December 5, 2010.
COMMUNITY LIFE from the Knotts Island Diary written by Sue Fentress Austin
The Currituck County Public Library at Barco offered some interesting background reading regarding schools throughout Currituck County. This information dates from the 1920s.
Department of Interior, Bureau of Education Bulletin, 1921, No. 24 by Katherine M. Cook, Specialist in Rural Education. This study was made at the request of the County Board of Education.
Some of the more interesting facts cited were as follows: Currituck Sound and North River bounded the County on three sides, Virginia on the North, 40 miles long, 14 miles wide. Crops: soy beans, cow peas, corn, potatoes, melons and cotton. There were 984 farms, 60% White, rural. Currituck town was where the "seat" was located; Moyock the largest trading center. Neither town had more than a few hundred folks. The majority, Whites, owned their farms. Total population was about 7,000. Total school population in 1919-1920 = 2748, 72% in daily attendance. White children, 48 teachers, 4 buildings. Their salaries = $390 to $900/yearly. Three-fourths of the buildings had 6 months of school/yr. Buildings were in very poor condition, little blackboard space, few illustrative materials in use, two schools had playground equipment, and there was a piano in only four buildings. Board for teachers = $30-$35/mo. Salaries paid 6-8 mos/yr. Teachers had to LIVE 12 months however. Salaries too small. Some 26 of the 48 teachers had only UP to and including high school diplomas. School days averaged 127 per school term for Whites.
Knotts Island, in 1921, had #1, #2 and #3 school buildings, Census: 175 children; Enrollment: 102; Attendance: 70. Textbooks only source of information and only working equipment furnished. Music, art, industrial and manual work, agriculture, nature study, pe, playground activities, games and dramazation entirely ignored. High schools are old classical type, very little science. No home economics and no agriculture offered. No electives. Neither high school has good working library nor reasonable supply of reference books. Fruitville must remain as is for the present. Desperate need for good roads throughout the county — all were dirt. North Carolina State Board of Education estimated minimum for prepared teachers should be $1200. Beginning salary of $1000 (Tentative estimate by this Study). Fruitville would need 4 teachers allocated under “Plan” - Total in County = 40/4 Principals, 1 Supervisor.
There were 2067 taxpayers in the county and more than 40% paid tax on $500 or less/55% paid tax on valuation of $1000 or less. Taxes needed to be raised a little.
Dudley Bagley of Moyock wrote about his friend Joseph Palmer Knapp, lately of Brooklyn, New York; now a citizen/taxpayer of Currituck County being on the Knotts Island road to the post office. Knapp offered some school kids a ride; they were bright and friendly and told Knapp they went to one teacher at the school for six months. He realized Knotts Island exhibited the real life example of educational needs his Colliers Magazine had been addressing. Knotts Island children deserved an equal chance of education with the northern ones and those in cities like Raleigh and Durham but weren’t getting that chance. He thought about it and determined to do something. He had not enough money to help all of NC but for Currituck County he could set an example. This information was obtained from the Survey for State of NC by Miss Maud C. Newburg under direction of Katherine Cook. (# 1921).
Another county person who exerted great influence was E. R. Johnson, a sort of "political boss." Keeping store across the road from the courthouse allowed him to "keep a hand in all that was happening." Ed Johnson was not a member of the Board of Education. Joseph Knapp expressed in a letter he wrote in 1922 that he wanted "heads of county schools" to be persons who believed in learning by doing. Knapp also sought to remain anonymous as much as possible. Credit went to Commissions and School Board. Mr. Griggs, Mr. Gallop and Mr. Jarvis were on the Education Board and Maud Newbury was the first County Supervisor of Schools, 1923. She was appointed for 5 years at a salary of $4000/yr.
Katherine Steele wore two hats - 7th grade teacher and Knotts Island School Principal. In the late 1920s, four boys wrote a paper for Miss Steele and somehow or other it has been preserved. (Actually Adell, herself saved it from a trashcan when the Principal told teachers to throw away all the old “stuff" found in certain closets.) These boys were Harold Jones, Norwood Ansel, Melford Grimstead and Millard Beasley. Here is their essay entitled, “Private Schools of Knotts Island" quoted verbatim, complete with original spelling/punctuation.
