MANLIUS — Harold Oloffson can still remember his days at the old Manlius one-room schoolhouse. The school consolidated in 1945, but it’s memories have continued to this day.
The old school building actually still stands today. The old structure has been updated and converted into a home on the corner of 1900 North Avenue and 1100 East Street, southeast of Manlius.
Oloffson, along with his twin brother, Harry, lived in the house right next to the schoolhouse. Their mother, Antoinette Oloffson, was the teacher at the school the last two years before it consolidated with Manlius School.
Living less than 50 feet from the schoolhouse certainly had its advantages. Today, Oloffson looks back and laughs about his short walks to school.
“People talk about walking to school in those days. I walked to school everyday,” he said. “All I had to do was hop over a fence and walk across the yard.”
While a wooden fence separated the yard of his home and the school property, Oloffson remembers the days before he was in school. He and his twin brother, Harry, would sit out on the fence, looking into the windows of the school and tantalizing the students inside.
The Old Manlius School was just like any other schoolhouse around the county in those times. Inside, the desks were hooked together and lined in rows. The teacher’s desk sat in the front and chalkboards hung on the side walls where students would practice their handwriting.
Oloffson can remember small things like the globe that sat on his mother’s desk and the map that hung in the front of the room, which could be pulled down during studies.
Oloffson doesn’t remember much about the lessons taught back then, but he does remember having recess with his fellow classmates. Outside, on the school grounds, a small playground was available for students. Oloffson can remember a teeter-totter, swing set, chin bar and a pair of rings for students to hang on.
The students used to play softball on the grounds, as well, and in wintertime, Oloffson remembers sledding down a hill located near the schoolhouse.
In the springtime, the kids used to fly kites. Oloffson said some students even made their own kites to fly.
With his mother being teacher, Oloffson said he and his brother definitely didn’t get any special treatment. In fact, they had to stay in line for the most part.
“We was the examples. We couldn’t do too much. We had to set examples for the rest of the kids,” he said. “Couldn’t act up too much.”
Although no specific memory sticks out when asked about what it was like having his mother be his teacher, Oloffson does remember his mother working late hours and spending most nights correcting assignments.
At PTA meetings, Oloffson remembers students being asked to make a box of goodies, which were auctioned off as a fundraiser.
“If you had a girlfriend or someone you liked, you would bid on her box and get that one,” he said. “Same thing with Valentine’s Day. You would try to get the Valentine from the girl you like.”
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