Sisters Carol Kuhnert, Janet Swanson and Diane Carver have a wonderful time sharing their memories of their school days at the Lloyd School near LaMoille.
The sisters’ stories are punctuated frequently by laughs and “remember whens” as they tell about their school days.
Kuhnert, the oldest, graduated in 1958. Carver was in sixth grade when Swanson graduated in 1960, the last class to graduate before the school was closed.
As was typical of the one-room schools, enrollments and class sizes were small. The Lloyd School averaged about 15 students, but Swanson was the only child in her class.
“She graduated at the top and the bottom of her class,” Kuhnert said with a laugh.
Kuhnert was one of four students in her class.
“Three boys and me,” she said. “Those three boys irritated me to no end, and to this day, they still laugh about it.”
All three women said they received a good education.
“I loved the school,” Kuhnert said. “I think we had a wonderful education, and we weren’t behind in anything that I can remember in high school.”
Swanson said she liked how the students worked at their desks while the teacher called one class at a time to the front for the lessons.
“She’d say, ‘Third grade arithmetic,’ and then third grade would go up there,” Carver said.
As with most of the one-room schools, there was no running water. Swanson said all of the older children took turns carrying the water into the school and filling the little canteen cooler. Unlike some schools, both the boys and the girls shared the chore.
“We’d be insulted if they thought we couldn’t do it,” Kuhnert said, laughing again.
Swanson also remembered what she called the “most wonderful lunch in the world,” made on their little electric heater with a pan of water.
“Mom would put hot dogs in a glass jar with a little bit of water, and then about an hour before lunch, they heated the water up, and we’d put our jar in there and heat up our hot dog,” she said.
Recess generated some of the fondest memories.
When the students had to stay inside, they would play a game called Clap In and Clap Out. Students moved between the playroom and the classroom, and had to guess where they were supposed to sit. Swanson said it was always a competition between the boys and the girls.
“If the boys could clap the girls out of there, they were happy, but if they had to stay, then the boys would slide clear off the seat, so they didn’t have to sit by them,” she said.
Outside, Andy I Over was a popular game that involved throwing a ball over the school.
“It was a pig’s tail if it didn’t go over and you had to try again,” Kuhnert said. “After you threw it over, you listened real close for the thundering herd to come around.”
Another vivid outdoors memory involved the outhouses, one for the boys and one for the girls.
“In the fall, when the hedge balls got ready, the girls would go in the outhouse, and the boys would bombard the outhouse with hedge balls,” Swanson said with a laugh.
Bernice Goetz was the teacher for most of the time the girls attended the Lloyd School.
“She’d snap her fingers louder than anybody I’ve ever heard since,” Carver said with a laugh. “That just echoed.”
Sometimes the girls rode their bikes to school, but generally the neighbors carpooled. That became a challenge in the spring when the roads became muddy.
“When it got really muddy, we came to school on the tractor,” Swanson said. “Dad had a lift on the tractor, and even the teacher came on a tractor. The roads just had no bottom.”
Christmas was exciting at the little one room school.
“When the stage went up, that was awesome,” Swanson said.
Kuhnert remembered some girls who tap danced for one of the Christmas programs, while Carver remembered the man who played the accordion.
“’The Yellow Rose of Texas,’” she said. “I can hear it yet.”
The teacher always had craft projects for Christmas presents for the parents.
“The one that was absolutely awesome was our profiles,” Swanson said “She had us sit there — we had a light on our side — and she drew our profile. Somebody cut them all out of plywood, and we painted them black, and this is what the parents got for Christmas one year.”
While the women felt academically prepared for high school, the social adjustment was a little harder.
“When I went into high school, I didn’t know very many people at all, and I really felt lost for awhile,” Kuhnert said. “When you come from another school into a school that has kids who are established since the first grade, there were groups and cliques, and it was hard to get acclimated.”
But, as with other schools, Kuhnert said the country school students connected with their country school students.
“Then they became the little group,” she said.
The women said people are often amazed to hear about what life was like in a one-room schoolhouse.
“It’s just hard to believe we’re old enough to make history with our little old country school,” Swanson said.
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