"The private schools were all about the Island, at Williams Mill, at Corbells lane, at Bonney’s House and one up the Neck.
Mr. W. E. W. Capps hired the teacher for the school at Williams Mill. Each one paid $1.00 a month for each child who went to school at Corbell’s lane. Mr. F. G. Bonney hired the teachers that taught at his home. And the people paid so much per month for each child that went to school in the neck.
The schools were made of rough logs with one room not ceiled. They had a log cut into for benches, which were around the sides ofthe room. A box heater was in the center of the room with the pipe going through the top of the house.
They studied reading, Arithmetic, spelling, geography and histry. They had a slate and pencil to write with.
They had lots of events. The boys would catch snakes and spit tobacco in their eyes and they would throw them at the girls to scare them. If they made game of anything they were made to put it on and bow to every one in school. They had picnics often."
An unnamed student wrote in 1927-28 a paper entitled “Public School Before Consolidation". This paper, which follows below, is quoted exactly as the young child wrote it. A typed copy of the original document is HERE.
"Fifty years ago one of the first school houses was at Holly Tree Branch in the woods west of Mr. Paul Jones store.
Another one was at the south end. It had only one room. It was painted brown, and had six windows and two doors. There was a chimney in the middle of the room and they had benches with no backs. These were nailed up to the side of the house.
About sixty years ago a school house used to stand in the woods about one hundred fifty yards north of Mr. Jones store.
The north end school was only one room with one teacher. At first it wasn’t painted but later it was painted white trimed with red.
There was a hall in front of the church. The name of it was "Temples Hall". It had an up stairs with green blinds. The people took it for a school house. They just had a long bench, all the pupils had to sit on that. They just taught three months.
The pupils at Holly Tree Branch were:
E. L. White Bill Kelly J. U. Waterfield John Beasley J. R. Waterfield J. J. Brumley B. J. Waterfield David Brumley Sam Waterfield Jessie White S. J. Waterfield Georgie Waterfield (Miss) R. J. Waterfield Edmund White C. Waterfield Albert Simpson A. J. Ansell E. J. Simpson E. W. Ansell C. White F. Bonney J. E. White Lidia Ann Jones (Mrs.) Angie White J. E. Munden (Mrs.) Otto Halstead Jessie Litchfield R. Miller John Litchfield Morrison Williams C. Litchfield Robert Williams Bill Litchfield John Williams Mattie Kelly (Mrs.) E. L. Simpson Bill Litchfield Henry Simpson J. J. Simpson
Irma(Waterf1eld) White recalled that "Mama" Susie (Waterman) Waterfield, when just a child attending school, was sitting beside her brother, Arthur. He dared her to throw her inkwell out of the window. She did. "Mama" Susie was probably attending school in the very early 1900s.
Still another hand-written paper was preserved and it, too, was written the same year as the other two papers (and likewise "saved" by our Adell). This time the pen belonged to Miss Nita Lee Brumley. In 1928 she was in Katherine Steele’s 7th grade at the new brick school built by Joseph Knapp. The very next year she and her sister, Adell, would move on to Creeds School for their four high school years. Here then is her paper, also quoted verbatim and complete with the few errors that she made. It is interesting to notice the way in which certain words were obviously spelled and how differently they are now spelled some eight decades later.
"The people got tired of having their children going to different schools. They thought it would be a better community if they consolidated the schools. Then the children would know and like each other more.
The people also thought the school would be better, and their children would learn more, because they could have better teachers and better schools, if the schools were consolidated. The people also would be working together more.
The people decided upon a day to vote to see how many were in favor of consolidation. This time the vote was lost. Two years later they voted upon it again. This time a little over half of the votes were in favor.
The school committee then held a meeting and decided they should build the building near the Church, because it was about the middle of the Island.
They bought a piece of land from Mr. Jesse Bowden, near the Methodist church for which they paid $75.
