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Franklin Grade School still delivers memories

Franklin Grade School, 1946.
Franklin Grade School, 1946.

PRINCETON –  Joan “Donnelly” Anderson of Ohio remembers the smallest details about the former Franklin Grade School, District No. 22.

She enrolled in first grade at the one-room schoolhouse in 1936. Her time at the school supplied her with several memorable moments she still holds on to today.

“Our teachers were kind and considerate with lots of planning, as we always had eight grade levels,” she said.

Some teachers were college educated, while others obtained a teaching certificate, Anderson said.

Inside the schoolhouse, rows of desks were hooked together. Each desk had a built-in ink well, which a quill pen would be dipped into for writing. The school had no electricity or running water.

“We had a pump to get water,” Anderson said. “One child would pump, while the rest lined up with their hands cupped to drink from.”

Anderson said most students came from farming families, which averaged five or six children. She said most families only had one car.

“A lot of children wore bib overalls or slacks,” she said. “(They were) always clean with no competitive styles.”

The Anderson kids walked one and one-quarter miles to school everyday. Anderson remembers class started at 9 a.m. and ended around 3:30 to 4 p.m. There were two 15-minute recesses and one hour lunch break at noon.

The students and teachers at Franklin all carried their lunch.

“Mostly consisted of peanut butter and or jelly or an egg sandwich, some raw vegetables, an orange or apple, seldom a banana, cookies or a piece of cake,” Anderson said.

She can still describe the unique writing utensils in the schoolhouse.

The ink bottles had a half-moon ink holder in the top of each bottle for dipping in. 

“Advancing further was a cartridge pen with a built in rubber bladder that could be filled with ink by pressing and releasing to fill,” she said. “Also about this time, Eversharp pencils with sticks of lead to load were introduced. If you had a Parker or Sheaffer pen and pencil set, you were top class.”

Anderson said the first ball point pen was owned by a student in high school and cost $19.95.

The music teacher at Franklin was Edna Worril, who visited once a week.

“She taught us music, music notes and rhythm band,” Anderson said. “Our instruments were crude but meaningful. They consisted of drums, which was a stick with a round piece of hide that was struck with another stick, tambourines, triangles, sand blocks and sticks.”

One of Anderson’s favorite memories at the schoolhouse is when spring time came and a jumping stand was set-up.

“It was two metal fence posts with wire holder pegs straightened out to hold a bamboo pole,” she said. “We did straight on jumping or scissor-step jumping into a pit of sand.”

There was also the play day, in which the Van Orin school would invite the surrounding schools for a day of contests.

“We enjoyed contests of various lengths,” Anderson said. “High jumps, broad jump, running and standing, three-legged races and sack races in burlap bags … We were awarded ribbons of four places. Most children would participate with bare feet, so they could go faster.”

Anderson’s family home burned to the ground in 1939, therefore she no longer has any photographs of the school or of her classmates. Her younger brother, however, still hangs onto a class photo that was taken in the schoolhouse in 1946.

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