Reflections of the Past
Around Christmastime, I ran into a man who had attended the same grade school that I did. He was several years younger than me, and I hadn't seen him for years. He remembered me, and shared a bit of his wisdom.
He began by saying that it seemed like just a few short years ago when we stood outside of Forest School and sang Christmas carols.
Forest School was a small country school, where grades 1-6 attended and shared 1 large classroom. There were approximately 30 students in any given year. We walked to school, or rode our bikes.
No, sorry, we didn't ride a horse to school, or hitch up a buggy, or walk on top of the snowbanks so high, that we could touch the highline. That was the generation before us.
I had the same teacher for all 6 grades.
Her name was Mrs. Gruetzmacher.
She drove a Mustang convertible, (and smoked cigarettes. Scandalous.)
Back to my conversation with the former classmate, we both wondered if there would be less problems, if those small schools still existed.
We were all neighbors, living within a few miles of the school. Many of us were cousins. While the teacher taught a class for the upper grades, the younger students worked on their own work, but also listened and learned. We respected our teacher, our parents, each other.
We started school after Labor Day weekend, and finished just before Memorial Day. We had snow days, and didn't have to make them up.
We sang along with 'Let's Sing' on the Wisconsin Public Radio station. The bookmobile came by and delivered a variety of books. Hot lunch was brought by Elmer, driving an old panel truck. We either ate what was served, or we brought our own lunch from home.
We recited the Pledge of Allegiance every day as the flag was run up the flagpole outside. We recited 'one nation, under God,' without worrying that we may be forcing religion do the throat of those who do not believe. We talked freely about our church and our beliefs. We were not afraid to pray.
We didn't have any shootings or stabbings. The only weapons may have been a pea shooter or slingshot.
We played kick ball, marbles, and jacks. We jumped rope, and played 'Annie, Annie, Over', over the top of the old outhouse that remained on the property. The boys may have had their favorite pocket knife in the bottom of their pockets, but they were not pulled out and used as weapons.
Our teacher didn't complain(at least not that we knew of) about the long hours, the grueling task of planning classes for six grades, and having to drive to the country in order to do her job.
She remembered us as the years went by, if we happened to bump into her on the street.
Mrs. Gruetzmacher is no longer with us today. I remember her with respect and awe. I feel that I am who I am, and where I am, as a result of her patience and knowledge, which she shared with me and so many others.
Small country schools are no longer a possibility, but I do have to agree with my old classmate.
Perhaps the world would be a better place today, if children still attended a one-room school, with six grades and one teacher.