Then they hired people to work on building the school house. The head one of this work was Mr. W. E. Morris. He had the lumber shiped by boat from Elizebith City. The building when completed cost $1600.
After they got the building they decided they wanted a large bell. Mrs. F. Bonney bought a bell at the cost of $14. Then she went around from house to house collecting $.50 from every house she could until she got her money back.
They used this building for a long time with three teachers. Then they decided to build an extra room and have four teachers. This room cost $3300. This leii the building costing $4900.
The principles that taught in this building are as follows. lst Mr. Blessing, 2nd Miss Forbes, 3rd Miss Gegory, 4th Miss Mattie Oldbarn, who taught for three years, 5th Miss Martin, 6th Mr. Kates, 7th Miss Rector, 8th Miss Shorter, 9th Mr. Truite, 10th Mr. Sotan, 11th Mr. Betcher, 12th Mr. Bray who taught for two years, 13th Miss Nonie Johnson. By this time the teacherage had been built and the teachers didn’t have to board around in the people’s houses any more. 14th Miss Addie Banner was principal until Christmas then Miss Twiss took her place.
A wealthy man of New York, Mr. Knapp, and his wife, Mrs. Knapp, decided to build us a better school building. They bought a piece of land a little farther north of Mr. F. Bonney’s between the Methodist and the Baptist churches. There they built a very fine building made of brick. They had it plastered inside and had every—thing put in it for convenience.
The day the school house was given to the county the program was as follows:
Prayer — Rev. Henry Harrell
Placement of Symbols by Junior Order Masons
Parent Teachers Association
Rebeccas - Red Men
Laying of Comer stone and presentation of school to county — Mr. Knapp
Acceptance for county and placement of direct responsibility on school acceptance - Miss Maude Newberry
Acceptance - Mr. E. D. Bowden Placement of responsibility on community, Faculty Altunni and Students — Mr. E. D. Bowden Acceptance for community — Mrs. J. E. Munden, Jr.
Faculty —- Miss Edith Tallmadge
Alumni- Miss Frances Ansell
Student - Student Council and Leslie Poole
Announcement and Benediction — Rev. Harrell
After this program was over we went to the Methodist Church for another program.
During this summer Mr. and Mrs. Knapp had their work men work on the school grounds to make it beautiful.
When school opened on May 7, 1926 - program was as follows. Mr. Corbitt of Junior order of United American Machanics presiding.
Dedication of school — Miss Tallmadge
America The Beautiful
Presentation of Bible - Rev. Sawyer for the J .O.U.A.M.
Presentation of Flag — Mr. Martin for the J .O.U.A.M.
Acceptance — Mr. Bowden
Old North State
Many new things were brought about in the school during the year of 1926-27.
A week or two before school closed we had the May Festival. We met at the school house the morning we were to go to Currituck. People with their cars took us across to Mackey’s Island. Then Mr. Knapp had his boats take us to Currituck. There were busses to take us to the school building.
Roy Beasley won third place in reading, in the beginners class, Roy White won second place in reading in the first grade. Mabel Capps won third place in poems and third place in reading in the second grade. Velma Litchfield won second place in reading in the third grade. Ryland Waterman won second place in arithmetic in the sixth grade. Catherine Williams won third place in reading in the fifth grade. Nita Brumley won first place in poems in the sixth grade.
The last day of school we had our first community picnic. Everyone brought something to go on the table. Everyone was invited to come. After supper we had the movies. Every one seemed to enjoy everything that went on, and every one had a good time.
Before continuing further about the new brick school, several Islanders remember the May Day celebrations. Tunis Corbell offered his rememberances:
May Day used to be a great day for celebrations at both Creeds School and Currituck and I remember one year (1935) we put on a Dutch Show. My job was to get inside our windmill and turn the blades for over a half hour. Mrs. Knapp usually attended along with your Aunt Mamie and Uncle Curtis driving the big Oakland automobile. I remember them taking me with them one year. We all had to get out of the car at the Bridge Pond while "dare devil” Curtis raced the motor and hit the mud at full speed. After he crossed we all waded through the mud and reentered the car. I missed the 1934 May Day celebration because I had measles.
