Well, I will tell you.

The school's today are like a kings's palace with good teachers.

Your school's have running water - when I went to school, the only time we had running water was when the roof leaked!

Our bathroom was outside in a woods behind the school building, and everybody used the same one - there wasn't a boy's or girl's bathroom. It wasn't too bad when the weather was warm. In the winter, you were in and out in a hurry.

There were about 28 children in our school. That included grades one through eight. We had one teacher for all eight grades.

For heat, we had a big potbellied stove and we burned wood. We would put our lunch pails around the stove when it was real cold outside, so our food wasn't frozen.

It was the boys' job to keep the woodbox filled. They would go outside, brush the snow off the wood, and bring it in. A lot of snow would get brought inside with the wood; it would melt off in the woodbox and there would be a puddle.

When it got real cold, the teacher would have us get up and jump up and down and clap our hands to warm up. We thought it was really fun.

Our drinking water was brought in by the janitor in a big milk can. He set it in the hall and sometimes it would freeze on top. We had two tin cups for all of us to use. It was good water and we enjoyed how cold it was.

Our janitor was a farmer that lived close to the school. He would come in and start the fire in the stove early in the morning so the building would be warmed up when we got to school. If it wasn't warm enough when we got there, we would wear our coats until it got warmer.

The boys would have the jobs of clearing a path in the snow and clearing the steps and the girls would have the jobs of cleaning the classroom, sweeping and cleaning the blackboard. We would do this before we went home every day.

There weren't any school buses. Everyone walked to school, even the teacher. My brother and I walked seven miles, but when the lake froze up in the winter and we could walk on the ice, it was only four miles.

We never heard about sports at school in those days. If we had any free time, we had to work. I lived on the farm with my grandparents to help them, as my grandmother was quite sick, and when I got home from school, I had plenty of work to do.

When I got out of high school, I went to the University of Minnesota and became a nurse. My brother also went to the university and, then, into the Army.

You don't need all kinds of fancy things if you want to learn. All you need is a good teacher and a will to learn all you can.

Someday your generation will run this country and you need to learn all you can now, so you can do a good job. It's very important that you stay in school.


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