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Remembering Prutzman and Colton schools

PRINCETON — While none of Bureau County’s one-room schools had what would be considered a large enrollment by modern standards, some were even smaller than others.

Virgil Gross was able to attend the Prutzman School only through the third grade. After that, he said it closed because there were only three students in the school.

“It ended up my brother and the neighbor girl, Gladys Isaacson, and myself were the only three kids in the school, so they closed it,” Gross said. “That’s when we went up to the school on the hard road.”

That school, located on Route 6, was the Colton School, and Gross attended there before graduating and moving on to Princeton High School.

Gross said he’s got good memories about his school days.

“At Prutzman, I remember walking to school,” he said. “I had to walk across the timber about a mile.”

Gross remembers the neighbor boy had a horse, and one day he got off the horse and began leading it to school.

“Then for some reason he turned around and went to the back end of the horse and was holding the horse’s tail,” Gross said.

The obvious happened.

“The horse kicked him in the face,” he said. “We walked on to school, and he was holding his face all day.”

Gross has more memories about another animal and the trip home from school. He was walking home when he approached a neighbor’s farm.

“I walked out around their silo, and there were all the milk cows coming up, and there was this big old bull coming with them,” he said. “I didn’t like the looks of him because he started over toward me, and I left and went back up in the yard and sat down by the silo, waiting for him to leave.”

The bull didn’t leave, and Gross soon got bored.

Again, the obvious happened.

“The next thing I knew, I woke up,” Gross said. “My mother had walked over and found me, sitting there, sound asleep.”

At the Colton School, Gross remembers attending with the Gildermaster boys, Solomon and Lyle.

“Lyle Gildermaster and I, he and I got our heads together and said, ‘Now when we go out the doors, we’ll lock them.”

So Gross locked one door when he went outside, and Gildermaster locked the others.

“We went out and played, and when we went to go back in the schoolhouse, we couldn’t get in,” he said.

So the teacher had to go to the neighbor’s to borrow a hammer and a chisel.

“They went back and took the iron grate off besides the window and opened the window and somebody crawled in and opened the doors,” Gross said.

The teacher, understandably, was not happy.

“Of course, the teacher got the stick out,” he said.

Gross said he believes he got a good education in his two, one-room schoolhouses.

“When we had to give a report on something, we had to walk up front,” he said. “They had a big long bench up there, and you’d sit on that and give your report.”

Gross said the other students would sit and listen.

“I always thought it was a good idea because we got to hear what the older kids had to say and remember some of it,” he said. “I liked that.”

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.