Mahlon "Mike" Wade in the Knotts Island Junior Historians publication entitled The Islanders, Spring 1987, Vol. 1 was interviewed and had this to say about May Day and the year Knotts Island won all the events.
Every year each school in the county would hold a May Day. Each school would compete against the others. There were spelling bees, music and sports events. We weren’t very big then, Hope (Williams) was not, and played first base. A big leaguer couldn’t have played no better than he did that day. So we went down there (Popular Branch) and beat them. We won everything there was to win!
Well she (Miriam Waterman) was a racer. She had to run against two or three girls out there. These other girls came out — they had running suits. Poor Miriam, there she was with a dress down to her knees. I shain’t never forget; she pulled that dress up and tucked it right down in her panties. Then she took off, I’m telling you that was it! She was gone!
Now, returning once again to the new brick school. Another unnamed student of that same era wrote "The new things that have been put into our school are a new sink and hot water sink presented by Mrs. Knapp, new oil stove presented by Currituck County. New dishes for all rooms and cooking utensils, also new white table spread to serve our guests, presented by Mrs. Knapp. We have a new stage curtain made of velvet, and curtain for daytime movies in the auditorium. We have a new umbrella holder for the hallway."
When in her late 80s, Nita Brumley Dixon again jotted down her thoughts on the schools for this author. Her thoughts are just as she wrote them down, word for word. Nita mentions 1925 as the year she started to the new brick school. The author thinks it was probably 1926.
There were three Great Pioneers of Knotts Island who reaHy cared for the people - Mr. Knapp, Miss Katherine Steele and Eddie Munden. The two churches, Methodist and Baptist both had so many caring people in their midst.
The Methodist Parsonage now stands where once the Knotts Island school children went to school. Nita walked to the three-room school from the Brumley home on Cason’s Point Road. It was 1919 and 5-1/2 year old Nita first walked, alone to school. Cows would be there and Nita would be so scared, afraid, felt like how a “little ant" would feel. Sometimes a horse and cart might stop and give little Nita a ride. And neighbors out in their yards would wave and that would make her feel so much better.
Three teachers at school. Had a "Bell Room.” Nita and Adell went together, no electricity, kids loved to pull the rope and hear the beautiful sound. The bell was moved to the new school in ’26. Where is the school bell now? Mrs. Vandelia Bonney and husband, Ferdinand, lived where Martin’s Farm is now. Ate biscuit sandwiches. Gathered around the picnic tree and have lunch and socialize. No playground. Games were thought up by the children, all on their own; such as; 1-2-3 GO & RUN and Jump From the Top of the Hill Down to the Bottom of the Road. See who could jump the farthest.
In 1925 when we moved into the new school, we didn’t ‘know what to do for ourselves! Could now walk through the woods between present Brumley Road and the new school. We had lights on a dark day, warm radiators during the day, and children thought school was such a wonderful place to be. They were happy at school, so different from how their homes were when we returned after school. School was comfortable, while our homes were cold! Teachers had more than one grade in their classrooms. A hot bowl of soup was served by the principal, Miss Steele, to each child. She was also a teacher. She introduced Hungarian Potato Soup and would appoint a girl to go and stir the soup during the morning. She would kind of glance in your direction and you would slip out to where it was cooking. She had a little pad and would walk aroundd, making notes as to how well you liked the soup.
Miss Steele was critized for body parts studied from a book. A farmer who lived close by, Walter Jones, had a hog killing and gave certain parts to Miss Steele. She wanted the heart, lungs, etc., and put them on the middle of the table. Students would gather around. Kids would be kids and act like they were going to be sick. One incident caused community comment - when a boy got sick, tongue hanging out and making noises. Miss Steele turned around and sort of pinched his cheek and left some blood (from handling the hog parts, not from pinching him to hard!) Parents got angry, didn’t want their children learning that kind of stuff, kids could do the hog killing business at home. They were sending them to school to learn new things. What this smart teacher was doing was "hands on" teaching which was actually an advanced form of teaching for its day. Was not well received by the Island folk though! Miss Steele had a garden at school, children studied plants, how they were fed, why weeds, etc. Parents again were mad and said their children could chop weeds at home; didn’t send them to school to work in a garden!
