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Remembering Durham School

BERLIN TOWNSHIP — Although Shirley (Hubbard) Hahn and her brother, Harold, had to walk two miles to and from school every day, she has nothing but good memories of the Durham School.

“I went there for three years, first through third grade,” she said. “I started in 1941, and then we moved away in 1944.”

Although she was just a little girl when she attended Durham, she has many memories.

She remembers teacher Elizabeth Cass and the outdoor toilets, and the bucket of water common to most one room schoolhouses.

“We each had a little cup, and you had to fill your cup to drink,” she said.

Hahn also remembers the big, old, round furnace in the corner of the school.

“There was a neighbor man, a farmer, who went and started the fire every morning,” she said. “Sometimes on real cold days it would still be cold, so we’d all take our little red chairs and sit around the furnace until the school warmed up.”

Hahn also remembers some of her schoolmates. Evelyn Chelin was the only other student in her grade, and the two girls attended school with Donald and Kenneth Lundgren, Donna and Betty Husser, and children from the Stocking and Becker families.

“Those are the ones I remember,” she said.

Hahn especially remembers the games she played during recesses.

“Some of the games we played were Pump, Pump Pull Away and Ante I Over — it’s where we threw the ball over the school — and Drop the Handkerchief, and Ring Around the Rosie,” she said.

Hahn’s father was a day worker, and the family moved to Malden for Hahn’s fourth- and fifth-grade years. Although Malden wasn’t a big school by today’s standards, it was a big change for the little girl.

“When we went to Malden School it was quite a change because there were more kids, and it was also a grade school and high school,” she said.

At Malden, there were only four grades in the classroom, compared to the eight grades in her Durham school. Hahn isn’t exactly sure how many students there were.

“There was a lot more than in a one room country school,” she said.

In 1946 Hahn moved to Bureau Township. The Bureau Township school also included grade school and high school, so Hahn finished her education there, graduating in 1953.

At Bureau Township, it was two grades to a room, and Hahn’s graduating class totaled nine students, six boys and three girls.

“The funny thing about our graduating class is there were nine of us, and there were two Shirleys, two Rogers, and two Donalds,” she said with a laugh.

Hahn said she received a good education in the Bureau County schools she attended.

“The upperclassmen helped the lower classmen, like in reading and arithmetic,” she said. “If any of us needed help, the teacher would assign one of the older kids to help you with your lessons, and that was quite interesting.”

Having such small classes also made the students feel very close to each other.

“One of my classmates stood up with me when I got married,” Hahn said. “We were very good friends.”

The Malden and Bureau Township schools are long gone, but the Durham School still exists as a private residence. Hahn said she enjoys driving past the school and remembering the old days.

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