Back to School

The nights become cooler; there are the first touches of frost; the foliage on the hills turns to crimson, gold and bronze; mist and rain begin to fall and the earth prepares for winter.

Phillip Keller

It was still dark when Mama routed us out of our warm beds for school. It was September—chilly and exhilarating. Dad and worked the toaster and fried us eggs which I could only gag down with tears. I can’t abide a fried egg.

Not cold enough yet for our new pleated wool skirts and sweaters but we donned our dresses and knee socks, grabbed our lunch buckets and book bags and headed out for the schoolhouse. A half a mile was all we had to walk down the road to the small township of Stronach.

The two-room schoolhouse sat on the north side of the narrow street. The front yard held a silver sliding board, a jungle gym and a set of monkey bars. Swings were out back. We took our things inside and ran back outside to play.

The lights were on in Mrs. Ginheart’s kitchen across the street and after school my sister Becky would be allowed to go in and pick up the mail.

The white columns of the Dummer’s house lent some drama and elegance to the street. A one room store sat to the northwest. On Tuesday after school, we’d visit to buy an envelope of Koolaid and a stick of Laffy Taffy and head to the Kolb’s house for our Detectives in Science Club meeting. (We solved mysteries when we could find any.)

When the teacher rang the bell, we shuffled inside and sat in our assigned seats to answer roll call. A row of windows spanned the south wall of the classroom to let in the sunlight. A hall with a kitchen area, coat room hooks and shelves, and restrooms divided the two classrooms.

Under the windows radiators clanked and clanged to keep the rooms warm in the cold Michigan winters. The heat came up from the coal furnace in the basement. On Fridays we had music class. The voice from inside the console radio at the front of the room led us through songs as we followed along in our songbooks.

A bank of fragrant Queen Anne’s lace grew under the windows, and I loved to smell them when it was warm enough to open the windows. At recess I sat under them and played in the sandy dirt or pumped as high as I could go on the swings.

Pumpkins at Farm Market

In the afternoon we headed home, my sister often scolding me to catch up and come on. I was slow and easily distracted by any wildflower or pebble. We passed a small farm and a tiny house of the “cat lady” on our way. We took the curve at the Morehouses’s place and were home. And so another school year started with arithmetic, spelling bees, history, reading and language lessons and the world rocked on.

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1

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