One of the games that Nita mentioned, the "see who could jump the f`arthest" contest must have been so much fun. That side of the road where kids jumped is still fairly high, alongside the present Methodist Parsonage or general area. Once this region had VERY high sides and the children would run down the hill, and then jump into the road just as far as they could. Nita remembered her father fussing about her shoe soles wearing out so often and how come her sister Adell’s soles didn’t. He would send her to Eddie Munden’s store for a sheet of leather. Then he would draw a line around the shoe, cut out the new leather sole and repair it himself. Adell would simply say, "Papa, she jumps too much!"
Tunis Corbell also expressed himself regarding going to school during the 1930s:
During the Depression the school year was shortened to eight months so that kids could work more on the farms. In my experience, I went to school only half days in the 5th, 6th and 7th grades, and worked on our farm every afternoon. Most times we did take fig preserve sandwiches, ham and/or egg sandwiches for lunch when I was at Creeds. Of course at Knotts Island in grammar school we had hot lunches, thanks to Mr. Knapp’s programs. However, many people did not like the Knotts Island hot lunches and still brought their ham, eggs, peanut butter and fig sandwiches.
Colin Doxey said that at the old school he was designated by one of his teachers to run the movie projector. Mildred Strawhand in 1998 agreed that everyone loved the silent movies. There was a big tower in the middle, where the projector sat. Several women living on the Island took turns playing background music on a piano. Later when the new brick school opened, Colin again was the projector man. Films were shown in the auditorium (now the elementary school library). Colin’s father got the movies at the usual cost of $7.50. Adults were charged 10 cents and children under 12 paid 5 cents. He remembers the auditorium being always full with no behavior problems.
Another event Colin recalls is bounding into the front door of the present school building, same front door actually. The floor was newly waxed and young Colin ended up sliding all the way, up to the stage area. Principal/teacher Katherine Steele caught him and was not amused. His punishment was to lose his "job" as projectionist. Since there was really no one to replace him and HIS father DID procure the films, Colin very soon was offered his old job back.
According to Colin (born in 1910) there was an old Odd Fellows Lodge, very tall, located next to the cemetery. It was empty. As a very young child he attended school there when overflow from the old school building necessitated moving some of the children elsewhere. This may have been the same building that Jim Ward (born 1879) mentioned to Adell before his death in 1977. The author’s Uncle Jim said "There was a school opposite the Methodist Church in the swamp that was called Temperance Hall. It had a 15 foot room downstairs and a hall upstairs. Jess Caffee and John Hardy were the teachers. At the close of the day Mr. Caffee got on his knees and prayed a long prayer before the children left for home. A Mr. Ed Ansell also taught at this school. Back to what Colin remembered. . .which was delivering fresh milk to the schoolhouse for the children to drink, probably in the late ‘20s or early ‘30s. The three Knapp cows produced anywhere from 3 to 15 gallons daily.
Children had it hard, even in the country, when moms or dads were absent. Paul Gregory was one such youngster who had to raise himself. His mother was put into a TB sanitarium (an institution for convalescents who were coughing up blood and very often died hom the weakening disease) when he was only four or five months old. There were four or five children and Paul was the youngest. He would take two biscuits in a small pail to school each day. (Little fellows like Paul must have looked forward to the hot soup that Miss Steele frequently made.) He and Mildred Strawhand who lived at White’s Lane area would often cut into the woods where John Beasley and Stella Beasley’s property was (beside Cliff Scott’s house today) and then follow the road through Ross and Alice Fentress open field. The people living at the South End of the Island used this cut-through road constantly to shorten their walking. Mildred talked of walking to school with Ross’s son, Eddie and Eddie’s cousin, Marvin Fentress. Alyda White (later Beasley) also was a part of the little group. They had to walk by a “Puppy Dog" bush. Eddie would yell, “Watch out, the puppy dogs will bite you!" Mildred laughingly remembered how everyone would run like crazy by this particular bush, just like those weird-looking things would really take a hunk out!! The bush had long, wormy-looking 5 to 6-inch black “fingers" hangin’ down.
