As the article notes, “The little one-room stone schoolhouse at Middle Ridge, one of the two still in operation in Lorain-co, was the scene of great activity yesterday when a home coming and reunion was held.
Former teachers and pupils numbering 125 from Detroit and Clarkston, Mich., Cleveland, Oberlin, Vermilion, Grafton, LaGrange, Lorain, Elyria, and Amherst gathered at the home of Katherine Kolbe where a picnic dinner was served on the lawn.
“Following the dinner the school bell was rung and all went to the schoolhouse for a business session and program. The reunion was voted to be an annual affair.
“The school was beautifully decorated with flowers.”
The Amherst News-Times of October 1, 1942 included this charming look about the still-operating school, written by Mrs. F. R. Powers.
A Cherished Memory Remains
By Mrs. F. R. Powers
It’s always most gratifying, for one who often finds pleasure in looking backward, to come upon something that bears a marked resemblance to a cherished memory.
Such was my experience when I attended the Fall Festival at the Middle Ridge school a week ago and discovered with wistful satisfaction that the district school hasn’t changed much since the days when it constituted the test tube in which I wriggled, among sundry other green and frightened contemporaries, for pedagogical survival.
They were all there – the twin cloak rooms, the worn floor boards, the big, little and middle-sized desks and seats, their once shiny surfaces smoothed satiny soft by decades of leaners and sitters. I saw the rangy expanse of blackboards, too, and the patriotic pictures and the flag and the box of maps upon the wall.
Certain familiar objects were missing to be sure, but since my recollections of them were not tender and their absence from the scene was by way of being an improvement, I rejoiced within myself that they were not there. Foremost among them would be the heating unit, which was down cellar and not belching smoke and grime a few feet from teacher’s desk. The coal oil lamps had been replaced by cheery electrical ones, and I noted that the community water pail and dipper were missing from the bench at the rear of the room.
In the beginning, there were those among us who started out bravely enough to be school ma’ams, but fell by the wayside. I recall one girl who had everything it takes to make a good teacher except courage. She was scared half out of her wits her very first day of teaching when all of the big boys came in thru the windows. Another young lady of my acquaintance was affrighted by the quantity and the quality of the big husky males who presented themselves on opening day in overalls and boots.
“I never had trouble with the big boys,” a friend of mine who taught a country school, too, once told me, “I flirted with them and we got along fine.” Unpedagogical to say the least, but effective. And brother, when they take you, still in your teens, and put you to teaching a country school (forty-four pupils and all eight grades, mind you) you’re liable to do a number of things that are unpedagogical – but by trial have been proven effective.
As I observed Mrs. Smith, who has presided as teacher at the Middle Ridge School for some years now, the thought persisted that here was a woman for whom country schools have never held any terror. She has been so busy, teaching capably and well the fundamentals of a good education to the boys and girls who come to sit at her feet, that she hasn’t had time to recognize the unpleasantries that might have presented themselves. Therefor they do not exist for her. Surely this must be so, else how could she have weathered so well the years of teaching that lie behind her?
From the brief impromptu program that Mrs. Smith and her charges presented the evening I was a guest at the Middle Ridge school, I gathered that the pupils up here are learning the things you and I learned – the good old, songs, facts and stories every American child should know. There was “Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean.” (Why don’t we sing this song oftener in these spirited times? The text is real poetry and positively thrilling!) The little ones warbled “Twenty Froggies Went to School” (good stuff here for the youngsters to know. Remember the line that goes: “We must be on time,” said they. “First we work and then we play.”)? And to my delight a group of Sixth Grade pupils recited “The Village Blacksmith” and told the audience something of the poet Longfellow.
It’s going on twenty years since our school buses started rolling, leaving in their wake a trail of abandoned school houses round the countryside. Centralization had become the order of the day, and it was high time, too. By virtue of a spirited parental petition the Middle Ridge District School was permitted to remain open. And wholly upon evidence gathered with my own eyes and ears, I would venture to say that this little hall of learning has since become a greater factor in the lives of the people who live up Middle Ridge way than it ever was before. The happy scene of harvest festivals and Christmas programs and pleasant family gatherings, the Middle Ridge school house has blossomed into a community center of the highest caliber. And now, with motor travel in its present state, it would seem as if this same little school house was destined to play a part of even greater importance in the lives of its people.
There are twenty-three pupils enrolled at the Middle Ridge school this year. The Mothers’ club an organization with objectives similar to those of our P.T.A. (and I’ll wager ten times more fun, what with meeting around at the various homes for tureen dinners and the like) has a membership of fourteen.
So long as the Middle Ridge District School maintains the high degree of efficiency and service that characterizes it today, its doors should not be padlocked. The fact that it is operating on borrowed time should make no difference at all so long as its existence is justified by a showing of good words. Q. E. D.
And this, I believe, is where I came in.
School was finally out for good for the Middle Ridge School by the early 1950s.
An article in the September 7, 1951 Amherst News-Times noted, “Closing of the Middle Ridge school house and transferring those pupils into the Amherst village school system effective this week brought forth vigorous complaints from six mothers living in the eastern part of the district affected.
“Closing of both the Middle Ridge and South Ridge schools, both one-room schools, was decided upon last spring by members of the Amherst Township local school board. Reason given for closing was the decidedly unsettled status of state aid for the schools and the distinct possibility that all aid would be withdrawn. Aid was being given for only one school and members pointed out that all aid might be withdrawn. Members also stated that the state board of education has very strongly recommended that all one-room schools in the state be closed.
“Complaints of the mothers this week were based on Clearview schools being closer to their homes than Amherst and also on their having to pay tuition to Clearview schools whereas the school board has already arranged to pay tuition to Amherst village schools from tax monies. They asked that either Middle Ridge school be re-opened or tuition charges to Clearview be dropped.”
But Middle Ridge School remained closed, and by late November 1952, the vacant building was leased by County Workshop Players for use by its theatre group.