Friday, September 8, 2017

A Look Back at the Old Red Schoolhouse – 1938

Northeast Ohio is still dotted with old former schoolhouses which somehow managed to survive. What was it like to attend one of these schools? Read all about it in this article that ran in the Lorain Journal on Saturday, July 9, 1938.

Pupils Happiest in 
‘Old Red Schoolhouse’
So Says 80-Year-Old LaGrange Man
as ‘Scholars’ Await Reunion

The little red school house of nearly four score years ago turned out a happier group of "scholars,” fostered a greater co-operative spirit, and promoted more enduring friendships than do the imposing structures of today.

That’s the opinion of Will O. Turner, 80, LaGrange, who with some 80 former classmates of the Old Grafton-twp School district No. 5 and their families will gather Sunday for the fifth annual school reunion at the Wells-Chamberlain homestead, Belden-LaGrange-rd.

In the old days children were happy with ordinary, simple things of life. They didn’t need swings, “teeters,” and other playground equipment to have fun at recesses. The chance to play was enough, his wife recalled.

Recalls Hickory Stick
Then, too, they weren’t so crowded in their school work, added Turner.

Interwoven in his memories of “the good old days” 74 years ago are incidents when the school “marm” decided ‘reading’, ‘writin’, and ‘rithmetic’ should be taught to the tune of a hickory stick.

“I’ll never forget the day that all the boys except two went down to ‘the ole swimming hole’ in the river and were tardy for school. The teacher never said a thing, but when we were up in front to recite, she closed her books, asked us to roll up our pant legs, and whipped our legs severely. The two boys who by refusing to go down for a dip escaped punishment were the late Frank Turner and George H. Chamberlain, former state senator and practicing Elyria attorney,” Turner recalled.

The original old school house in the Grafton-twp was really a small frame building heated by a center wood stove. Fifty-five years ago it gave way to a new school across the road. The district was included in the Belden-twp school system about three years ago.

Following tradition set at the first reunion, an informal program will follow a basket picnic lunch Sunday. Will Turner and George Chamberlain arranged the first reunion at the Well-Chamberlain homestead which is located approximately where the “scholars” attended school.

Reunion officers are Dewey Aldrich, LaGrange, president; Mrs. Nellie Wise, Belden, vice-president; Mrs. Louise Harold Wolf, Elyria, secretary-treasurer.

The Elyria Chronicle did a story on the reunion on July 11, 1938. Approximately one hundred former teachers, students and friends attended, and enjoyed a picnic dinner at tables set up on the lawn of the Wells-Chamberlain homestead. As the article noted, “The oldest former teacher, Mrs. Lucelia Denham, aged 85 years, of Elyria was again present and told of some of the escapades of her former students.”

“Professor Clark Chamberlain of Michigan spoke upon the travels of “Johnny Appleseed” who is reported to have sown the seeds from which apple trees near the old school site grew. It was suggested that a cutting of one of these trees be obtained and planted at the site upon which the reunions are being held. A reading was given by Mrs. J. E. Mennels of Grafton which was greatly enjoyed. Letters from several absent members were read."

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