When the new school opened, Roy and Edmund White (brothers) were ages 5 and 7. Victor Wade, too, attended and said attendance was about 125. Victor, in 1999, could still count up to 101 houses being on the island when he was growing up. Victor lived up Blackfoot with his parents Charlie and Alice Wade. There were three other brothers named Twiford, Mahlon and Will.
Adell (born in 1914) recalled in written notes she wrote down when in her 70s, about the old school having three or even four rooms. All grades were taught there. There was also another school for the north end children across the road from the present Island Grocery. To Adell, the school was very, very cold. There was a heater in each room and Cabe Gordon was the Custodian. He kept the fire going during the day. She wrote about an old lady named Carrie Capps who lived across the road from where Izola Waterfield Bonney presently lives. This lady was one of the midwives. Another lady, Adell wrote, who seemed awfully old, was Sally Anne Bowden. She lived in a house to the right of the Methodist Parsonage area. She had a spinning wheel. It was so amazing to see her spin thread. Boys from the school would go to her woodpile and cut wood for her. Adell listed all the names she could recall of the new Knotts Island School teachers and the grades they taught in 1926:
Miss Winford Smith - Primer
Miss Zuma Ballance - 1st
Miss Linda Ward Munden - 2nd
Miss Mildred Brodie - 3rd
Miss Katy Byron - 4th
Miss Ruby Oldham - 5th
Miss Katherine M. Steele – 6/7th
4th - Miss Twiss, Miss Katy Byron, Miss Emma Byron, Miss Addie Banner
5th - Miss Edith Tallmadge, Miss Ruby Oldham, Miss Rowland, Miss Addie Banner
6th - Miss Katherine Steele, Miss Ruby Oldham, Miss Pearl Tylor
7th - Miss Katherine Steele, Miss Ruby Oldham, Miss Pearl Tylor
The author found a typed article entitled "Knott’s Island Then and Now” which was beautifully written by Pauline White Munden. Pauline was Mrs. J. E. Munden, Jr., the wife of Eddie Munden, popular grocery stores owner on Knotts Island.
She not only wrote well, but Pauline was artistic and exceptionally creative. In her three page article, she wrote in-depth about the early schools. Here is an excerpt:
Schools were non-existent in the early days, families bringing live-in teachers to teach theirs and neighboring children in little one room buildings or in a spare bedroom. Some of us used a big fat bed tick of a massive four poster bed as our desk on which to prop our slates and books. Later local and county taxes were used to build one room buildings, one for the North-end children and one for the South-end children. By this time the teachers were hired by the county for three months of free schools and thereafter those who could pay a small fee could go for a few months more of Pay School. We went through the little Blue-back spelling book and all of the McGruffy readers and geography and physiology books. In 1908 a three room graded school was built and we were taught beyond the seventh grade. Due to political differences the North-end school remained in use for some years more. In 1925 a modern brick building was built and given to the Island people by Joseph P. Knapp. His interest brought a type of education never before available to such an isolated community. Music appreciation, home economics, recreational and competitive games, and a band with all the gorgeous instruments. Health studies and every other types of education that would build better citizens. Capable teachers were chosen from far and near to carry out his ideas, and a home was built for their convenience."
Diary entries abound about school life. The churches and school shared equal billing as the life of the community. In March of 1932, Adell writes Went to the school house tonite to a music recital. Another 1932 entry says went to old school house to quilt selling. Had spelling match I sit down first on “artillery." The school was most definitely used for many community activities. During the same year, Red Men gave play at school. There were interesting titles attached to the plays of that era. One that Adell mentions was Went to play entitled "Sister Susies Kitchen Kab " — sit with Colin, Elmer, Aubon. Went to restaurant afterwards. October 31, 1932, Tonite Bill & Snub took R & I to Halloween Party at old school. One act play and Negro ministral. Albert D. sat in back of us. We went to Casies for CocaColas.
