Volume I, No. 1, Fall 1973

As We Saw Them

As someone who have never been in a one-room school before, I didn't know quite what to expect. I had lived in the Ozarks for seven years, but I didn't even know where the schools were. What I was expecting, I guess, was a little room packed with kids and a teacher with a fresh-cut hickory switch in his hand. What I discovered was very different. Instead of strict regimentation, there was great flexibility. At Washington Mr. Mott had to go to a funeral the morning we were there, so they just started school early. Instead of tyrannous teachers, they were open and receptive to our project.

All the kids were receptive, too. While we were there, they included us in everything they did. We played softball (made outs), took a vocabulary test (we didn't know the words), ciphered (got beat), gave out spelling tests and just blended into the atmosphere of the schools.

I felt more comfortable at Washington, because it was more like what I was used to. It seemed like a classroom From a more modern school set off by itself, but Dry and Dusty was, well, it was a rural school in the truest sense of the word. The thing that most made me think of it that way was the building which was old and in not-too-good repair. Washington was in good shape.

Jim interviewing students at Washington School

One thing that was unusual was not hearing bells all the time. When you're accustomed to about twenty bells in the course of a day, hearing none is slightly strange.

The spirit of unity in these schools was fantastic. You could almost feel it when you walked in. All the kids got along, and the teachers never yelled at anyone.

Even though these schools never had much effect on my life, I'm sad to see them go, not as much for me, but for the kids that went to them. It's the end of an era.

Jim Baldwin

I had never been to a one-room school, so this was a new experience. It proved to be a very enjoyable one at that.

Washington was cleaner, nearer looking, yet Dry and Dusty was the larger of the two. I was shocked to see electric copying machines, refrigerators and telephones. I guess I was looking for a school out of the pioneer days. The study guides and reading material consisted of what most classrooms in town have. Things weren't as old-fashioned as I expected.

The children might not have all the modern toys and equipment we have on our playgrounds, but they have just as much fun, or more, than city kids. Those kids have to be the healthiest, most active ones around.

Janet at Dry and Dusty


The Fact that teachers could give the first and second graders assignments and move a Few feet away and start talking to the Fifth grade while the first and second graders kept on working without being disturbed was a remarkable sign. They've been taught from the beginning the correct way. Any other way would be difficult. I really don't see how they do it. If the study habits they have now stay with them till high school .......those little ones have it made.

Janet Florence

Five years ago, Liberty, the country school I attended closed its doors and I went to Lebanon Junior High School the next year. Surer I was sad. We cried and went on about its closing, but we got over it. I enjoyed the country school, but I've also had a good time and learned a lot in the bigger school. I couldn't say that attending a rural school hurt me, but in Lebanon I had the opportunity to take such courses as band, shop and physical education, which I think students should have. The one-room schools didn't have the facilities for these activities.

It's really hard to describe the feeling of going back to something that was an enjoyable part of my life. It's even more difficult to write about this feeling!  It can be best described as eating a delicious piece of a favorite cake, enjoying every bite. When it's gone, we think back and savor the taste and memories. Unfortunately, unlike the cake, we cannot go back and get another "piece" of rural schools, because, obviously, they are physically gone. But, also, and this is difficult for us to understand, the community, like me, has outgrown the one-room rural school whether they like to admit it or not.

Photos by Robert McKenzie

Jay Luthy


Copyright © 1981 BITTERSWEET, INC.

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