GOLD TOWNSHIP — Kenneth Rodgers has an old photograph he treasures.
The photo is of himself and his classmates at the Sand Ridge School back in 1933. It includes the teacher, Frances Nelson, three young girls in light-colored dresses, and six little boys, most of them wearing overalls and ornery grins.
Today, almost 80 years later, all but one of the people in the picture have died.
“I am the last living student of this picture, so I decided it is time to tell about this school, before no one can,” Rodgers said.
The school reopened in 1933 after having been closed for the previous two years. Rodgers said it’s believed the school was moved while it was closed from the northeast quarter of Section 13 of Gold Township, to the dead center of the township. After the school was relocated, it was covered with wire mesh and stucco.
Rodgers spent seven years at Sand Ridge School.
“Let me explain the seven years in grade school,” Rodgers said. “My first-grade teacher thought it a waste of my time to spend school in second grade, so she advanced me to third grade.”
Rodgers said he believes now that was a mistake.
“When I graduated from Manlius Township High School in 1944, I had only turned 17 less than a month previous,” he said. “This was the year of the World War II and school was in session every Saturday, so farm boys could be home to help the war effort, earlier in the spring.”
Rodgers said he was the only one in his class except for three months during his seventh-grade year.
“I thought that was neat, not having to know every answer asked of me,” he said.
Rodgers said the teacher always started the fire in the morning, and the boys had the privilege of bringing cobs and coal in during the day.
“We played many games, such as Ande I Over, Pump, Pump Pull Away and lots of softball,” he said. “What a thrill it was when we had new playground equipment when we came to school.”
Rodgers also remembers some play days when he and his classmates would get to go and visit another school and see other students.
Rodgers also remembers walking to school quite a bit.
“One time I was running across Madsen’s pasture when my foot came down on a blue racer snake,” he said. “Needless to say, my foot was not on the ground very long.”
Four of the students in the 1933 photograph are Cades, and Rodgers said the Cade family lived across the road from his lane.
“During our later years in grade school, we boys would scrounge up some hoops from old wheels and push them up the sandy road with a handmade pusher,” he said.
The boys also made handmade guns that would shoot old rings cut from old inner tubes.
Rodgers enjoyed his days at the Sand Ridge School.
“One thing I feel I learned in one-room schools was we learned everything everyone else was taught,” he said.
The Sand Ridge School was closed and consolidated into another school district in 1947.
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