During 1935, some other interesting entries: In February. .. E W stayed for Boy Scout meeting and during March Adell writes. . .EW and I went to PTA "Negro Ministral. " Bill sat w/me. Again the next month Adell Took Paul to school and had him vaccinated.
The Knotts Island School Junior Historians over a period of years interviewed many of the older Islanders. From their publication, The Islanders, Spring 1987 the author wishes to quote bit and pieces of interviews that pertained to earlier schools.
Edna (White) Carroll, age 72, was interviewed by Chris Hemsath and Kelly Williams. She had attended the one-room school at the North end.
We didn’t have any paper. We had slates. Everybody had a slate. You wrote on it with either a slate pencil or chalk. When you were doing math or spelling you had to take it up to the teacher’s desk and she would say it was OK. It was either right or wrong and if it was wrong you had to write whatever you had wrong. But the ones that were right was wiped off. So we did not have paper. I must have been in the 4th, 5th or 6th grade before we used ink or ink pens. It was a staff; you know, it wasn’t a fountain pen.
Casey Munden was interviewed by Suzanna Flannagan and Brandy Futrell. He had attended the same north end school as Edna.
Well, it was just an old rough, board building. I believe it was painted. I think it was just pine wood. It was just a pine, weather board building, one-story. It had one door and four windows, I think. Weren’t very light in there. It was dark, especially on cloudy days. I don’t think we had any kerosene lamps at the time. We used candles, I think.
We had to walk back in those days — had no transportation. It took about thirty minutes for us to walk there I guess.
Well I remember it was always two boys to keep the fire going at school, and I remember one time the fire died down. See, it was coal that they were using. Some red coal were at the bottom but at the top, the fire was done. Some boy poured some gasoline in the stove and the stove blew all to pieces!
Mahlon “Mike" Wade, age 77, was interviewed by Melissa Watts. Mike attended the three room school located where the Methodist Parsonage now sits.
There was no school bus. If it rained or snowed, or if it was cold, it wouldn’t make any difference. You had to walk to school and you walked home at night. Back then there was no lunch served at school. You had to take your own in a little bucket. There was no such thing as hot soup.
The good children were let out about five or ten minutes sooner so that they could get ahead of the next crowd. Well, the next bunch that was let out, was a little better. Then the last bunch was, excuse the language, but the last ones were known as the hellions! They were the mean ones, so you had to get the good ones ahead so there was no fights or scrapping going on.
Rules were very strict at school. You were not told twice to do something. In the corner of the room was a big stack of switches and believe me they were used! They were not there just to look at.
Bessie Tatem Cason, age 77, interviewed by Sherry Cason.
The school that I went to stood there by the Parsonage. It was a nice school. There was a one-room school where Knotts Island Market is. The rules were stricter than what they are now because when you got punished they didn’t make you write. They would whip you.
Grace Williams, age 84, interviewed by Kelly Williams and Melissa Watts.
It was a three-room school right where the Parsonage is, great big rooms. We had a big bell and that bell was rung every morning to get the kids in, and we marched in two by two. And it taught from the first grade, no high school. It was just through grammar. Then you couldn’t get your diploma. You had to go to Poplar Branch a year, before you could finish high school.
We had a water bucket with a dipper and that thing; every body drank out of it until I don’t know just how long. We did that but then we had to buy a little cup you could mash together, it was a little tin cup that would fold. Everybody had to have their own cup so that seem to do better, you know.
Well, we were all having a class and we would sit on the bench by the fire when it was cold, and the teacher taught from that. Sometimes, Mr. White (Emmett White) could lick his tongue clean to his nose and he did this particular thing this day. I laughed and so did Frances Ansell, and we were right in front of him. There he was, just like a snake. Now Miss Olden came at the door. Do you know she whipped everyone of us for that!
Preston Jones, age 68, interviewed by Jr. Historian Club.
I walked to school from where I lived. I used to carry a little metal dinner bucket. The lunch room, at that time we did our own cooking and did our own washing our dishes. We had a home economics teacher. She taught us how to cook and how to wash dishes.