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Remembering Wolfersberger Schoolhouse

PRINCETON – The one-room Wolfersberger Schoolhouse sat just south of Dover before it was closed in 1949.

The school, which provided education for eight grades, had a small vestibule that contained hooks for the children to hang coats on and a little water cooler.

The younger kids sat in the smaller desks that hooked together, while the older kids got desks that were separate from one another and had tops that would lift up.

Ruth Edlefson of Princeton and Barb Fiste of Malden attended the school, but in two different decades. Edlefson attended school from 1930 to 1939, while Fiste attended around 1945 and was a student when the school closed and students were sent to Malden Grade School.

The two share similar memories about the schoolhouse, yet have their own special stories about the teachers, students, activities and curriculum that was taught in the little building.

Edlefson began school when she was five years old. There was only one teacher who taught lessons, maintained the building and put on school programs.

Edlefson believes having one teacher working one-on-one with the students allowed for a better quality education.

“When I went to high school in Princeton, I think we even did better than some of the kids who went to Princeton grade schools,” she said.

Edlefson explained the teacher would call each class up one at a time to recite lessons while the rest of the students sat at their desks and worked on assignments they had been given the previous day.

“We never had homework, because we always did it in class while the other kids were reciting,” she said.

Edlefson’s favorite teacher only taught one year at the schoolhouse until she was married and left.

“You couldn’t teach and be married,” she said. “They wouldn’t hire you, because they thought your husband ought to support you.”

There was no playground equipment when Edlefson attended the schoolhouse, so students played games that were popular at the time.

“We played softball a lot and all the games that kids played at that time: Andy-over, Pump, pump, pull away and Fox and geese when there was snow out,” she said.

A highlight activity, the whole school got to take part in one year was the State Corn Husking Competition at the Van Orin airport.

“People came from all over the state. It was a big deal,” she said. “They were landing planes at the airport to bring people in for that.”

A decade later…

When Fiste attended the schoolhouse, she was the only girl at the school. Although she remembers being a tomboy for the most part, a downfall of being the only girl was having to use the outhouse bathrooms alone.

“There were big garden spiders in them,” she said. “I was convinced they were poisonous and something from the jungle.”

Using an outhouse altogether was a new experience for Fiste anyway, because she remembers her family always having a bathroom in their home. She remembers the situation always being a “very unpleasant” one.

Fiste remembers a merry-go-round outside the schoolhouse that children would gather around and play on. Looking back on it today, she labels the equipment a “death instrument.”

“You could stick your feet down into the inside and crash into the posts in the middle,” she said. “You could get it really knocking off it’s pegs, too.”

A school highlight for Fiste was when the traveling nurse would come to the school and bring her movie projector.

“We’d watch movies of the white blood cells fighting off bacteria,” she said. “It was great. We got out of school to watch movies.”

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